What is the evil eye? Is it real?

The superstition that a person can harm, or even kill, another person by giving them the evil eye is prevalent in folk religion, was believed in ancient Greece and Rome, and is present in many cultures today.

The evil eye is said to be given by a person who is jealous, so it is also sometimes called the "envious eye." Another name for the evil eye is the "invidious eye." The superstition holds that a resentful person can, intentionally or not, transmit a curse by looking at someone, or something, with jealousy or envy. Supposed ways to ward off the evil eye include beads, amulets, hand gestures, spells, and sayings.

The evil eye is a superstition and is not found in the Bible. However, some misinterpret Mark 7:22 as a reference to the evil eye. Mark 7:21–23 says, "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

Some translations identify the Greek "ophthalmos ponēros"—here as "envy"—as the "evil eye," which is the literal translation of the Greek words. However, what Jesus is saying is that people look to evil or for trouble to get into. "Evil eye" is an idiom, similar to when people today say a person is "looking for trouble."

Christians have no need to hold to, or fear, superstitions. The enemy of our soul is defeated (Colossians 2:11–15; 2 Timothy 1:7). That being said, Christians should heed Jesus' words in Mark 7 and avoid envy, looking for trouble, and other forms of evil. This is not out of superstition but to obey Christ and live righteously.

Obviously in this world we will encounter trouble (John 16:33), and we know that spiritual warfare is real. But our troubles are not from a supposed evil eye and no amulet or spell will keep our lives free of difficulty. We have been equipped by God with all we need (2 Peter 1:3). See James 1:2–18, Romans 5:1–5, Ephesians 6:10–20, 1 Peter 4:1–19, and 1 Peter 5:6–11 for more for on suffering and spiritual warfare.

The Apostle John also gives wisdom and encouragement: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:2–4).

Related Truth:

Superstitions – What does the Bible say?

What is the all-seeing eye?

Does the Bible say anything about Voodoo? How should Christians view Voodoo?

What is a biblical view of divination?

What is a biblical view of sorcery?

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