A Eunuch For Heaven's Sake


James E. Farley

Almost every Christian is familiar with the record of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. However, I have found that many do not know what a eunuch is. This may seem strange to some, but it is, nevertheless, true. I think we need to be more specific in our teaching, sometimes. We do not have to be crude, not crass in explaining such matters, but we need to be right.

Simply stated, a eunuch is a person who cannot enter into a sexual relationship for one reason or another. The Ethiopian of Acts chapter eight probably underwent a surgical procedure. This was a common practice in ancient times, especially when a male was to work closely with female royalty. It was also an ancient practice for kings to subject their "wise men" to these kinds of surgical procedures so that they would dedicate themselves totally to a celibate lifestyle and concentrate totally on their work. This practice is still carried out in some far eastern countries even today. A close examination of Daniel chapter one will show it was likely that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fit into this category. Daniel 1:7ff. Remember, too, that the Ethiopian eunuch was treasurer under Queen Candace.

Why is it important to know these things? Why should it be important for one to understand what a eunuch is? Take a minute to turn to Matthew chapter 19 and read verses 1-12, with a special interest in verses 10-12.

This passage is one about human sexuality: something that God has created to be enjoyed by a man and woman who are scripturally married. It is a passage about marriage, divorce and remarriage. The Lord said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." Matthew 19:9. Here is given the only reason that heaven allows for divorce and remarriage. It is PORNEA: illicit sexual activity outside of marriage. PORNEA is translated correctly here as "fornication" in the KJV. The NIV has "marital unfaithfulness," but this, I believe, is too general. The jest of the passage is, if one of the marriage partners commits an act of fornication (adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.), then the innocent party has the right to put this one away and to marry again. However, the guilty party has forfeited his or her right to another marriage and, therefore, to sexual relations. If he or she then wishes to go to heaven, he or she must become a eunuch.

This is a hard saying. It was hard 2,000 years ago, and it is a hard saying in the year 2005! The text says as much. Matthew 19:10-11. It is here that our Lord teaches about eunuchs. He says that some are born without the ability to enter into a sexual relationship. This is sad but true. Jesus also says that some are made eunuchs of men This would be like the Ethiopian of Acts 8 and, likely, of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of Daniel chapter one. Then, our Lord says, Ò... 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.

Who are these who have "made themselves eunuchs"? In the context, it has to be those who are divorced for a reason other than fornication and those who have been put away scripturally by their faithful spouses because of fornication. The passage makes no sense otherwise. If it does not mean this, why would Jesus just insert randomly a teaching about eunuchs? He wants us to know just how serious marriage is. He wants us to understand just how serious going to heaven is.

We are living in a time when people are getting divorces and changing spouses as if they were trading in an automobile. The divorce rate has now surpassed 50% in the United States. We need more straightforward and bold teaching concerning these matters. Too many preachers and elders are soft-paddling the issue, and many of our congregations are full of adulterers as a result! Someone is going to have to answer in the day of judgment! 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1; etc.

How many, today, are willing to make themselves eunuch's for heaven's sake? - PO Box 285, Crum, WV 25669.


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