Sunday, December 14, 2014
DID JESUS HAVE BROTHERS BORN TO MARY?
As I was driving home tonight, I caught the tail end of a broadcast of Amazing Facts Radio. Amazing Facts Radio is a radio call in program, hosted by Doug Batchelor, in which people are able to call in with questions about the Bible. The radio program is an outreach ministry of Amazing Facts Ministries. The last caller of the show asked Batchelor why he had referred to James as "the older brother of Jesus." I was amazed at the answer Batchelor gave the caller, to say the least. Doug Batchelor stated that James, Jude, Simon and Joseph were half brothers of Jesus, sons of Joseph from a previous marriage. This answer is wrong on many levels.
The Bible, in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, states that Jesus had brothers and sisters:
Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Mat 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
Mat 13:56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
As stated above, there is no question that the Bible expressly states that Jesus had brothers and sisters. In fact, the epistles of Jude and James were actually written by the brothers of Christ. There should be little argument about this fact, but unfortunately, doctrines are sometimes formed in ignorance and when facts are presented to refute these doctrines, the facts are refashioned in order to fit the doctrine rather than rethinking or abolishing the wrong doctrine.
The most common misconception concerning the brothers of Jesus is from the Roman Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. When I asked a Catholic friend how he reconciled the passages above with the churches doctrine of perpetual virginity, he told me that the church believed that these brothers were actually cousins. I was surprised by my friend's response, I had no doubt that my friend was a genuine believer, we had many Bible discussions and agreed wholeheartedly on the
essentials of the Christian faith. The verse that left my friend without any answer on the topic of Jesus' brothers, however, was Mathew 1:24-25 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (emphasis added). Clearly, this passage states that at some point, Joseph and Mary consummated their marriage. The Roman church also argues that the Greek word used for brothers adelphos, could be translated cousins. That would be good and well if there were no Greek word for cousin, but exadefos is the Greek word for cousin. Why would two different Gospel writers refer to Jesus' cousins as brothers and sisters when they could simply have written cousin? If one wants to argue that a matter must be established by two or more witnesses, and one wants to further argue that Mark and Matthew are one witness, we have a second (third by my count) witness, namely Paul the Apostle: Gal 1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. Guess what word Paul uses for brother - aldephos. Mathew, Mark and Paul could have easily used the Greek word for cousin, but they all three used aldephos because they all three meant brother or brothers. At least we do not have to refer to Philadelphia as the city of cousinly love any time soon!
In response to Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts, I respectfully say, "you are wrong sir." If the named brothers of Jesus were Joseph's sons from a previous marriage, they could not possibly have been his half brothers, as Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. These would have been the step brothers of Jesus and, really, no brothers at all. The only evidence Batchelor offered for his position was the scene at the crucifixion when Jesus commended Mary to the care of John the Apostle. Batchelor's argument basically asked why Jesus would assign the care of Mary to John if she had blood related sons who could have easily stepped in to care for their mother. Remember, at the time of the crucifixion, Christ's brothers were not followers. In fact, scripture reveals that Jesus' brothers did not believe he was the Messiah, at least until after the resurrection. Mark makes this point in his Gospel: Mark 3:31-35 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you." And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." Jesus' statement in this passage shows that Jesus has disassociated Himself from his family due to their unbelief. It is only after the resurrection, when Jesus appears to His brother James that this changes and James eventually takes on the role of the head of the church in Jerusalem.
We must be careful not to add to or take away from scripture. In the case of Amazing Facts Radio we see the adding to scripture something that has zero evidence for support. Nowhere in scripture do we see any evidence whatsoever to suggest that Joseph was married before Mary or that he brought other children to the marriage. In the case of Catholic doctrine, truth is removed for the sake of a faulty doctrine that did not come into existence until the second century. If one took the Bible and read it without any outside interference, one would certainly walk away believing that Jesus was born of a virgin but that His mother and Joseph had relations after His birth, relations which produced 4 brothers and an unspecified number of sisters. It is logically irrefutable that Jesus had half brothers and sisters born to Mary and Joseph. Only by making wild assumptions of silly suppositions can the case be made that the brothers of Jesus were step brothers or cousins.
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