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Was Jesus Married? Did Jesus Have Siblings?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible makes clear that Jesus was not married, even though it does not specifically comment on his marital status. * Consider the following.

  1. The Bible frequently refers to Jesus’ family as well as to women who accompanied him during his ministry and who stood by when he was executed, yet it never mentions his having a wife. (Matthew 12:46, 47; Mark 3:31, 32; 15:40; Luke 8:2, 3, 19, 20; John 19:25) The most plausible reason why the Bible is silent on this matter is that he was never married.

  2. Concerning those who remain unmarried so that they can do more in God’s service, Jesus told his disciples: “Let the one who can make room for it [singleness] make room for it.” (Matthew 19:10-12) He set the pattern for those who choose not to marry in order to devote themselves more fully to God.John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 7:32-38.

  3. Just before he died, Jesus arranged for the care of his mother. (John 19:25-27) If Jesus had been married or had fathered children, he would have made sure that such close family members were provided for as well.

  4. The Bible uses Jesus as an example for husbands, but it does not refer to the way he treated a human wife. Instead, it says: “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and gave himself up for it.” (Ephesians 5:25) If Jesus had actually been married while on earth, would not his perfect example as a literal husband have been used in that verse?

Did Jesus have siblings?

Yes, Jesus had at least six siblings. These included his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas as well as at least two sisters. (Matthew 13:54-56; Mark 6:3) Those siblings were natural children of Jesus’ mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph. (Matthew 1:25) The Bible calls Jesus “the firstborn” of Mary, which implies that she had other children.Luke 2:7.

Misconceptions about Jesus’ brothers

In order to support the idea that Mary remained a virgin all her life, some have applied different meanings to the term “brothers.” For example, some feel that Jesus’ brothers were actually sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage. However, the Bible shows that Jesus inherited the legal right to the kingship promised to David. (2 Samuel 7:12, 13; Luke 1:32) If Joseph had been father to sons older than Jesus, the eldest of these would have been Joseph’s legal heir.

Could the expression refer to Jesus’ disciples, or spiritual brothers? This idea conflicts with the Scriptures, since the Bible says that at one point “his brothers were, in fact, not exercising faith in him.” (John 7:5) The Bible distinguishes Jesus’ brothers from his disciples.John 2:12.

According to another theory, Jesus’ brothers were actually his cousins. Yet, the Greek Scriptures use distinct words for “brother,” “relative,” and “cousin.” (Luke 21:16; Colossians 4:10) Many Bible scholars acknowledge that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were his actual siblings. For example, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “The most natural way to understand ‘brothers’ . . . is that the term refers to sons of Mary and Joseph and thus to brothers of Jesus on his mother’s side.” *

^ par. 3 The Bible does refer to Christ as a bridegroom, but the context makes it plain that these references are symbolic.John 3:28, 29; 2 Corinthians 11:2.

^ par. 13 See also The Gospel According to St. Mark, Second Edition, by Vincent Taylor, page 249, and A Marginal Jew—Rethinking the Historical Jesus, by John P. Meier, Volume 1, pages 331-332.

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