How Many Brothers and Sisters Did Jesus Have?
When it came to Joseph and Mary’s household in Nazareth, who was there? Are we to believe that Jesus was an only child in the family, or if there were brothers and sisters, what was their status in regard to Him? His siblings and sisters are frequently mentioned by the gospel authors. What were the names of Jesus’ siblings? This is a matter that has been debated since the beginning of time, and many lengthy writings have been published on the subject. Due to theological reasons related to the perpetual virginity of the Lord’s mother, denominational difficulties, and the canonicity of non-apostolic epistles, it has been difficult to have an objective discussion on the subject.
Bible Verses about Jesus’ Brother and Sisters
Let us begin by summarizing what we know about the brothers and sisters of the Lord from the Scriptures of the New Testament. Their names are found in Matthew 12:46-50, 13:55-56, Mark 3:31, 6:3, and Luke 8:19, as well as John 2:12, 7:3, Acts 1:14, and 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Paul refers to a James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19). There appear to have been four brothers who are listed in Matthew 13:55: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, according to the evidence (seeMark 6:3). The sisters are mentioned in Matthew and Mark, although neither the number nor the names of the sisters are recorded.
They were reportedly married and living in Nazareth at the time of Christ’s death.
They are first described as traveling to Capernaum with His mother and Himself (John 2:12).
Most claim that they were converted to Christianity as a result of His resurrection, since they appear in the company of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
The following is an adaptation of The Life of Our Lord on the Earth by Samuel James Andrews.
Did Jesus have any brothers, sisters or siblings?
Throughout history, there has been great debate about the precise nature of their link to Jesus and his apostles. Consequently, the issue remains: Did Jesus have siblings? There have been three main points of view put forward: They have been identified as (1) Jesus’ actual siblings/brothers, that is, half-brothers, sons of Joseph and Mary (and therefore younger than Jesus); (2) His stepbrothers, that is, children of Joseph by a previous marriage (and thus all older than Jesus and not His blood relatives at all); (3) Jesus’ cousins, either on the mother’s side or on the father’s side, depending on who you believe.
Where exactly was Jesus’ birthplace? When was Jesus’ birth commemorated?
Three views about Jesus’ siblings
Some adhere to the first viewpoint, arguing that it is the most natural way to interpret the multiple allusions to these brothers, as well as the most evident intention of Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:7. Second, those who believe in family ethics claim that younger siblings should not be permitted to mock or otherwise interfere with an older brother in the same way that Jesus’ brothers ridiculed Him (see Mark 3:31; John 7:3-4). Moreover, they argue, Jesus’ decision to entrust His mother’s care to the apostle John (John 19:26-27), rather than to one of His brothers, clearly shows that Mary did not have any other children.
Their relationship as cousins on Mary’s side is predicated on the unconfirmed identification of “Mary, the wife of Cleophus” with Mary’s sister (John 19:25; Mark 15:40), as well as the unsubstantiated relationship between “Clopas” and Alphaeus (John 19:25; Mark 15:40).
Jesus’ brothers, sistersmother
Several of Jesus’ siblings are reported as joining him and his mother to Capernaum following their marriage at Cana (Matthew 19:9). (John 2:12). The next year, Mary and these brothers are mentioned as attempting to have an audience with Jesus (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). A few chapters before the conclusion of Jesus’ public career, His brethren are recorded as asking Jesus to demonstrate His Messiahship, which they themselves had questioned (John 7:3-5). Their conversion is obvious from the fact that they are portrayed in Acts as joining with the disciples and others in “prayer and supplication” before to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–3).
Paul makes the implication that they were all married (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Also widely held to be the case is that James the brother of Jesus was the spiritual leader of the early church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17; 15:13).
5 Interesting Facts About Jesus’ Earthly Family
Following the marriage at Cana, Jesus’ siblings are reported as joining him and his mother to Capernaum (John 2:12). Later on, Mary and these brothers are described as requesting an audience with Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). As Jesus’ mission draws to a close, the Scriptures record His brothers and sisters imploring him to demonstrate His Messiahship, something they too were skeptical about (John 7:3-5). Their conversion is obvious from the fact that they are portrayed in Acts as joining with the disciples and others in “prayer and supplication” before to the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–3).
As Paul suggests, they were all married at the time (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Aside from that, it’s widely assumed that James the brother of Jesus served as the leader of the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17; 15:13).
According to Paul’s account of his travel to Jerusalem, during which he claims to have only seen Peter and “James, the Lord’s brother,” this appears to be verified (Galatians 1:18-19).
1. He and his family had common names
Included among the well-documented members of Jesus’ family are his mother Mary and father Joseph, as well as his three brothers, James, Jude (also known as Judas—not to be confused with Judas Iscariot), and Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter). Jesus is a Greek variant of Joshua, which means “savior,” although it was a very popular given name at the time of Jesus’ birth. Following Moses’ death, Jesus was likely called after the man God selected to govern Israel after Moses died, as was the case with many Jewish boys of his day.
In the New Testament, it appears that there are seven Marys.
Joseph, the father of Jesus, was most likely named after Joseph, one of the heroes of the book of Genesis.
They were not celebrities.
2. Mary treats Jesus like any other son
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ three brothers James, Jude (or Judas—not to be confused with Judas Iscariot), and Simon are the only members of Jesus’ family who have been identified so far (not to be confused with Simon Peter). However, even though Jesus is a Greek variant of Joshua, which means “savior,” it was a very popular given name in biblical times. It seems possible that Jesus was named after the man God picked to be the leader of Israel when Moses died, as was the case with many Jewish boys of his time.
It appears that the New Testament has seven Marys.
Several biblical characters, including Joseph, are said to have inspired Jesus’ father Joseph.
Despite the fact that we have created them in our minds, Jesus was born into an ordinary first-century Israelite household, according to the Bible.
3. His birth was a family scandal
Before Jesus was born, angels came to Mary (Luke 1:30-37) and Joseph (Matthew 1:20-21) in separate appearances, confirming that he was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. While this was sufficient to persuade Joseph not to divorce Mary, it did not necessarily indicate that everyone agreed with them. She was at least three months pregnant at the time of her wedding to Joseph (Luke 1:56).
It was impossible to keep the pregnancy a secret. It’s unlikely that anyone accepted Mary and Joseph’s narrative about their pregnancy, and it’s hard to see why they would. Unfortunately, the only alternative possible reason did not present a favorable picture of the marriage.
4. Jesus’ family struggled to understand his behavior
As Jesus traveled across the country, the crowds grew around him until there was no more room, but at the same time, the Pharisees are starting to turn against him. In Mark 3, when Jesus and his freshly designated disciples visited a house, they were surrounded by so many people that Jesus couldn’t even eat properly. To understand why Jesus was attracting such large audiences while also upsetting religious authorities may have been difficult for Mary and Jesus’ brothers to comprehend. Isn’t it likely that the Pharisees would be the first to discover that Jesus was the Messiah?
- He was taken into custody when his family learned about this.
- —Matthew 3:21 (NIV) In a similar vein, the professors of the Law said that he was in possession (Mark 3:22).
- Who did Jesus believe himself to be?
- “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you,” a member of the crowd informed him (Mark 3:32).
- According to Mark 3:33, Jesus continues, “Whoever performs God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother” (Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother) (Mark 3:35).
5. Jesus gives John responsibility for Mary
As he hung on the cross, Jesus looked down and saw John and his mother, who were befuddled and in tears. Jesus made certain that Mary was taken care of at his darkest hour: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing close, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.'” It was from that point on that this disciple welcomed her into his house.” —John 19:26-27 (KJV) (NIV)
Tell your friends about Jesus’ family
In spite of the fact that you are thoroughly familiar with the gospel, it is not always simple to initiate a discussion about it. Despite his divinity, there was a lot about Jesus that was down-to-earth and everyday. He was both entirely God and totally human at the same time. He ate meals and drank water throughout the day. He dozed off. He got up and walked. He was raised by his parents, brothers, and other relatives. Perhaps one of these interesting facts about Jesus’ family will find its way into one of your talks, presenting you with unique opportunity to share the gospel message with others.
Share this post to start a conversation.
Jesus was born into a large family. Jesus’ brothers are named in Matthew 13:55-56: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, as well as sisters (plural), indicating that He had at least six siblings in all. When Jesus’ brothers are stated, James is usually placed first, which in Jesus’ day most likely implied that he was the oldest of the four brothers.
James, also known as Old Camel Knees and James the Just, was the leader of the church in Jerusalem until his brutal murder in AD 62. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/Anyaberkut
What Does the Bible Say about James?
Jesus’ brothers make fun of Him in John 7:1-4. “Because even his own brothers did not trust in him,” says verse 5, explaining the situation. This is at the conclusion of Jesus’ public career, perhaps around six months before his death on the cross. The miracles of Jesus include healing a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5:2-9), feeding 5,000 men with a boy’s lunch (John 6:5-14), and walking on water (John 6:15). (John 6:16-21). Although he has witnessed miracles for more than two years, James remains skeptical.
James is expressly mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:7 as one of the people to whom Jesus appeared after His Resurrection. James thinks that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who has come to redeem people from their sins after witnessing his dead brother walking and talking to him. He does not announce himself as Jesus’ brother or as the leader of the church when he subsequently writes the Epistle of James, but rather as “James, the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” as he does in the book of Acts (James 1:1).
James is one of the 120 people who are filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which marks the beginning of the Church (Acts 2:1-4).
Photograph courtesy of Unsplash/Ben White
James Was a Wise Leader
When Paul travels to Jerusalem less than 10 years later, he meets with two church elders: Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, who are both apostles. Galatians 1:18-19 narrates this occurrence in detail, and Paul refers to James as an apostle, one of a limited group of people who had experienced the risen Christ and whose teaching had authority. James is one of the apostles who witnessed the rising Christ and whose teaching had authority. When Paul comes to Jerusalem 14 years later to settle the question of which Jewish rules apply to Gentile Christians, James is still the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
- An acrimonious and intricate conflict threatens to split the young Church in half.
- He gives people the freedom to express themselves completely, including all of their worries and disagreements.
- The majority of orators of the time flatteried their audiences with flowery compliments, weaved in anecdotes and cultural allusions, and finally came around to hinting to whatever it was that they were trying to get over to their audience.
- God is rescuing both Jews and Gentiles, according to Peter, and he affirms that statement.
- James then makes his final decision, which is a compromise.
- There is no longer any discussion.
- The apostle Paul refers to James as a pillar of the church and a man of high renown in Galatians 2:10, when narrating the tale of the Jerusalem Council in that city.
Additionally, he recalls that when James and the other elders gave their approval for his Gentile mission, the only thing they requested was that he keep the poor’s needs in mind. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/chaiyapruek2520
Jesus’ Brother Was a Radical Advocate
It is a source of great emotion for James, who throughout the Epistle of James frequently calls for justice for the poor. Approximately one-quarter of the book is devoted to advocating for and supporting the less fortunate, denouncing favoritism based on money, and addressing the wealthy about their greed, indifference, exploitation, and arrogant arrogance, among other things. Other than Jesus Himself, there is no other figure in the New Testament who speaks so extensively against social inequity.
- “Now listen up, you affluent people; cry and howl because of the suffering that is about to fall upon you.
- Corrosion will testify against you, and your body will be consumed by it like fire.
- During your time on Earth, you indulged in luxury and self-indulgence.
- Not only does James encourage compassion and care for the poor, but he also elevates and glorifies them.
- “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Hasn’t God selected those who are poor in this world to be wealthy in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised to those who love Him?” (See also James 2:5).
In the first lines of the Epistle of James, just as he did at the Jerusalem Council, James skips over the long-winded pleasantries and blessings and gets right to the heart of the matter. The fact that you are facing challenges of various types should be considered pure delight, dear brothers and sisters.” (See James 1:2.) When a pastor exhorts his congregation to trust God despite of their circumstances, to be faithful and pure, and to humbly submit to God, the heart of the pastor may be heard beating in his words.
In this letter to individuals who are “scattered throughout the nations,” James provides solace to those who are suffering by pointing them toward the everlasting perspective of the Bible.
For James, unity in the church is a top priority, as evidenced by his repeated exhortations to Christians to refrain from judging one another (James 2:12-13, 4:11-12), control their tongues and tempers (James 1:19-20, 3:2-12), and put aside the envy and selfish ambition that cause disorder, conflict, and quarrels (James 3:12-12).
- At the time of James’s last historical appearance in the Bible, he is celebrating over the Gentiles who have become members of God’s family and counseling Paul on how to reconcile divisions within the Church.
- James saw that Paul was not advocating that Jews should abandon their Jewish identity when they place their faith in Jesus.
- This uncertainty and divide can be resolved by James suggesting that Paul demonstrate that he still considers himself Jewish and adheres to the Law of Moses by engaging in a purification ceremony and paying for four other men to do the same, as suggested by James (Acts 21:17-26).
- His example of leadership exemplifies James 3:17-18 in action.
A harvest of righteousness will be reaped by peacemakers who sow the seeds of peace.” Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/kovop58
How Did Jesus’ Brother James Die?
The death of James is not mentioned in the Scriptures. James, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, is likely still alive and serving as the book of Acts’ last chapter, which concludes with Paul under house arrest in Rome. The historian Josephus dates James’ death during a period of transition between two Roman rulers, indicating that he died around the year 62 AD, which is a likely date. By this point, James has earned himself a number of nicknames, including James the Just, Oblias (a Greek phrase that translates as “bulwark of the people”), and Old Camel Knees (a moniker that refers to his age).
Matt Erickson writes that Hegessipus, a 2ndcentury Christian, wrote that James was often found alone in the temple on his knees begging God to forgive the Jews and that he spent so much time on his knees in prayer that his knees “became hard like those of a camel.” Hegessipus also wrote that James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that his knees “became hard like those of a camel.” His behavior provided proof that he believed what he stated in James 5:16 regarding prayer.
- His trust would be put to the test in due course.
- It is this that concerns the Jewish authorities, who implore James to address the throng.
- The people are befuddled and are following a dead guy by the name of Jesus.
- “He is seated at the right side of God in the heavenly realms, and he will return on the clouds of heaven.” Many of the people are convinced right then and then that Jesus is the Resurrected Lord, and they begin to praise Him right there and then.
- “Oh my goodness!” they exclaim to the crowd.
- However, he is not killed, and as a result, the leaders begin stoning him.
- He prostrates himself before God, pleading with him to forgive the Jews.
- What exactly are you doing?
- Photograph courtesy of Unsplash/Annie Spratt.
Was James One of the 12 Disciples?
The vast majority of Biblical scholars agree that James the brother of Jesus should not be confused with James, the brother of John and the son of Zebedee, who is the son of Zebedee. According to Acts 12:2, James was assassinated just prior to the Jerusalem Council, which was chaired by James the brother of Jesus. It has been suggested that James the brother of Jesus and James the son of Alphaeus, a follower of Jesus’, may be the same person. These academics propose that James is a relative or stepbrother of Jesus in order to explain the discrepancy in their fathers’ surnames.
Although it is plausible, it is improbable given the fact that Jesus’ brothers did not think He was the Messiah. Their ridicule of Jesus in John 7:1-4 was the result of their disbelief, and it came after a series of events in which the 12 disciples were involved.
The Legacy of James
The life of James demonstrates the significance of the Resurrection. A skeptical skeptic is transformed into a loyal disciple after witnessing the resurrection of the crucified Jesus on the cross. His leadership of the Church in Jerusalem is an example of just, uniting, and steady servant leadership, and he should be commended for it. The purpose of the Church is shaped by the teachings of the Book of James, which include unity, fidelity in prayer and testimony, purity, endurance in the face of adversity, and compassionate care for one another and the poor.
- Photograph courtesy of Getty Images /rudall30 Jeannie Myers is a freelance writer who lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she enjoys the beauty of nature.
- Reading, camping, singing, and playing board games with her children are some of Jeannie’s favorite pastimes.
- Jeannie Myers is a freelance writer who lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she enjoys the beauty of nature.
- Reading, camping, singing, and playing board games with her children are some of Jeannie’s favorite pastimes.
The Brothers of Jesus: Loving the Unbelieving Relative
“The Brothers of Jesus: Loving the Unbelieving Relative,” a publication from the Society of Jesus. The Ensign, March 1987, page 50 For many of us, we have a father or mother, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a son or daughter who does not believe in the faith that we hold so dear. However, despite the fact that many sympathetic and useful lectures have been delivered on how to best manage this issue, I have never heard one that sought to explore how the Savior dealt with it in his own family.
- But even from the few instances that have been recorded, as well as from the end consequence of Jesus’ labors with his family, we may gain a great deal of insight.
- The names of the sisters have not been recorded, but the brothers were known by the names James (in Hebrew, Jacob), Joses (in Hebrew, Joseph, after his father), Simon, and Judas or Juda (in Hebrew, Juda) (also known as Jude).
- 13:55; see also Matthew 13:55).
- Although there is no biblical proof for this, it is widely believed.
- Immediately following the wedding at Cana (which, based on the roles played by Mary and Jesus at the feast, was almost certainly a close relative’s wedding), the entire family traveled with Jesus and his early followers to neighboring Capernaum, where they resided for a short period of time.
- “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee,” writes the gospel writer Luke, describing the Savior’s first missionary journey: “And there went out a reputation of him throughout all the surrounding region.
- When he made his accusations, the crowd grew so enraged that they attempted to throw him from the cliff.
- (See Luke 4:16–30 for further information.) In spite of their exposure to his words and acts, “neither his brethren believed in him,” according to the sad fact of the situation.
- He screamed, “A prophet is not without respect in his own nation, and among his own kin, and in his own house,” despite the fact that he had established himself as a prophet and healer whose reputation had become well known across the area because of the Nazarenes’ sarcastic attitude.
- On one occasion, his mother and brothers interrupted a gathering in which he was preaching the gospel, and we may have caught a glimpse of it.
“Then his mother and brothers came to him, but they were prevented from approaching him because of the press.” And he was informed by a source who stated, “Thy mother and brethren are waiting outside, yearning to meet thee.” And he responded by saying, “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (See also Luke 8:19–21.) Some people have interpreted Jesus’ remarks as being harsh.
Although his family did not fully comprehend it at the time, the Savior knew what they did not: that the bonds of faith and covenant are stronger than the bonds of blood, and that his role as eldest son in the family, which they respected, was insignificant when compared to his role as Savior and Redeemer.
Abinadi taught the following about the Christ who would come: “When his soul has been offered as a sacrifice for sin, he will behold his seed.” And now, what are your thoughts?
all those who have heeded their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a forgiveness of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed.” (See Mosiah 15:10–11 for more information.) At Calvary, the Savior’s sadness and anguish at the betrayal of his earthly brethren were portrayed in a far more profound way.
- She also had four more boys, but none of them appeared to be around to console her.
- Only his lover John was with her at the time.
- It is necessary to follow the lives of the Savior’s brothers after the Crucifixion before we can think about what we can gain from his or her experience.
- (See 1 Corinthians 15:5–7 for further information.) We do not have access to the specifics of that reunion, but we do have access to the results.
- Their repentance resulted in them becoming dedicated followers of Christ—their oldest brother being the most prominent—and eventually great leaders in the early Christian church.
Luke then offers the following telling observation: “These all remained in prayer and supplication with one accord, with the women, and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Read Acts 1:13–14 for more information.) Having finally done so, the brothers of the Lord had taken upon themselves his name and had really become members of his family!
Indeed, Paul suggests that James was elevated to the position of Apostle.
“I went up to Jerusalem to meet Peter, and stayed with him for fifteen days,” he wrote of the event.
(See Galatians 1:18–19.) At another point in time, during a period of harsh persecution, Herod assassinated James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter in jail.
As soon as they finished recounting his escape, Peter commanded them to “go and shew these things unto James and to the brothers.” (See Acts 12:7–17 for further information.) A few years later, Paul and Barnabus traveled to Jerusalem to participate in a meeting that addressed Jewish criteria for gentile Christians.
(See Acts 15:6–31 for further information.) According to Paul, “James, Cephas, and John, who appeared to be pillars” were there at the time of the occurrence.
We hold James’ general epistle to the church in high regard, regardless of his precise position in the early church leadership.
(See James 1:5) In that epistle, he refers to himself not as the Lord’s brother, but as “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” as opposed to “the Lord’s brother.” (See also James 1:1.) In spite of the fact that others called him and his brothers Jude, Simon, and Joses the “brethren of the Lord,” James was reluctant to proclaim his particular kinship, preferring to be recognized simply as a servant of Christ.
- Another of the four brothers begins his epistle with the words “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,” which is identical to the first.
- One of Jude’s most outstanding traits is his acute awareness of his elder brother as both the past and future Lord—the Lord who took Israel out of Egypt and who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the Lord who would return in the final days to execute vengeance on everyone.
- The apostle Jude fought alongside Peter and Paul against the increasing flood of heresy that threatened to bring the church to its knees during his own lifetime.
- What great joy there must have been in heaven, and especially for the Savior, when these four brothers, each of whom repented, were welcomed into the kingdom of God.
- A family has never before faced the difficult task of accepting the fact that a close relative has turned out to be the Saviour of the world.
- Moreover, just as Jesus of Nazareth loved truly and well, every disciple can love with hope and patience, just as Jesus did.
- Above all, we must never, ever give up on ourselves.
As it may be for our Jameses and Judes, our Sauls and Almas, and all of their female equivalents, the same may be true for us. In a personal and intimate way, Jesus himself suffered in order to be able to succor those who are also in need of assistance. (See Heb. 2:18 and Alma 7:12 for examples.)
Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)?
QuestionAnswer More than a few verses in the Bible make reference to Jesus’ brothers. A visit by Jesus’ mother and brothers is recorded in three different Bible passages: Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31. The Bible teaches us that Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, according to the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:55). Although the Bible says that Jesus had sisters, they are neither named or counted in the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:56). In John 7:1-10, Jesus’ brothers accompany him to the feast, while he remains at home.
- James, according to Galatians 1:19, was Jesus’ younger brother.
- Some Roman Catholics believe that these “brothers” were actually Jesus’ cousins, rather than his siblings.
- While the word can apply to other relatives as well, its conventional and literal meaning is a physical brother in the traditional sense.
- If they were Jesus’ cousins, why were they so frequently represented as being with Mary, Jesus’ mother, if they were Jesus’ cousins?
- It is also possible, according to a second Roman Catholic theory, that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were the offspring of Joseph from a prior relationship.
- There is a difficulty with this because the Bible makes no mention of Joseph being previously married or having children before he married Mary.
- No scriptural basis exists to assume that these siblings are anything other than the biological children of Joseph and Mary, as is commonly believed.
- “And he named Him Jesus,” the Bible says (Matthew 1:25).
In God’s Word, there is a clear and unequivocal teaching on the subject of marriage. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Is it possible that Jesus had brothers and sisters (siblings)?
Subscribe to the
Get our Question of the Week emailed to your inbox every weekday morning! Got Questions Ministries is a trademark of Got Questions Ministries, Inc., registered in the state of California in the year 2002. All intellectual property rights are retained. Policy Regarding Personal Information The date on which this page was last updated was January 12, 2022.
What Happened to Jesus’ ‘Brothers’?
Sign up for Christianity Today and you’ll gain instant access to back issues of Christian History! A number of “brothers and sisters” are referenced in the Gospels, but only James and Jude are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament—James as the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, and Jude in the brief epistle that bears his name. See “Mary” for a potential meaning of “brothers and sisters.” According to the Gospel of John, Jesus’ family was first doubtful of his mission: “Even his brothers did not believe in him,” the Gospel reads.
At the Jerusalem Council, James, the eldest of Jesus’ brothers, made the decision that Gentile Christians did not have to follow traditional Jewish rules.
Some believe he led an austere lifestyle, and it has been stated that he spent so much time in prayer that his knees “were like those of a camel.” According to Jewish historian Josephus, James was stoned to death by Jewish religious authorities.
It is unknown if this James or someone else was the author of the epistle that bears his name.
The other disciples
Following the Gospels, the disciples are only briefly mentioned in the New Testament. We have only legends to go on for more specifics, some of which are questionable. Andrew, Peter’s brother, is said to have preached in Asia Minor, Thrace, and Greece before being crucified on an X-shaped cross, according to a tenth-century story. He was recognized as the founder of the church in Constantinople, and he may have had a connection to the development of written language. Congratulations, you have reached the conclusion of this Article Preview.
Subscribers get complete digital access to the content.
Sign in to get complete digital access.
The Apostles, Part 12: James, Brother of Jesus
As we have progressed through this study, we have spent the majority of our time looking at the life and teachings of an individual who never encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry: the apostle Paul. Toward the end of the last part, we got to the conclusion of his life, which was most likely his execution in Nero’s Rome. However, the tale of the apostles does not come to a close there. The Acts of the Apostles, written by Paul’s traveling companion Luke, has served as our primary source throughout this course.
In spite of this, Luke refers to them as a “renewing group of 12” after Matthias takes the place of Judas (verse 26).
Several women (including Jesus’ mother, Mary), as well as His brothers, were also present in the early days of the Church (Acts 1:14).
They are also well-known for the literature that they have produced. Several letters written by Simon Peter, John the Evangelist, James and Jude are included in the New Testament. In this section, we will look at James’ biography and literary output.
The apostle James, the son of Zebedee and one of the original 12 apostles, was assassinated by King Herod Agrippa in the early days of the Church, about 44 C.E., as some readers may recall (see Acts 12:1–2). This means that the James mentioned in verse 17 of the same chapter must be a different James from the one mentioned in the previous verse, when Luke recalls that Peter sent word of his release from jail to someone called James. Despite the fact that up to seven other persons with the same name have been identified in the New Testament, James the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19) is the most plausible candidate in this particular instance.
- It’s possible to speculate that this same James appears later in Acts as the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which would lead us to believe that he is the author of the New Testament book of the same name.
- The Jewish religious authorities, according to the first-century Jewish writer Josephus, executed “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” by stoning him to death (Antiquities of the Jews20.200).
- Was this James, on the other hand, also an apostle?
- When writing about one of his travels to Jerusalem, Paul, who also became an apostle but was not one of the Twelve, appears to allude to James’s apostolic role, which is consistent with James’s own.
- Scholars, on the other hand, have noted that this is not a categorical assertion.
James the Unbeliever
Is there anything else we can learn about James and his early life from his accounts in the Gospels? According to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, he was one of numerous children born to Mary and Joseph following the birth of Jesus. “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses, and the brother of Judas and Simon?” “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses, and the brother of Judas and Simon?” “And aren’t his sisters here with us?” I inquire.
- There was a period when James and the rest of the family were vocal in their opposition to Jesus’ work and message.
- According to John, “not even his brothers believed in him at the time” (John 7:5).
- However, despite the fact that he was Jesus’ brother, he did not fill the gap created by Judas’ death since the remaining 11 were to pick “one of the men who followed the Lord Jesus during all of the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among” the people (Acts 1:21).
- He had another encounter with James while he was bringing hunger aid to Jerusalem from the churches outside of Judea at the time (Acts 21:18).
- He said that after James’ death, the Church picked another of Jesus’ blood relations, His cousin Simon or Simeon, to be its head, meaning that James had been in charge up until that time.
- 153–217 C.E.
- According to Jerome, who was writing in the fifth century, James “controlled the church of Jerusalem for thirty years,” which corresponds to the seventh year of Nero’s reign (Lives of Illustrious Men, chapter 2).
It is most probable in this position that James authored the letter that bears his name.
James’s Tour de Force
The short book of James is a moral, theological, and literary masterpiece that deserves to be read and studied. The focus on living according to “the complete code,” “the law of liberty,” and “the royal law” (James 1:25, 2:8), while some have argued that it is at conflict with the teachings of Paul, placed it squarely within the same Judaic heritage. An in-depth investigation of its fundamental notions exposes the complimentary nature of each man’s way of seeing things. James begins by emphasizing his allegiance to “God and.
- James, who was raised in a Jewish family, was well-versed in the history of ancient Israel, particularly its roots with the 12 sons of Jacob.
- As noted in Acts 2:9–11, 1 Peter 1:1, and John 7:35, James was writing to Church members who were descended from these tribes who lived in what was then known as the Diaspora—what are now known as the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas.
- As a result, he places difficult circumstances in the framework of his spiritual development and growth.
- Double-mindedness accomplishes nothing; instead, peaceful faith in God’s guidance and assistance is the key (verses 5–8, emphasis added).
- According to verses 9–11, the affluent would finally fade away like the grass of the field.
- James warns against falling into the trap of blaming God for the hardships we bring on ourselves by surrendering to sin (verses 13–15), and he gives specific examples of how to avoid doing so.
- Fortunately, He differs from flawed and variable humans in that He is “the Father of lights,” with whom there is no variation or shadow caused by change.
He is the one who has decreed that His people be given truth in this life, before others, in order for them to become “a sort of firstfruits of his creations” (verses 17–18), and that they will become “a type of firstfruits of his creatures.” James places a strong focus on the practice of good living from the beginning of the epistle.
- On the one hand, he contrasts natural human methods of acting—we are slow to hear, fast to talk, and quick to become angry—with God’s ways of behaving.
- It is the Word of God that directs us in the correct direction.
- Otherwise, it’s like gazing in the mirror and recognizing what’s wrong with ourselves, but doing nothing to correct what we see (verses 23–24).
- “If anybody believes he or she is religious but does not restrain his or her mouth but deceives his or her heart, that person’s religion is useless,” he or she declares.
Throughout the letter, the idea of acting on one’s convictions will resurface. “Anyone who thinks himself religious but does not maintain a tight check on his speech is deceiving himself and his religion is useless,” the Prophet Muhammad said.
Generally speaking, the law of God encompasses all elements of human life, and James provides various illustrations of how believing should result in transformed, law-abiding behavior. As a starting point, he says in James 2:1–9 that praising one person above another based on one’s money or social standing has no place in the heavenly value system. Indeed, he claims, it is too frequently the rich that abuse and disadvantage the less fortunate and that this should be avoided. They may even make derogatory remarks about Jesus’ name.
- Two people, one well-dressed and rich, and the other in shabby clothing and poverty.
- It would be a disgrace and a humiliation to the less fortunate.
- And violating the law is considered sinful.
- For example, according to James, by refraining to commit adultery but, on the other hand, committing murder, we are guilty of breaching the entire commandment (James 2:10–11), he claims.
- We must adhere to all of it, understanding that God will judge us according to its principles, which, if followed in spirit, would liberate us from the punishment of sin: everlasting death; and we must do so with the understanding that God will judge us according to its principles (verse 12).
- He provides a second illustration of the demand for faith to be manifested in action by bringing attention to the plight of those members of the believing community who are suffering from a lack of resources.
- Faith must be demonstrated via deeds.
James demonstrates via the example of Abraham that the patriarch’s faith was followed by deeds, and as a result, he came to be recognized as “the friend of God” (verse 23).
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not demonstrate it by his actions?
The absence of deeds in the form of faith renders it ineffective.” James shifts to a longer discussion of the necessity to bridle or control one’s tongue in chapter three, which is a subject he has touched on previously.
His first point is that teaching is a dangerous profession because people who practice it are held accountable for their words, and it is simple to say things incorrectly (James 3:1–2).
Furthermore, everything we say will be used to judge us all in some way.
We control a ship with a rudder and lead a horse by putting a bit in its mouth, respectively.
However, because the tongue is so little in proportion to the rest of the body, it is extremely difficult to control.
The tongue has been compared as a fire that has the potential to set the entire world ablaze.
People have conquered or controlled all other species, but the tongue is particularly difficult to manage; like a snake, “it is a restless evil, full of deadly venom” (Aristotle) (verse 8).
This is totally incorrect.
” Despite its tiny size, the tongue is capable of incredible feats of dexterity.
How do people manage to keep their tongues under control?
James demonstrates that it is only through a personal relationship with God that we may gain knowledge and fight the nearly overpowering desire to abuse our words.
This helps to keep “earthly, unspiritualdemonic” conduct at bay (verse 15).
James’s audience, on the other hand, is riven with disagreements and turmoil.
His response is that they originate inside the human heart, which is dissatisfied by not obtaining what it wants—even if it desires something that it should not have.
This strategy has no chance of giving about pleasure in the long run.
If they follow the ways of the world to obtain their goals, they can only be considered enemies of God, the spiritual equal of adulterers in their relationship with Him (verse 4).
One of the issues they have is that they are always disparaging and criticising one another.
Following that, James provides a caution about chasing materialistic desires as though nothing could possibly go wrong with them.
The very essence of life is fleeting.
Knowing the appropriate method to do something but failing to put it into action is sin, according to him.
In a similar vein, affluent individuals are admonished to set their priorities correctly.
Otherwise, no advantage will accrue from any material possessions.
When living in such a world, the followers of James’ elder brother are expected to exercise patience until His return.
No time is wasted on little whining and moaning about one another, something humans are so prone to doing in their everyday lives.
If they want to see an example of persistence amid tough circumstances, James advises them to go no farther than Job, who knows that God is loving and merciful (verses 9–11).
Their commitment should be straightforward and true, as demonstrated by open and honest communication: “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you do not come under censure” (verse 12).
The epistle of James concludes with the same focus on practical displays of faith: If there are any among the believers who are suffering, they should pray to God about it, according to James. There are people who are content and they should give thanks to God for their happiness. Those who are sick should contact the Church’s leaders and seek for prayer and anointing so that God may cure them and restore them to health. When someone’s disease is caused by sin, they will be forgiven; prayer and the confession of sin are required for healing to take place.
James uses the example of Elijah (1 Kings 17; 18), who prayed that it would not rain in order to illustrate his point.
After a period of time had passed, he hoped that the rains would arrive, and indeed they did.
It is a discipline that brings about significant rewards.
As a result, James’s care for the community of believers in which he had been a part and which he had come to lead following Jesus’ death and resurrection is confirmed.