Why did the Eunuch go on his way rejoicing? Because the time had finally come when even eunuchs would be given a name “better than that of sons and daughters” (Isaiah 56:3-5). In others words, while they weren’t able to produce children under the Old Covenant, they would be able to under the new because New Covenant children of God are produced through faith.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.John 1:12–13
The apostle Paul was not married, but he was still able to have children in this new way.
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.1 Timothy 1:2
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.2 Timothy 1:2
Even the apostle John was able to address his audience as “my children” (3 John 4).
Polygamy was popular in the Old Testament because it was a sure way for the men to have lots and lots of children which increased their chances for their name to continue among the people. When Ruth’s father-in-law and his sons died, Naomi was distraught, but when Boaz married Ruth, the women told Naomi,
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”Ruth 4:14–15
The levirate marriage law, which we mentioned briefly in the previous article, came into play in the book of Ruth so that Elimelech’s name would continue through his relative Boaz. This law stated that if a man died without having children, then his next of kin would marry his wife, and their firstborn would count towards the original man’s family.
Now, after establishing this foundation, let’s take a quick look at a question the Sadducees had.
Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN’S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER. Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died also. “In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.Luke 20:27–33
From the Sadducees’ perspective, the resurrection meant a return to Israel to receive the inheritance promised to Abraham. They believed this to be absurd because who would the land go to? Would it go to the first brother, the last, or one in the middle? While men were allowed multiple partners, women were not. Again, that’s not an efficient way to make babies.
So the Sadducees’ critique of the resurrection came from an understanding that resurrection is directly tied to the land promises. This is seen in Ezekiel 37 but also in a very sad account in 2 Maccabees in which seven brothers are put to death for their faith. Most of them, as they died, spoke of a resurrection.
Jesus’ responded by saying,
The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage…(Luke 20:34–35).
Some have used this passage to say that there is no marriage in Heaven. Others have said, “Well Daniel believes the resurrection has already happened and is available to us today, so why is he married?”
It really goes back to what we’ve talked about in the last two articles. Children of the covenant aren’t made through procreation. Being married or being given in marriage has nothing to do with making children in the New Covenant. Since I am in Christ, I am not male and my wife is not female where our relationship to the New Covenant is concerned.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
If there is no gender in Christ, then there is no marriage in Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection” in response to one of His disciple’s confusion about resurrection (John 11:25). Krister Stendahl pointed this out in his comments on the gospel of John.
There Martha’s expectation that her brother will rise on the last day is countered by Jesus’ answer: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die …” (Jn. 11:25f.), a theological statement enforced and symbolized by the raising of Lazarus (cf. Jn. 5:24: “He who hears my word … has passed from death to life.”)Stendahl, Krister. Paul among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1976. Print.
This means that if I am in Christ, then I am in resurrection because Jesus is the resurrection! And in Christ/ Resurrection, there is no male or female which means there is no marriage or given in marriage. The two statements are saying the same thing. Those old fleshly categories that were so important for producing children under the Old Covenant are meaningless in the new.
Am I still male? Yes. Am I still married? Yes.
But those things have nothing to do with my relationship to Christ.
This is why Paul goes on to say,
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.Galatians 3:29
The Sadducees’ question was off from the beginning because they did not “understand the Scriptures or the power of God” (Mark 12:24).