Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world.

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

You all yourselves are the brightness of society. The citadel has no power to be concealed on the top of a mountain situating itself.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The Greek emphasizes the "you" by using the pronoun. This information is in the verb and pronouns are only used to emphasize the subject.

This is the first time Christ talks about light in the Gospels. Unlike the salt metaphor in the previous verse, Mat 5:13, that he only uses one, he consistently uses light as a metaphor for knowledge, especially the knowledge he brings into the word. Knowledge of heaven and God is always portrayed as light while ignorance if portrayed as darkness.

The word translated as "world" here means the world of men, the world order, the powers-that-be, and human affairs. Today, we use the word "society" in this sense. A key difference between the previous verse, Mat 5:13, and this one was the use of the term "earth" in that verse and the use of the term "world" here. Humans are the wits of the natural world, but Christ's followers are the lights of society.

The second part of the verse is a metaphor for the metaphor "light of the world." What is offered is a strong image that is substantially watered down.

The last part of this verse, about "the city on a hill" is much more entertaining in the original Greek. In the KJV, its images are played down.

The Greek word for "city" meant not only a city but a nation or a society. However, the image Christ summons here is a citadel, a fortress standing tall.

The word translated as "on" is much more extreme than that. It refers to being on the very top of something.

The word translated as "hill" is also more extreme. The Greek word is almost always translated as "mountain."

The word translated as "set" is also more extreme. It means "lying down to rest" or "lying dead."

Taken all together, the image is a citadel, lying dead on top of a hill.

So, Christ is saying the brightness of people is as unmistakably visible as a fortress on a mountain top.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "You" is from humeis, which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you." This version of hte pronoun is only used for emphasis.

ἐστὲ (2nd pl pres ind act) "Are" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

τὸ φῶς (noun sg neut nom) "The light" is from phos, which means "light", "daylight [primarily], "illumination [of things and of the mind]", "light [of the eyes], "window", "opening", " ublic visibility," and "publicity." Christ uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge," but in Greek it is also a metaphor for "deliverance", "happiness", "victory," and "glory."

τοῦ κόσμου. (noun sg masc gen) "The world" is from kosmos, which mean "order", "good order", "ruler", "world order", "universe," and "the world of men."

οὐ (partic) "...Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

δύναται (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can..." is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

πόλις (noun sg fem nom ) "City" is from polis, which means "city", "citadel", "one's city", "one's country", "community", "state", "state affairs," and "civic duties."

κρυβῆναι (aor inf pass) "Be hid" is from krypto which means "to hide", "to cover", ""to keep secret," and "to conceal."

ἐπάνω (prep) "On" is from epano, which is an adverb meaning "above", "on the upper side", "[former] times", "more [of numbers]", "in front of," and "in the presence of,"

ὄρους (noun sg neut gen) "Hill" is from oros, which means "mountain", "hill", "canton," and "parish." In Egypt, it was also used to mean the "desert" and a place of burial. It's homonym oros means a "boundary", "landmark", "time limits", "decisions of judges", "memorial stones and pillars," "standard", "measure", "term (in logic)", "definition", "terms," and "conditions."

κειμένη: [uncommon] (part sg pres mp fem nom) "Set" is from kailmia, which means "to lie down to rest", "to lie dead", "to be situated", "to lie", "to store", "to be placed in a position", "to lay down an argument," and "to remain."


 The metaphor of light described by visibility of a fortress and a contrast in the meanings of earth and world between this verse and the previous one. 

The Spoken Version: 

“You yourselves,” he announced more seriously, “are the light of the social order. It really doesn’t have the power—,” he said pausing. “The city,” he clarified, pointing toward Jerusalem. “To be kept hidden, on top of a mountain standing for itself!

Related Verses: 



Front Page Date: 

Jan 3 2017