Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? If so, how many did He have? Was Mary a virgin?
Jesus had a human mother and brothers and sisters but His Father was divine. Jesus’ through His mother Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit so Jesus had no human father but His conception was by the Spirit of God. Jesus was also the first born of His family and so by the Old Testament tradition, He received the birthright, being the first born, and in having the largest portion of the family inheritance but in Jesus’ case, He has inherited all things. The Word of God says about Christ “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom 11:36) and surely “the Lord will be king over all the earth” (Zech 14:9).
Jesus Brothers and Sisters
Matthew 12:46 “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.”
Matthew 13:55-56 “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? And are not all his sisters with us?”
John 7:3-5 “his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him.”
Acts 1:14 “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Clearly Jesus had brothers and sisters and we know that at one time they didn’t believe in Him (John 7:5) but after Jesus’ death and resurrection, apparently they did believe in Him and joined the church (Acts 1:14). There is nothing in the text that supports the myth that these were simply cousins but actually His blood relatives and half-brothers and sisters who all had the same mother, Mary. It appears from the Scriptures that Joseph and Mary had at least six children and so Jesus had at least six half-brothers and sisters. Even though Joseph was not Jesus’ physical father, Mary was the mother of all seven of her children which included Jesus.
The Virgin Mary gives Birth to Jesus
Clearly the Scriptures are clear that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived (Luke 1:34) so we can say with certainty that Jesus’ mother Mary had not known any man before Jesus’ was conceived and before Jesus was born. Mary had never known a man before becoming pregnant with Jesus and that is a fact.
Was Mary a Virgin?
Matthew 1:24-25 “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
When Joseph, who was betrothed or engaged to Mary found out that Mary was pregnant he wanted to secretly or privately divorce her because to announce it publicly was to put her in front of the public and be made into an open spectacle however Joseph and Mary had other children after Jesus was born and so it was impossible for Mary to remain a virgin since she and Joseph had other children. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus had brothers and sisters (Matt 12:46; 13:55-56; John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14) and these were not His cousins like John the Baptist was (Luke 1), therefore we conclude from the Scriptures that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived and born but did not remain a virgin because Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph “knew her not until she had given birth to a son…called Jesus.” The word “until” is conditional in this sentence and so we can say that Joseph did not know Mary or have sex with her “until” after Jesus was born, otherwise Matthew would not have put that meaningful little word “until” in this sentence for if Mary never knew Joseph after Jesus was born, it would make no sense for the author to insert the word “until” into Matthew 1:25.
There is nothing wrong with Mary “knowing” Joseph after Jesus was born or there is nothing sinful about Mary not being a virgin after Jesus’ birth for sex inside the sanctity of marriage good. It is abundantly clear from several Scriptures that Jesus had brothers and sisters and that they came to place their trust in Christ after He died and was resurrected. Jesus was the first born in His family and that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived and born but apparently He had six half-brothers and sisters. There is no scandal in this. What my question to you is, have you have been born again (or literally “born from above”) since Jesus said that unless one is born again they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3). As the late Adrian Rogers once said, “If you are born only once, you’ll die twice, but if you’re born twice (that is born again) then you’ll only die once.” Read Romans 10:9-13 to see how you can be born again and then die only once…a natural death but then have eternal life in Christ Jesus Who died for you (John 3:16-17). If not, you stand condemned at this very moment (John 3:18).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon