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.


2 Answers 2


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.
    – GFFG
    Apr 12, 2019 at 2:47
  • Glad to be of service.
    – user25930
    Apr 12, 2019 at 4:42

Jesus is saying that All cannot take this because all will not be able to abstain from having sex. But there are those who are not born with this desire. And yes, there are those made to be eunuchs by man. This was happening in that day. Many say that they did not use the term homosexual in that day because the word was not common. People we are talking about Christ here! He would have found a way to get His point across. If He were talking about eunuch being homosexual.

He eunuchs in that they simply had no desire. Many people are forced into choosing one way are the other when the truly desire neither. And there feelings should be respected if the can abstain.

If you cannot abstain Christ said says, Matthew 19 verse 4-5, you should marry. And what God put together let no one separate!

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