Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters?
Good News Article
June 1960 - Vol. IX, Number 6
by J. W. Robinson
WHEN Jesus came to His own hometown synagogue to preach, he astonished the people with His teachings. In their amazement, they asked, "Whence hath THIS man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 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?" (Matt. 13:54-56).
This scripture clearly states that Christ had FOUR brothers, all of them being personally named. The added question, "And his sisters, are they not ALL with us?" implies that He had AT LEAST THREE SISTERS. If He had only two, they would have used the term, "both," instead of "all." Some claim that these were not really brothers and sisters, only cousins. But Scripture reveals this is NOT TRUE.
Here is the proof.
The word "brethren" is translated from the Greek word for "brother" -- "adelphos." This word may mean a spiritual brother, but it does not mean "cousin." The English word "cousin" in Luke 1:36 and 58 is translated from "suggenes" in the original Greek. This clearly shows that the New Testament, when referring to Jesus' family, makes them brothers and not cousins.
What about the contention that these were Christ's spiritual brothers and sisters, instead of His blood brothers and sisters -- His siblings. We find the answer in John 2:12. Christ went to Capernaum, accompanied by "His mother, and His brethren, AND HIS DISCIPLES." Here we find a sharp distinction is made between His BRETHREN and His DISCIPLES showing that they WERE NOT the same. His SPIRITUAL brethren WERE His disciples -- those who believed His teachings. His flesh and blood brothers did not believe Him (John 7:5). This scripture certainly makes James, Joses, Simon and Judas His blood brothers.
In Mark's account of Jesus' visit to His hometown synagogue, we find the people wondering about His great wisdom. They asked, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?" (Mark 6:3). These people, who had known Jesus from childhood, specifically stated that He was the brother of several other young people who had grown up in their midst.
These people were VERY familiar with family relationships throughout the village. Notice that they are not called cousins, but brothers.
In Matthew 1:25 we find that Christ is called the "FIRSTBORN" son of Mary. The word "firstborn" is translated from the Greek word, "prototokon" which means the firstborn among other children -- the oldest of several children in a family. If Jesus had been Mary's ONLY child, the Greek word "monogenes," meaning "only child," would have been used in the original Greek text. Jesus was the "only begotten" human son of the Heavenly Father (John 1:18). But He was the "first born" -- not an "only child" -- of Mary!
Many other New Testament scriptures tell us distinctly that Jesus Christ was not the only child of His mother. In Galatians 1:18-19, Paul mentioned having seen not only Peter, but also James the Lord's brother in Jerusalem. We know that Paul was speaking of a brother in the flesh. If he had been speaking of a spiritual brother -- a brother in the faith -- he certainly would have included Peter among Christ's spiritual brethren. But he did not!
Paul knew that Christ had other brothers. He stated: "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the BRETHREN OF THE LORD, and Cephas [Peter]?" (I Cor. 9:5). Notice that the brethren of the Lord are distinct from the twelve apostles. In Acts 1:13-14 we find that THE DISCIPLES "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, AND WITH HIS BRETHREN."
Some have, in argument, referred to Matthew 12:46-50. Here Christ said, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." They have claimed this scripture as proof that when the Bible speaks of Christ's brethren, it means spiritual brethren. They claim therefore that He may not have had any brothers in the flesh.
Such an argument is without foundation. If this scripture proved that Christ had no brothers or sisters, IT WORLD ALSO PROVE THAT HE HAD NO MOTHER. What Christ meant in this statement is that those who OBEY THE FATHER are all equally precious in His sight, regardless of blood relationship.
As a final proof that Jesus Christ was not the ONLY CHILD of His mother, let us turn to Psalm 69:8, which all Bible scholars recognize as a prophecy concerning Christ. In this scripture we read, "I am become a stranger unto MY BRETHREN, and an alien unto MY MOTHER'S CHILDREN." Christ certainly was speaking of His PHYSICAL mother and brethren -- blood relatives -- in this prophecy. Christ's spiritual mother is the Church (Rev. 12:1-5) and His spiritual brethren are His followers -- those who compose the true Church today (Matt. 12:49-50, Rom. 8:16-17,29).
Christ's spiritual brethren certainly recognized Him from the beginning of His ministry (John 1:35-49). He WAS a stranger (an alien) to His physical brethren, however. They did not believe in Him during His ministry (John 7:2-5), although some of them were converted after His resurrection.
Anyone who earnestly believes that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, CANNOT fail to see these facts. These scriptures definitely PROVE -- absolutely -- that Jesus Christ did have brothers and sisters who were the children of His mother. Their father was Joseph. Joseph was the legal, not actual, father of Jesus. This means that Jesus and His brothers and sisters had the same mother, but not the same father.
The question we now must answer is this: Are we willing to TOTALLY SUBMIT ourselves to God and accept HIS DIVINE WORD as Truth? or would we rather believe the edict of pagans who want to deify a woman by claiming her as a PERPETUAL VIRGIN? The doctrine of "perpetual virginity" is the teaching of Semiramis, the harlot founder of the Babylonian Mysteries upon which much of MODERN Christianity, so-called, is based. It is rank heathenism.
According to the Bible, Jesus' physical mother led a normal married life and bore Joseph, her husband, several children after the birth of Jesus Christ.
Any other doctrine is a fable.