Matt 6:22,23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light. 23But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. KJV
Different translations use different terms describing “eye” which can lead to confusion. For example:
NIV uses “eyes are good”
ESV uses “eye is healthy”
NASB uses “eye is clear”
KJB uses “eye be single”
And for the other eye in verse 23, we have:
NIV uses “eyes are bad”
KJV uses “eye be evil”
The first eye description gives way to several different interpretations from disease to being focused. The second eye also has several interpretations from having double vision to covetousness. I wonder if the expression “evil eye,” meaning to cause harm to another by glaring at them with evil intent, derived from this verse?
Because of these different words used and thus different interpretations, we are forced to come up with a general, catch-all meaning which boils down to having good conduct. If you have good conduct, you are in the light and if you conduct yourself badly, then you are in darkness. I’m not disputing this principle. But what I want to talk about is what these verses actually mean instead of settling for a generic interpretation.
First read Matt 6:19-24 in context. Verse 19 talks about not storing up treasures on earth but instead, store up treasures in heaven. Verse 24 says we cannot serve two masters – either God or money.
So verse 22 & 23 are in between these verses; so does it makes sense that it would be talking about diseased eyes or good conduct? No. In context, it’s speaking of greed. Having an “evil eye” is having a greedy eye. It is the lustful desire of the eye which controls a person thoroughly and this case, these verses speak of money.
My Complete Jewish Bible reads:
Matt 6:22,23 The eye is the lamp of the body, So if you have a ‘good eye’ [that is, if you are generous] your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if you have an ‘evil eye’ [if you are stingy] your whole body will be full of darkness.
I did not insert brackets; this is how its written.
We see this again in Prov 22:9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.
If you are generous, then you are not greedy.
Matt 18:8,9 “So if your hand or foot becomes a snare for you, cut it off and throw it away! Better that you should be maimed or crippled and obtain eternal life than keep both hands or both feet and be thrown into everlasting fire! 9And if your eye is a snare for you, gouge it out and fling it away!
These verses are not telling you to cut off parts of your body because that would violate Deut 14:1. Instead, we are to run away from the “evil eye” of desire, lust, and greed.
Hopefully this brings some clarity to these verses. While it is admonishing us to have good conduct, more specifically, it is telling us to guard against having this “evil eye” of greed and lust for anything because it will darken and pollute the whole body.