OF THE ELDERS
"Was Yah'shua (Jesus) Married?"
3. The Gospel Law
adapted from Jesus Was Married by Ogden Kraut
The definition of "fulfilling" the requirements of the law was used when Yah'shua (Jesus) came to John to be baptised (Matthew 4:15, NKJV). Baptism (mikveh) was a law of the gospel, practiced by the Jews before Yah'shua (Jesus) began His ministry. When John refused to baptise the Saviour, Yah'shua (Jesus) demanded John to "suffer it to be so" because it was necessary that He "fulfill" the requirements of the laws of righteousness. Baptism is one of the eternal laws and commandments with which even the Saviour of the world had to comply -- or "fulfill". It is not compatible with the laws of heaven to ignore or bypass any commandment or ordinance, and even though Yah'shua (Jesus) was Himself the Law-Giver it did not permit Him the distinction of also being the law-breaker. Obedience was a particular requirement upon the Saviour for every law and ordinance of the Gospel. This confession came from Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself when, speaking of the Law of Moses, He said: "I came not to destroy the law; but to fulfill". He was the example of perfect obedience to the Gospel laws; and marriage, like baptism, is one of those eternal laws.
One of the Old Testament and Talmudic laws required every Rabbi to be married. It was not until the 20th century that this law was changed (generally among the Reformed and Conservative Jews); however, there are no unmarried Rabbis today among the Orthodox Jews. Marriage was one of the first commandments; therefore, a Rabbi was called to be an example, and to gain that experience before he could properly counsel and teach others concerning this commandment. A profound scholar writing on this subject says:
Celibacy is by no means a virtue among the Jewish people. Indeed, it is for this reason that many Jews cannot accept Christianity. Said Rabbi Hirsch:
Jesus said once that he came to fulfill the Law: the first positive commandment of the Bible according to rabbinic understanding (Maimonides, Minyan ha-Mitzvet, 212) is that dealing with the propagation of the human race (Genesis 1:28); thus it has been considered the duty of every member of the House of Israel to marry at an early age. The late rabbis set 18 as the age for marriage (Ab. v.24); and anyone, they maintained, who remained after 20 without was cursed by God Himself (Kid. 29b). Earlier traditions, however, persistently encouraged children to marry as soon as they reach the age of puberty (Sanh. 76b) and many important Jews are known to have been married at such an early age. Indeed, so important was marriage regarded in ancient Israel that frequently men who had passed 20 without marrying, were compelled by the courts to take a wife (M. Zvi Udley, Th.M., Ph.D).
The ancient Jewish prophets depicted the life of their Messiah in minute detail. The time and place of His birth, His teachings, the betrayal, crucifixion, etc., were all accurately predicted. Later Jewish scholars, almost without exception, have interpreted these prophecies to include their Messiah to be married. In the Jewish society, marriage was a commandment strictly observed -- almost as a compulsory law:
Now as the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) is pictured in the New Testament, there are certain peculiar defects in that life from the Jewish point of view. His teachings are the ideal teachings of Judaism; they are not new teachings, nor new revelations. They are confirmations of Jewish thought and life. But his personal life -- I am speaking respectfully (I do not think anyone should think I cast any shadow on the beauty and perfection of that life, but I can take it as it is pictured) -- you know he was not married, and from the Jewish point of view, that is a defect. The Jewish morality insists that a man who does not assume the social responsibility for the continuation of society, lives a life that is not complete (Rabbi Emil Hirsch, My Religion, New York, 1925, pp.43-44).
Marriage was firmly implanted in the minds of all Jewish men; however, it was most rigidly observed by those who complied to the laws and offices of Rabbi and Priest. Jewish law required a High Priest to be married on the Day of Atonement; and so important was this law that in the case of unforseen circumstance, an extra woman was held in readiness for the marriage. This marriage of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was a prerequisite for entering the Sanctuary (the Holy of Holies). Paul wrote that Yah'shua (Jesus) was the Great High Priest who would make atonement for all men. Since one of the laws of the High Priest was marriage, then every priest including Jesus had to comply with that ordinance to fulfill the obligation of that office.
Every Jewish man should marry at eighteen, and he who marries earlier is more meritorious (The Shalchan Aruch, Eben Haezer 1:3).
Since the Mishnah fixes the 18th year of one's life as the age of marriage, a man unmarried after this time is, in many communities, regarded as not having conformed with inviolable tradition (William Rosenau, Jewish Ceremonies and Customs, p.155).
Also, Paul wrote an epistle that "Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true ("A copy of the true one" (NIV)), but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24, NKJV). Now if it were required for the High priests to be married to enter the Holy Places on earth, which are but "copies of the true ones", then how much more demanding are the requirements to enter the Heavenly Sanctuary!
Both modern and ancient historians generally agree that all of the Apostles were married. Clement of Alexandria, born about 150 A.D., occupied a most profound and interesting position in the history of Christianity. He was a philosopher, historian, and Christian whose works are most valuable in formulating much of the early Christian Church. A century and a half later another historian, Eusebius, quoted many portions of Clement's works. Eusebius was a founder of a theological school and is said to have been one of the most learned men of his age. He said:
A Presbyterian minister and professor at the Davis and Elkin College in West Virginia, U.S.A., wrote an article that Yah'shua (Jesus) must have been married. His article was immediately picked up by other religious newspapers, one of which is reproduced below:
"Now Clement, whose words we have just quoted, after what has already been mentioned, with respect to those who reject marriage gives a list of the Apostles who were known to have been married (Stromata 3:52), saying: "Or will they disapprove even the Apostles? For Peter and Philip begot children, and Philip, too, gave his daughters to husbands, and Paul does not hesitate in an epistle to address his wife (Philippians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 9:5,13), whom he did not take about with him that he might facilitate his ministry." Since we have mentioned these matters, there is no harm in my presenting another narrative of the same author, which he wrote in Book 7 of the Stromata, relating it in the following way: "They say, indeed, that the blesed Peter, when he beheld his wife being led away to death, rejoiced because of her calling (to) return home, and called out to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "O thou, remember the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and the perfect disposition of those dearest to them." (Stromata 7:63-64). Let these matters germane to the subject at hand suffice on my part for the moment at this point" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 30).
A May 1969 editorial in the Showers of Blessing publication of Denver, Colorado (p.17), picked up this same theme and added their comments:
ELKINS, W.Va. (Ap) -- Jesus may have been married and the father of children, according to a Presbyterian minister-professor at Davis and Elkins College. The Rev.Dr.William Phipps, writing in the current issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies said that failure to marry and reproduce was regarded as a serious sin in Biblical times. If Jesus had been a batchelor, the Rev.Dr.Phipps contends, the Bible would surely contain some record of his being criticized for it. He said Jesus probably wasn't married during the last three years of his life that are recorded in the New Testament but it's logical to infer that he had been married earlier and was a widower. The Rev.Dt.Phipps said that in Greek translations of the Bible there's no difference in the word for "wife" and "woman", and the Bible often mentions Jesus being with a woman. "Under Talmudic law, a man couldn't be considered righteous -- in fact, he couldn't even be considered a complete man -- if he didn't marry and have children," Dr.Phipps writes. "The Talmud asserts very strongly...that it's almost the same as committing murder to not reproduce (Asbury Park Evening Press, Sat., March 22, 1969; also the Christian Beacon, March 27, 1969).
This announcement by an accepted minister and professor was given public news coverage. Newsweek magazine also gave national publicity to his findings:
WAS JESUS MARRIED? Let us look at the requirement for the priesthood. The Old Testament law required that a man be thirty years of age and married in order to become a priest. That is why Yahshua the Messiah (Jesus) was not baptized and not anointed and did not begin his ministry in Palestine until his thirtieth birthday...An Associated Press report from Elins, West Virginia says: (the report above is then quoted)...
I have quoted similar views in my writings many times; not quoting from the Talmud but from the Old Testament law of Moses and the meaning of the New Testament words such as those used by Martha when she said to Mary, her sister: "The Master has come and is calling for you" (John 11:28, NKJV & KJV). "Master" was the title that a wife used when speaking of her husband. The New Testament also required that all church officers such as bishops, elders, and deacons be married and the fathers of children (1 Timothy 3:1-4,12). A man that is not married or who has never been married meets neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament Church requirements for the priesthood. The Apostle Peter was married (Matthew 8:14). Saul of Tarsus, who was better known as Paul, was married, for that was a requirement to be a member of the Sanhedrin; and Saul (Paul) sat on that council and voted for the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58-60; 8:1). The truth makes us free. Yah'shua (Jesus) was probably married before and during all the time of his ministry. Many women traveled with him and ministered to his needs.
"And it came to pass afterward, that He went through every city and village preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance" (Luke 8:1-3, NKJV).
Recent manuscripts found in Qumran and other excavations have introduced further information to substantiate Christ's marriage. In the Gospel According to Thomas there are significant references to the marriage of Jesus:
A MARRIED CHRIST? The Roman Catholic case for clerical celibacy rests, historically, on the examples of Yah'shua (Jesus) and some of his apostles -- particularly Saint Paul -- who have been traditionally considered bachelors. But in the current issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Presbyterian scholar William E. Phipps raises the possibility that both Jesus and Paul -- like Saint Peter -- were actually married men.
A religion professor at West Virginia's Davis and Elkins College, Phipps argues inferentially that Yah'shua (Jesus) shared the "normative Jewish view that marriage was a sacred duty -- for himself as for others." When Yah'shua (Jesus) was asked for his views (Matt.19:3-6), continues the author, he responded by endorsing the ideal of Genesis, which held that man and woman were created for each other. Phipps notes that the time between Yah'shua's (Jesus)' 12th and 30th years, on which the New Testament is silent, covers the period when betrothal, marriage and reproduction took place in Jesus's society.
WIDOWERS: Though some scriptural dilettantes have tried to suggest more than a casual relationship between Yah'shua (Jesus) and Mary Magdalene, Phipps finds no positive evidence that Jesus actually took her or anyone else as his wife. On the other hand, he concludes, there is no valid reason to suppose that Jesus, as the obedient son of an obedient Jewish father, did not marry and become a widower in the two decades prior to his public ministry.
As for Saint Paul, who has often been accused of being misogynic, Phipps cites Clement of Alexandria, a church father who as early as the second century claimed that all the apostles were married. The author also finds scriptural evidence suggesting that the peripatetic apostle was indeed a widower who did not remarry because he expected the imminent end of the world. He believes Paul's famous advice to the "unmarried" in 1 Corinthians should really be translated: "To the widowers and widows I say that it is good for them if they remain as I am." Sums up Phipps: the institution of celibacy was not a product of apostolic Christianity but probably grew out of later contact with ascetic ideals of Greek philosophy.
And in another apocryphal manuscript called the Gospel of Philip:
Logion 22: "...They (the disciples) said to Him: Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom? Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them: When you make the two one (one flesh -- or marriage) and when you make the inner as the outer...and when you make the male and the female into a single one (married), so that the male will not be male and the female (not) be female,...then you shall enter (the Kingdom)".
Logion 114: "Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life. Yah'shua (Jesus) said: See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her male (one in marriage) that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (The Gospel According to Thomas, p.57. Coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, 1959. The New Covenant Church has made a fresh translation of the Gospel of Thomas with prophetic commentary).
Celibacy has no recognition within the scriptures. Ancient Jewish law and early Christian law sanctioned and required their disciples to obey the marriage covenant. If the apostles fulfilled the law of marriage, it is only reasonable to assume that they were obeying that law by sanction and direction of the Lawgiver Himself.
Logion 32: "There were three who walked with the Lord at all times, Mary his mother and (his) sister, and Magdelane, whom they called his consort (Consort = a husband or wife (The World Book Encyclopaedia Dictionary, 1966)). For Mary was (the name of) his sister, and his mother, and his consort."
Logion 55: "The Sophia whom they call barren is the mother of the angels. And the consort of (Christ is) Mary Magdalene. (The Lord loved Mary) more than (all) the disciples, and kissed her on her (mouth) often. The others too...they said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? (In the commentary of this book, Dr. Wilson quotes Peter as saying: "We know that the Saviour loved you more than other women" ((referring to Mary Magdalene). And he quotes Levi as saying: "He loved her more than us.")" (The Gospel of Philip, pp.35 & 39-40. Translated from the Coptic text, with an Introduction and Commentary by R.McL.Wilson, B.D., Ph.D., London, 1962.).
The first principle, ordinance, and commandment given to man was the marriage law. It would indeed seem very peculiar that the Lord of all mankind would be perfect example in all things except marriage. Historical records, scriptural evidence, and reason all prove that He was the Good Shepherd in obeying every law of the Gospel.
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Updated on 7 July 2001
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