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Did Jesus Have Biological Siblings

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Did Jesus Have Blood Brothers And Sisters

Did Jesus Have Siblings?

This question arises because the gospels refer to the brothers and sisters of our Lord. In the New American Bibles English translation of the Gospel of St. Mark, we do indeed read about the crowd asking, Isnt this the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Arent his sisters our neighbors here? . A similar reference occurs earlier in Mark 3:31 His mother and brothers arrived.

The problem emerges in understanding the meaning of the word brother. In the original text of the gospel, we find the Greek word adelphos, meaning brothers, used. However, adelphos does not just mean blood brothers born of the same parents. Rather, adelphos was used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or step-brother. The word also described other relationships like cousins, nephews, uncles, etc. For example in Genesis 13:8 and 14:14-16, the word adelphos was used to describe the relationship between Abraham and Lot however, these two men did not share a blood brother relationship, but one of uncle and nephew. Another instance is that of Laban, who was an adelphos to Jacob, not as a brother, but as an uncle.

The same meanings are true for the word sister in Greek. For example, in I Chronicles 23:21-22, the sons of Kish married their sisters, a literal translation of the text, but in reality they married their cousins.

Consensus Of The Early Church

The earliest explanation of the brothers of the Lord is found in a document known as the Protoevangelium of James, which was written around A.D. 150. It speaks of Mary as a consecrated virgin since her youth, and of St. Joseph as an elderly widower with children who was chosen to be Marys spouse for the purposes of guarding and protecting her while respecting her vow of virginity. Though this document is not on the level of Sacred Scripture, it was written very early, and it may contain accurate historical traditions.

Allow me to limit myself to three quotes from the early Church:

Athanasius of Alexandria

Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin .

St. Jerome

You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more that Joseph himself, on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born .

Pope St. Leo I

The origin is different but the nature alike: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained .

Thus the same Church today affirm:

Jesus is Marys only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mothers love .

What The Gospels Say About Jesus Siblings

In Mark, a crowd inquires of Jesus, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are his sisters here with us? .

In Luke, when Jesus is told by a crowd that has been formed to hear him preach, Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you, Jesus famously rejects them: My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it . And John writes in his gospel that after Jesus performed his first miracles in Cana, he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples and they remained there a few days .

While this may seem to be a pretty clear-cut answer to the question of whether Jesus had siblings, in reality, scholars and theologians have been debating these passages for 2,000 years. The main arguments center around whether or not these brothers and sisters were actually biological siblings, step-siblings, or not even siblings at all, but rather cousins.

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Why Do Protestants Not Believe In Mary

The Roman Catholic Church reveres Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “Queen of Heaven.” However, there are few biblical references to support the Catholic Marian dogmas which include the Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity and her Assumption into heaven. This is why they are rejected by Protestants.

What Does The New Testament Say About Jesus Siblings

What are the names of Jesus brothers?

There are two verses in the Gospels that list Jesus siblings. One is Mark 6:3, which reads, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him. The other is Matthew 13:55, Is not this the carpenters son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

There are several men with the names James, Joses or Joseph, Judas, and Simon in the New Testament. Therefore, its important to make distinctions between them.

Brother Notes
James There are four men named James in the New Testament. This James isnt the son of Zebedee , the son of Alphaeus , or the father of Judas . This is the James that became a leader in the early church .
Joses Some translations say Joseph , while others say Joses . Its the same person. This Joseph isnt Barnabas or Barsabbas . Very little is known about this Joses/Joseph.
Judas There are four different men named Judas in the New Testament. This Judas isnt Jesus betrayer , the son of James , or the Galilean . Some believe this may be the author of Jude.
Simon There are eight different men named Simon in the New Testament. This Simon isnt the Apostle Peter, Simon the Zealot , Simon of Cyrene , or any of the other Simons .

There are other passages that reference Jesus brothers but dont mention their names. None of them mention his sisters.

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Who Is My Family

In a response the multitude could hear, Jesus rhetorically asks who is his mother and brothers . He then answers his own question by stating he does not consider his most close relationships to be limited to only those who have some physical tie to him. In contrast, he states he is willing to have a close spiritual relationship, like a family, with anyone who does the will of God the Father .

The Lord’s response, spoken to a large crowd of people eager to be with him, would make no sense if the initial request to talk with him was made by anyone who was not physically related to him.

Absence Of Jesus’ Brothers

There are some events in scripture where brothers or sisters of Jesus are not shown, e.g., when Jesus was lost in the Temple and during his crucifixion. Luke 2:4151 reports the visit of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old but does not mention any siblings. Robert Eisenman is of the belief Luke sought to minimise the importance of Jesus’ family by whatever means possible, editing James and Jesus’ brothers out of the Gospel record.Keating argues Mary and Joseph rushed without hesitation straight back to Jerusalem when they realized Jesus was lost, which they would surely have thought twice about doing if there were other children to look after.

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Did Jesus Have Siblings Consider The Doctrine Of Perpetual Virginity

Because Catholic and Orthodox theology maintains the perpetual virginity of Mary. According to their understanding, the only child she bore and birthed was Jesus. What about the references to Jesus brothers and sisters in the Gospels? They point out correctly that words often have a range of meanings and this is true for the words translated brother and sister in the Gospels. So in view of Marys perpetual virginity, the references dont refer to Jesus actual brothers and sisters. They are either step-siblings from a previous marriage of Josephs or cousins from his extended family. Mary only had one Child: Jesus.

So which is it: Mary and Joseph had a houseful of kids or Mary only had one? The only way to answer this question is to look at specific biblical texts about Jesus family that mention his brothers and sisters.

Why Is This Question So Controversial Among Christians

Did Jesus Actually Have Brothers and Sisters? | Catholic NC TV

The question of the perpetual virginity of Mary is what drives this controversy. If Mary was perpetually a virgin, then Jesus would have no blood relatives. If Mary remained a virgin until Jesus was born, but then had relations with her husband Joseph, that opens the possibility for Jesus having half-siblings. They would be half-siblings since Joseph was not Jesus biological father due to the virgin birth.

Three views emerged in early church history. First, that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were children of Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born . Second, that they were children of Joseph from a prior to Mary . Third, that they were first cousins of Jesus .

The idea that they were first cousins of Jesus is least likely. While it is true that the Greek words for brothers and sisters can be ambiguous, there was a word for cousin in the New Testament. For example, Colossians 4:10 says, Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, Barnabas cousin . It is striking that nowhere in the New Testament, or the first two centuries of Christianity, are they referred to as Jesus cousins.

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Bible Verses About Jesus’ Brother And Sisters

Let us first sum up what we know from the New Testament of the brothers and sisters of the Lord. They are mentioned in Matthew 12:46-50, 13:55-56 , 6:3 Luke 8:19 John 2:12, 7:3 Acts 1:14 1 Cor. 9:5 and Paul speaks of a James the Lord’s brother .

Of the brothers, there seem to have been four who are named in Matthew 13:55: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas . Matthew and Mark mention the sisters, but neither the number nor the names are given. From the language of the Nazarenes , there must have been at least two, probably more, and apparently married, and resident at Nazareth.

These brothers and sisters are not mentioned at all until after the Lord began His ministry and are first mentioned as going with His mother and Himself to Capernaum . It is in dispute whether any were believers in His Messianic claims, at least until the very end of His ministry . Most say that they were made believers through His resurrection, as they appear in company with the Apostles .

In all the references to the Lord’s brethren several things are noticeable: first, that they are always called brothers and sisters, not cousins or kinsmen second, that their relationship is always defined with reference to Him, not to Joseph or to Mary they are always called His brothers and sisters, not sons and daughters of Mary third, that they always appear in connection with Mary as if her children, members of her household, and under her direction.

Adapted from The Life of Our Lord upon the Earth

Even Though Words Can A Have Range Of Meanings Context Determines Meaning In A Given Case

The context is the same in Mark 6:3. Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us? Notice that Jesus is called the son of Mary and the brother of Since the passage is describing that actual mother-son relationship in the first half of the sentence, that indicates the meaning of brother and sisters in the second half of the sentence. Context determines meaning.

All of the other passages that refer to Jesus siblings need to be read in light of the clear meaning of the two texts above. So when Paul refers to James, the Lords brother in Galatians 1:19 or the brothers of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 9:4-5, we understand that hes referring to his actual siblings.

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Did Jesus Brothers Believe In Him

Jesus family didnt believe he was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Mark 3:21 reads, And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, He is out of his mind’ . However, Paul reports that Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles . James then became a leader in the church .

When Were Jesus Siblings Born

Did Jesus Have Siblings From Mary And Joseph

The Bible doesnt say exactly when Jesus brothers and sisters were born, but it gives us some clues.

We know Mary was a young woman when she gave birth to Jesus , which means she must have been married at least 3 years prior . This means that Joseph and Mary were married sometime between 1 BCE and 4 BCE.

If Joseph and Mary were married around 4 BCE, then Jesus was born around 5 BCE. Lets assume they were married around 9 BCE. Then He was born around 7 CE. It seems unlikely that they would have gotten married so late in their lives , so lets go with the earlier date of 4 BCE for the birth of Jesus siblings.

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Clearing Misconceptions About Jesus: Did Jesus Have Brothers Or Sisters

The conclusion of the examination of both the Quran and Hadith shows that there is no evidence supporting the claim that Jesus had brothers or sistersThe pregnancy of Mary, the greatest example of purity, was a miracle of God and a wonder of divine creation, and the birth of Jesus was the result of this miraculous command.The Quran stresses the fact that Mary protected her dignity and chastity and that she had never been in contact with any male: Her expression of astonishment when she was given the tidings that she was to give birth to a son is clear evidence of her chastity:

In the Quran and Hadith

Brother and Sister in the Bible

According to the New Testament

The Use of the Word Brother In Reference to Jesus

It is apparent that when the word brother was mentioned in reference to Jesus, in most cases it was actually used as a figure of speech and there is no indication to the contrary. For instance in the verses of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where Jesus mother and brother ask to speak to Jesus while he is talking to his disciples, and he replies: Here are my mother and my brother! For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother

How Many Siblings Did Jesus Have

What was the exact number of brothers and sisters that Jesus had? This may come as a shock to many Christians, but there is currently no way to truly know.

The Bible doesnt give the exact number of Jesus siblings, but it says that he had at least four brothers: James, Joseph, Judas , and Simon .

Some people think this means that Jesus had no sisters. But Mark 6:3 also refutes this.

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Does The Catholic Church Believe Jesus Had Brothers And Sisters

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesusbrothers and sisters were his cousins as Mary didnt have other children, given her life-long virginity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Marys real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man .

The next catechism addresses Jesus siblings . It teaches that a different Mary gave birth to Jesus siblings. This viewpoint argues that the New Testament refers to them as Jesus brothers and sisters because their families were close.

Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, brothers of Jesus, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls the other Mary. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression .

How Old Was Mary When She Got Pregnant With Jesus

Catholic Q& A [Ep. 02] – Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?

According to the Priest of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church: “Mary was approximately 14 years old when she got pregnant with Jesus. Joseph, Mary’s Husband is believed to be around 36 years. Mary was only 13 years when she married Joseph. When she first was arranged with Joseph she was between 7 to 9 years old.”

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Three Views About Jesus’ Siblings

Those who hold the first view argue that this is the most natural way to understand the various references to these brothers also that this is the most obvious intent of Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:7.

Those who hold the second view argue that family ethics would not permit younger siblings to taunt or otherwise meddle with an older brother as Jesus’ brothers taunted Him . They point out further that the fact that Jesus left His mother in the care of the apostle John rather than with one of His brothers strongly implies that Mary had no other children.

The view that these brothers were the cousins of Jesus on Joseph’s side is based on pure conjecture. That they were cousins on Mary’s side is based on the unproven identity of “Mary, the wife of Cleophus” with the sister of Mary , and on the unproven identity of “Clopas” with Alphaeus .

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