Matthew 5:14

14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can't be hidden.

Matthew 5:14 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 5:14

Ye are the light of the world
What the luminaries, the sun and moon, are in the heavens, with respect to corporal light, that the apostles were in the world with regard to spiritual light; carrying and spreading the light of the Gospel not only in Judea, but all over the world, which was in great darkness of ignorance and error; and through a divine blessing attending their ministry, many were turned from the darkness of Judaism and Gentilism, of sin and infidelity, to the marvellous light of divine grace. The Jews were wont to say, that of the Israelites in general, and particularly of their sanhedrim, and of their learned doctors, what Christ more truly applies here to his apostles; they observe {l}, that

``on the fourth day it was said, "let there be light": which was done with respect to the Israelites, because they are they (Mlwel Myryam) , "which give light to the world", as it is written, ( Daniel 12:3 ) ''

And in another place F13, say they,

``how beautiful are the great ones of the congregation, and the wise men, who sit in the sanhedrim! for they are they (amlel Nyrhnm) , "that enlighten the world", the people of the house of Israel.''

So. R. Meir, R. Akiba his disciple, and R. Judah the prince, are each of them called F14 (Mlweh rwa) , "the light of the world"; as R. Jochanan ben Zaccai is by his disciples, (Mlwe rn) , "the lamp of the world" F15: and it was usual for the head of a school, or of an university to be styled F16 (amled arwhn) , "the light of the world"; but this title much better agrees and suits with the persons Christ gives it to, who, no question, had a view to those exalted characters the Jews gave to their celebrated Rabbins. A city that

is set on an hill cannot be hid;
alluding either to Nazareth, where he was educated, and had lately preached, which was built on an hill, from the brow of which the inhabitants sought to have cast him headlong, ( Luke 4:29 ) or to Capernaum, which, on account of its height, is said to be

exalted unto heaven,
( Matthew 11:23 ) or to the city of Jerusalem, which was situated on a very considerable eminence. The land of Israel, the Jews say F17, was higher than all other lands; and the temple at Jerusalem was higher than any other part of the land of Israel. And as a city cannot be hid which is built on a high place, so neither could, nor ought the doctrines which the apostles were commissioned to preach, be hid, or concealed from men: they were not to shun to declare the whole counsel of God, nor study to avoid the reproaches and persecutions of men; for they were to be "made a spectacle"; to be set as in a public theatre, to be seen by "the world, angels, and men".


F12 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 1. 3.
F13 Targum in Cant. iv. 1.
F14 Juchasin, fol. 63. 2.
F15 Abot R. Nathan, c. 25. fol. 6. 3.
F16 Juchasin. fol. 121. 1.
F17 T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 69. 1. Sanhedrim, fol. 87. 1. Zebachim, fol. 54. 2.

Matthew 5:14 In-Context

12 Be joyful and glad. Your reward in heaven is great. In the same way, people hurt the prophets who lived long ago.
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can't be hidden.
15 Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 "In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.