by Mike Ratliff
19Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου. 22Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται· 23ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον. 24Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ. (Matthew 6:19-24 NA28)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in nor steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 22 “The eye of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is healthy, your whole body will be enlightened. 23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” 24 “No one is able to serve two masters; for either the one he will hate and the other he will love, or one he will hold to and the other he will despise. You are not able to serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:19-24 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Our Lord Jesus was the most powerful and best expositor of God’s Word that believers have ever had. He spoke only the truth and he never taught anything from any motive other than that which is the will of God. We are to follow his example in every part of our lives. In the passage above, in v22, the word “healthy” translates the Greek adjective ἁπλοῦς (haplous). Is healthy a deep enough or strong enough definition for us to grasp what our Lord was teaching here? If we look at the context it is obvious that he is making a contrast between people with a “healthy eye of the body” with those who do not. What does this mean?
In Classical Greek ἁπλοῦς carried a numerical meaning of “single” in contrast to διπλοῦς (diplous), which is translated as “double.” In an ethical sense ἁπλοῦς came to mean straightness, openness, speaking without a hidden meaning. This developed into the New Testament usage of sincerity, without duplicity, and “uncomplicated simplicity.”
Of its eight New Testament usages, Ephesians 6:5 refers to slaves (or, in our time, employees) obeying “in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” What genuine Christianity calls for is obedience that is rendered, not in formality, pretense, or hypocrisy, but in inward reality and sincerity, and with an undivided heart. Our witness as Christians in this world is polluted and, therefore, worthless if it is marked with a complaint, a negative attitude, or hypocrisy. Even though we may be proficient at our craft or our job, if our attitude is marked with the fleshliness, bitterness, and hypocrisy in any way, we have really failed in the overall task God has placed us there to do.
In Romans 12:8 we find ἁπλοῦς being used in the context of the “spiritual gift, “εἴτε ὁ παρακαλῶν ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει· ὁ μεταδιδοὺς ἐν ἁπλότητι, ὁ προϊστάμενος ἐν σπουδῇ, ὁ ἐλεῶν ἐν ἱλαρότητι,” or as the NASB renders it, “or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The word “liberality” translates the noun ἁπλότητι (haplotēti), which is the Dative, Singular, Feminine case of ἁπλότης (haplotēs). Here we have the noun form of ἁπλοῦς. The NASB translated it as “liberality.” Here is the ESV rendering, “the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
It should be obvious now what function the translators are giving to ἁπλότητι here. With whatever your gift is, in whatever service you are rendering unto our Lord and the Body of Christ you are to do it with a singular focus without ulterior motives, such as wanting something in return or even expecting thanks or recognition. We are to serve our Lord from the right motive, that is, with sincerity and without a hidden agenda.
Now let us return to Matthew 6:19-24, which I placed at the top of this post. With what we have learned about ἁπλοῦς so far, what is our Lord Jesus referring to with the eye of the body…? Here is my translation of vv22-23, “The eye of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is healthy, your whole body will be enlightened. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Where our Lord says, “if your eye is healthy,” in the Greek it says, “if your eye be single.” If the eye of your body is single, your whole body will be enlightened or full of light. What does this mean?
The good eye belongs to the person whose motives are pure. This person has a single desire for God’s interests. He is willing to accept Christ’s teachings literally. His whole life is flooded with the light from God. Why? He believes Jesus’ words. He forsakes all for treasure in Heaven and he knows that this is the only true security. On the other hand, the bad eye belongs to the person who is trying to live for two worlds. He doesn’t want to let go of his earthly treasures, yet he does want treasures in heaven as well. However, to this person, the teachings of Jesus seem impractical and impossible to him. He lacks clear guidance since he is full of darkness.
Let us be believers with that good eye that cleanses us of all hypocrisy and prepares us for the age to come.
Soli Deo Gloria!