Did Joseph have children before he was engaged to Mary?

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The Bible tells us that Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Jesus’ brothers are mentioned in several Bible verses. Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31 say that Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him. The Bible also tells us that Jesus had sisters, but they are not named or numbered (Matthew 13:56).

The gospel writers make it evident that these were children of Joseph by a former marriage. The fact that Jesus committed His mother to the care of John (John 19:26, 27) implies that Jesus’ “brethren” (and sisters) were not actually Mary’s own children. That these brothers were older than Jesus is shown by their attitude and relationship to Him. They tried to restrain Him (Mark 3:21), they spoke taunting words to Him (John 7:3, 4), and otherwise interfered with His conduct (Mark 3:31), as only brothers who were older would dare do in those days.

During His ministry, Jesus’ brothers were dismayed by reports they had heard concerning His work, particularly how Jesus scarcely had time to eat and sleep. They felt that He was not prudent in His activities, and sought to persuade Him to conform to their ideas of how He should conduct Himself. No doubt they were also concerned because of the increasingly strained relations between Him and the Jewish leaders.

In John 7:1-10, His brothers went to the festival while Jesus stays behind. In Acts 1:14, His brothers and mother are described as praying with the disciples. Also, Galatians 1:19 mentions that James was Jesus’ brother. Though these “brethren” did not at this time believe in Jesus (John 7:3–5), they later accepted Him and were numbered among His followers (Acts 1:14).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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