The Gospel according to Matthew

19:1When Jesus finished saying these things, he left Galilee and entered the area of Judea on the other side of the Jordan.19:2A large crowd followed him, and he healed them there.19:3Then the Pharisees came to test him: “Is ‘No-Fault Divorce’ legal?”1

19:4“Haven’t you read,” replied Jesus, “that God made them male and female from the very beginning,19:5and that ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?19:6So then, what God has joined together, people must not separate.”

19:7“Then why did Moses command that she be given a certificate of divorce and released?” they asked.

19:8“Moses permitted it because of your stubbornness,” Jesus answered.“ But it was not originally that way.19:9So it follows that if any man divorces his wife when she hasn’t been unfaithful, and he marries someone else, he is committing adultery.”2

19:10Then his disciples remarked, “If that’s how it is between a husband and wife, it would be better not to marry!”

19:11“Not everyone can accept this,” Jesus replied.“ But only those to whom it has been given.19:12Some men were born eunuchs, others were castrated, and still others have chosen to be celibate for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. Those to whom this applies can accept it.”

19:13Next some people brought their little ones to present to Jesus so he could pray for them, but the disciples rebuked them.19:14So Jesus said, “Leave them alone! Don’t forbid them to come to me, because the kingdom of the heavens is composed of such people.”19:15Then he blessed them and went on from there.

19:16Suddenly someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good things must I do in order to have eternal life?”

19:17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “Only One is truly good. But if you want to enter into eternal life, hold tight to the commandments.”

19:18“Which ones?” asked the young person.

“Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony,19:19honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus answered.

19:20“I’ve kept all those since my youth,” the person replied. “What am I missing?”

19:21“If you want to be complete,” replied Jesus, “go and sell all your possessions and give the proceeds to the destitute, and you will have treasure in the heavens. Then come and follow me.”

19:22Now when the young person heard this, he went away dejected, because he was very wealthy.19:23So Jesus remarked to his disciples, “It is truly difficult for the rich to enter into the kingdom of the heavens!19:24I tell you, it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle3 than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

19:25This shocked the disciples, so they asked, “Then who can possibly be saved?”

19:26Then Jesus looked at them and said, “This is impossible for people, but God can do anything!”

19:27Then Peter spoke up: “See, we’ve given up everything to follow you. So what will happen to us?”

19:28And Jesus answered, “I can assure you who have followed me, that when everything is made new again and the Human sits on his majestic throne, you Twelve will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.19:29Everyone who has given up houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or land on my account, will be given back a hundred times as much, along with inheriting eternal life.19:30And the prominent will be least important, while the least important will be prominent.

  1. 1This question about divorce is very specific regarding the “any cause” debate among the rabbis. Some interpreted the scriptures to allow a man to divorce his wife even if she did nothing to deserve it, while others believed the man had to prove that she had been unfaithful. So what they want Jesus to do is to take sides in their debate. And when he asks the Pharisees “Haven’t you read,” he insults them since they prided themselves on their knowledge of the scriptures.
  2. 2Jesus not only rejects the “any cause” side, he shows that with such a divorce the couple are still married. So sending the wife away doesn’t mean the man can remarry— which was the likely reason he divorced her in the first place.
  3. 3What Jesus said about a camel going through the eye of a needle is a simple exaggeration of the extreme difficulty of the rich giving up their money. There was no literal city gate called “The Eye of the Needle” as some far-fetched theories claim.