Did Mary Have 240 Children?

How do non-Catholics who believe Mary had other children…that Jesus had brothers and sisters, interpret Acts 1:15?
13 When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
14 All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
15 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said,
16 “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.

Acts 1:15 shows Jesus had 120 “brothers”? Even if I subtract all the people mentioned in line 13, one could say that there were at least 100 “brothers” of Jesus. And, this does not even account for his “sisters”. Given that biology produces approximately the same number of both sexes, I assume that there were about 120 sisters too.

So all told Jesus had 240 brothers and sisters??
Mary had 200 to 240 children?
Where we’re all the sisters?

Non-Catholic believers that Jesus had brothers and sisters, please help me understand this scripture verse. :confused:

The answer obviously that they are not Peter’s “brothers” in the literal sense. :wink:

**In many cultures, including in that of Jesus time, relatives were called 'brothers"
A good demonstration of this tendency is evident in the biblical book of Tobit, in the bible **

"11 Tobit said, ‘Brother, what family and what tribe do you belong to? Will you tell me, brother?’
12 ‘What does my tribe matter to you?’ the angel said. Tobit said, ‘I want to be quite sure whose son you are and what your name is.’
13 The angel said, ‘I am Azarias, son of the great Ananias, one of your kinsmen.’
14 ‘Welcome and greetings, brother! Do not be offended at my wanting to know the name of your family; I find you are my kinsman of a good and honourable line. I know Ananias and Nathan, the two sons of the great Shemaiah. They used to go to Jerusalem with me; we have worshipped together there and they have never strayed from the right path. Your brothers are worthy men; you come of good stock; welcome.’

Note again the use of sister when these two are not sister and brother but promised in marriage of the same Jewish clan. if you read the chapters in Tobit you will see clearly that this young man and his new girlfriend/bride was not brother and sister but member of the same clan clan, a kinswoman who was not directly related to him :

Sarah’s "… parents meanwhile had gone out and shut the door behind them. Tobias rose from the bed, and said to Sarah, ‘Get up, my sister! You and I must pray and petition our Lord to win his grace and his protection.’
5 She stood up, and they began praying for protection, and this was how he began: You are blessed, O God of our fathers; blessed too is your name for ever and ever. Let the heavens bless you and all things you have made for evermore.
6 You it was who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support; and from these two the human race was born. You it was who said, ‘It is not right that the man should be alone; let us make him a helper like him.’
7 And so I take my sister not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to have pity on her and on me and bring us to old age together.
8 And together they said, ‘Amen, Amen,’

It was only natural that this usage continued into the New Testament.
The tendency is not confined to the historical Jews

This use of brother and sister to acknowledge clanship, is not unusual in the bible.

Also, in the Jewish langauge, there is no word for “cousin,” so this also factors in.

You mean Hebrew?

Even I was troubled over this. Your replies have light on this matter. Thanks a lot.

This is the dogma of the Perpetual Pregnancy of Mary.

The dogma was promulgated in a tweet authored a Pigeon Forge, Tennessee based focus-group of non-denominational lay ministers.


Remember that God called the nation of Israel his “Son” in the singular.

So you shall say to Pharaoh: Thus says the LORD: Israel is my son, my first-born. (Exodus 4:22)

All Jews were sons of Abraham, so they were all brothers.

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, (Luke 1:73)


I suggest reading Matthew 12:46-50. When Jesus’ mother and brothers went to him, he explained that his mother and brothers are his disciples who follow him.

"While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Brothers in the passage you quoted refers to brothers in Christ. Jesus is the Son of God. Anyone who follows his teachings that he received from God becomes a child of God. Therefore, all Christians are Jesus’ brothers.

Since you are looking for an answer from a non-Catholic (and I would guess someone who believes in Sola Scriptura), allow me to provide some explanation of these Scriptures.

First, I believe all Catholics and non-Catholics will agree that the Scriptures are not exhaustive in what they report. We do not have a copy of Jesus’ day planner, a menu of every meal the Apostles shared with Jesus, etc… With this in mind (as well as a little common sense), it should be obvious that the list of who was present in verses 13 and 14 is not a complete list. The sisters of Jesus could have been among the other women. Furthermore, it should be obvious from later verses that there were others present who were not named as brothers of Jesus elsewhere in Scripture (remember, this is the chapter where Judas is replaced),

Second, the “brothers” mentioned in verses 15 & 16 refers to all those present as members of a single body (a body of believers, in this case). Peter is not specifically addressing the brothers of Jesus, but the believers in Jesus.

Finally, to use the excuse of “Hebrew doesn’t have a word for cousin” is a poor reason to assume the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus are not siblings. While it is true that the Hebrew doesn’t have a word for Cousin, the NT was written in Greek, which does make that distinction (isn’t Elizabeth called the cousin of Mary?). Furthermore, God (in His written word) makes a distinction between “brothers” and “relatives” (see Luke 14:12 for an example where “brother” and “relative” (along with “friend” and “neighbor”) are mentioned in the same verse).

Hope this helps!


It is true but you should also keep in mind that:

1.) The NT authors often pay homage to the language and style of the Septuagint, which sometimes translates Semitic idioms literally.
2.) Syngenes has a wider meaning than “cousin” (anepsios is the proper word for that).

Brother = adelphos (ἀδελφός, οῦ, ὁ)

a brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian.

Notably for the sola scriptura types KJV translates it as bretheren at Mt 12:46.

BTW protestant “tradition” (Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli) also supported Mary’s perpetual virginity.

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