Did Jesus have siblings?

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Jesus’ Siblings

The Bible teaches that Jesus had siblings. The following references show that His mother and brothers came to see Him: “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him” (Matthew 12:46). “Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd” (Luke 8:19). “Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him” (Mark 3:31).

The gospels tell us that Jesus had four brothers: “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? (Matthew 13:55). And it also tell us that He had sisters, but they are not named or numbered: “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:56).

Some have suggested that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were His cousins. If this is true, why didn’t Matthew and Mark use the Greek words for cousins (anepsios) or relatives (suggenes)? The Greek word for “cousin” was used in the New Testament in Colossians 4:10 and “relative” was used in Luke 1:36. Instead, both Matthew and Mark, used the words for brothers (adelphos) and sisters (adelphe).

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Some oppose the idea that Jesus had siblings based on a preconceived concept of the perpetual virginity of Mary which is a Catholic Church teaching that doesn’t have Biblical support. The phrase perpetual virginity of Mary means that Jesus’ mother remained a virgin for her entire life. Catholics regard Mary as “the Mother of God” and “Queen of Heaven.” They also teach that having sexual intercourse would not be right for her high position.

But the Bible teaches that God blessed the marriage union and commanded Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden and before sin, to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Therefore, sexual intimacy in marriage is not sinful. On the contrary, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).

Catholics teach that Mary remained a virgin even after the birth of Christ. But this is not Biblical either because in Matthew 1:25 it says, “And (Joseph) knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” This verse says that Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary until after she gave birth to Jesus.

James, Joses, Simon, and Judas

At the cross, the fact that Jesus committed His mother Mary to the care of John (John 19:27) may either mean that Mary had no other children of her own and these children were Joseph’s from a previous marriage or, it could also mean that Mary may have had children who were not in a position to care for her or who were unsympathetic toward both her and Jesus at the time of the crucifixion (Matthew 1:18).

Though Jesus’ brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas did not at first believe in Him (John 7:3–5). And they were not mentioned among those who gathered around the cross (John 19:25–27). They later accepted Him and were numbered among His followers (Acts 1:14).  James is perhaps the one who became a leader in the church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 15:). He became one of the pillars of the church in Jerusalem, after the death of James the son of Zebedee. Paul gives him the title “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). He is thought to be the author of the Epistle of James. And Judas may be the Jude who wrote the short epistle that bears his name.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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