Different kind of eunuchs (Mt 19:11-19:12)

“But Jesus said to them.

‘Not everyone can accept

This teaching.

But only those

To whom it is given

Can accept it.

There are eunuchs

Who have been so

From birth.

There are eunuchs

Who have been made eunuchs

By other men.

Then there are eunuchs

Who have made themselves eunuchs

For the sake

Of the kingdom of heaven.

Let anyone accept this

Who can.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐ πάντες χωροῦσιν τὸν λόγον τοῦτον ἀλλ’ οἷς δέδοται.

εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω.

 

This section about eunuchs is unique to Matthew.  Jesus seems to imply that there is a place for eunuchs in the kingdom of heaven.  Are these eunuchs a metaphor for celibates or are they really castrated men?  Ancient societies had castrated male eunuchs in important positions.  As Jesus pointed out, some were born that way, others were made that way, or others decided to be that way.  Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that not everyone can accept this word, statement, or teaching (Οὐ πάντες χωροῦσιν τὸν λόγον τοῦτον), only those who had received this gift can accept it (ἀλλ’ οἷς δέδοται).  First. there were eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb (εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως).  Then there were the eunuchs made so by other men (καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  Finally, there were the eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs (καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς).  Why would they do that?  Jesus said that they did it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Then Jesus threw down the gauntlet and said that anyone who could, should accept this teaching (ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω).  Jesus seemed to imply that they should make themselves eunuchs or celibates for the kingdom of heaven.

The work of the apostles (Mt 10:8-10:8)

“Cure the sick!

Raise the dead!

Cleanse the lepers!

Cast out demons!

You received

Without paying.

Give without payment!”

 

ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε, νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε, λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε, δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλετε· δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.

 

There is no exact equivalent to this passage in the other gospels.  Jesus, via Matthew, laid out what the work of an apostle of Jesus should be.  These apostles were to do what Jesus had been doing.  They were to heal or cure the sick or ailing people (ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετ).  They were to raise up the dead (νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε), a difficult task.  They were to cleanse the lepers (λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε) and cast out the demons (δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλετε).  As they had not paid to get this gift to be an apostle (δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε), so thus they should not receive any payment (δωρεὰν δότε) for their work as an apostle.  They should give freely of their time since this was not a money-making project.

The demand for wisdom (Wis 8:17-8:21)

“When I considered these things inwardly,

I pondered in my heart.

In kinship with wisdom

There is immortality.

In friendship with her,

There is pure delight.

In the labors of her hands,

There is unfailing wealth.

In the experience of her company,

There is understanding.

There is renown in sharing her words.

I went about seeking

How to get her for myself.

As a child

I was naturally gifted.

A good soul fell to my lot.

Rather being good,

I entered an undefiled body.

But I perceived

That I would not possess wisdom

Unless God gave her to me.

It was a mark of insight

To know whose gift she was.

So I appealed to the Lord.

I implored him.

With my whole heart,

I said.”

This author considered these things in his heart. When you are related to wisdom you have immortality (ἀθανασία ἐν συγγενείᾳ σοφίας). There is delight in her friendship and her laboring hands. There is wealth and understanding in her company. You will become famous by sharing her words. He wanted wisdom for himself. He had been a gifted child. Interesting enough there is the Platonic thought of the pre-existent soul (ψυχῆς) that was united to a wonderful body (εἰς σῶμα ἀμίαντον). He realized that he could not possess wisdom unless God gave (ὁ Θεὸς δῷ) him this gift (χάρις) to him. Thus he appealed and implored the Lord (τῷ Κυρίῳ) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας μου). This is reminiscent of the story in 1 Kings, chapter 3, when King Solomon asked Yahweh for the gift of wisdom.