How Many Brothers and Sisters Did Jesus Have?

Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?  If so, how many did He have?  Was Mary a virgin?

Jesus’ Family

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.

Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters

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

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  • Hi Jack, This is a great article! I love to read the Biblical truths on subjects that have been so distorted by big religion over the years. I am so blessed when I read what you write. My hubby wrote a similar article a couple years ago. You can read it here: Thanks for constantly reminding us to look to the Bible for answers and not trust tradition of man. Blessings!


    Who cares? One of the many weaknesses of fundamentalists is that they waste their time on unprovable trivia. I personally believe Jesus had siblings. I also believe he was probably married and certainly had cropped hair for biblical reasons. But what difference does it make? No more than wasting your time “saving souls”. Jesus saves souls not self-righteous fundamentalists. The important issue is to how are you going to feed the hungry, slake the thirsty, clothe the naked, deal with the sick or the 2.3 million souls in American prisons. Those issues were the ones in which Jesus was the most interested–not his family. In fact, in Matthew 24 he says directly that only dealing those issues will get a person into heaven. Jesus was interested in social reform that would bring justice and mercy to the poor and marginalized. So should you. Worry about these people rather than Mary’s virginity. Peace.

    • you are incorrect

      Jesus had zero interest in social reform. He was a-political. He avoided mentioning politics. His mission was purely religious. Read the Bible sometime. Politics and social reform isn’t mentioned.

    • SJ

      Why would you describe Pastor Wellman as a fundamentalist? It’d be more accurate to say he is an ” approved man ” instead of attaching a perjorative label to him.

      Knowing all kinds of minute information about the bible is not trivia nor is teaching it. The bible says to study to be an approved man and the people with the most detailed knowledge are usually the teachers of the bible and teaching is one of the five fold spiritual ministries.

      Knowing Jesus came in the flesh is one of the most core biblical teachings. It is one of the teachings used to repel heresies and the fact that Jesus had half brothers underscores the fact that he came in the flesh.

      Jesus was greatly concerned about the poor and about people in prison. He was concerned about everyone but he said in John 3: ” You must be born again. ”

      Being born from above is the purpose of saving souls. It is the great mystery spoken about in scripture and you have to know Jesus and all kinds of details about him to trust him enough to receive him and his gift of New Life.

      So the first and most basic right of every person on this planet is the right to be born again. That is a spiritual right and it must be taught, encouraged and protected for people to know it exists.

      Read 1 Corinthians. Believers have a dual nature. First comes the carnal then comes the spiritual.

      We need to be sure not to overlook our very own spiritual birth and those close to us before preceding on works of charity. Spiritual birth is one of the ways that God changes human nature so it can engage in saving the poor and ministering to people in prisons.

    • Jack Wellman

      So you disbelieve one so-called “unprovable trivia” which is clearly proven in Scripture for your own unprovable trivia that he was married? Yes, saving souls is of supreme importance, I agree, but not to the exclusion of other Scriptures. The greater does not mean the lesser is not important but I do agree with you, it is not as important. Do you evangelize? I can sense that you do and for that, thank you as only 1 in 10 Christians have ever led one person to faith in Christ in their whole lifetime! I do greatly commend your focus on evangelism Ian. I pray more would.

      • SJ

        Thanks for feeding our spirits every day Pastor Wellman. The good Lord can always can count on you and there is no higher praise than that.

        Most people aren’t as good at overcoming their old sinner nature as you are.

        Here’s a good article with the overcomer verses. Thanks for being so faithful in serving the Lord, Pastor.

        You Can Overcome Sin!

        He Didn’t Just Carry A Cross

        “Old Things Have Passed Away”

        • Jack Wellman

          What a kind word my sister in Christ. I am nothing, Christ is everything so all I do is because of Him and HE is glorified.

          • SJ

            You’re a real good Christian, Pastor Wellman. I’ve met a lot of Christians on message boards but rarely one so lowly and good natured as you seem to be.

            I hold a minority opinion that God does share His glory with His family sometimes because even though all God’s family glorify Him He does say that His glory will rest on persecuted Christians. Though that particular verse is a bit of an enigma to me. But He’s all lovingkindness and sharing so I suspect it is true He does share a bit of His glory with people.

  • Bill_Cromer

    People who think Jesus had biological brothers and sisters – children born to Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus – often defend their position with Matthew 13:55&56 and/or Mark 6:3.

    They overlook the fact that neither of these Gospel authors, who are describing the same event, say Jesus had brothers and sisters. Both are quoting some people in a crowd.

    These people were emphasizing the humanity of Jesus while denying His divinity. In so doing they prevented Him from doing miracles.

    The same people who, on a previous occasion, violently took Jesus out of the synagogue and attempted kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff – attempted murder! Any testimony from these people, hometown crowd or not, is not be credible!

    We could call what these people were advocating the “Unbelievers Gospel.” We could even say Jack Wellman is promoting their unbelief?

    It is not possible for the only begotten Son of God to have biological brothers and sisters. Regarding this issue, Jesus Himself said, “For whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

    This “Unbelievers Gospel” has gotten so popular the New Scofield Study Bible has changed a note that said there were two people named James in the NT to four so the children of Mary’s sister, James and Joses, mentioned in Matthew 13:55&56 and Mark 6:3, can be called brothers of Jesus.

    • Guest

      It has been well established that Joseph and Mary had other sons and daughters after Jesus was born. Only Catholic heresy disputes this.

      • Bill_Cromer

        Well established by some “unbelievers” on one occasion at a synagogue in Nazareth. Unbelievers who were trying to establish the humanity of Jesus while denying His divinity. Unbelievers who, in so doing, prevented Jesus from doing miracles. Unbelievers who, on a previous occasion, physically removed Jesus from the synagogue and tried to kill Him by throwing Him over a cliff. Unbelievers who insist that Jesus was a carpenter when he responded to them by saying He was a Prophet. Unbelievers who, when no one else in the entire New Testament say a word about Jesus having sisters, try desperately to establish it as fact. Unbelievers who said Jesus was the son of Joseph rather than the Son of God. Unbelievers who totally rejected Him as Messiah, Lord and Savior of the world.

        Even if the Catholics got it wrong, they are not preaching the “Unbelievers Gospel.” Also known, when referring to this first century dogma, as the “Gospel of the Ebionites.”

        • Guest

          Well established by the Gospels themselves, and many millions of believers who can read what’s clearly written in them. Try not to let it upset you.

          • Bill_Cromer

            What you say is established by the Gospels is not. The millions of people you call believers, are not. What you say is clearly written in the Gospels, is not. And I’m not upset … you are!

            Mark did not say Jesus was a carpenter. He was quoting some people he called “unbelievers” who implied Jesus worked this trade when they asked, “Is not this the carpenter?” This is the only occasion the word “carpenter” appears in the New Testament and there’s absolutely nothing else to support this as fact. Jesus rebutted the allegation immediately by referring to Himself as a Prophet. A similar incident occurred when Mary referred to Joseph as Jesus’ father. Jesus addressed her comment immediately when He, referring to God, said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my father’s business?”

            Matthew did not say Jesus cast out devils by the power of Satan. He was quoting some Pharisees who said, “This fellow [Jesus] doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils.” These Pharisees were ascribing to Satan the works of the Holy Ghost – the unpardonable sin! The unbelievers mentioned above were hindering the work of the Holy Ghost – prevented Jesus from doing many miracles – and dangerously close to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

            The Pharisees here and unbelievers mentioned above were not advocates for Jesus. No child of God – the people Jesus called His mother, brothers and sisters – would support them or promote their agenda. Unless, of course, you wish to participate in the one thing they had in common – they were all trying to kill Jesus!

          • Guest

            WHAT are you babbling about? None of that is relevant to whether or not Joseph and Mary had other children after Jesus. They obviously did, and there is nothing wrong with that. It would have been peculiar if not unlawful for them to not be fruitful and multiply. They were Jews, after all, long before the blight of Catholicism. Not consummating their marriage would have nullified it, thereby rendering Jesus illegitimate. Are you calling Jesus a bastard? How dare you.

          • Bill_Cromer

            No, I’m not calling Jesus a bastard! If there’s an illegitimate child of God – some one who pretends to be one of Jesus’ brothers or sisters – in our discussion, it’s you. A type of spiritual bastard, using your terminology. If the marriage were consummated, according to Jewish law, the brides parents would have kept the bloody sheet [Deuteronomy 22:13-19]. However, Mary’s parents had no bloody sheet! If the breaking of Mary’s hymen occurred during the birth of Jesus rather than during the consummation of her marriage, the marriage between her and Joseph was never consummated. Instead, this blood covenant was between the mother of God and the Holy Ghost!

          • Guest

            Now you’re just making things up. Mary’s parents are not even mentioned in the Bible. Stop flailing about before you have an accident.

          • Bill_Cromer

            Let me see if I understand you. You think that Mary’s parents, are not mentioned in the Bible which means she didn’t have parents? When they were giving out brains you must have thought they said trains and told them to give you a slow one. If they have to have names in order to exist, you could call them Joachim and Anne.

          • Anonymous

            Dude are you for real? I never said she didn’t have parents, but they’re not mentioned and so any record of a bloody sheet…oh never mind, you’re just too ignorant to bother with.

          • Bill_Cromer

            Genesis 2:7 says “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” That means your a dirtball! Goodbye dirtball.

          • Guest

            Goodbye to you too, unbeliever.