Jesus Teaches on Celibacy

10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” – Matthew 19:10-12.

His disciples said to Him…better not to marry (v.10). The disciples were full of Jewish notions. They thought that the privilege of divorcing a wife when there was a quarrelsome disposition, or anything else that rendered the marriage unhappy, was a great privilege; and that in such cases to be always bound to live with a wife was a great calamity. They said, therefore, that if such was the case — such the condition on which people married — it was better not to marry.

Jesus responds by saying that even though marriage is the norm (cf. Gen. 1:28; 9:17), celibacy is a godly option (cf. 1 Cor. 7:7,17). A believer’s prayerful desires will guide him/her in this area. If one chooses to be single, it should be for service to God (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32).

The Jews of Jesus’ day rejected singleness as a godly option. Jesus is challenging the standards of His culture in several areas.

1. The husband’s total authority;
2. Couples should remain together and work out their problems;
3. Singleness is a godly option.

Jesus discusses the different types of singles (v.12).

1. Some are born that way (from their mother’s womb) :
(a) birth defect; (b) personal tendency.
2. Some are cruelly castrated against their wishes (made eunuchs).
3. Some from personal choice of singleness for the purpose of ministry (this does not demand physical castration although some early church leaders did it to themselves, i.e., Origen).

He who is able to accept it, let him accept it. “He who feels this to be his proper vocation, let him embrace it”; which, of course, is as much as to say — “he only.” Thus, all are left free in this matter. (JFB)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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