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For a Lady Pope

Were the apostles married?

The Evangelists, even if they evoke the names of the apostles, do not talk about their families as such. There was no interest in describing either their civil status or their marital status. It is only by chance that we learn that Peter (Simon) had a mother-in-law (not that this would have been unusual for an apostle, but we only find out about it because she happened to be one of the people healed by Jesus). The three evangelists all talk about the event in narrative episodes describing a series of miracles carried out by Jesus. If Peter’s mother-in-law hadn’t had a fever, we might still think that the apostles were all celibate. Hard to believe maybe, but that’s how it is. On top of this, we also learn that Peter had a house and that he didn’t therefore up give everything to follow Jesus.

Here are the verses in question:

Matthew 8: 14-15: « And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto him. »

Mark 1: 29-31: « And straightway, when they were come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever; and straightway they tell him of her: and he came and took her by the hand, and raised her up; and the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. »

Luke 4: 38-39: « And he rose up from the synagogue, and entered into the house of Simon. And Simon's wife's mother was holden with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she rose up and ministered unto them. »

Ok, I hear you say, we can accept that Peter was married, but what about the others? If I told you that, in the Jewish environment of the time, every young Jew (the Essenes apart) aged between 18 and 20 was married, would you still have any doubts? According to the Torah, anyone older than that who lived without a wife was someone filled with negative thoughts, and he who refused marriage was failing to obey the Commandments to go out and multiply. In a nutshell, the apostles, like all the Jews, would most certainly have been married.

To put an end to your doubts, read the first epistle of Paul in Corinthians 9: 5: « Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? »

St Paul also speaks about the other apostles, the brothers of Jesus and of Céphas, otherwise known as Peter.

In the first epistle to Timothy (3: 2), St Paul writes : « Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife ».

In the first epsitle in Corinthians (7: 1-2), in reply to those who wrote « It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman,» St Paul argues against this thesis, replying instead, « But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. »

Do you still doubt that the apostles were, for the most part, married ? Do you still believe that, in the first century AD, celibacy was a law imposed on the people by Jesus and his apostles?

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