a new non-Greek
model for understanding spirit, soul, and body: the lamp of the
by Robert Winer, M.D.
No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it
in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, that
those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is
the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also
is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is
full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is
in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light,
having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as
when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light (Luke 11:33-36,
The background here is Yeshua's miracle
of delivering a man from an oppression causing muteness (v.11).
People who witnessed this deliverance
were divided in their opinion of whether Yeshua's ability to
deliver the man came from God or Beelzebub. There were two groups:
1) those definitely against him; and 2) those who were going
along with their leaders.
Those from the first group came to Him
asking for a sign from heaven. They really weren't interested
in His message or a sign, but rather to discredit Him. The text
says He knew their thoughts (v.17) and so He answered,
"a house divided against itself cannot stand." That
is, if I were from Satan I wouldn't cast out my own team's demons.
Later in the passage, after the incident,
He speaks to a crowd and pronounces judgment on those who follow
the path of discrediting Him (insincere sign-askers), saying,
"This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign and no sign
will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet"
I believe that Yeshua's judgment also
held for those who went along with their leaders by tacitly agreeing
that the miraculous work of deliverance was from Beelzebub.
It is this group--the one in which there
is some hope of a true turning to God--that Yeshua gave this
story of the lamp.
He begins the story of the lamp by saying
in effect, "I have the light of God. I must show it to others
as that is what God wants me to do. I will be deterred from doing
this work because some men are against it and call it evil."
A New Non-Greek Purpose-driven
We are bombarded by a Greek grid for the
Scriptures--a mindset that is not Semitic or Hebraic.
I've pondered this area for a long time,
particularly Scriptures that deal with the distinction between
body, soul, and spirit.
It seems to me that a new Hebraic and
Scriptural understanding of this area--through the light of the
New Covenant--is not only necessary, but vital.
The Greek mindset seems to me to be: Man
is spirit, he has soul, and he lives in a body. It's a cold,
Yeshua taught an understanding of body,
soul, and spirit through stories with explanations from natural
things, one of which was this story of the lamp.
One of the main differences which I want
you to consider is that the lamp model for spirit, soul, and
body gives one a purpose-driven grid. It is a model alive,
organic, and actual, rather than theoretical.
The lamp has a definite purpose--to give
light. I believe that God's intention is that any teaching from
the Scripture bring His life to bear on the practical everyday
situations of people. Allowing the light of God to daily come
into us releases His power to change us more into His image.
The Components of the Story
In order, the props or things in this
A lit lamp (refers to the flame of the
The scene. The scene is a room (this is
The action of the story takes place in
a room that has secret places, a basket, and a lamp stand.
Next, an expansion to the analogy is added:
"The lamp of the body" is defined as the "eye."
The action within the story is the placing
of a lit lamp on a lamp stand. The purpose of doing this is
to light the room.
Understanding the analogy of the props
The lamp is not the flame nor the light
of the flame. The lamp is the thing that holds the flame,
or put another way, the lamp holds the light.
The "lamp of the body" is called
the "eye." So now we understand what two of the components
The body is the room.
The soul is the lamp. Another name for
the soul is the "eye." This was a common first century
symbol for the soul.
Now, what does the third component, the
The purpose of the flame of a lamp is
to produce light. The flame must represent the person's spirit.
Remember, the lamp (soul) is the holder
of the flame. The lamp is not the flame nor the light produced
by the flame. The soul is the holder of the spirit.
Looking at the action of the story.
The Beginning Point: "No one, when
he has lit a lamp ... ."
We make a choice in our life. Will we
light the wick of our lamp?
I believe we are born with our lamps lit.
Gradually the lamp's oil (provided by God when we're born) is
exhausted and our flame goes out. At the "age of reason"
we must consciously choose to light our lamp. When we thus consciously
make a decision to follow God by accepting the atonement He has
given for us, He takes some of His fire (part of His nature)
and places it on our own wick. His spirit now resides within
you. God adds new oil as we light the lamp's wick.
In this story the lamp is lit.
The End Point: Put the lit lamp on
the lamp stand.
Once we've lit our lamp, we have a second
choice to make: What will we do with it? Here there's a choice
between two actions:
Putting the lamp in "a secret place"
or "under a basket"
Putting the lamp on top of the "lamp
Only putting the lamp on top of the
lamp stand fulfills the true purpose of lighting the lamp:
"that those who come in may see the light."
Yeshua Explains Our Actions
"Therefore, when your eye is good,
your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad,
your body also is full of darkness."
First, we consider those who put the lit
lamp on the lamp stand:
Where you put the lamp (as judged by the
amount of light in the room (your body) tells you or others something
about your "eye" (soul).
If you put your lit lamp on the lamp stand,
Yeshua says your soul is "good." In the Greek text
of the passage the word translated "good," actually
"Single" implies that the lamp
is fulfilling its intended purpose--to produce light. The lamp
and its purpose are unified, single, and working together
Next, we consider those who don't put
their lit lamp on the lamp stand
In this case, their "eye" (soul)
is called "bad"--not single, not fulfilling the purpose
God intended for it.
The result of putting the lit lamp in
a secret place or under the lamp stand is that room is either
dark or partially lighted. If this is the case, the person's
body is said to be "full of darkness."
"Therefore take heed that the light
which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full
of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full
of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light."
Yeshua warns us that there's really only
one choice to make--to be full of light.
A lit lamp that is not on top of the lamp
stand isn't fulfilling the purpose God intended for it. Though
lit, its placement produces a condition of darkness or partial
darkness in you.
In either case the result is not the optimum
available--what's called "bad," and not "single"
Allowing your lamp to produce darkness
or partial light seriously diminishes your spiritual fruit as
your soul and spirit are working across purposes, in effect,
they're antagonistic to each other.
Fulfilling Our Purpose
While we're alive, I suggest that we consider
ourselves to be lamps whose goal it is to produce the most light
possible. To me, this is the only realistic and true source of
contentment, purpose, and meaning in life. Being the best lamp
we can be fulfills life's spiritual purpose. Here's some suggestions:
Have enough fuel. Also make sure it's
good quality fuel
The oil for our lamp comes only from God.
We can't get it without being in His presence personally.
Good quality fuel comes from spending
good, quality time with Him. This means a daily devotional walk
(praise and worship, time in the Scriptures, meditation on the
Scriptures, and prayer)
Have the right type (composition) and
length of wick
The wick holds the flame.
Only an undefiled wick can hold the flame
of the Lord. God will not dwell in an unholy place. Personal
holiness insures us having the right wick.
The wick that works best is the optimum
length with the right flexibility reminding us of the continual
need to keep a tender and gentle spirit before the Lord.
Not dampening or extinguishing the light
When we decide for the soul and not the
spirit, we lose the ability to put the lamp on the lamp stand.
This causes us to have no room in our
will to choose to fulfill the needs of the spirit. Some examples
Fear of man--what others might think.
Laziness (not following through spiritually)
or apathy in decision-making (lack of will to decide for God).
An atmosphere of worry, cares, thinking
about the things that concern us, and distractions.
Spending more time in soulish or bodily
pursuits than in spiritual ones. Though input from conversations,
TV, reading, and other pursuits are not bad in themselves, they
can get in the way if pursued and received at the wrong time.
Isolating ourselves from people (no body
coming in to see the light).
Taking Your Lamp Outside to
68 "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people,
God has visited and redeemed His people.
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation
for us in the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the
mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand
of all who hate us,
He has raised up a horn of salvation to
save us from enemies and deliver us from those who hate us.
72 To perform the mercy promised
to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath
which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that
we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve
Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him
all the days of our life.
Why were we raised up?
To perform mercy.
To grant us deliverance
76 "And you, child, will be called
the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of
the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of
salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through
the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring
from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who
sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet
into the way of peace."
If you've lit your own lamp and illuminated
your own room then it's possible to take your lamp into the outside
world (beyond your own personal internal existence).
The inside developed enables outward or
outside effectiveness and impacting. We must learn to develop
a balance between the two (our inside spiritual life and our
outside life of social, religious, work, and family interactions.
An anointed lamp is fueled with special
oil from the Lord to give off a more penetrating light.
Knowledge and mercy shape the lamp making
it more flexible, changeable and adaptable to new situations
Thus equipped, one can then go out and
give light to those who sit in darkness. The passage explains
that the eyes of others need the light of the spirit to see and
that their feet need to be guided to find the entrance to "the
way (derech) of peace." Will you take up this call?
2000, Winer Foundation and Robert I. Winer, M.D.