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

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Sermon on Mount, Beatitudes, worth and worthlessness, visible and invisible

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

You yourselves are the light of society. A city has no power to be concealed on top of a mountain, lying down.

KJV : 

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

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is the first time Jesus talks about light in the Gospels. Unlike the "salt" metaphors in the previous verse, Mat 5:13, that he only uses once, he consistently uses light as a metaphor for knowledge. The fact the "salt" means "wit" connects the previous verse to this one where "light" means "knowledge."

The word translated as "on" and "set" are both uncommon words. The "on" means "on top of" and the "hill" primarily means "mountain." However, the punchline here is the word translated as "set," which is not the common word meaning "set" or "place" (used in the next verse,) but a word Jesus only uses twice. It is not an active verb, but a participle, "lying down." It  means "lying down to rest." It would describe the people reclining on the mount t listen to him. " This word is in a form that could be passive, given its meaning it is much more likely a form describing the subject acts on itself, "lying itself down."

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 "city" is not just "on a hill" it is "situated on top of a mountain."

NIV : 

Matthew 5:14  You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

NLT : 

Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

Wordplay: 

 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. 

My Takeaway: 

We can all bring valuable insights into our world.

Related Verses: 

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." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

τὸ (article sg neut nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

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 (article sg masc gen) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

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 [9 verses](verb aor inf pass) "Be hid" is from krypto which means "to hide", "to cover", ""to keep secret," and "to conceal."

ἐπάνω [8 verses](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 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: [2 verses] (part sg pres mp fem nom) "Set" is 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Ye -- (MW) The pronoun is used here explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since this information is already in the verb, the sense is repetitive as we say "your yourselves."

are -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

light -- The Greek word translated as "the light" means "light", "daylight [primarily], "opening", and "public visibility." Jesus uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge,"

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

world. -- Jesus uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. Today, we use the word "society" in this sense. More about this word in this article about related words.

-- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

city -- 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.

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

is -- This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. The verb could be passive but it could also be the middle voice where the subject acts on, by, or for itself.

set -- (WW, WF, WP) The word translated as "set" means "lying down to rest" or "lying dead." "of places, it means it mean "to lie" or "be situated." This is an uncommon verb, that Jesus only uses twice.  The verb could be passive but it could also be the middle voice where the subject acts on, by, or for itself. This is not the common verb translated as "to place" or "to set" but an uncommon verb that means "to lie down."   The form is not an active verb, but a participle, "lying down." It comes at the verb end of the verse as the punchline,

on -- (CW) The word translated as "on" means "above", "on the upper side" "on top", referring to being on the very top of something.  It is not the common preposition translated as "on."

an -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hill --  The word translated as "hill" means "mountain" and "hill." The Greek word is almost always translated as "mountain."

can -- The word translated as "can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

hid. -- The word translated as "hid" means to "hide", "conceal", "keep secret", and also means to "bury."

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourselves."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "set" should be "lie down."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "set" is not an active verb but a participle, "lying down."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "set" doesn't appear here but at the end of the verse.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "on" is not the common "on" but a word that means "on top."

NIV Analysis: 

You -- (MW) The pronoun "you" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say "you yourselves." It is plural.

are -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

light -- The Greek word translated as "the light" means "light", "daylight [primarily], "opening", and "public visibility." Jesus uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge,"

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

world. -- Jesus uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. Today, we use the word "society" in this sense. More about this word in this article about related words.

-- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

town -- The Greek word for "town" means  "city," "nation," or a "civilization." However, the image Jesus summons here is a citadel, a fortress standing tall.

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

is -- This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. The verb could be passive but it could also be the middle voice where the subject acts on, by, or for itself.

built -- (WW, WF, WP) The word translated as "built" means "lying down to rest" or "lying dead." "of places, it means it mean "to lie" or "be situated." The verb could be passive but it could also be the middle voice where the subject acts on, by, or for itself.

on -- (CW) The word translated as "on" means "above", "on the upper side" "on top", referring to being on the very top of something.  It is not the common preposition translated as "on."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hill --  The word translated as "hill" means "mountain" and "hill." The Greek word is almost always translated as "mountain."

can -- The word translated as "can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

hidden. -- The word translated as "hidden" means to "hide", "conceal", "keep secret", and also means to "bury."

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "built" is not an active verb but a participle, "lying down."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "built" doesn't appear here but at the end of the verse.
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourselves."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "built" should be "lying."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "on" is not the common "on" but a word that means "on top."

NLT Analysis: 

You -- (MW) The pronoun "you" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say "you yourselves." It is plural.

are -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

light -- The Greek word translated as "the light" means "light", "daylight [primarily], "opening", and "public visibility." Jesus uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge,"

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the --  The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

world. -- Jesus uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. Today, we use the word "society" in this sense. More about this word in this article about related words.

like -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "like" in the Greek source.

-- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

city-- The Greek word for "town" means  "city," "nation," or a "civilization." However, the image Jesus summons here is a citadel, a fortress standing tall.

on -- (CW) The word translated as "on" means "above", "on the upper side" "on top", referring to being on the very top of something.  It is not the common preposition translated as "on."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hilltop --  The word translated as "hilltop" means "mountain" and "hill." The Greek word is almost always translated as "mountain."

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

can -- The word translated as "can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. In Greek, it indicates ability or power.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

hidden. -- The word translated as "hidden" means to "hide", "conceal", "keep secret", and also means to "bury."

untranslated "lying down"-- (MW) The untranslated participle means "lying down to rest" or "lying dead." "of places, it means it mean "to lie" or "be situated." The verb could be passive but it could also be the middle voice where the subject acts on, by, or for itself.

NLT Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourselves."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "like" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "on" is not the common "on" but a word that means "on top."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The participle meaning "lying down" is not shown in the translation.

The Spoken Version: 

As the laughter quieted, a farmer and his wife stood and approached the speaker’s mound.  
“But who is brighter, those academics, writers, and lawyers who oppose you or us common, working folk?” the farmer asked.
“You yourselves,” the Teacher answered confidently.
“Enough people for a city have come to hear you,” the farmer wife called out, “But your enemies didn’t. Maybe because, they brighter than we are!”
We and the Master laughed together, but he shook his head “no.”
“You are the light of this society,” he assured us.
As he said it, the sun broke through the clouds. We were suddenly bathed in sunlight.  We applauded his compliment and the welcome sun.
“But shouldn’t we hide that light,” the farmer retorted, “if it draws the attention of powerful enemies?”
As he asked, a small dark cloud covered the sun.
The Master laughed and again shook his head “no.”
“No, it doesn’t have the ability—a city,” he answered, indicating us all, “to be kept hidden on a hill, lying down!”
He laid himself on the speaker’s mound copying those who were relining on the hillside around him.
As we laughed, the Master stood up again and took a bow.

evidence: 

12.00

Front Page Date: 

Apr 20 2020