What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In Mark 7:20-23, we find the Lord Jesus listing 13 specific sins that originate from the human heart. One is “an evil eye.” To what is this a reference?

“[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Of course, the eye is our organ of sight. Thus, just by using this clue, we see (pun not intended!) “an evil eye” involves seeing something. Now, please understand, the eye in and of itself is not evil; Scripture implies the eye is being used to commit evil.

An “evil eye” appears two other times in the King James Bible. Proverbs 28:22 is one such occurrence: “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” An “evil eye” is connected to wealth or materialism, a speedy endeavor to gain a fortune. This is nothing more than a gambler or lottery player.

The “evil eye” is also seen in Proverbs 23:6. Read it in context now: “[1] When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: [2] And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. [3] Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. [4] Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. [5] Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. [6] Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: [7] For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

As we can discern from the context, again, the “evil eye” is associated with affluence or material prosperity. In short, “evil eye” is a euphemism for envy—seeing what advantages or possessions others have, and longing for them. It is an obsession with wealth, to the point of competing so you can equal or outdo others. The attitude could be summarized as, “I see how much wealth you have, and I can gain that and more! I see how much you spent, and I can spend that and more! I see how much popularity you have, and I can become as famous than you and more!”

Also see:
» What is “lasciviousness?”
» What does “concupiscence” mean?
» What is “purloining?”