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

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

You yourselves are the illumination of society. The city has no power to be concealed being situated on top of a mountain.

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" metaphor 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 "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 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 Jesus'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 "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. 

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." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

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 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: [2 verses] (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."

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 -- The word translated as "set" 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."

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: 

3
  • 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.
  • 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) 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: 

4
  • 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.

untranslated "being situated"-- (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.

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."

NLT Translation Issues: 

6
  • 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.
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The participle meaning "being situated" is not shown in the translation.
  • 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.

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!

evidence: 

12.00

Front Page Date: 

Apr 20 2020