Verse of the Day 2.23.18: Luke 11:34
Today, C4C is studying Luke 11:33-36 — a passage about Christ-like, spiritual enlightenment resulting in Christ-like behavior.1 Like a lamp that illuminates a room enables people to conduct themselves wisely (as opposed to being in darkness), a pure eye allows an enlightened person to conduct themselves wisely in life.2
34 ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου. ὅταν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς ᾖ, καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινόν ἐστιν· ἐπὰν δὲ πονηρὸς ᾖ, καὶ τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινόν.3
34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.4
Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is pure, your whole body is also full of light; when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness
Whereas body refers to a person in their entirety, one’s eye metaphorically refers to “one’s spiritual vision or openness to God’s word, i.e., Jesus’ teaching.”5
It is helpful to note that in this first century Greco-Roman context, the eye was not thought to receive light from the outside, but to allow the light from one’s own body to proceed from the inside. The eye was thought to be “the conduit or source of the light that makes sight possible.”6 Therefore, figuratively, if one’s eyes were healthily allowing one’s inner light to shine through, one’s body must be full of light — and vice versa.
The adjective translated pure (ἁπλοῦς | haplous), which only occurs here in the New Testament (and in the parallel passage in Matthew (Mt 6:22), probably has a moral or ethical sense of purity. However, similar to being “pure in heart”, this purity in eye connotes singular, undivided devotion to Christ7— the true Light (Jn 1:9; 8:12).8
The adjective translated bad (πονηρός | ponēros) pertains “to being morally or socially worthless, wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, degenerate.”9 This adjective is essentially being employed as the polar opposite of pure. Broadly, this seems to include anything that is unChrist-like — not of God.
In this context, light refers to the preaching of Jesus.10 Just like the purpose for lamps are to be a light for those near the lamp, Jesus, as opposed to being sent just for the Jews, is meant to be a “light for the Gentiles” (Isa 49:6).11
Darkness, in this context, refers to obstinate unwillingness to receive the light — the teaching of Jesus.12
Whereas those with “bad eyes,” who demand miraculous signs (Lk 11:29), betray their unwillingness to accept the teachings of Jesus, those with “pure eyes” manifest their willingness to conform to the teaching of Jesus. Spiritual darkness entails a primary allegiance to self instead of the Savior.
As many apologists affirm, many objections to a Christian worldview are really emotional and volitional objections masquerading as intellectual ones.
When sensing hostility from skeptical objectors to Christianity during his presentations, Dr. Frank Turek often asks, “If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?” Remarkably, it is not uncommon for some people to reply emphatically, “No!” Of such people, in Stealing From God, Turek remarks:
That’s because reason or evidence isn’t the issue for such people. They don’t have an intellectual objection to Christianity—they have an emotional, moral, or volitional objection. They’ve been hurt by Christians or think they’ve been let down by God. But more often, as several atheists have admitted, they simply don’t want to give up their autonomy and submit their will to God.13
If we are resistant to any of Christ’s teachings, it seems wise to check our motives.
Memorize Luke 11:34 after watching a brief video tutorial illustrating the How To Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method below:
- “…what is not debatable for Jesus is the certainty that one’s inner constitution is broadcast in one’s behaviors…”Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 466.
- Michael Wilcock, The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke’s Gospel, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 130.
- Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Lk 11:34.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Lk 11:34.
- Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 337.
- Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 465. “The ‘eye’ as a conduit of the intentions of the heart was known to ancient Judaism, and in many parts of the Middle East still today, as the ‘evil eye.'” James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 352.
- “‘The point here is probably unclouded loyalty, in the sense in which pure hearts will see God (Matt 5:8), but the deepest meaning is that of a simple soul, not parceled out, like that of a small child, oriented exclusively toward God. This integrity, this righteousness of basic purpose, introduces one to the light, the world of God’ (Spicq 1:171)” Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 350. “…the sense of ‘wholehearted’ is perhaps nearer the mark…” Otto Bauernfeind, “Ἀπλοῦς, Ἀπλότης,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 386. “As an ethical imperative, as it is esp. in Matthew, the image describes a blunt either/or: God requires ἁπλότης, i.e., the human will in its entirety.” Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 124.
- or more generally, the light can mean the “world of God… The light is total and perfect; but if one’s outlook is evil, deficient because the heart is pulled in different directions (cf. Matt 6:21), the whole person abides in darkness (the world of Satan?). Simplicity is thus total involvement and the unreserved giving of the self.” Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 170–171.
- William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 851.
- “This analogy likens Jesus’ preaching to the provision of light in order that people might see how to become part of God’s kingdom.” Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 337.
- “Jesus, likewise, is not the sole claim of one interest group, not even of Judaism and the temple, but the light for all who enter—even for people as far away as Nineveh and Sheba! [cf. Lk 11:29-32]” James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 352.
- “…not open to the kingdom or is divided, duplicitous, and distracted from the kingdom [of God]”). James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 352.
- Turek, Frank. Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case (p. 112). NavPress. Kindle Edition.