Catherine's Curiosity Corner

Buy the truth and sell it not. Prov. 23:23
Jesus Had Brothers and Sisters

The scriptures make it abundantly clear that Jesus did indeed have brothers and sisters. With so much Biblical validation for this why is this even an issue? It is an issue because the Roman Catholic church, being the only ones to believe otherwise, have made it an issue. Their doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary has necessitated this claim in order to uphold their "tradition" which glorifies Mary beyond what is said about her in the scriptures. It does not stop at a simple pondering on the family of Jesus, but it explodes exponentially into other doctrines regarding Mary which rely on this assumption - and it is an assumption - having no basis in scripture. Roman Catholicism maintains as a doctrine that following the Lord's birth, Mary continued in her virginity the rest of her life, a perpetual virgin.

If the Catholic church were to confess that the scripture is correct and Mary had other children, it would utterly destroy centuries of Catholic teaching that is centered around Jesus' mother.

The Roman Catholic church has made the fundamental error of building a house from the roof down. They have begun with the conclusion (that Mary was a pertpetual virgin), and then blew smoke by saying there are "technicalities" in the Greek text. This gives the appearance that their conclusions have support, when in actuality they do not. Sound Bible hermeneutics doesn't allow for starting out with a conclusion and then finding scriptural justification for it. It is just the opposite. Sound Bible hermeneutics starts out with the Word, and then follows it to its conclusion. There is nothing in God's word which says or even implies that Mary did not have other children. That starting conclusion upon which they base their doctrine comes from the mind of man, not God.

One tactic which can catch people unawares is that of smoke-screening, attempting to take a word and make it's meaning vague and unclear in order to confuse and complicate the matter, thus allowing for an alternate interpretation more favorable to their side. This is exactly what the Catholic church has done with the Greek word [adelphos]. This word is translated brethren. While it is true that this word can mean different things in different parts of the Bible (Brethren/in Christ, Brethren/Kin), it cannot be used this way in the passages we are dealing with, nor is there any reasonable justification to claim that this word in it's context could mean cousins. The context in the passages in question precludes it from meaning "brethren in Christ."

In Greek, the word for "brother" is ‘adelphos' and sister is ‘adelphe'. Adelphos is used in different contexts: of children of the same parents (Matt. 1:2; 14:3), descendants of parents (Acts 7:23, 26; Heb. 7:5), the Jews as a whole (Acts 3:17, 22), etc. But, adelphe (sisters) is never used in the New Testament to designate relatives or cousins. It always means sisters. Therefore, the "brothers and sisters" can only refer to Jesus' siblings.

Scripture Says...

Matthew 13:55-56 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

Matthew 27:56  Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.

Note carefully that you would have to "tortuously" wrest the scriptures to even begin to make them imply that Mary didn't have other children.

Mark 3:31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

Mark 6:3  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Mark 15:40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

Mark 16:1  And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

The context of these verses reveal that this is talking about the blood family of Jesus! Jesus, Son of Mary, brother of James and Joses. And He also had sisters. To deny this is to wrest the scriptures. If we're going to say that word Brother doesn't really mean His blood brother, then we have to also say that word Mother doesn't really mean Jesus' Mother.
Matthew 1:24-25 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Can we say with scriptural authority that Mary had other children? Indeed we can. The problem is not that the scriptures don't clearly state this, the problem is that the Roman Catholic church places tradition over and above the Authority of the Word of God, making it non effectual (mark 7:13). There is nothing in God's Word that either implicitly or explicitly says Jesus was the lone son of Mary, or that Mary remained a virgin. But the context of many verses show that there was physical sexual union between Joseph and Mary after Christ was born.
He 'Knew her' not (didn't have physical sexual union with her) until she had brought forth her Firstborn, Jesus. From this statement, it is clear that He knew her (in the biblical sense) AFTER the birth of Jesus. I want to make an additional point here. This is not to say that I agree with the Catholic position that Mary was sinless (only Jesus was), but let's just for argument's sake say that that is true. By not having normal sexual relations with her husband throughout her marriage, Mary would have been disobeying a commandment of God, thereby making her sinful! 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." The sexual relationship in a marriage is so that we are not tempted to fornication and adultery. Even if (and she was not) Mary was sinless, Joseph was NOT! She would be leading him into temptation by refusing him a sexually intimate relationship.

Another Biblical indication that the perpetual virginity of Mary is a myth is that Jesus is referred to as her firstborn Son. If Jesus was the only child of Mary, would He be referred to as her firstborn Son? Of course not, because this designation assumes the existence of more than one son. It designates more than one child, among whom a specific one is the first.

Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

These passages clearly show that the brethren mentioned are not the spiritual brethren. In the first passage, Jesus shows us this by answering that his "spiritual" brethren are inside, with him. In the second verse, it says his Mother, his Brothers, "and" the Disciples. If He were speaking of spiritual brethren there would be no need to say His brethren AND His disciples. You don't say, "His Mother and His Brothers" in a context like this, and have it mean the Church.
John 7:3-5 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Again, we can see clearly that at first even Jesus's brothers did not believe on Him. And this is no surprise, as it was prophesied. Psalms 69:8 "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children." This prophecy is speaking of Jesus. Thus, who else are the ones spoken of as His mother's children but his own brothers, in the flesh! This again clearly illustrates that these were his flesh brothers, not brothers in the sense of brothers in Christ. The context makes that very plain. And the scriptures use the Greek word [suggenes] or [suggeneia] when referring to kinsman, relatives, or cousins, not [adelphos] Brethren. These brethren were Mary's other children.

If Jesus did not have brothers in the flesh, then what are we to do with this passage? It would not make any sense to translate brethren in this verse to mean brethren in Christ, for the brethren in Christ ARE disciples! But this is exactly the predicament that happens when one does not handle the Word of God correctly. We cannot take verses out of context and separate them, ignoring other passages that bring the meaning into clearer view.

Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Galatians 1:19  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

Acts 1:14 - Who is the "these" in this verse? According to Acts 1:2 it is the apostles. The brethren at the end of this verse then are Jesus' blood brothers, as it would make no sense at all to repeat the same group he began talking about in the verse. See for yourself, substitute the word "apostles" for the word "these" in the verse. The same can be applied to Gal 1:19. We are talking blood brothers here.
We have to reverence God's Word as the ultimate authority in all we do and say.  When man puts their own ideas above His written Word, we are bound to become fools in His eyes. It is written, "let God be true and every man a Liar". Those who teach against God's Holy Word are liars.

We can know that Jesus had at least four brothers and at least two sisters. The brothers names were, James, Joses, Simon and Judas. He also had at least two sisters.

The normal process of hermeneutics does not allow us to force upon the scriptures the idea that Mary had no other children. Both the context of the sentences as well as the common usage of these words and structure elsewhere, testifies that this refers to Jesus Christ, His Mother, Sisters and Brethren. ...Not cousins, or brethren (as in Church members).

The root of the problem is our basis of Authority. Is it God, where we receive and obey God's Word as the ultimate authority, or is it man, where we receive and obey our teacher's words as the authority? Those who reject scripture in favor of their teachers (no matter what religion) have another authority other than that of the Bible. The Bible tells us that if we follow a blind leader, we will fall into the ditch right along with them.

Christians do not need to exalt Mary beyond what scripture reveals. Yes, Mary was a chosen vessel and was blessed of God to bear the Savior, but she must not be revered as anything but the created human she is, the woman chosen by God to bear the Messiah. She has no part in our salvation. She is not a Mediatrix (intercessor) . There is one Mediator between man and God and that is Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". The idea of Mary as a Co-redemptrix is anathema. Is she holy? Yes, but no more than that all Christians are made holy the Blood of Christ.
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