I have always been fascinated by references in the scriptures to the eyes. I suppose I just sensed there was a mystery there when the scriptures would talk about the light of the body is the eye, or speak about the eye of faith and such things. When Christ said if our eye is single, “thy whole body shall be full of light,” I got to wondering what this phrase meant and how it was meant to be interpreted.
Why is eye singular?
What does the word single mean?
How does a body fill with light?
What does it mean to have an eye single to God’s glory?
These are all topics worth investigating to further our understanding of what this phrase means.
Lets get started with a search for all verses that contain eye and single.
Open Scripture Notes in a browser window and search:
eye and single
There are 10 results.
Make a collection note from the results and read down the list. I like starting with Biblical verses for meaning because they have Strong’s concordance meanings we can examine. I’m going to start with Matthew 6:22. Click this link to open it up.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
Keywords in this verse:
Light appears twice on the list because when you look at the Strong’s references (G3088 & G5460), these lights are different words in Greek. Body is the same definition, so I only reference it once. Now let’s define them by clicking on each number and examining the meanings.
Light 1 – Lychnos: a portable lamp or other illuminator
Body – Soma: wide application of meanings from a whole person, to a whole body of objects or things
Eye – Ophthalmos: literal or figurative eye, vision
Single – Haplous: “Probably from G1 (as a particle of union) and the base of G4120; properly, folded together, i.e. single (figuratively, clear)): -single”
Whole – Holos: all, complete, whole
Light 2 – Photeinos: “lustrous, i.e. transparent or well-illuminated (figuratively):—bright, full of light.”
So the light of the body is a small light, perhaps a still small light, that brings vision to our eye. When we focus on it, it fills us so completely with light that everything is illuminated. Nothing remains concealed.
Lets look closer at “haplous” which is the word single. It says it’s probably from G1. The G1 reference is to the first Greek concordance word which is “alpha”. So “haplous” has its root in “alpha” which is a title for God.
G4120 is the word “pleko” which means “to twine or braid: -plait”. This word for single (haplous) forms the base of that word.
When I first discovered this, I thought of braiding hair and demonstrations I’d seen of twining rope. The extra strength to the rope comes from strands of fiber absorbing the tension of strands around them and supporting each other.
I then discovered that “pleko” is only used 3 times in the Bible and it’s the word Matthew, Mark, and John used to say the Romans “platted” a crown of thorns and put it upon Jesus’ head.
I don’t pretend to understand the full implications of the relationship of these words, but here is my brief thought on it. We all know that Christ had his eye single to God the Father’s glory and it led him to the cross. It also seems appropriate to suggest that our spiritual journey begins with “alpha,” a beginning point where we acknowledge our belief in and dependence on God. Then we must learn to have our eye single to God’s glory (haplous) just as Jesus Christ did. This in turn tells us where our final destination is which is the “pleko,” being willingly “platted” and putting to death the old natural man (Romans 6:6). The Lord said “And he that will not take up his cross and follow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved.” (D&C 56:2). I believe having an eye single to the glory of God has some meaning in this.
On a few occasions with the scouts, I would teach them about this scripture by having them visualize looking to God in the heavens and picturing a beam of light in the form of a strong rope piercing down to their eye. Then I would teach them how to splice in a rope of their own to a lengthy piece of rope, as if that was their connection to God.
They would then make an “eye” or handhold on their rope, and we’d do a tug of war between the two sides of scouts. 🙂
The point of course, was to show the strength of just weaving a few strands of rope together without any knots and how much stronger our relationship to God can be by twining or braiding ourselves to him. You can’t pull away. It’s an incredibly strong connection to just splice a piece of rope through three twists of another piece of rope. They truly bind to each other.
Following Matthew 6:22 in verse 23, we get another dual meaning presented, not of light, but darkness. The verse reads:
“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!”
Darkness 1: Skoteinos: opaque, full of darkness
Light: Phos: luminousness, fire, light, metaphorically reason and the mind
Darkness 2 & 3: Skotos: shadiness, obscurity, darkened eyesight, blindness, metaphorically ignorance of divine things, misery in hell. (Skotos is the word used where “outer darkness” is mentioned)
Following the path opposite that of light, we see that if we focus our eye on things of darkness (very broad term), perhaps relying on the arm of flesh and learning and wisdom of men to provide our light, then our understanding is obscured. All becomes darkness. We become blind to the things of God and our eyes do not see. Our destiny is outer darkness.
So to try and put this whole picture together, this is how I view it. If you focus your full attention on the small light that guides you (the light of Christ), and do not allow yourself to be distracted or pulled away from it, your entire body will be filled with glorious light (truth and intelligence). You will move toward the fulfillment of your divine destiny by following Christ to the cross, sacrificing all things (carnal man on the cross) that would hold you back from your life’s mission to bring glory to God and receive the eternal life our Heavenly Father desires to bestow on you. However, if you turn away and allow your mind to fill with darkness, it will take control of you until you become completely blind and ignorant of the things of God, being taken captive by the darkness. Your life will become frustrated and you will become a pawn of the devil.
Putting this another way, we are creating an unbending connection to God so our motives become oriented toward bringing him glory in all that we do. When our motives align to God, our thoughts, words, and deeds will come into alignment as well.
Now with that picture in mind, go through and finish reading and making notes on all the other verses that talk about having an eye single to the glory of God. See what other insights you can gain from them. Then prayerfully consider how to apply those principles to your life. Ask God for revelation on how you can have your eye single to the glory of God. What would he have you change in your life? Or even what else should you study to gain further insights into this topic? Following this pattern will lead to the incremental improvements we all want.
I hope this helps illustrate for you the power of digging into the meaning of words. We’re not done with this topic yet. We’ll return to another variation of it in the future.
Bonus: If you’d like to learn how to splice rope, watch this video. The same technique to make a loop on a three strand piece of rope can be used to splice a piece of rope into the middle of another piece of rope. This is what my scouts would do to play tug of war. One long piece of rope for the contest, and then they had a shorter length of perhaps three feet that they would make a handhold using the technique shown in this video and the other end would get spliced into the main rope where they would then pull from. Three sets of feeding their rope into the main rope would make it very strong.
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