The “bad eye” verses

I came across this analysis of the “bad eye” verses in Matthew 6:22-23 by John Piper. It makes a lot of sense in the context of Matthew 6 (in concert with Matthew 20:15), but I’d really like to know what you guys who are currently studying Greek make of what Piper says in light of Luke 11:33-36, which is quite similar to the Matthew 6 passage. Thanks!



  1. I don’t think there is any “revelation” here by knowing Greek – it is pretty straight forward, though the figurative language is what makes it difficult (in any language).

    Here’s what MacArthur says, “…the eye is like the lamp of the body. When we can see with our eyes, sighted people their body is filled with the light that comes in from the world by which they perceive, and understand what’s in their vision. But if your eye is dark it is black, there’s no light that comes in you perceive nothing. And that’s the way it is with the heart, if your heart is toward God it lights your entire spiritual being, if your heart is toward the material things, toward the treasure of the world the blinds come down of your spiritual perception and you do not see, spiritually as you ought.”

    A. W. Pink might shed some light on the “covering the lamp” in Luke 11:33 – “Since this evil eye is in each of us by nature, we should constantly remind ourselves of our inability to judge rightly either of God or of ourselves, for it is the first step in true knowledge to acknowledge our own blindness. We must be suitably affected by such a realization, judging ourselves unsparingly, bewailing our misery, that we have a mind so corrupt that it disorders the whole of our conduct and seeks by grace to mortify the same. Since this evil eye is common to human nature, we discover therein what explains the mad course followed by the unregenerate, why they are so infatuated by sin and so in love with the world, and why the seriously inclined among them are deceived by error and captivated by false doctrines. Since human reason is now completely eclipsed, how profoundly thankful we should be for the light of God’s Word, yet if that light illumine us and we fail to walk accordingly, suppressing its requirements, then doubly great will be our darkness.”

    Spurgeon has some good illustrations of what it means to have the light darkened: “I have also seen this light turned to darkness in the case of ‘the student who has gathered great erudition, and enrolled himself among the learned. He begins to criticize. Do not condemn him for that: he judges very properly at first, he criticizes things that ought to be criticized; but he stops not there. Once having his critical faculty aroused, he is like a boy with a new knife; he must cut something or other. Nothing comes in his way more often than the Scriptures; and he must have a cut at them. He whittles at Genesis; he makes a gash in Deuteronomy; he halves Isaiah; he takes slices out of the Gospels, and cuts the Epistles into slivers. You see, he has so sharp a knife that he must use it. By-and-by, from a critic he advances to an irreverent faultfinder, and from that to an utter unbeliever, hard in the mouth and stiff in the neck. His light has blinded him. He has taken his own eye to pieces that he might study its anatomy, and henceforth the light will be of no more use to him than to the dead.”

    Seems like Piper is in line – even with Luke 11:33-36
    When he says: “What does the bad eye refer to in Matthew 20:15? It refers to an eye that cannot see the beauty of grace. It cannot see the brightness of generosity.”
    It really is referring to salvation – but in the way he likes to refer to it, as “seeing the beauty of God”

    I’m sure you’ve looked at most of this stuff – but I was just going through some of it and thought I would post what I found.

    Makes sense.

  2. Thanks, Nathan – I had actually looked at a number of different sources, but not any of those you quoted 🙂

    I really like Spurgeon’s illustration – especially at the end.

    I think I was getting sidetracked by Piper’s “expanded translation”, if you will (“So the flow of thought would go like this…”), and how he fit it in with the larger context of Matthew 6 – and as a result, was having trouble because I was trying to retrofit that kind of emphasis (on treasure) and flow into Luke 11.

  3. I haven’t had a chance to study up on this too much. But I think Nathan is right when he says that it isn’t a “Greek-English” thing per se. It seems that the “bad eye” thing is an idiom.

  4. Yeah, I could tell it was an idiom – which is why I asked for some help with it 🙂

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