Some people believe that the Virgin Mary was a “perpetual virgin.” Those that believe this say that the only child Mary ever had was Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not a man. If this is true, then one would naturally assume that Jesus had no brothers or sisters. However, Mary was married to Joseph and the idea of a woman not having relations or producing children for her husband would have been culturally unusual unless there was something wrong. Therefore, the question that might be asked is did Jesus have brothers and sisters?
As always, we must look to God’s Word, the Bible as our reference and not tradition. Obviously, it is clear that the Bible says that the Messiah, or Jesus would be born of a virgin as a sign from God (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). We also know from the Bible that Mary was that women (Luke 1:26-31).
Since Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, it obviously was a big deal when it was found that she was pregnant. However, God explained Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph in a dream, so that he would not be afraid to marry her:
(Matthew 1:20-25 KJV) “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (24) Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: (25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
The other thing that we are told in this passage is that Joseph did not “know her,” or have intimate relations with her, until after she delivered the baby Jesus (Matthew 1:25). We can see then that even if Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus and until after she delivered him, we can also infer by this verse that she and Joseph were intimate afterward.
However, there are some that will insist that Joseph never was intimate with Mary. If true, then there are several verses that need an explanation. The first verse is Matthew 12:46-50 as follows:
(Matthew 12:46-50 KJV) “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. (47) Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. (48) But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? (49) And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (50) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Emphasis added)
We see that Mary and Jesus’ brothers came to talk with Him, but he used the occasion to present the idea of believers being related by faith. Later, in Matthew 13:54-56 Jesus had just finished preaching in the synagogue when the astonished leaders made reference to His family members as follows:
(Matthew 13:54-56 KJV) “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? (55) Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (56) And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Emphasis added)
We also find that after Jesus was crucified, Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother, and Salome we standing there observing:
(Mark 15:40-41 KJV) “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (41) (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.”
Some people believe that Salome was Jesus’ sister, but cross referencing this verse with Matthew 27:56, we see that Salome is the mother of James and John Zebedee, the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17):
(Matthew 27:56 KJV) “Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”
Given these verses, we know the names of Jesus’ brothers, however, we are unsure how many sisters Jesus had and do not know any of their names.
So, far the focus has been on Jesus’ brothers and sisters that were conceived by Mary and Joseph. Since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, these brothers and sisters would have been half-brothers and sisters through Mary. This being said, one would assume that Jesus had no other brothers and sisters. However, Jesus did have an older brother. That older brother, if you do not count the fact that Jesus was God (John 1:1), can be found listed in the lineage of Jesus through Mary found in Luke 3:38 as follows:
(Luke 3:38 KJV) “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” (Emphasis added)
Here we see that when you trace Jesus’ lineage through his mother Mary, back to Adam, we find that Adam was a son of God too. This is because Adam, was created by God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7). Since Adam’s father was the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ father was the Holy Spirit, this makes Adam and Jesus brothers.
A side note to this fact is that some Bibles refer to Jesus as God’s one and only son in John 3:16. A few examples are as follows:
(John 3:16 New International Version) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 New Living Translation)“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Obviously, these versions, which use corrupted manuscripts, are erroneous translations. However, it is interesting that these versions’ editors did not notice that both of these translations (NIV and NLT) state in Luke 3:38 that Adam was the son of God. (Note: This is but one of thousands of reasons why this ministry uses the King James Version)
Finally, not only was Adam a brother of Jesus, anyone who has trusted Christ as their Saviour, becomes a child of God by their faith (Galatians 3:26). As children of God by faith in Jesus, that makes all believers brothers or sisters of Christ and each other (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Hebrews 2:11, 17). With a big brother like Jesus, none of us have to worry that He is not watching out for us (John 10:27-28).
So, did Jesus have brothers and sisters? The answer according to the Bible is yes, and they are not able to be numbered by any man (Revelation 7:9-10).