Matthew 19:12 seems to suggest spiritual benefit from being a eunuch such that some might be led to make themselves eunuchs (castrate themselves) for the sake of the kingdom:

BLB Matthew 19: 10His disciples say to Him, “If this is the case of the man with the wife, it is better not to marry.” 11And He said to them, “Not all receive this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For 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 made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. The one being able to receive it, let him receive it.

Likewise Wisdom of Solomon 3:14 seems to suggest that a godly eunuch is eligible for "the special gift of faith" and "an inheritance in the temple of the Lord" toward which the mind of a eunuch is more conducive, presumably because of an undivided devotion:

Wisdom of Solomon 3:14 And blessed is the eunuch, which with his hands hath wrought no iniquity, nor imagined wicked things against God: for unto him shall be given the special gift of faith, and an inheritance in the temple of the Lord more acceptable to his mind.

This could be a notion that is connected in the mind with the fact that castrated bulls become more docile and have less desire to breed.

Paul seems to view marriage as a distraction from devotion and service for the kingdom:

BLB 1 Corinthians 7: 6Now I say this by way of concession, not by way of command. 7And I wish all men to be even like myself. But each has his own gift from God; for one has this, but one that. 8Now I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they should remain as even I. 9But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. ... 32And I desire you to be without concern. The unmarried man cares for the things of the Lord, how he should please the Lord; 33but the one having been married cares for the things of the world, how he should please the wife, 34and is divided. And the unmarried woman and virgin cares for the things of the Lord, that she should be holy both in body and in spirit; but the one having been married cares for the things of the world, how she should please the husband. 35Now I say this for your own benefit, not that I might place upon you a restraint, but for what is seemly and devoted to the Lord, without distraction.

Paul can be seen as enlarging on Jesus' teaching. Is Jesus' teaching about eunuchs for the kingdom applying the passage from Wisdom of Solomon?


It appears that the single life is also being recommended in the account of the widow of Asher:

NIV Luke 2: 36There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

See also:

New International Version Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 65:4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

  • 1
    Three spooky downvoters left 3 downvotes silently and with no given reason..again. Great question! Mt 19:12; Rev 14:4;1 Cor 7:6-9,32-35 etc all unequivocally exalt a dedicated life of virginity (we are hardly to think that Christ literally wanted people to castrate themselves, and that becoming a 'eunuch' means something other than abstinence from sexual acitivity altogether 'if you are able to'; leaving only a life of virginity, or what we would consider the monastic life, to be meant). Nov 9, 2017 at 16:05
  • Is it safe to assume that these passages gave rise to the monastic movement ? - You mean, more than Christ's own life of virginity ever did ? Or more than that of his own cousin, John the Baptist, of whom Christ Himself said that among those born of women there is no greater prophet than him ? (Matthew 11:11; Luke 7:28). More than that of Paul the Apostle, who fathered half the books of the New Testament ? (1 Corinthians 7:7).
    – Lucian
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:46
  • You structured the heading of the question very poorly. It's a brilliant question after the body is read. Try to adjust the title of the question. Thanks.
    – user20490
    Nov 22, 2017 at 23:48
  • You can edit the question and I can approve it or not. I don't think there is anything wrong with the question but give it a shot.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 30, 2018 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


Is Matthew's reference to “eunuchs” in Matthew 19:10-12 referring to celibacy?

It is indeed a good question to ask in view of the practice by various Orthodox churches , Catholics, Buddhist and others which require celibacy for their clergy, and ministers . Also another reason is the sex scandals with clerics, and which celibacy is the root cause .

Celibacy was not required in the first century.

Apostle Peter was married and took his wife with him, others holding positions of elders and overseers were also married.

1 Corinthians 9:5 (NIV)

Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

1 Timothy 3:2-4 (NIV)

2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

Both Jesus and Paul encouraged singleness for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus remained single.Paul also remained single and encouraged others to follow his example and devote themselves entirely for the sake of the kingdom of heaven . A single person is not distracted by the needs to please his family and provide the necessities of life, for wife and children and therefore can give more of themselves for the kingdom.

Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 7:32-38 (NLV)

32 I want you to be free from the cares of this world. The man who is not married can spend his time working for the Lord and pleasing Him. 33 The man who is married cares for the things of the world. He wants to please his wife. 34 Married women and women who have never been married are different. The woman who has never been married can spend her time working for the Lord. She wants to please the Lord with her body and spirit. The woman who is married cares for the things of the world. She wants to please her husband.

35 I am saying these things to help you. I am not trying to keep you from getting married. I want you to do what is best. You should work for Him without other things taking your time.36 If a man and woman expect to get married, and he thinks his desires to marry her are getting too strong, and she is getting older, they should get married. It is no sin. 37 But if a man has the power to keep from getting married and knows in his mind that he should not, he is wise if he does not get married. 38 The man who gets married does well, but the man who does not get married does better.

Celibacy is not a Bible command.

Jesus said: that singleness was a gift and that some of his followers would have it and some not.

Matthew 19:11-12 (NIV)

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Paul said I have an opinion, but no command from the Lord concerning singleness.

1 Corinthians 7:25 (NRSV)

25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

Forbiting marriage is an apostate teaching.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NIV)

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.


Jesus said that some were born eunuchs,meaning that they are incapable of marital relations,others were made eunuchs by men, the third type of eunuchs refers to persons that have not actually castrated themselves or have been emasculated ,these persons voluntarily choose to remain in a state of singleness. Jesus and Paul were such pesrons also the Ethiopian eunuch Philip preached. (Acts 8:34-35)

  • So is your answer "yes" based on your comments on Matt 19:11-12?
    – Ruminator
    Feb 28, 2018 at 20:49
  • If you answer the question (yes/no) I can mark your answer as an answer. Otherwise it isn't really an answer.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 30, 2018 at 23:27
  • Ruminator, Thank you for your inquiry , the answer is no , celibacy is not required by God. Mar 31, 2018 at 19:51
  • Actually, the question is whether or not Jesus was speaking of celibacy when he spoke of eunuchs
    – Ruminator
    Apr 1, 2018 at 0:24
  • My apologies, yes Jesus was speaking of celibacy,please see also conclusion, Apr 1, 2018 at 16:48

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
-- Matthew 19:12 (KJV)

Jesus defines here three categories of men in regard to sexual union with women:

  • those who have no natural inclination towards it;

  • those who have had their natural inclination towards it taken from them by men;

  • those who have subdued their natural inclination towards it for the sake of the kingdom.

"He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." indicates that his words are targeted at those who can accommodate the idea.

Isaiah declares this message for eunuchs:

4For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
-- Isaiah 56:4-5 (KJV)

John says this:

3And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
-- Revelation 14:3-4 (KJV)

"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins." So, they are all male eunuchs in one of the three categories above -- just like Jesus. This, then, is the fulfillment of God's promise to eunuchs recorded in Isaiah.

There is no indication here that the hundred and forty four thousand appear en masse at some point in history, only that they "were redeemed from among men" -- over time would be a reasonable understanding.

  • Do you view the passage in Revelation as intended to be understood literally? For example, 144,000 is 12x12x1,000 - sounds like a symbolic figure, as 12 is a number associated with corporal completeness (12 tribes, 12 apostles). Jan 12, 2021 at 20:01
  • @AnthonyBurg I don't see a problem with the number being literal. I have another post that explores the idea a little more here.
    – enegue
    Jan 12, 2021 at 20:28
  • Seems obvious to me the passage is intended to involve symbolism (are they literally singing? are there literally 4 beasts hanging around? is it literally a song that no one can learn for some reason except the 144,000 - perhaps they are excellent musicians instead? is it literally a lamb?), and Revelation in general employs large amounts of symbolism. But each to his own. Jan 12, 2021 at 22:57
  • @AnthonyBurg I fully appreciate the use of symbolism in Revelation, but you asked me about the 144,000. The number may well be symbolic, but it is also highly probable that it is literal, for the reasons I have laid out.
    – enegue
    Jan 13, 2021 at 0:46
  • I looked at the link you provided - I did not see any arguments for why the 12x12x1,000 should not be considered symbolic. Jan 13, 2021 at 5:28

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