Spiritual Insight: “Staying Focused”

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: SEPT. 1, 2016

SPIRITUAL INSIGHT SERIES
PART 9 OF 12

A collection of Bible scriptures, as well as an opening commentary on cultural perspective on Bible language, that shed light on the subject of how we look at our personal (individual) situations in life, in an effort to stay on course.

By Loring Tatem

OPENING COMMENTARY

A better way to discern what Jesus was saying is to look at his words in the context of his first century culture. All languages have idioms — figures of speech that don’t make sense literally, like “raining cats and dogs,” “beating around the bush” or “pulling someone’s leg.” We should expect that Jesus’ sayings may contain cultural idioms that we don’t understand. Indeed, in the Greek gospels we find many idiomatic phrases that sound awkward or don’t make sense in Greek, even though they make perfect sense in Hebrew.  By looking at the Semitic idioms in the Old Testament and in Jewish literature of Jesus’ day, we can get a much clearer understanding of Jesus’ teaching, and have more confidence about Jesus’ message.

One interesting hypothesis is that Jesus may have been using a Hebraic idiom that contrasts a “good eye” (ayin tovah) and a “bad eye” or “evil eye” (ayin rah). The Hebraic understanding of “seeing” goes beyond taking in visual information in the eyes — it refers to one’s outlook on life and attitude toward others. It can even mean to respond according to a need that is seen. For example, the phrase “Jehovah Jireh” is often translated “God will provide,” but it means, literally, “God will see,” meaning that when God sees our need, he will respond.

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A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

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The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (St. Matthew 6:22)

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For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14:33)

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The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (St. John 10:10)

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Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. (I Samuel 1:17)

Let all things be done decently and in order. (I Corinthians 14:40)

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Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:10)

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