The eye is a very complex organ and is used in symbolism throughout Scripture warning people to get “eyes to see”. Apostle Peter in his second epistle mentions what it means to be near-sighted. The definition of near-sightedness that we’re familiar with, according to Webster’s dictionary, is ‘a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. It occurs when the shape of your eye causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly.’ This has significant spiritual value.
“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins,”
(2 Pe 1:3-9).
Short-sighted, in Greek, is the word tuphlos‘ meaning: opaque (as if smoky), that is (by analogy) blind (physically or mentally): blind. God views people who are looking only at earthly things and have earthly concerns as blind. Peter makes a profound statement, saying that the corruption of the world is through lust. Lust is not simply a sexual desire, but is much more broad in a biblical sense. The Greek word used for lust in the New Testament is epithumia, and means a desire, craving, or longing for anything. So many times people find themselves chasing after human acceptance, money, relationships, physical beauty, or high profile jobs in order to try to fulfill something within themselves. God is, consequently, last in line because we live in a fast paced world that is flooded with materialism, and many times keeping our image on social media takes precedence over everything else. But that longing for likes on instagram is a very powerful form of lust in this modern day. This is what Peter is speaking of when he speaks of being shortsighted. Being too focused on what is happening here and now, and not focused on eternal things. The eternal is blurry, so we tend to ignore it or say we’ll worry about it later on down the line. Eventually, time will run out and the choice God has been waiting for us to accept will no longer be available to us.
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Hope in the bible is not how we use the word in the English language, which is not knowing whether something is going to happen or not. The hope that Paul is talking about is to have an expectation or a confident knowledge that something is going to happen. We abandon the things of this world because we know without a doubt that what is waiting for us through Christ is so much better than anything we can imagine (1 Cor 2:9); to have our vision set on far off things that we can’t clearly see yet as opposed to what is right in front of our face. Origen, a prolific 2nd-3rd century Early Church Father, says this about sight in his writings:
“There is an eye of the body with which we view these earthly things, an eye according to the sense of the flesh, of which scripture says, “coming in puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.” (Col 2:18). Over against this we have another, better eye which perceives the things of God. Because it had become blind, Jesus came to make it see. “Their eyes were opened” (Gen 3:7). Opened were those eyes of the senses which had been properly closed in order not to be hindered by distraction from seeing with the eyes of the soul. These eyes which, until then, had been seeing and enjoying God and his paradise, were now, I think, closed by sin.”
Origen is saying that we have another set of eyes, a spiritual set. What was closed in the garden when man fell is opened again through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, for when He reveals himself to us we become like Him (1Jn 3:2). What used to consume our thoughts and hours in our day seem insignificant in comparison to the kingdom. Jesus tells us how we are to view the ways of the world: “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). The word for life in verse 25 is the Greek word psuchē and means the soul, or the soulish nature, which is the seat of feelings, desires, and affections, or lust. Origen and Peter are confirming what Jesus spoke; anything that is distracting us from or taking our vision off of God is causing us to be nearsighted and eventually blind. We as Christians are warned repeatedly about the cares of the world.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,”
We know that, to follow Christ, we have to walk by faith and not by sight (2Cor 5:7). This is a difficult walk that implies much self-denial and sacrifice. It is not enough to simply believe, but this faith is rooted in action- a changed lifestyle, and can’t be governed with what we see with our physical eyes. Through revelation, Jesus has to open our spiritual eyes that have been blinded through sin. Paul says beautifully in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Apostle Paul was only looking at eternal things. His affections were set on Jesus and leading as many souls as he could to Christ. The apostles and prophets understood the value in the next life and how temporal this one is.
“Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law”
- All scripture references New King James Version
- Origen: Spirit and Fire Pg. 236
- Strong’s Bible Dictionary
- Ancient Hebrew Lexicon Bible