Who were the brothers of Jesus?

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The gospels of Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus‘ brothers were James, Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3). Jesus had sisters too but the Bible doesn’t identify them (Mark 6:3). The fact that Jesus committed His mother to the care of John (John 19:26, 27) suggests that His brothers (and sisters) were not actually Mary’s own children.

Before the Crucifixion

The attitude and the relationship of these brothers to Jesus shows that they were older than Him as only brothers who were older would do in those days. For they tried to control Him when “they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind” (Mark 3:21).

Also, Jesus’ brothers tried to plan his steps saying, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world” (John 7:3, 4).

It is clear that His brothers were discouraged by reports they had heard concerning His work. They felt that He was not wise in His activities, and sought to convince Him to follow their ideas of how He should act. No doubt they were also worried because of the growing tense relations between Him and the Jewish rabbis. So, they tood aloof from Him (John 7:5), and were not mentioned among those who gathered around the cross (John 19:25–27).

After the Crucifixion

But the final chapters in Christ’s earthly life brought about their conversion. Though His “brethren” did not at first believe in Him (John 7:3–5), they later accepted Him and were numbered among the believers. The apostle Luke referred to that fact when he wrote, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14).

There is no more mention of the brothers Simon and Joses. But James became a leader in the early church (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19), and is believed to be the writer of the Epistle of James. He was probably the eldest of the four brothers of Jesus since he is mentioned first (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

Paul referred to James, as he leader of the church, in Gal. 2:9. Also, Josephus’ story of the death of James, the Lord’s brother, suggests that he was a leader in the early church (Josephus Antiquities xx. 9. 1; cf. Vol. V, p. 71). In addition, Christian tradition, at least from the 2d century, recognizes James, the leader of the church at Jerusalem, as the Lord’s brother (Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius Ecclesiastical History ii. 23).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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