People have wondered, “Did Jesus have siblings?” The debate around the existence of Jesus’ siblings remains inconclusive due to inconsistent interpretations of historical texts. Many scholars cite biblical passages as proof that He had at least four actual brothers and sisters—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.
Even so, some take issue with this opinion, citing other verses noting that Jesus had no siblings. However, other interpretations are still possible depending on your reading of these same ancient documents. This dispute continues to be a source of contention among theologians and biblical scholars in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.
Did Jesus Have Siblings?
Although there is no definitive answer, the Bible provides some evidence suggesting that Jesus had siblings. In the Gospel of Mark (6:3), it is implied that Jesus may not be the only son of Mary but had four brothers, namely James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, as well as at least two sisters. These siblings are also referred to in Matthew 13:55–56 and Galatians 1:19.
The New Testament does not provide any details about these siblings, but other sources, such as the Protoevangelium of James, provide more information about them. According to this document, Mary was betrothed to Joseph before she became pregnant with Jesus.
Joseph was already a widower at the time and had children from his first marriage, including James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. It is also stated that Mary also gave birth to two daughters named Salome and Anna.
The Protoevangelium’s account is not seen as authentic by most Biblical scholars because it was written around 150 A.D., which is long after Jesus lived on earth. This document cannot be considered an authoritative source of information about the lives of Jesus and His siblings since there are no earlier accounts in either the Old or New Testaments.
Who Are Jesus’ Brothers And Sisters?
In the Bible, Jesus’ brothers and sisters are spoken of in two different ways. The biblical text refers to them either as “brothers” or as “brothers and sisters.” The term “brothers” is used to refer to Jesus’ four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (also called Jude), all of whom were children of Mary and Joseph.
These brothers are mentioned several times throughout the New Testament (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19). They were all younger than Jesus, so they tended to not take him seriously at first when He began His ministry (Mark 3:31–35).
The term “brothers and sisters” may also refer to Jesus’ half-siblings plus other relatives and friends, or—more commonly in the New Testament—to all believers in Christ. In terms of His half-siblings, the Bible doesn’t provide any further details about them beyond their names and ages. They were not mentioned much in Scripture after Jesus began His ministry.
Three Possible Solutions To Identify Jesus’ Brothers And Sisters
One possible solution is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had other children after she gave birth to Jesus. This is supported by Mark 6:3, which states, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon?”
As such, it can be reasoned that these four individuals were, in fact, Jesus’ siblings. Yet this is contradicted by John 19:26–27, which implies that Christ was the only child of Mary. Thus, these four individuals might have been cousins of Jesus or even close family friends.
A second possible solution is that Joseph, the father of Jesus, had other children from his previous marriage. This interpretation is derived from Matthew 13:55–56, which states, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joseph, and Simon? And His sisters, are they not all with us?”
The final possible solution is that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were merely His close relatives, not His biological siblings. Through this assessment, we can understand why these individuals aren’t mentioned elsewhere in the Bible other than Matthew 13:55–56.
How Many Brothers And Sisters Did Jesus Have?
The Bible does not provide a clear answer to the question of how many brothers and sisters Jesus had. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ mother, Mary, is said to have given birth to four sons. However, some biblical scholars believe that these were actually Jesus’ cousins rather than his siblings.
In Mark 6:3, it is stated that the Lord’s brother is named James, along with two others, Joseph (or Joses), Judas (or Jude), and Simon, as well as unnamed sisters who may have been mentioned in John 19:25, where it says, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Some scholars believe that Mary had other children after the birth of Jesus, but there is no conclusive answer.
How To Respond When People Say Jesus Had Siblings?
One way is to focus on the larger biblical context and examine several key passages. The Bible tells us that Jesus was born of perpetual virginity (Matthew 1:22–23), which implies He had no siblings in the physical sense since He had no earthly father. We also know from Scripture that Mary remained a perpetual virgin until at least after her son’s birth (Luke 2:21–38).
Apart from the biological aspect, we must also consider how Jesus was related to other people in a deep familial relationship. We know that Joseph, Mary’s husband, is called Jesus’ father in Matthew 1:16 and Luke 2:48. This implies a special relationship between them.
Furthermore, Scripture also tells us that we are Jesus’ brother and sister in the spiritual sense through the Holy Spirit, His brothers and sisters being “all those who do the will of God” (Matthew 12:50) and “those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 8:21).
While the Bible is unclear regarding whether Jesus had any siblings in a biological sense, some scholars speculate he may have had four half-brothers and at least two sisters. However, they could also be his cousins or relatives by marriage instead of siblings.
The Bible shares the uplifting message that Jesus has many spiritual siblings who hear and respond to God’s word. This teaching brings believers together regardless of their physical relationships, forming an intangible but powerful family among all followers of Christ. Even today, this sentiment resonates with billions of people across the world.