Weekly Devotional 3-5-18
Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters?
Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? As we begin an answer, we turn to the Gospel of Luke and read that Mary had been chosen of God to house and birth the body prepared for the Son of God (See Luke 1:28-35). She was the woman referred to in Genesis 3:15, and was the virgin of Isaiah 7:14. She was a virgin at the time that God the Holy Spirit caused her to be with child. Matthew tells us that she remained a virgin until after Jesus was born. We read from Matthew 1:24-25; “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.”
To “know” a woman in this context is the modest way of describing sexual relations. For example, Adam knew Eve and she conceived Cain, and he knew her again, and she bore Seth (Genesis 4:1, 25). Cain knew his wife, and she bore Enoch (Genesis 4:17). If Joseph never knew Mary at all, the phrase “till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” is pointless. Obviously, Joseph did not sleep with Mary until after she gave birth to Jesus, fulfilling both parts of the prophecy; the virginal conception and virgin birth. However, this means Joseph did know her after she gave birth to Jesus. So she was no longer a virgin.
Matthew 13:55-56a and Mark 6:3 not only suggest that Mary had sexual relations with Joseph, but names their children. Consider:
Matthew 13:55–56a “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?”
Mark 6:3 “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”
“Some have suggested that these brothers and sisters were cousins or more distant relations. If true, why didn’t the writers use the Greek term for cousins (anepsios)? The Greek word did exist and was used in Scripture (Colossians 4:10). If they were more distant relatives, then why not use a Greek word that meant relatives (suggenes), such as the one describing Mary and Elizabeth’s relational status in Luke 1:36? Why did Matthew and Mark use the words most commonly translated as brothers (adelphos) and sisters (adelphe)? In any other context no one would have questioned this meaning.” (answersingenesis.org)
Concerning this, Adam Clark in his commentary of Matthew and Mark makes this point. “Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph the carpenter, Mary his wife, Jesus their son, and their other children? Prejudice apart, would not any person of plain common sense suppose, from this account, that these were the children of Joseph and Mary, and the brothers and sisters of our Lord, according to the flesh? It seems rather obvious that these Gospel accounts refer to Joseph’s and Mary’s children. Why would these people criticize Jesus by mentioning his father (as they presumed) and mother and then seemingly switch to distant relatives?”
The Apostle Paul also claimed that Jesus had at least one brother. Concerning his first trip to Jerusalem after his conversion, Paul wrote, “But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19).
In the account of the apostles choosing Matthias as a replacement for Judas Iscariot, Luke (The author of Acts) specifically singled out Mary and the brothers of Jesus. “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:12–14)
Matthew 12:46–50 provides more evidence Jesus had siblings: “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
This event is also described in Mark 3:32–35 and Luke 8:19–21. Here Christ indicated a distinction between His fleshly brothers and mother and His spiritual brothers and mother. “This account also further corroborates the idea that Jesus had brothers.” (answersingenesis.org)
We must keep in mind that no passage of Scripture states Mary perpetually remained a virgin and many state the opposite. So to make a case for the perpetual virginity of Mary, one must use ideas that come from outside the Bible and then reinterpret Scripture with some wild hermeneutical gymnastics. This would be appealing to fallible, sinful ideas that originate in the minds of mankind—not God. Why not trust God when He speaks? After all, it would not be a sin for Mary to have sexual relations with her husband Joseph, but it would have been sinful for her to withhold herself from him throughout their marriage (1 Corinthians 7:3–5). There is no biblical or logical reason why Mary would have needed to remain a virgin following the birth of Christ.
The issue is quite simple: should we trust the imperfect sources and traditions that come from outside of Scripture and contradict it or should we trust God’s Word?
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man