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13 “Your lives are like salt among the people. But if you, like salt, become bland, how can your ‘saltiness’ be restored? Flavorless salt is good for nothing[a] and will be thrown out and trampled on by others.

14 “Your lives light up the world. For how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop?[b] 15 And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place?[c] Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light. 16 So don’t hide your light![d] Let it shine brightly before others, so that your commendable works[e] will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”

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Footnotes

  1. 5:13 Or “Salt that has lost its flavor is foolish.” Both Greek and Aramaic use a word that can mean either “good for nothing” or “foolish.” If salt that has lost its flavor is foolish, then salt that keeps its flavor is wise. Rabbinical literature equates salt with wisdom. After speaking of salt, Jesus speaks of lighting a lamp. It was a common practice in the time of Jesus to put salt on the wick of a lamp to increase its brightness. The “salt” of wisdom will make our lights shine even brighter. (Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975. W. A. Elwell and P. W. Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, Tyndale reference library, 2001, Lamp, Lampstand. 797–8.)
  2. 5:14 See Isa. 49:6.
  3. 5:15 Or “under a basket.”
  4. 5:16 The Aramaic word for “light” (noohra) is often used as a metaphor for teachings that bring enlightenment and revelation into the hearts of men. Light can also represent the presence of God (“the light of his countenance”). Jesus is the light of God within us.
  5. 5:16 Light and works are intertwined. We need the light of Christ in order to do good works. Our good works are like light shining upon their hearts.

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