Was Mary A Perpetual Virgin?

Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin, that is, she never had sexual relations, even after Jesus was conceived. It claims that when the Bible refers to Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” (Matt 13:55-56), this actually means “cousins” or “close relatives.

Others opine that “brothers and sisters” here refer to children born to Joseph (by another wife), long before marrying Mary. But no where does the Bible teach this, the same way the Bible does not teach the perfect sinlessness of Mary.

Now, while it is true that the Greek words used for “brothers” (“adelphoi“) and “sisters” (“adelphai“) here (Matt 13:55-56) can refer to close relatives, kinsmen or blood-relations, this must be determined by the context.

In the case of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, the context clearly shows they were actually His half brothers and sisters (i.e. same mother, Jesus was conceived of the Spirit).

In the Greek New Testament, if the term “brothers and sisters” is used in the same sentence as “father” (patér) or “mother” (métér), then it does not mean cousins or distant relations. It refers to actual blood brothers and sisters, contextually (see Luke 14:26).

This is the case with Jesus’ brothers and sisters. In Matthew 13:55-56, when Jesus is rejected at His hometown (Nazareth), the people say, “Is this not THE CARPENTER’S SON (i.e. Joseph)? Is not His MOTHER called Mary? And His BROTHERS James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?” And His SISTERS, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So this (“brothers,” “sisters“) referred to His actual siblings.

The writers of the New Testament also make several references to the brothers of our Lord.

In Galatians 1:19, Paul speaks of “James, the Lord’s brother.” This same James became the pastor at the Jerusalem Church (Acts 15:13-22). He later wrote an Epistle (James 1:1).

Mark 3 speaks of an incident in which Jesus’ brothers and mother sought for Him.

Mark 3:31-32 (NKJV)

31 Then HIS BROTHERS and HIS MOTHER came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR BROTHERS are outside seeking You.”

John speaks of a time when “even His BROTHERS did not believe in Him” (John 7:5). Earlier in the same Book, John had spoken of “His mother, His BROTHERS, and His disciples” at Capernaum (John 2:12).

Luke likewise mentions that “Mary the mother of Jesus, and with HIS BROTHERS” were present in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). This implies that they (His brothers) later believed on Him, and joined His disciples.

Mary’s virgin status was necessary in Jesus’ conception, to fulfill the Scriptures (Isai 7:14, Matt 1:18-23). But she did not remain in this state after His birth. She had other children, and thus ceased being a virgin.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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