Q: We’re convinced Jesus never married, contrary to what some attention-getting liberals have advanced lately, but what about His disciples? And if any of them were married, how could they possibly have traveled with Jesus without neglecting their wives?
A: The Bible says little about this subject. Several passages indicate that Peter was married, as Luke 4:38 tells us that Jesus healed Peter’s wife’s mother of a high fever (see also Matthew 8:14, 15; Mark 1:29–31). In another passage, 1 Corinthians 9:5 and 6, the apostle Paul suggests that other disciples/apostles may have been married, or at least that they had the right to be married: “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” Paul here was saying that he would have just as much right to be married as these others and that both he and his wife would have the right to be supported by fellow believers as they traveled together in ministry.
Concerning the second part of your question, many people forget the length of Christ’s earthly ministry. It lasted only three to four years. Therefore, leaving family and home would not have lasted all that long. Today people in the military and in ministry similarly leave their spouses and families for extended periods. The Lord would undoubtedly have granted the disciples grace to separate for these times if they were married, and perhaps they had times of “furlough” as well. We just don’t know. Incidentally, Clement of Alexandria wrote that Peter and Philip, and even Paul, were married and had children. This is not from the Bible, of course, but it is interesting nevertheless. Clement was what we call a “church father,” an educated convert to Christianity who was skilled in classical Greek literature.
I’m glad you haven’t fallen for the recent heresy that Jesus was married. The Bible doesn’t give one iota of a hint that such would be the case. Instead, Jesus Himself indicated that He wasn’t married when He said about marriage that some people devote their entire lives to God’s service rather than enter matrimony (Matthew 19:12). He wouldn’t declare this fact unless He set this example Himself. And again, church fathers also upheld that Jesus was indeed unmarried. Additionally, the Bible teaches that the church is “the bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:23–32; Revelation 21:1–5, 9).
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