Jesus had brothers and sisters?


I’m not sure where to post this I guess here would do.

I hate HATE when people, even some Catholics insist that Jesus had brothers and sisters. That would imply that Mary was not a virgin…and we still refer to her as the Blessed Virgin Mary, don’t we?

However I am not educated enough to refute this argument so I would like, if you please, some proof that Jesus did not have any brothers and sisters and that Mary was a virgin all her life.

Thank you all



There’s plenty of evidence around but people will argue til the cows come home because they refuse to acknowledge the great work our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary did in God’s plan of salvation.

They cannot see a sign of the ‘one full of grace’, the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary’s virginity and that of Jesus’ in those who follow Him and have perfect chastity or those who give themselves totally to Him in the Consecrated Religious life remaining virgins all of their lives. If they do not believe the historical evidence, nor solemn doctrine, nor even Church Tradition then at least they could believe the signs in those ‘not full of grace’ but remaining virgins which is the work of His grace.

For Catholic to doubt these truths is a grave temptation against faith.

In the Living Prayer of my life


Imply? Catholics who say so are stating it outright - and they are failing in their duty, as Catholics, to adhere to all the Church teaches. Since Mary’s Perpetual Virginity is infallibly proclaimed dogma, it’s a very serious failure!

Some education is in order.


There is a need for better catesis…

Jesus had no brother nor sister. They were his cousins…Even if he did, they would be his half brother and sisters base on Joseph’s previous marriage…


This does a good job of quickly explaining things and this does a good job of going a little more in depth. East and west agree completely on Mary’s perpetual virginity.

However, it is a long-established tradition of the Eastern Churches based on the Protoevangelium of James that St. Joseph was a widower who had older children. The same apocryphal book is the source of information on Mary’s parents (including their names, Joachim and Anna), and her childhood. Catholics of east and west are allowed to agree with this understanding, as evidenced here.


Jesus may have had other “brothers”, as the word is wide in its usages. But nowhere in scripture does it say Mary had other sons.

In Christ!


In addition to this I have found it helpful to look at Numbers 30 in regards to the marriage of St Joseph and our Blessed Mother.


Really, though, as much as Protestant hate the term Mother of God, why do they keep trying to manifest these fictional Brothers of God? What do they propose to do with them? They would surely have a stake in the Kingdom as any royal half-sibling would. Is there any proof in the Bible of their heir apparency?

Wouldn’t they also be brought in and charged by the Roman Courts for sedition along with Jesus? If Peter was afraid to be known as only his friend for fear of death, how bad would Jesus’ brothers have feared for their lives at the crucifixion?


I’ll offer up a few things, which I hope, clears the air for you.

  1. In the original language - the term “brother” and “sister” are often used for someone other than the son or daughter of my mother. The term “cousin” or “step-brother” or “half-brother” did not exist, as I understand. Brother might mean brother. Then again, it might not. We cannot know without more information based on this alone.

  2. Ezekiel 44:2 - The LORD said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.

  3. Before He died, Christ entrusted his mother to the Apostle John. In the context of the culture that would have been unthinkable should Christ have brothers or sisters. Even if they had deserted Christ, they would have been responsible for her. Christ, asking John to take Mary into his care and keeping from the cross, is about as definitive as it gets from Scripture.

I’m not even Catholic - but I am convinced that Mary’s perpetual virginity is sound doctrine.



Here are the scriptures and references that state (or imply) Jesus did have brother’s and sisters. I’m not sure why after Jesus’s birth Mary’s virginity needed to stay in tact when she was married to Joseph, but I will not go there.

Mark 6:3 - Is not this the carpenter, the son of MARY, the brother of James, and joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters…

Mathew 13:55-56 - pretty much the same as Mark

Gal 1:19 - But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of jesus christ, and the brother of James…

Josephus 20.9.1 …brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was call Christ, whose name was james, …

Lost books Infancy I - XIX:1 Jesus saves his brother james from a viper bite. (I know its not scripture)



Are you aware of the eastern tradition, based on the Protoevangelium of James, that Joseph was a widower when he and Mary were betrothed and he had several children from his previous marriage, James being one of them?

Are you aware of the western tradition that the word brother is consistently used to mean family member and does not denote a relationship of siblings?

Are you aware of the trouble your interpretation causes with Jewish custom and law at the time in situations such as at the Cross when Jesus commits Mary into the care of a non-relative and a Gentile?

Are you aware that the Early Church Fathers unanimously upheld Mary’s perpetual virginity, which would have been hard to do if her children and grandchildren were walking around to the contrary?

How do you address these problems?


The intent was to post all the scripture relating to Christ’s brothers and sisters which other posts had failed to do.



What more does this add to the conversation? All of them could have been half-siblings or other relatives such as cousins in their context. That’s what history and their contemporaries tell us they were. How does the further proof that they existed add anything to the conversation of what their relationship to Jesus was?


It irritated me to no end when I saw a special on CNN that insisted that it was an established fact that Christ had brothers, and that Mary wasn’t really a virgin.

I’ve been more wary of what I hear from the media ever since…


The word in greek is the same word for cousin next question.


No it is not…next answer…


Partially right. It is in HEBREW and ARAMAIC, the languages spoken by the people of Palestine, that the word used for Brother (Ach) is the SAME as that used for Cousin, nephew or other close kinsman.

The gospel stories were originally recorded verbally in Aramaic. When later translated into Greek (which has a word for Cousin), Brothet (ach) would have been translated to Brother in Greek unless the text clearly indicated otherwise.


Recorded verbally…What is that?
You mean…they were spoken in Aramaic?
The NT was written in Greek. There is a word for cousin. End of story.


Afraid not. old bean.

Did the people of Judea speak Greek? No. They spoke Aramaic.

Did Greek scribes follow Jesus around recording wehat was said in perfect Greek. Again no.

The stories of Jesus life and ministry were passed down by Apostles and othewr witnesses, as all such things were passed down at that time VERBALLY, in their own language. 20 - 30 years Later people like Mathew, and Luke and John wrote down these first hand impressions, translating them into Greek. Tradition states Matthew was originally in Aramaic Hebrew.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit