Is the word Eunuchs here describing an unmarried or celibate man or one who has been castrated? It seems odd to me to go from speaking of being unmarried then to eunuchs then back to being unmarried as I assume that is what the last sentence is referring to rather than being castrated?

Matthew 19:10-12 AKJV 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 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.


The text itself answers several questions as Jesus defines three categories of Eunuchs, namely (Matt 19:12):

  1. "Eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb" = (BDAG) "a human male who, without physical operation, is by nature incapable of begetting children, impotent male". Since this is a fact from birth, it is necessarily an involuntary celibacy.
  2. "eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men" = (BDAG) "castrated male person". In most cases this will have been involuntary celibacy, however, it is also possible that some such will fit into the last category.
  3. "eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" = (BDAG) "a human who abstains from marriage, without being impotent, a celibate". These people are definitely voluntary eunuchs.

Thus, we see that some are definitely eunuchs by choice and others have their status foisted upon them by either biology or circumstances. Jesus twice offers a caveat about this teaching:

  • (v11) Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.
  • (v12) He who is able to accept this, let him accept it

Thus, only some people are called to be celibate. By this, Jesus demands neither marriage nor celibacy but blesses both. However, I note that some who are called were willing (eg, Isaiah 6:9), and some were unwilling (Moses, Ex 4:13). See also Paul's teaching on the subject in 1 Cor 7.

  • Okay that makes sense, multiple definitions of what a eunuch is. My understanding prior was that a eunuch was only one that had been castrated. Thank you for taking the time to answer. – www.gffg.info Apr 12 '19 at 2:47
  • Glad to be of service. – user25930 Apr 12 '19 at 4:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.