Matthew 6:22 MEANING

Matthew 6:22
(22) The light of the body.-Literally, the lamp of the body. So in Proverbs 20:27, "The spirit of man is the candle (or 'lamp') of the Lord"--that which, under the name of "conscience," the "moral sense," the "inner man" discerns spiritual realities, distinguishes right from wrong, gives the light by which we see our way. If this is "single," if it discerns clearly, all is well. The "whole body," the life of the man in all its complex variety, will be illumined by that light. The connection with what precedes lies on the surface. Singleness of intention will preserve us from the snare of having a double treasure, and therefore a divided heart.

Verses 22, 23. - The light of the body is the eye, etc. Parallel passage: Luke 11:34-36, where it immediately follows the illustration of putting a lamp under the bushel (Matthew 5:15). The excessive difficulty of Luke's ver. 36 points to Luke having preserved on the whole the more original form of the saying; but it seems quite impossible to say which is its more original position. It suits the context quite as well in Matthew as in Luke, while the mere verbal similarity of λύχνος may have caused it to be placed in Luke after his ver. 33 (cf. ver. 24, infra, note). The light of the body; the lamp (Revised Version); ὁ λύχνος (Matthew 5:15, note). The thought of the power which treasure has of attracting the heart forms the transition to the need of a pure and steady "eye" heavenwards. The bodily eye is taken as the symbol of the outlooking power of the soul, not the soul - the inner man - itself, but its outlooking power. As the body is illuminated by the eye, i.e. as by the eye the bodily constitution learns its environment, and naturally, almost automatically, tends to accommodate itself to it, so is it with the gaze of the soul. If this be upon the things of this world, the soul perceives, and tends to accommodate itself to the things of this world; if upon things in heaven, it perceives, and tends to accommodate itself to, the things in heaven. The Authorized Version "light" is, therefore, imperfect, for the gaze of the soul is not "light" (φῶς), but a "lamp" (λύχνος). As the bodily eye is not itself light, but only an instrument for receiving and imparting light, so in the mere gaze of the soul there is no inherent light, but it is the means of receiving and imparting light to the soul. If therefore thine eye be single. The word "single" (ἁπλοῦς) presents some difficulty.

(1) If it meant "undivided," it would doubtless continue the illustration of the lamp, with an undivided as contrasted with a divided wick, but it has no such meaning.

(2) It states the opposite, not to divisions, but to folds (vide Trench, 'Syn.,' § 56.); it is "single" as opposed to "plicate," and therefore can hardly contain any direct reference to the lamp. Its meaning rather appears to be purely metaphorical, and the word seems to be applied 'directly to the functions of the eye in relation to the body. If the eye be "single" and (to use another but related metaphor) straightforward in its working, then the body receives through it the light that it ought to receive. So is it with the gaze of the soul in its effect on the inner man.

(3) Perhaps, however, ἁπλοῦςη is here used in the sense of non-compound (cf. Plato, 'Rep.,' 547. E); in this case free from any foreign substance to bar the light from passing through it (cf. Matthew 7:3, and Basil, 'De Spiritu Sancto,' 9. § 23, sqq.). Thy whole body shall be full of light (φωτινὸν ἔσται). Well-lighted in itself, and bright in appearance to others (cf. s, νεφέλη φωτινή, Matthew 17:5). The word chosen seems to indicate, not merely that the body is, through the eye, lighted, but also that it itself becomes in measure, like the eye, full of light for others. All one's powers become illumined with the Divine light, and the illumination shines through. But if thine eye be evil, etc. Evil (πονηρός); ver. 13, note. Vitiated, worthless. As an eye that does not fulfil its natural function, so is that gaze of the soul which is directed only earthward. To limit tiffs, with Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.'), to covetousness (cf. also Hatch, 'Essays,' p. 81), is far too partial an interpretation. Such an earthward and selfish gaze of the soul may often issue in selfishness as regards money (cf. Matthew 20:15), but the full meaning of the phrase includes very much more. Thy whole body shall be full of darkness. What the heart craves to see it sees; but in this case, not light makes its entrance, but darkness, which, as in the case of the light, permeates the frame. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness; rather, is darkness; the change here to the indicative (εἰ... ἐστίν) indicating that the last preceding clause is assumed as fact. The light that is in thee. Our Lord does not say, "the light that comes through the eye," for he means more than this, viz. that the very information, so to speak, brought first by the outlook of the soul, comes into us and remains in us. He assumes that this, which ought to be light, is darkness. How great is that darkness! i.e. the darkness (Revised Version)just spoken of, which comes through the eye. So, probably, Luke 11:35. If' the gaze which should bring light brings only darkness, how terrible in its nature and effects must that darkness be! It is, however, possible to understand our Lord to refer in this verse to the natural darkness of the soul before it looks out of itself. In this case the thought is - you need a fixed gaze heavenwards; if your gaze is not heavenwards, it brings darkness instead of light; how black, then, must be the natural darkness! (cf. especially Trench, ' Sermon on the Mount'). It will be noticed that in these verses darkness, though scientifically only negative - the absence of light - is here represented as positive, because it is the symbol of sin and evil.

6:19-24 Worldly-mindedness is a common and fatal symptom of hypocrisy, for by no sin can Satan have a surer and faster hold of the soul, under the cloak of a profession of religion. Something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best thing; in which it has pleasure and confidence above other things. Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them. There are treasures in heaven. It is our wisdom to give all diligence to make our title to eternal life sure through Jesus Christ, and to look on all things here below, as not worthy to be compared with it, and to be content with nothing short of it. It is happiness above and beyond the changes and chances of time, an inheritance incorruptible. The worldly man is wrong in his first principle; therefore all his reasonings and actions therefrom must be wrong. It is equally to be applied to false religion; that which is deemed light is thick darkness. This is an awful, but a common case; we should therefore carefully examine our leading principles by the word of God, with earnest prayer for the teaching of his Spirit. A man may do some service to two masters, but he can devote himself to the service of no more than one. God requires the whole heart, and will not share it with the world. When two masters oppose each other, no man can serve both. He who holds to the world and loves it, must despise God; he who loves God, must give up the friendship of the world.The light of the body is the eye,.... Or, the "candle of the body is the eye"; for the eye is that in the body, as a candle is in the house; by the light of it, the several members of the body perform their office; and what is said of the eye of the body, is transferred to the eye of the mind:

if therefore thine eye be single: that is, if thy mind be liberal, generous, and bountiful: for Christ is still upon the same subject of liberality, and against covetousness; and here speaks entirely in the language of the Jews, who could easily understand him; in whose writings we read of three sorts of eyes; a good eye, a middling one, and an evil one; so in the offerings of the first fruits (s),

, "a good eye" gave the fortieth, the house Shammai say, the thirtieth part; a middling one, the fiftieth; and an evil one, the sixtieth part.''

Upon which the commentators say (t), a "good eye" means one that is liberal, and an "evil eye" the contrary: hence you often read (u) of "trading, dedicating", and "giving with a good" or "an evil eye"; that is, either generously, liberally, or in a stubborn and grudging manner; which may help us to the sense of our Lord in these words; whose meaning is, that if a man is not covetous, but his mind is disposed to generosity and liberality; if this be the case, as if he should say,

thy whole body shall be full of light: all thy actions will be influenced by this noble principle; thy whole life will be illuminated, guided and governed by it; thy mind will be cheerful and pleasant, and thy estate and condition will be prosperous and successful.

(s) Misn. Trumot, c. 4. sect. 3.((t) Maimon. Bartenora & Ez. Chayim in ib. (u) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 37. 2. & 71. 1. & 72. 1.

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