Written Word

Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?

The Bible makes it very clear that Mary was a virgin when she conceived. And the Bible is equally clear when it declares that Jesus did have brothers and sisters.

The Testimony of Matthew:
Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married. When Joseph found that Mary was pregnant, he planned to divorce her quietly. His plans were interrupted by an angel, who told him that the child Mary was carrying was from the Holy Spirit. Matthew records: ‘When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.’(Matthew 1:24-25).

Matthew is careful to point out that Joseph could not have been Jesus’ father. The wording used by Matthew makes it clear that while Joseph and Mary lived together as husband and wife during her pregnancy, they did not have sexual relations until after Jesus was born. Thus it is clear that Matthew is defending the virgin birth, but he is also making it clear that after Jesus’ birth Joseph and Mary lived as husband and wife and had a normal sexual relationship.

Later he speaks of the brothers and sisters of Jesus: “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you’….Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 12:46-47; 13:53-56).

The Testimony of Luke:
Luke states at the beginning of his gospel that he made a thorough investigation of all that he set about to record. Luke is a physician and a meticulous historian. He confidently affirms the virgin conception of Jesus. Of the four gospel writers, Luke provides the most detail of the circumstances surrounding Jesus birth.

He states that Mary did have other children from her union with Joseph. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us that Jesus had brothers. Describing the gathering in the upper room before the dawning of Pentecost he says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1″14).

The Testimony of John:
The testimony of the apostle John is important since he spent considerable time with the Lord and would have been in the company of Mary on many occasions. His close association with Jesus gave him firsthand knowledge of the family of the Lord.
He records that after Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding in Cana he “went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples.” (John 2:12).

Scripture is clear – Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. Joseph and Mary were married but had no sexual relations until after the birth of Jesus. Furthermore, the Bible makes it clear that Joseph and Mary did have children of their own and their names are recorded in the Bible.

Extracts for this article have been taken from ‘Once A Catholic’ by Tony Coffey. Publishers: Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, USA.