The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!Matt. 6:22-23
Before embarking on this study, let us first define a key term used in this week’s scripture reading. The use of the Greek word for “single” in the New Testament is interestingly found only here in this verse along with the same cross referenced verse from Luke. We shall see that single, or rather “singleness of heart” has strong relevance in the context of this passage. Singleness of heart is also referenced in Eph. 6:5 and Col. 3:22; and forms part of a moral perspective on living right for God.
There are also some other prevailing themes worth noting at the outset. One is that this study is a contrast drawn between spiritual light and spiritual darkness. A second theme to note is this verse is encompassed between two other notable passages. Before this verse, Jesus deals with what people should treasure in life. After this, Jesus deals with who people should serve in life. So in just three passages alone you have the questions, what do you treasure in life, where is your heart, and who do you serve, all making for very thought provoking scripture.
With this initial context in play, let us now delve into the study called the light of the body is the eye. Please note, extensive scripture will be referenced as part of this study, making a second cup of coffee highly recommended!
Let us start by looking at one of Paul’s letters first in this Bible study. Paul refers to an internal spiritual darkness that affects people’s understanding or comprehension as a result of a blindness of the heart as he writes, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” [Eph. 4:18] This spiritual blindness has its origin in the god of this world, also known as the prince of this world, Satan. Paul further illustrates this by describing the situation in another letter as the blinding of the mind by the god of this world.
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[2 Cor. 4:4-6]
Here it is quickly evident in scripture the distinction between spiritual light and darkness, God and Satan, blindness and light in being able to see the gospel of Christ. Let us explore this theme further. Jesus remarkably stated that spiritual blindness perpetuated itself even within the religious leaders of that day as he commented about them, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” [Matt. 15;14]
But here is the contrast to this spiritual darkness in the world. The apostle John emphasized this by contrasting Jesus as the light coming into the world against the prevailing spiritual darkness that already existed in the world, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19]
More notably, this darkness described is not even able to understand the true light that has come into the world as further noted by John, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” [John 1:4-5] During Paul’s long dissertation in his letter to believers in Rome, he also wrote of this same dilemma, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” [Rom. 1:21]
During the earthly ministry of Jesus though, he was unequivocal in his message to declare that he was indeed the true and everlasting light and that believers in him would be transformed from a place of darkness to one of light. He stated this emphatically to the multitudes, “…saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12]
Jesus likened believers in him as children of this same light by saying, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” [John 12:35] Paul drew further parallels from this same theme in one of his letters to believers, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” [1 Thes. 5:4-5]
Paul also remarked figuratively of this light as armor for believers to wear for spiritual protection in his letters, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” [Rom. 13:12] For people who think they somehow must be good enough before coming to God, (since individuals are typically dwelling in spiritual darkness before coming to Christ), the following verse should give reassurance to anyone that people can come to Jesus just as they are, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” [Eph. 5:8]
This week’s passage of scripture therefore, while referencing the eye as the proverbial window to the soul, is giving reference to one’s heart, or inner motives as recorded here in Paul’s writings, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” [2 Cor. 4:6] All the above scriptural verses present a strong correlation to the light of the body is the eye and what is at play in our inner thoughts or hearts.
Let us now look at some remarkable references to light in scripture as it relates to the radiance from the eternal God and the effect it had upon certain individuals. John the Baptist was described as a light by Jesus in this passage, “He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” [John 5:35] After being with the Lord for forty days, Moses was similarly described as light, “And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.” [Ex. 34:30] Stephen was described as having a form of heavenly radiance, “And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” [Acts 6:15]
Jesus himself was described as radiating light during his transfiguration, “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” [Matt. 17:2] The Lord being described as the eternal light is also referenced in prophecy from John’s writings, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.” [Rev. 21:23] Finally, on this theme, John shares a very clear message of God as the eternal light, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5]
Hope in the Light
All this in context begs the question then for believers and or seekers of faith, how should we live and walk in a world filled with spiritual darkness? What if we have a sense that darkness fills our own thought life? David highlighted this widespread predicament in the Old Testament with his writings, “They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” [Ps. 82:5] Solomon in all his gifted wisdom also wrote of this dilemma in the book of Proverbs, “The way of the wicked [is] as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” [Prov. 4:19]
But there is hope for both believers and seekers of faith. There is good news for people seeking a better way out of the darkness because Christ has come into the world to bring light that was prophesied centuries ago, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” [Is. 9:2] This is why Paul wrote to believers similar passages referencing prophetic teachings on living rightly for God, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” [Eph. 5:14]
These passages of scripture now start to all come together in harmony with the same theme and message for people of faith as the prophet proclaims, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” [Is. 60:1-3] There are indeed countless scripture references that relate to the light of the body is the eye which originates from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is our Light
Therefore, to live and walk as believers in a world often filled with darkness, we are to follow Jesus, his will for our life and obey his word as he shared, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matt. 5:14-16] This is why the Paul and Barnabas affirmed their calling in life from the Lord after envious Jews endeavoured to derail their early ministry by stating, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, [saying,] I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” [Acts 13:47]
Pauls’ letters continue to help in outlining the position believers should take in the world amidst the darkness by being figurative lights in the world, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” [Phil. 2:15] In another one of his letters, Paul counselled believers in their daily walk in the Lord to stay away and separate themselves from spiritual darkness, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them.] ” [Eph. 5:11]
The apostle John drew further insight upon this distinctive walk with the Lord by distinguishing how hypocritical conduct does not confirm to living in the light of Jesus by saying, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” [1 John 1:6-7] John also noted how relationships with other people will affect and reflect upon their walk in Christ by stating, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” [1 John 2:11]
Living as Light
To close off this Bible study on the light of the body is the eye, people should consider taking this opportunity to contemplate and pray upon the singleness of their eyes, or heart, and determine where their own focus is in life. Each and every person must ultimately decide between light and darkness in their daily walk as expressed by Jesus, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” [John 3:21]
For some, this may draw some conviction while reading through the many verses in scripture that contrast spiritual light with darkness. It is with prayer that some will see this as a need to make a decision by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. There is nothing greater in life than to come to this realization and experience transforming change from new birth in Christ.
Perhaps two more parting verses from scripture will help seekers of faith see the light from the Lord with the first from the ancient prophet writing,
“The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”[Is. 60:19-20]
Finally, from an eternal perspective the apostle John closes with this most encouraging verse from Revelation, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” [Rev. 22:5] With this comprehensive knowledge of the light of the body is the eye now presented to you, why not consider becoming light in Christ to a dark world in desperate need!
Bible Study Questions
- Why do you think Jesus describes inward light with the phrase, The light of the body is the eye?
- Fill in the blanks. ___________ is to God as ___________ is to Satan.
- In John 1:5, does the darkness understand the light of Jesus? Yes or no and why (bonus points).
- In Proverbs 4:19, why do you think it associates wickedness with darkness?
- Why do you think there is often a fascination with spiritual darkness in the world?
- In John 3:19-21, what is associated with coming to the light?
- Describe how the last two verses of this study (Is. 60:20, Rev. 22:5) give you hope for living in the light of Christ.
- Bonus! The light of the body is the eye study contains 32 scripture references. Memorize at least one this week.
WORD GUIDE – * (raiment – clothing) * (Gentiles – non-Jewish people) * (rebuke – to reprimand) * (reprove – to correct, gently)