Did Mary have other children?

Just curious as to how some non-catholics here might interpret this verse from the Old Testament:

*And the Lord said to me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it: because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, and it shall be shut.

[right]Ezechiel 44.2[/right]*

I think that in order for someone to understand that particular verse, they would need to read all of chapters 40 through 46, since the verse is part of a vision Ezekiel has of a Jewish temple and of the priests/Levites being obedient (or not) to the laws and ordinances of offering sacrifices in worthiness. There seems to have been a particular “gate” involving the outer courtyard of the visionary temple seen by Ezekiel that should not be opened by any person since the Lord, God of Israel “hath entered in by it.” That vision re-emphasizes the worthiness that the Levites needed to have, and that some had been led away into false beliefs and were teaching false beliefs to their people.

Hello! :slight_smile:

I’m confused by the thread’s title and the verse being quoted. Can anyone tell me the relationship between the two, if any?

Kind Regards,

Hello Parker,

Yes, I agree that this verse is part of a vision of the Jewish temple, but I think the consequences of what is revealed here can go beyond that specific topic. God enters the temple by a specific gate, and that gate is then shut up entirely and no man is allowed to pass through it. If that is true of a gate in a temple, why not the Blessed Virgin Mary, by whom our Lord entered into the world?


I think this verse has an interesting implication if seen in context of God entering the world by way of the Blessed Virgin, as he entered the temple in the vision by way of the East Gate. In the latter his having entered by that gate resulted in it being shut up so that no man would then pass through it. I just wondered if people who believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary had children after our Lord had considered whether this verse would perhaps affect that position.

I know this verse has been used as a shadow of the Lord coming to Mary. However, I doubt it would have much impact. If folks can’t even accept that the persons listed in the NT are actually children of another Mary also listed there, what good can it do?

Isaiah said a virgin would give birth to a child. How can a virgin be a virgin if she has sex? So Mary could not have sex, either before or after Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nor could Joseph have children of his own, or else, when Jesus died, Mary would have lived with one of her sons, since that’s what widows did in her time. Instead, Mary goes to live with His favorite disciple, John.

I can see your point, but it seems to me that Matthew 13:55-57 makes very clear in the context that Jesus had brothers and sisters. That is precisely why Jesus said that when Jesus came into his own country and began teaching in their synagogue and they “were astonished”, He said it was because a prophet is “without honor in his own house” and because they couldn’t believe He was more than a man because they knew all of those brothers and sisters.

I know it does seem that way, but that is because people read it now in isolation from the Apostolic Teaching. This misunderstanding is also a result of lack of education about the culture in which the Holy Family lived. They lived in a clan/tribal structure, and anyone that was too close a relative to marry was called a brother/sister/aunt/uncle, etc. Those referred to in this passage are near kindred.

Also, anyone who will do a study will find that at least half of these people mentioned as his “brothers and sisters” are clearly children of another Mary, stated to be the “sister” of the Mother of our Lord. They could be half siblings, or cousins, but they are not from teh body of His mother.

Yes, he grew up in Nazareth, a small village where everyone knew Him, and none of them seemed to appreciate His calling and gifts. They did later believe, and were with the disciples in the upper room at Pentecost. However, we can clearly see that there were 120 some people present at the time, the Apostles and His “brethren”. So, unless his mother was popping children about once a month, these brethren are near kindred from his clan.

Yes, but having brothers and sisters doesn’t require that His Mother gave birth to other children. My father has a sister, and his mother only ever had one child. His sister is the birth child of his aunt, and was adopted at birth by my grandparents, but she has always been his sister. Nobody has ever qualified that term with any other commentary, but have always simply said ‘sister.’ I will concede that there were people called the brothers and sisters of the Lord, but I don’t think that requires that the Blessed Virgin Mary had other children herself. It only means that there were people who held the place in his personal life of brothers and sisters.

Thanks for your insights. I was aware about the different connotation of “sister” meaning “cousin”, but I hadn’t really thought about applying it in the case of the verse in Matthew. I think what you wrote makes sense and may well be true in this case. Thanks.

I again have learned from you, and really appreciate this perspective. It feels right to me. I have enjoyed thinking about this subject, and reading your and Guanophore’s insightful thoughts. Thanks, and both of you have a wonderful day.

If i may make an observation, it seems that Catholics look for Mary in every verse of scripture in the same way that “protestants” look for Jesus in every verse.

On the original question,

Yes Mary had other children, according to scripture. they are named

I believe the verse you quote from Ezekiel is a prophecy that Christ fulfilled when he entered Jerusalem.

The Gate in Jerusalem is a great research topic, it is said to have been closed since Jesus passed thru. Funny how i think well Jesus went thru so they ran and sealed it but many times prophecy isn’t fulfilled in the manner that our imagination assumes.

The Gate called Golden may be the one.

I read Golden Gate was called Beautiful in ancient times.

I found two scriptures on it:

Acts 3:2
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

Acts 3:10
And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.


for photos of all the gates that are sealed…and it was the Golden Gate that was on TV one night…


Many thanks for your kind words. You are always amazingly gracious in a conversation.

And I hope you have a tremendous Memorial Day (and Towel Day too. :))

The passages that indicate Mary ‘knew’ Joseph are overwelming. In addition Josephus a Jewish Roman historian comments on “Jesus” brothers.

The idea that the Greek terms for brother and sisters is erroneous. The Greek word for cousin/relative is very different than that for brother/sister.

Look at this verse:
Mat 1:24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
Mat 1:25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

You do realize I hope, that ‘the knew her’ comment is a ‘knowing in a Carnel sense’ right?

There are a number of other scriptural proofs of Mary’s other children, and the idea that she lived with John because she didn’t have other kids, ignores history. James was the first Marter post Jesus death. The remaining brothers were most likely all martyerd like James, and John was the youngest apostle.

Guess who lived to a ripe old age when all the other Apostles and most disciples, including most likely Jesus’s family, were killed? Yep, John. He was the only surviver. Hence thats why Jesus gave Mary to John for protection.

The idea that Mary was ‘ever Virgin’ is absurd. Why would God have given her in Marriage?? Joseph was a true ‘husband’, and hence he knew his wife in that way. Otherwise, she would have been single or ‘ever single’.

Its not a salvation issue, so I am not concerned with whether or not she was, or was not ‘Ever Virgin’, my concern is the poor exegesis this doctrine brings with it.
And all because some Pope centuries ago said thats the way it is. But then again, here is another crazy doctrine that leads to all sorts of problems for well meaning Catholic believers.

I believe that the foundation for that view is not the Greek, but rather the Hebrew. Even though the scritpures were written in Greek, they were written mostly by Hebrew people and reflected a Hebrew culture. If a person hears Hebrew people calling a person a brother in their language he would likely write, even in Greek, using that same term. That is how I have understood the issue anyway.

But, we shouldn’t forget that if Joseph had children before marrying the Blessed Virgin then his children would have been considered brothers of Jesus. I believe this is the most ancient tradition regarding the Holy Family.

Look at this verse:
Mat 1:24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
Mat 1:25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

You do realize I hope, that ‘the knew her’ comment is a ‘knowing in a Carnel sense’ right?

You are reading into the verse regarding “until.” In John 9.18 we read:

"The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight."

This is the same word, donec, that is used in the verse you reference in Matthew. And if you read further you will see clearly that the Jews also didn’t believe after they called his parents. The word until, donec, does not refer to what happens later.

The idea that Mary was ‘ever Virgin’ is absurd. Why would God have given her in Marriage?? Joseph was a true ‘husband’, and hence he knew his wife in that way. Otherwise, she would have been single or ‘ever single’.

By your suggestion, if by some accident St. Joseph had been incapable of “knowing” his wife then he offered nothing to the relationship. But you ignore all that St. Joseph did for our Lord and his Mother in his life. Personally, I think an understanding that implies outside of carnal relations he had no reason for marriage actually sells him very short. Very, very short.

Its not a salvation issue, so I am not concerned with whether or not she was, or was not ‘Ever Virgin’, my concern is the poor exegesis this doctrine brings with it.
And all because some Pope centuries ago said thats the way it is. But then again, here is another crazy doctrine that leads to all sorts of problems for well meaning Catholic believers.

Which Pope do you mean? The Blessed Virgin Mary is held to be Ever Virgin by all of the historic Church, both East and West. It is throughout the Fathers and the historic liturgies and hymns.

And for those who think this is just more Marian stuff, please consider that these things actually bear completely on our view of Christ. It is because of our belief that Christ is truly God Almighty that we do not consider it possible that she was anything other than Ever Virgin. This really isn’t about the Blessed Virgin Mary at all, but all about our Lord. Just look at the verse I cited at the beginning of the thread. It is about the holiness of God, not the holiness of the gate.

Cothrige the scriptures are written in Greek and that is what we must use to interpret what the writers are stating. The Greek word used in Matthew is Heos hou which most definitely can imply a change in the previous condition.

If we look at another example in scripture we find the same words being use in Acts 23:12
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul

The word used for till is heos hou which is the same word Matthew uses in 1:25. By your supposition the Jews would never have eaten even after killing Paul.

You need to understand the Jewish culture to see why Matthew wrote his Gospel the way he did. In Matthew 1:18 we read: When his mother Mary had been betrothed [6] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

The word used for come together is synerchomai which means conjugal cohabitation. Matthew fully expected Mary and Joseph to have marital relations and let’s his Jewish readers know that the child Mary was carrying was not Josephs because they had not yet come together. In the Jewish culture this was a serious offense given that they had entered a marriage contract. Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death along with the individual that she had relations with. Matthew tells us Joseph is pondering this decision and being a just man he doesn’t want to bring shame to Mary and her family. Then the Angel appears to him letting Joseph know the child is from the Holy Spirit. This is important because it confirms Mary is still a virgin and did not cheat on Joseph. Given the typical time frame for a betrothed Jewish couple is about 1 year or so Mary would still have been pregnant with Jesus at the time of their wedding preventing them from consecrating the marriage. So Matthew let’s us know that they waited until after Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Your proposal of the belief of Mary being ever virgin as being around since the early church is false. No writings from any early church fathers post-apostolic speak to this doctrine at all. In fact we see no devotion to Mary start to develop until the 3rd or 4th century.

In regard to your first point, yes, it is true that in Hebrew the terms are interchangeable, and could be confused, Josephus clearly uses the term for siblings in extrabiblical texts when refering to Jesus siblings. So does the terms in the Gospls.
Your assertion that maybe these are Josephs kids has no scriptural support, and is necessary to support the tradional Catholic view, despite the lack of evidence.

In regard to your second point: You opine the Greek word used is ‘donec’, but this is inaccurate. The actual word used is ‘heos’ and the implication is clear, Joseph new her not until Jesus was born…hence, he did know her after that point in time.

The context of John’s verse is clearly different, and is apples to oranges.

Your third point about selling Joseph short: Not at all. The cultural idea of a consumated marriage was the marriage bed, which would have been customary especially after Jesus was born. Joseph could have been anyone, but did not need to be a husband if he were never to ‘know’ her.

Lastly, I forget which Pope it was the made the decree that she was ever virgin, but it was in the 6th century I believe. From reading from our Parish library’s books, one of the listed 10 major papal decrees was this very issue. The historical representation of why it occured was because this Pope believed we were ‘minimizing’ Mary, and felt it important to re-emphasize her; hence the decree came. Catholics are now stuck with this. Dispite better biblical scholarship over the centuries that clearly indicates different. Not to mention extrabiblical texts

My last comment about your comment is the most important in my mind. You said ‘this is all about our Lord’, and I totally agree. Catholics erroneously attribute sinlessness and ever virginity to Mary to protect Jesus. Yet, its the ‘sins of the Father’ that are passed down to generations, not the Mother. The OT makes this abundantly clear.

The Father is the Holy Spirit and is perfect, sinless and does not need any other help in conveying his nature and perfection.
The idea that Mary needs to be elevated by ‘the Immaculate Conception’, ‘her Assumption’ and her ‘ever virginity’ is unwarrented.
Scripture tells us to honor her, and well it should. She is a great matriach of faithfulness and discipleship. But to raise her with these baseless claims is just harmful to all Catholics understanding of scripture and hurts their ability to use good exegesis when they are constantly defending centuries old decrees that make no sense.

Believe me, this is not to put Catholics down. I am in great sorrow because of this, as it hurts my brothers and sisters ability really understand all that scripture holds for them.
In peace

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