Matthew 5:14 Meaning of You are the Light of the World

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

Explanation and Commentary on Matt 5:14

Jesus is addressing his followers in this encouraging, but challenging text.  Jesus himself is the “light of all mankind…that shines in the darkness” (Jn 1:4-5). He is the truth. Jesus came to reveal the true nature of His Father in heaven and showed what God is really like.

The world is in darkness and has been since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  Since then satan has held dominion, and the ways of the world have held sway in the hearts and minds of humankind.

Jesus tells his followers that they will be the ones to carry his light forth into the dark places of the world and the human heart.  It is by our love that the world is supposed to be able to recognize us as the people of God (John 13:35). It is by our boldness that the world is supposed to recognize that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  We must always take care that we fix our eyes on the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ so that we can continue to be the light in the darkness that he left us here to be.

Interpretation of the Key Parts of Matthew 5:14

#1 “You are the light of the world.”

Jesus’ plan all along was to ascend into heaven for an age that would extend at least two millennia.  But he also intended from the beginning to leave his Body, the Church as his earthly presence to continue his ministry.  He promised to be with us “to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). If he was the light, then surely he would intend for his Church to be the light.

#2 “A town built on a hill…

In Matthew 5:15, Jesus commands us not to hide our light but let it be seen.  The Church is a haven from the wrath of God to come, but she should not stay hidden because the world needs to see her as a beacon of hope. Those with eyes to see will be drawn.

#3 “…cannot be hidden.”

Since the very dawn of the Church Age Christians have been persecuted with the goal of snuffing out faith in Christ. But the more she is oppressed, the more powerfully the Church attracts the chosen to God.  Even in places where the Church goes underground, there is a powerful light emanating from her that draws people for God. This town on a hill cannot, and should not be hidden.  Let your light shine before men.

Video Commentary on Matthew 5:14

Sermon on Matthew 5:14

Biblical Translations of Matthew 5:14

NIV
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

NLT
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”

ESV
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

KJV
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”

NKJV
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

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