Q I was wondering what
was the relevance of Matthew 6:22-23 in relationship to the rest
of that passage and its basic meaning.
A Let me quote the pertinent passage from Matt. 6 (NKJV):
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
As you can see, vss. 19-22 deal with one's attitude towards earthly treasure (material wealth) as opposed to heavenly treasure. I dont think it could be claimed that Jesus is saying it is wrong to be rich—only that it is wrong to put that ahead of heavenly treasure. Then, after the verses you are questioning, v. 24 concerns not having two masters, God and mammon. Mammon was a common Aramaic word for riches. So Jesus is capping His little talk on the right kind of treasure by concluding that no one can serve God if he is dedicated to earthly wealth.
So we can tell by the context what the eye being good or bad relates to. It has something to do with focusing on material wealth to the exclusion of heavenly righteousness. But we also get some help from knowing that there was a common Jewish idiom about the eye and ones attitude towards money and values. This idiom apparently was based on passages like Deut. 15:9: Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. See also Prov. 22:9; 28:22; Eccl. 4:8; Matt. 20:15; Mark 7:22 and Rev. 3:18. An evil eye was a distorted perspective about the value of things, about giving to those in need, and about the permanence of wealth. Although the Rabbis had been teaching these values for centuries, the Pharisees of Jesus day had neglected the proper view of righteousness for a worldly view of riches. Verses 22-23 relate to having a proper perspective on the value of material wealth versus heavenly treasures.
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