The light of the body is the eye: therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil, your body also is full of darkness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The light of the body is the eye.—See Note on Matthew 6:22. In some respects the sequence of thought in St. Luke differs from that in St. Matthew, and seems somewhat closer. In the Sermon on the Mount, the company of Christ’s disciples are the light, and each of them is as the lamp on its proper stand, and the teaching as to the “light of the body,” and the corresponding “‘eye” of the soul, is separated from that illustration by our Lord’s comment on the corrupt traditional interpretations of the scribes. Here the two thoughts are brought into close proximity. The moral sense, the “vision and the faculty divine” that has its intuitions of eternal truths, this is the light which is so set that those who “are entering in” (this feature, as in Luke 8:16, is peculiar to St. Luke)—the seekers and inquirers who are drawn to look in, as it were, upon the house of Christ’s Church, the “unlearned” or “unbelievers” of 1Corinthians 14:23—may see the light and turn to it.Matthew 5:15; Matthew 6:22-23. See Poole on "Matthew 6:22", See Poole on "Matthew 6:23". Our Saviour’s speech in these verses is plainly both elliptical (something being in itself to be understood) and also metaphorical. The sense is this, What the eye is to the body, that the soul, the mind and affections, are to the whole man. Now look, as the eye is the organ by which light is received to guide a man’s steps, so that if that be perfect, without any mixture of ill humours, &c., the body from it takes a full and right direction how to move and act; but if that be vitiated by ill humours, the man knows not how to direct his bodily steps: so if a man’s soul, (which answereth the bodily eye), more especially a man’s understanding or judgment, be darkened, perverted, prejudiced, or his affections be debauched or depraved, he will not know how to move one step right in his duty; but if his understanding have a right notion of truths, and he judgeth aright concerning the things and ways of God, and his affections be not depraved, then the whole man will be in a capacity to receive the light and revelations of truth, as they shall be communicated to him, even as he who hath a perfect eye receiveth and is able to make use of the bright shining of a candle.
therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light: as when the eye is free from vicious humours, and its sight is clear, the whole body reaps the advantage of it, and is perfectly illuminated by it; so when the eye of the understanding is opened and enlightened by the Spirit of God, into the truths of the Gospel, and a single regard is had unto them, and to the glory of Christ in them, the whole soul is filled with light, joy, and comfort:
but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness; as when the eye of the body is attended with any bad humours that hinder the sight, all the members of it are in darkness; so, when the understanding is darkened through the blindness and ignorance there is in men, with respect to Gospel truths, all the powers and faculties of the soul are in a very miserable and uncomfortable condition. The 35th and 36th verses are not in Beza's most ancient copy.The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 11:34. ὁ λύχνος, etc., the lamp of the body is thine eye. This thought in connection with the foregoing one might lead us to expect some remark on the proper placing of the body’s lamp, but the discourse proceeds to speak of the single (ἁπλοῦς) and the evil (πονηρὸς) eye. The connection lies in the effects of these qualities. The single eye, like a properly placed lamp, gives light; the evil eye, like a lamp under a bushel, leaves one in darkness. On these attributes of the eye vide remarks on Matthew 6:22-23.34. The light of the body is the eye] Rather, The eye is the candle of the body, since the word is the same as in the last verse.
therefore when thine eye is single] The eye in this clause is the ‘inward eye’ of conscience; the ‘illuminated eye of the heart,’ Ephesians 1:17-18. ‘Single,’ i.e. unsophisticated; in its normal condition.
when thine eye is evil] The ‘evil eye’ is especially one of hate, Romans 12:8; Sir 14:8-10. The inward eye should be spiritual; when it becomes carnal the man can no longer see that which is only spiritually discerned, and he takes God’s wisdom for foolishness, 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.Luke 11:34. Ὁ λύχνος, the lamp [light]) Light is freely open to us, and is manifest and single (not complex, without duplicity): we therefore, in turn, ought to be open to the whole light.Verses 34, 35. - The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. He goes on, though, with his solemn warning words. Plainly visible though the sign would be - shining bright as a lighted lamp set on high - still it, too, was possible to miss seeing it. If the eye, the organ of the body which perceives the light, be sound and healthy, then the illumination given by the lamp is seen, and the whole body, so to speak, is full of light; but if the eye was diseased, purblind, no bright shining light would be seen - the body then would be full of darkness. The word rendered "single" denotes the eye in its natural healthy state; that translated "evil" speaks of the eye as diseased, as incapable of perceiving the rays of light. The imagery to those Orientals, accustomed to parable and allegory in the stories and poems they had listened to from their childhood, was easily translated into the language of everyday life. If they gave way to passion, jealousy, prejudice, impurity, lawlessness in its hundred forms, then for them the spiritual eye of the soul would become diseased, and therefore incapable of rightly discerning any heavenly sign. It was this danger that the Master was pointing out to the crowd. "Ah!" he seems to say, "you ask a heavenly sign which will substantiate my lofty claims; that sign, in a grander and more stately form than ever you have dreamed of, shall, indeed, be given you. Have no fear on that score; rather dread that blindness, the punishment of a hard and evil heart, will come upon you, and render you incapable of seeing the sign you ask for, and which I mean to give you." He was speaking still of his resurrection. Alas, for them! the blindness of which he warned them was the unhappy lot, we know, of very many of those listening then.
See on Matthew 6:22.
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