The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary
CELIBACY. Votive abstention from marriage and sexual relations—unknown unless alluded to in Matt 19:12.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised
Celibacy Instances of a lifelong state of celibacy are rare in Scripture. In OT times marriage was almost universal and celibacy was considered abnormal. For the Israelites as well as other ancient peoples the propagation of the family name was of supreme importance, and thus the desire for sons was
The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
CELIBACY. Remaining in an unmarried state for conscientious, religious, or moral reasons. The term is often confined to men, but applies equally to women, such as the vestal virgins of heathenism and the nuns of Roman Catholicism.As a phenomenon, celibacy is not confined to Roman Catholicism. The Buddhist
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
CelibacyAbstention from marriage in fulfillment of a vow. Celibacy as depicted in the NT has both Jewish and Hellenistic parentage.The OT speaks of Nazarite vows taken for life (Judg. 13:5, 7; 16:17). The prophetic task laid on Jeremiah expressly forbade marriage (Jer. 16:1–2). Philo reports that,
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Celibacy. *Abstention from marriage in fulfillment of a religious vow. In ancient Israel the practice was rare except among certain sects such as the Essenes at Qumran. In the New Testament celibacy is regarded as a special gift (Gk. chárisma), condoned but not commanded by Jesus (Matt. 19:12, “eunuchs
A Catholic Dictionary
celibacy of the clergy. The law of the Western Church forbids persons living in the married state to be ordained, and persons in holy orders to marry. A careful distinction must be made between the principles on which the law of celibacy is based and the changes which have taken place in the application
Compton’s Encyclopedia
celibacyA voluntary refusal to marry or engage in sexual intercourse, celibacy is often associated with taking religious vows. The three types of religious celibacy are sacerdotal, monastic, and institutional.Sacerdotal (priestly) celibacy is, in some churches considered a requirement for serving as
Pocket Dictionary of Ethics
celibacy. The state of willfully choosing to be unmarried and, more specifically, not to engage in physical sexual activity. Although the term is often used in the general sense to refer to anyone who willingly chooses *abstinence, celibacy carries the more technical sense of this choice being motivated
A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Aaron–Zion
CELIBACY.—According to the ordinary Jewish view, marriage was of universal obligation (cf. for instance, Yebamoth vi. 6; Kethuboth v. 6, 7; Giṭṭin iv. 5). There does not appear to be evidence whether exceptions were recognized as possible because of some special vocation, as that to particular forms
Dictionary of Theological Terms
CelibacyThe maintenance of a state of virginity; the avoidance of all sexual relationships. The Roman Catholic church has legislated celibacy for its priests, despite the experience of centuries that grave moral excesses are the inevitable results. The Second Vatican Council admitted that the nature
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
CELIBACY Abstention by vow from marriage. The practice of abstaining from marriage may be alluded to twice in the NT. Jesus said that some have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom and that those who were able to do likewise should do so (Matt. 19:12). This statement has traditionally
Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity, Volumes I–IV
CelibacyCelibacy is a word derived from the Latin caelebs (“alone” or “single”). As marriage between men and women for reproductive purposes was the norm in all ancient societies, the decision to remain celibate or unmarried was quite exceptional. Abstinence from marriage to dedicate oneself wholly
Key passages
1 Co 7:1

Now concerning the things about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

1 Co 7:6–9

But I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish all people could be like myself, but each one has his own gift from God, one in this way and another in that way. Now I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, …

1 Co 7:25–29

Now concerning virgins I do not have a command from the Lord, but I am giving an opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy. Therefore, I consider this to be good because of the impending distress, that it is good for a man to be thus. Are you bound to …

1 Co 7:33–34

But the one who is married cares for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. And the unmarried woman or the virgin cares for the things of the Lord, in order that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman cares for the things of the world, …

1 Co 7:38

So then, the one who marries his own virgin does well, and the one who does not marry her will do better.

1 Co 7:40

But she is happier if she remains thus, according to my opinion—and I think I have the Spirit of God.

See also
Topics & Themes