The New Testament teaches Jesus had brothers and sisters. Matthew 12:46 states, "While he [Jesus] was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him." Luke 8:19 adds, "Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd." Mark 3:31 offers a similar parallel account.
Specifically, Jesus was said to have four brothers: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?" (Matthew 13:55). This James was the author of the book of James in the New Testament. First Corinthians 15:7 mentions that the resurrected Jesus appeared to this same James. This James was also mentioned in Galatians 1:19 as "James the Lord's brother." Judas (also known as Jude) was the author of the book of Jude in the New Testament.
John 7:1-10 further mentions that Jesus' brothers attended the Jewish festival while Jesus stayed behind. Therefore all four Gospel writers specifically mentioned Jesus having brothers. In addition, the first century Jewish historian Josephus mentioned James the brother of Jesus, offering early extra-biblical support for this historical fact.
In addition to four brothers specifically mentioned in the New Testament, Jesus is also noted as having more than one sister: "And are not all his sisters with us?" (Matthew 13:56). Though unnamed, the plural form of sisters indicated more than one sister. The context is clearly speaking of sisters who were the children of Mary and Joseph.
Because modern Roman Catholic teachings accept the belief of the perpetual virginity of Mary, Catholic teachings typically deny that Mary ever had sexual relations and therefore did not have other children. Instead, the passages related to Jesus having brothers and sisters are reinterpreted as references to other relatives, usually cousins of Jesus. While the Greek term for "brothers" could possibly refer to other relatives, the context of the passages mentioned above from the New Testament make it very clear that literal brothers and sisters of Jesus were in view. Another alternative sometimes presented is that these brothers and sisters were siblings from a previous marriage of Joseph. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.
Biblically, it is evident that Jesus was born of Mary when she was a virgin, meaning she had not had intimate relations before the birth of Jesus. However, nothing in Scripture teaches against Mary and Joseph having other children together after Jesus, something the New Testament teaches as having occurred. Two of these brothers, James and Jude, were early leaders in the church and played an important role in Christianity's early development. These half-brothers of Jesus (called half-brothers since they were not virgin born as Jesus was) offered a rich addition to the heritage of the early Christian faith that have benefited believers throughout history; they continue to impact Christians today through their writings.
Copyright 2011-2021 Got Questions Ministries - All Rights Reserved.