The Scriptorium

Eunuchs and the Kingdom

Thanks, Jerome. Matthew 19.10-12

Matthew 19: Kingdom Counsel (2)

Pray Psalm Psalm 96.1-4.
Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!
Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.

Sing Psalm 96.1-4.
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised –
Fear Him, and sing His glory!

Read Matthew 19.1-12; meditate on verses 10-12.

Prepare.
1. Jesus mentioned three kinds of eunuchs. What are they?

2. Why may someone legitimately become a eunuch?

Meditate.
This is a difficult passage, mainly because it addresses a practice more common in Jesus’ day than ours.

Jerome (347-420) can explain this better than I: “There are eunuchs from birth who are of a rather frigid nature and not inclined to lust. There are others who are made eunuchs by men, those who are made so by philosophers, others who are made weak toward sex from their worship of idols, and still others who by heretical persuasion feign chastity so as to falsely claim the truth of religion. None of the above is receptive to the kingdom of heaven. Only the person who for Christ seeks chastity wholeheartedly and cuts off sexual impurity altogether [is the genuine eunuch]” (Commentary on Matthew 3.19.12).

In general, it is God’s will that people should marry and bring children into the world (Gen. 1.26-28). In Jesus’ day – as now – some men chose not to marry, either because of physical defects from birth or a decision to serve God exclusively. Becoming a eunuch for the Kingdom of God – choosing a life of complete chastity, whether by physical or spiritual means – is not God’s norm; however, Jesus did recognize the validity of it.

But even for those called the ministry of the Gospel, the proper order is to marry, as Peter was married and, presumably, most of the other disciples (1 Cor. 9.5). Only if God clearly directs otherwise, and for the purpose of seeking the Kingdom of God, may someone undertake such a calling.

Reflect.
1. Why, in general, is marriage to be chosen over chastity?

2. What reason might one choose to become a eunuch, or to live a life of complete chastity?

3. All followers of Christ are called to be chaste. Explain.

Christ meant nothing more than that persons unmarried ought to have this for their object, that, being freed from all cares, they may apply themselves more readily to the duties of piety.
John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Matthew 18.19.12

Lord, I devote myself afresh to You and Your Kingdom, so that today I will…

Pray Psalm 96.5-13.
Are there any idols lurking in your soul? Anything that might distract you from following Jesus today? Confess them, and renew your devotion to the Lord, offering yourself and your day to Him, for His glory.

Sing Psalm 96.5-13.
Psalm 96.5-13 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
All other gods are idols vain – the Lord created heaven.
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word;
exalt the Lord of heaven.

Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord, in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove –
exalt the Lord and praise Him.

Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness –
He comes; exalt Him greatly!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore