Light and darkness (Jn 3:19-3:19)

“This is the judgment.

The light

Has come

Into the world.

However,

People loved darkness

Rather than light,

Because their deeds

Were evil.”

αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις, ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα.

John uniquely said that people had a choice about this condemning judgment (αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις).  The light (ὅτι τὸ φῶς) had come into the world (ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον), but these people preferred the darkness (καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος), rather than the light (ἢ τὸ φῶς·), because of their evil deeds (ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα).  The theme of light and darkness was also in the prologue, chapter 1:4, where John said that the light (καὶ τὸ φῶς) shone (φαίνει) in the darkness (ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ).  The life of the Word, Jesus, God, was the light that shines brightly conquering the darkness, the moral evil.  This was the classical great struggle of good and evil between light that was good and darkness that was bad, that also can be found in the Jewish Dead Sea scrolls of the first century CE.  John, however, rightly pointed out that this darkness or evil (καὶ ἡ σκοτία) would not overcome or seize the light (αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν) of the good Word.  The reverse was true.  Light would always overcome darkness.  Here, John added a more personal touch by saying that some people actually preferred the darkness, because of their evil deeds.  Do you prefer light or darkness?

A healthy eye (Mt 6:22-6:23)

“The eye is the lamp

Of the body.

So,

If your eye is clear,

Your whole body

Will be full of light.

But if your eye is

Evil,

Your whole body

Will be full of darkness.

If then the light

In you

Is darkness,

How great is that darkness!”

 

Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται·

ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον.

 

This saying of Jesus is similar to what is in Luke, chapter 11:34-35, so that it may be from the Q source.  The eye was the lamp of the body (Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός).  If there was a healthy clear sound eye (ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς), then you would have a whole body full of light (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται).  This is the only time that the word “ἁπλοῦς” is used in the New Testament literature.  Both Luke and Matthew used it here, since it means simple, sound, clear, or perfect.  If, on the other hand, your eye was not healthy or evil (ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ), your whole body would be full of darkness (ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται).  Notice that Matthew did not use the opposite of clear, but chose the more common word for evil, “πονηρὸς.”  Thus, you had an evil eye.  On the other hand, both Luke and Matthew used a word that appears only here, “σκοτεινὸν,” to talk about a full total darkness.  If the light that is in you is dark (εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν), that is a really great darkness (τὸ σκότος πόσον).  Light and darkness was a common theme among the early Christians.  Light was good, but darkness was evil.  The connection of light to the eye was natural since the sense of blindness and darkness centered around the eyes.