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

"Ye . . . "

  • In the Greek this pronoun is emphatic: "Ye are the light of the world." (5BC 330)

" . . . are the light . . . "

  • Light has ever been a symbol of the divine presence (Genesis 1:3; Genesis 3:20). John refers to Jesus as "the light of men" shining forth amid the darkness of this world (John 1:4-9). Toward the close of His ministry Jesus referred to Himself as "the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5). Having accepted Jesus as the light of the world, a Christian, if true to his calling, becomes a reflection of that light. In Messianic prophecy Jesus is referred to as "a great light" (Isaiah 9:2), and as the "Sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:79). When the true Light illumines men, they are admonished to "arise, shine" (Isaiah 60:1, Isaiah 60:2, Isaiah 60:3). Those who love and serve the Lord are pictured as being like the "sun" (Judges 5:31), both here and in the hereafter (Matthew 13:43). It was yet morning as Christ spoke (MB 38), and the sun was ascending the heavens toward the zenith (Psalm 19:4; Psalm 19:5; Psalm 19:6). In a similar way the Twelve - and all future citizens of the kingdom as well - were to go forth and let their light shine abroad in the world, dispelling the darkness of sin and ignorance of the will and ways of God. (John 1:4; John 1:7; John 1:9). (5BC 330)
  • As Jesus taught the people, He made His lessons interesting and held the attention of His hearers by frequent illustrations from the scenes of nature about them. The people had come together while it was yet morning. The glorious sun, climbing higher and higher in the blue sky, was chasing away the shadows that lurked in the valleys and among the narrow defiles of the mountains. The glory of the eastern heavens had not yet faded out. The sunlight flooded the land with its splendor; the placid surface of the lake reflected the golden light and mirrored the rosy clouds of morning. Every bud and flower and leafy spray glistened with dewdrops. Nature smiled under the benediction of a new day, and the birds sang sweetly among the trees. The Saviour looked upon the company before Him, and then to the rising sun, and said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” As the sun goes forth on its errand of love, dispelling the shades of night and awakening the world to life, so the followers of Christ are to go forth on their mission, diffusing the light of heaven upon those who are in the darkness of error and sin. (MB 38-39)
  • The Saviour's words, “Ye are the light of the world,” point to the fact that He has committed to His followers a world-wide mission. In the days of Christ, selfishness and pride and prejudice had built strong and high the wall of partition between the appointed guardians of the sacred oracles and every other nation on the globe. But the Saviour had come to change all this. The words which the people were hearing from His lips were unlike anything to which they had ever listened from priest or rabbi. Christ tears away the wall of partition, the self-love, the dividing prejudice of nationality, and teaches a love for all the human family. He lifts men from the narrow circle that their selfishness prescribes; He abolishes all territorial lines and artificial distinctions of society. He makes no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies. He teaches us to look upon every needy soul as our neighbor and the world as our field. . . . As the rays of the sun penetrate to the remotest corners of the globe, so God designs that the light of the gospel shall extend to every soul upon the earth.  (MB 42)
  • God requires every man to do his duty. He demands the whole heart, the entire affection. He would not have us profess a knowledge of Jesus Christ and the truth, and yet bear no fruit. For small or great, learned or unlearned, rich or poor, the requirement is just the same.
    • Every one is called upon to act according to the ability God has given him. He must render his service faithfully or he will sully his conscience, and imperil his soul. No one can afford to lose heaven. Remember the words of Christ to all His followers: “Ye are the light of the world.” God depends on those who know the way, to show it to others. He has entrusted to men the treasure of His truth. It is faith and trust and confidence in God that we need. Inward grace will be revealed in the outward actions. We need that spirit which will show to others that we have been learning in the school of Christ and that we copy the pattern given us. We want a heart that is not lifted up unto vanity, a mind not settled on self. Each should have a constant desire to bless others. God notices our humble efforts, and they are precious in His sight. (5T 568)
  •  He loves you with a love that is immeasurable. He loves your brethren in the faith, and He works with them to the same end as that to which He works with you. His church on earth is to assume divine proportions before the world as a temple built of living stones, each one reflecting light. It is to be the light of the world as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. It is built of stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a firm, solid building. Not all the stones are of the same form or shape. Some are large, some are small; but each has its own place to fill. And the value of each stone is determined by the light that it reflects. This is God's plan. He desires all His workers to fill their appointed places in the work for this time.
    • We are living amidst the perils of the last days. We are wisely to cultivate every mental and physical power; for all are needed to make the church a building that will represent the wisdom of the great Designer. The talents given us by God are His gifts, and they are to be used in their right relation to one another so as to make a perfect whole. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; man forms the character. (8T 173)

" . . . of the world . . . " (Matthew 4:8)

  • A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion—an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that affects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Christians had a right religious mold, they would exert a mighty influence for good. They would indeed be the “light of the world.” (AH 36)
  • He who lives Christianity in the home will be a bright and shining light everywhere. (AH 39)
  • Men and women may reach a high standard, if they will but acknowledge Christ as their personal Saviour. Watch and pray, making a surrender of all to God. The knowledge that you are striving for eternal life will strengthen and comfort you both. In thought, in word, in action, you are to be lights in the world. (AH 96)
  • The work of wise parents will never be appreciated by the world, but when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, their work will appear as God views it and will be rewarded before men and angels. It will be seen that one child who has been brought up in a faithful way has been a light in the world. It cost tears and anxiety and sleepless nights to oversee the character building of this child, but the work was done wisely, and the parents hear the “Well done” of the Master. (AH 536)
  • Christ has said of His people, “Ye are the light of the world.” We are the Lord's denominated people, to proclaim the truths of heavenly origin. The most solemn, sacred work ever given to mortals is the proclamation of the first, second, and third angel's messages to our world. In our large cities there should be health institutes to care for the sick, and to teach the grand principles of health reform. (CD 76)
  • Bear in mind, parents, that you are working for the salvation of your children. If your habits are correct, if you reveal neatness and order, virtue and righteousness, sanctification of soul, body, and spirit, you respond to the words of the Redeemer, “Ye are the light of the world.” (CG 110)
  • An enormous sum is yearly squandered for this indulgence, while souls are perishing for the word of life. How can Christians who are enlightened upon this subject continue to rob God in tithes and offerings used to sustain the gospel, while they offer on the altar of destroying lust, in the use of tobacco, more than they give to relieve the poor or to supply the wants of God's cause? If they are truly sanctified, every hurtful lust will be overcome. Then all these channels of needless expense will be turned to the Lord's treasury, and Christians will take the lead in self-denial, self-sacrifice, and in temperance. Then they will be the light of the world.... (CH 84)
  • God desires His people to be light bearers to a world lying in midnight darkness. But if they refuse to go forward in the light which He causes to shine on their pathway, the light will finally become to them darkness; and instead of being light bearers to the world, they themselves will be lost in the blackness that surrounds them. God desires His light bearers ever to keep a high standard before them. By precept and example they must hold this perfect standard high above Satan's false standard, which, if followed, will lead to misery, degradation, disease, and death for both body and soul. (CH 445)
  • Christ, the outshining of the Father's glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and of Him it is written that He was anointed “with the Holy Ghost and with power,” and “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). In the synagogue at Nazareth He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18), "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). This was the work He commissioned His disciples to do. “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) He said. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). (COL 417)
  • Christ says of His people, “Ye are the light of the world.” It is not a small matter that the counsels and purposes and plans of God have been so clearly opened to us. It is a wonderful privilege to be able to understand the will of God as revealed in the sure word of prophecy. This places on us a heavy responsibility. God expects us to impart to others the knowledge He has given us. It is His purpose that divine and human instrumentalities shall unite in the proclamation of the warning message. (CS 38)
  • Ye are the light of the world,” said Jesus to His disciples. . . . Whatever the talent entrusted to us may be, we are required to use it in the service of God, and not in the service of mammon. . . . (CS 125)
  • Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), Christ declares. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God's work in the earth in these last days is to reflect the light that Christ brought into the world. This light is to dissipate the gross darkness of ages. Men and women in . . . darkness are to be reached by those who at one time were in a similar condition of ignorance, but who have received the knowledge of the truth of God's word. (CT 531)
  • The followers of Christ are to be "the light of the world"; but God does not bid them make an effort to shine. He does not approve of any self-satisfied endeavor to display superior goodness. He desires that their souls shall be imbued with the principles of heaven; then, as they come in contact with the world, they will reveal the light that is in them. Their steadfast fidelity in every act of life will be a means of illumination. (MH 36)
  • t is our privilege, our duty, to receive light from heaven, that we may perceive the wiles of Satan, and obtain strength to resist his power. Provision has been made for us to come into close connection with Christ and to enjoy the constant protection of the angels of God. Our faith must reach within the veil, where Jesus has entered for us. We must lay hold with firmer grasp on the unfailing promises of God. We must have faith that will not be denied, faith that will take hold of the unseen, faith that is steadfast, immovable. Such faith will bring the blessing of heaven to our souls. The light of the glory of God that shines in the face of Christ may shine upon us, and be reflected upon all around, so that it can be truly said of us, “Ye are the light of the world.” And it is this connection of the soul with Christ, and this alone, that can bring light to the world. Were it not for this connection, the earth would be left in utter darkness.... The deeper the surrounding gloom, the brighter should shine out the light of Christian faith and Christian example. (ML 8)
  • That which will make the character lovely in the home is that which will make it lovely in the heavenly mansions. If you are ... to be the light of the world, that light is to shine in your home. Here you are to exemplify the Christian graces, to be lovable, patient, kind, yet firm.... You need to seek constantly the highest culture of mind and soul.... As a humble child of God, learn in the school of Christ; seek constantly to improve your powers, that you may do the most perfect, thorough work at home, by both precept and example.... Let the light of heavenly grace irradiate your character, that there may be sunlight in the home. (ML 102)
  • Ye are the light of the world.” What an impression was produced upon Darius by the conduct of Daniel! Daniel lived a pure and holy life. God was first with him. Whenever real Christianity reigns in the heart, it will be revealed in the character. All will take knowledge of such, that they have been with Jesus. The undivided affections must be given to God. (TM 443)
  • God requires His people to shine as lights in the world. It is not merely the ministers who are required to do this, but every disciple of Christ. Their conversation should be heavenly. And while they enjoy communion with God they will wish to have intercourse with their fellow men in order to express by their words and acts the love of God which animates their hearts. In this way they will be lights in the world, and the light transmitted through them will not go out or be taken away. It will indeed become darkness to those who will not walk in it, but it will shine with increasing brightness on the path of those who will obey and walk in the light. (2T 122-123)
  • Ye are the light of the world,” says the heavenly Teacher. All have not the same experience in their religious life. But those of diverse exercises come together and with simplicity and humbleness of mind talk out their experience. All who are pursuing the onward Christian course should have, and will have, an experience that is living, that is new and interesting. A living experience is made up of daily trials, conflicts, and temptations, strong efforts and victories, and great peace and joy gained through Jesus. A simple relation of such experiences gives light, strength, and knowledge that will aid others in their advancement in the divine life. The worship of God should be both interesting and instructive to those who have any love for divine and heavenly things. (2T 579)
  • I have been shown that the disciples of Christ are His representatives upon the earth; and God designs that they shall be lights in the moral darkness of this world, dotted all over the country, in the towns, villages, and cities, “a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). If they obey the teachings of Christ in His Sermon on the Mount, they will be seeking continually for perfection of Christian character, and will be truly the light of the world, channels through which God will communicate His divine will, the truth of heavenly origin, to those who sit in darkness and who have no knowledge of the way of life and salvation. . . . . God cannot display the knowledge of His will and the wonders of His grace among the unbelieving world unless He has witnesses scattered all over the earth. (2T 631)
  • If the light of God be in you, it will shine forth to others. It can never be concealed. (3T 376)
  • Ye are the light of the world,” says Christ. Those who are truly connected with God, by reflecting the light of heaven will have a saving power in the church and also in the world; for the perfume of good deeds and truthful acts will make them of good repute, even among those who are not of our faith. Those who fear God will respect and honor such a character; and even the enemies of our faith, as they see the spirit and life of Christ exhibited in their daily works, will glorify God, the source of their strength and honor. (4T 356)
  • Abstract meditation is not enough; busy action is not enough; both are essential to the formation of Christian character. Strength acquired in earnest, secret prayer prepares us to withstand the allurements of society. And yet we should not exclude ourselves from the world, for our Christian experience is to be the light of the world. The society of unbelievers will do us no harm if we mingle with them for the purpose of connecting them with God and are strong enough spiritually to withstand their influence.
    • Christ came into the world to save it, to connect fallen man with the infinite God. Christ's followers are to be channels of light. Maintaining communion with God, they are to transmit to those in darkness and error the choice blessings which they receive of heaven. Enoch did not become polluted with the iniquities existing in his day; why need we in our day? But we may, like our Master, have compassion for suffering humanity, pity for the unfortunate, and a generous consideration for the feelings and necessities of the needy, the troubled, and the despairing.
    • Those who are Christians indeed will seek to do good to others and at the same time will so order their conversation and deportment as to maintain a calm, hallowed peace of mind. God's word requires that we should be like our Saviour, that we should bear His image, imitate His example, live His life. Selfishness and worldliness are not fruits of a Christian tree. No man can live for himself and yet enjoy the approbation of God. (5T 113)
  • God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world. The three angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God's messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth. Christ declares to His followers: “Ye are the light of the world.” To every soul that accepts Jesus the cross of Calvary speaks: “Behold the worth of the soul: ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). Nothing is to be permitted to hinder this work. It is the all-important work for time; it is to be far-reaching as eternity. The love that Jesus manifested for the souls of men in the sacrifice which He made for their redemption, will actuate all His followers. (5T 455-456)
  • None should go along shrinking and trembling, under continual doubt, sowing their path with complainings; but all should look up to God and see His goodness and rejoice in His love. Summon all your powers to look up, not down at your difficulties; then you will never faint by the way. You will soon see Jesus behind the cloud, reaching out His hand to help you; and all you have to do is to give Him your hand in simple faith and let Him lead you. As you become trustful you will, through faith in Jesus, become hopeful. The light shining from the cross of Calvary will reveal to you God's estimate of the soul, and, appreciating that estimate, you will seek to reflect the light to the world. A great name among men is as letters traced in sand, but a spotless character will endure to all eternity. God gives you intelligence and a reasoning mind, whereby you may grasp His promises; and Jesus is ready to help you in forming a strong, symmetrical character. Those who possess such a character need never become discouraged because they have not success in worldly affairs. They “are the light of the world.” Satan cannot destroy or make of none effect the light that shines forth from them. (5T 579)
  • Our Lord designed that His church should reflect to the world the fullness and sufficiency that we find in Him. We are constantly receiving of God's bounty, and by imparting of the same we are to represent to the world the love and beneficence of Christ. While all heaven is astir, dispatching messengers to every part of the earth to carry forward the work of redemption, the church of the living God are also to be co-laborers with Christ. We are members of His mystical body. He is the head, controlling all the members of the body. Jesus Himself, in His infinite mercy, is working on human hearts, effecting spiritual transformations so amazing that angels look on with astonishment and joy. The same unselfish love that characterizes the Master is seen in the character and life of His true followers. Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting His glory to the praise of God, but illumining the darkness of the world with the radiance of heaven. Thus will be fulfilled the words of Christ: “Ye are the light of the world.” (5T 731)
  • When the converting power of God takes hold of them, they will see that a knowledge of God covers a much broader field than the so-called “advance methods” of education. In all the education given, they should remember he words of Christ: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). (6T 158)
  • What is light? It is piety, goodness, truth, mercy, love; it is the revealing of the truth in the character and life. The gospel is dependent on the personal piety of its believers for its aggressive power, and God has made provision through the death of His beloved Son, that every soul may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. (The Review and Herald article "God's Means for Diffusing Light," March 24, 1891)

" . . . set on a hill . . . "

  • Ancient Palestinian cities were commonly situated on hills, as their ruins testify today. Such a city would be visible from a considerable distance. From the place where Christ and the multitude sat, many towns and villages were visible on the surrounding hills. (MB 39). (5BC 330)
  • During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts. (AA 12)
  • New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God. But light is not given simply to be a strength to the church, but to be shed upon those who are in darkness. The people of God are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. Christ has said of His people, “Ye are the light of the world,” and it is the mission of the light to shine out and illuminate the darkness. (CSW 34)
  • If you walk in the light, you can every one be light bearers to the world. Do not seek to accomplish some great work and neglect the little opportunities close at hand. We can do very much by exemplifying the truth in our daily life. The influence which we may thus exert cannot be easily withstood. Men may combat and defy our logic; they may resist our appeals; but a life of holy purpose, of disinterested love in their behalf, is an argument in favor of the truth that they cannot gainsay. Far more can be accomplished by humble, devoted, virtuous lives than can be effected by preaching when a godly example is lacking. You can labor to build up the church, to encourage your brethren, and to make the social meetings interesting; and you can let your prayers go out, like sharp sickles, with the laborers into the harvest field. Each should have a personal interest, a burden of soul, to watch and pray for the success of the work. (ML 220)
  • There is a great work for us to do in the world, and God would not have us take a course to lessen or destroy our influence with the world. (1T 422)
  • He who presents to men infinite riches and an eternal life of blessedness in His kingdom as the reward of faithful obedience, will not accept a divided heart. We are living amid the perils of the last days, where there is everything to divert the mind and allure the affections from God. Our duty will only be discerned and appreciated when viewed in the light which shines from the life of Christ. As the sun rises in the east and passes toward the west, filling the world with light, so the true follower of Christ will be a light unto the world. He will go out into the world as a bright and shining light, that those who are in darkness may be lightened and warmed by the rays shining forth from him. Christ says of His followers: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (3T 404)
  • Never be ashamed of your faith; never be found on the side of the enemy. “Ye are the light of the world.” Your faith is to be revealed as precious truth, truth which all should have and all must have if they are [to be] saved. (5T 520)
  • We are in a certain sense our brother's keeper. We are individually related to souls who may, through the merits of Jesus Christ, seek for glory, honor, and immortality. Their purity, sincerity, zeal, consistency, and piety are affected by our words, our works, our deportment, our prayers, and our faithful discharge of duty. Christ said to His disciples: “Ye are the light of the world.” The ministers of Jesus Christ must teach, both in the church and to individuals, the fact that a profession of faith . . . unless it proceeds from heartfelt piety, is powerless for good. Religious light is to shine forth from the church, and especially from the ministers, in clear, steady rays. It is not to flame up on special occasions, and then grow dim, and flicker, as if about to go out. The excellence of Jesus Christ will ever shine in the character of true believers, and they will adorn the doctrine of our Saviour. Thus the excellency and the power of the gospel are revealed. Each member of the church is required to be in living connection with the Source of all light, and to be a spiritual worker, doing his part by good works to reflect light to the world. (5T 531)
  • Says Christ: “Ye are the light of the world,” and for this reason we are to let our light shine before men. (5T 554)
  • By our lives and example we can help others to discern that which is repulsive in their character or about their premises, and with Christian courtesy we may encourage improvement. (6T 188)
  • He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, He who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, bids us let our light shine brightly before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. In such rich measure has light been given to God's people that Christ is justified in telling them that they are to be the light of the world. (8T 46)
  • He who is fully content to receive his commission from above will be cheered by the promises of God, as he seeks to do justice and judgment. To have unwavering trust in God, to be a doer of His word, is to pursue a safe course. The counsel of God simplifies the perplexities of business transactions and domestic duties. The followers of Christ who work with an eye single to the glory of God will have heavenly wisdom. But it is a painful fact that in our churches and institutions there is a great lack of true Christianity. May the Lord help those who are bearing responsibilities to unite with one another in their work and to become laborers together with God.
    • Christ said to His disciples: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Then how important it is that every soul shall keep his light trimmed and burning, that he may give light to all with whom he comes in contact. God has made His people the depositaries of sacred truth. Talents have been committed to them for wise improvement, for God designs that by constant use their talents shall be multiplied. (8T 141)
  • In every place where the message is proclaimed, missionary workers are to go forth with their Bibles in their hands. Souls are to be converted and established in the truth. A meetinghouse is to be built. Light is to shine forth from the believers, who are to be as a city set on a hill. The church is to be in that place a witness to what the truth can do. (WM 260)
  • Christ requires from all His followers open, manly confession of faith. Each must take his position and be what God designed he should be, a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. The whole universe is looking with inexpressible interest to see the closing work of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Every Christian is to be a light, not hid under a bushel or under a bed, but put on a candlestick, that light may be given to all who are in the house. Never, from cowardice or worldly policy, let the truth of God be placed in the background. (6T 145)
  • Like their Master, the followers of Christ in every age were to be the light of the world. (PP 369)
  • [Has] your example and influence been of that positive character that has impressed and convicted your associates? (3T 40)
  • Many are going directly contrary to the light which God has given to His people, because they do not read the books which contain the light and knowledge in cautions, reproofs, and warnings. The cares of the world, the love of fashion, and the lack of religion have turned the attention from the light God has so graciously given, while books and periodicals containing error are traveling all over the country. Skepticism and infidelity are increasing everywhere. Light so precious, coming from the throne of God, is hid under a bushel. God will make His people responsible for this neglect. An account must be rendered to Him for every ray of light He has let shine upon our pathway, whether it has been improved to our advancement in divine things or rejected because it was more agreeable to follow inclination. (5T 681)