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How can we prove that the verses below do not prove that Mary had other Children ?

Objections to Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Brothers   -  Matthew 13:55  and  Mark 6:3 
Until         -  Mat. 1:25 
Firstborn   -  Luke 2:7 
Before      -  Mat. 1:18 

Brothers ?

Matthew 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?”

Mark 6:3
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon”


Jesus is said to have had brothers.  The Greek word for  “brothers”  is  “adelphos”  and it is a compound word.   A  =  “same”  and  delph =  “womb.”   So, some Protestants argue that these  “brothers”   of Jesus must be from the same womb as Himself and thus children of Mary, His mother.  However, this is an etymological fallacy.  

The derivation of a word, its etymology, will give you the history of a word, but it does not necessarily give you the correct definition of that word at the time it was used. 

Since the Greek writers had a word for cousin why did they not just use that word to decribe Jesus' close relatives?

Not all of the relatives of Jesus called brothers, Greek Adelphos, were first cousins so that word did not fit for the group to which was being referred.

In the Hebrew language there is no word for cousin or nephew.  This close family culture referred to them all as brothers.  The Old Testament was translated into Greek around 100 B.C. in what is called the Septuagint. 

The New Testament writers used this Septuagint , a Greek Translation of OT. , when quoting the Old Testament.    Out of the 350 total quotes of OT, the Septuagint was used .300 times.

The New Testament writes followed the pattern of the Septuagint where “adelphos” is used for all close relatives, first cousins and other relatives as well.

The translators used the Greek word “adelphos,” or a derivative of that, to describe any of these close family relations.  The New Testament writers used this same pattern to describe Jesus’ close family relations even when they were not Mary’s children. 

We can see this pattern carried over in some modern translations. For example, we see this pattern in the description of Abram and Lots’ relationship which was really uncle and nephew.

Abraham and Lot are called brothers.

Genesis 14:14-16
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, … and pursued them unto Hobah, … And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” KJV

And yet, the genealogy given early makes clear that Abraham is Lot's uncle.

Genesis 11:26-28  
“ ... Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

Another example is found in Chronicles below. Sisters are said to have married their brothers, yet the context makes clear that the husbands were actually cousins to the brides, not brothers as we define the word.

1 Chronicles 23:21-22
... The sons of Mahli; Eleazar, and Kish. And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters: and their brethren the sons of Kish took them.” KJV

In the New American Standard Bible it uses the word “brothers” in place of the word “brethren” in the above quotation. We can see that cousins are meant.


In order to get past the prejudice of to how to interpret the word “adelphos”  which is used in reference to Jesus, it is beneficial to consider other Bible passages that also use that word, but in a different context.


Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon

4539 Salome ...
1)     the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the apostle James the elder and John.


Discovering the identity of Jesus’ brothers will be aided by examining who is His Mother’s sister.  The phrase “his mother’s sister,”  in Jn 19.25  [below],  is a reference to the mother of the sons of Zebedee , a.k.a. Salome.  Perhaps it was Salome’s close relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary that emboldened Salome to make the seemingly presumptuous request of Jesus that her sons sit at his right and left. (Matthew 20:20-21. Saint Salome, please pray for us.)  The identification of “his mother’s sister,”  as Salome is also evident when we compare  Matthew 27:56,  Mark 15:40,  and  John 19:25 [see quotes below.]  These passages show a consistency whereby each of these three Gospels lists all three of the women at the cross besides the Blessed Virgin Mary

[ It would have been self evident that a loving, Jewish and presumably widowed mother of an only child would have been at the cross. Stating that the  Blessed Virgin Mary was there would have been practically redundant. Therefore, there was no need for Matthew or Luke to do so.  While, John does go out his way to state that she was there, this seems to be in order to draw his readers into the realization of Mary’s role as the New Eve.  See   MARY the “WOMAN”  ] 

Those other three women at the cross are
1. Mary Magdalene,
2. the “other Mary” who was the wife of Clopas and the mother of James and Joseph (or Joses), and
3Salome who was Zebedee's wife and who is described as Mary’s sister.

However, we know that Mary and Salome were cousins (see family tree below)  so this is an example of  “adelphos”   (actually, the feminine version of the word in this case),  being used with a wider definition than just children from the same womb.


Matthew 27:56
“ …among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Mark 15:40
“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome ...”

John 19:25
“So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

St. Papias,
Bishop of Hierapolis and Apostolic Father, called by St. Irenæus “a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp , a man of old time” states the following:

“(1.) Mary the mother of the Lord; (2.) Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphæus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph; (3.) Mary Salome, wife of Zebedee, mother of John the evangelist and James; (4.) Mary Magdalene. These four are found in the Gospel.”   Fragment X


Early church writers record that Salome, Zebedee’s wife, was actually the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. See quotation below chart. 

The fact that they are called “sisters” in the Bible verse above shows that the word  “sister”  had a less restricted meaning and included close relatives. (The Greek word used in the Bible is the feminine version of “adelphos.”)




“There were three sisters of Bethlehem, daughters of Matthan the priest, and Mary his wife, under the reign of Cleopatra and Sosipatrus, before the reign of Herod, the son of Antipater: the eldest was Mary, the second was Sobe, the youngest’s name was Anne. The eldest being married in Bethlehem, had for daughter Salome the midwife; Sobe the second likewise married in Bethlehem, and was the mother of Elizabeth; last of all the third married in Galilee, and brought forth Mary the mother of Christ.”
(Nicephorus Callistus [Historia ecclesiastica, 2.3.   PG 145.760, A translation from Charles Wheatly, A Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, 1794, p. 63.]  Also see Hippolytus of Thebes, [Migne's Patrologia Graeca PG 117,]  Andrew of Crete, Epiphanius Monachus, and Andronicus)



Here is another example.  We know that King Herod (Antipas the Tetrarch) and Philip are called brothers (Greek: adelphos)  in Mark 6.17.  Yet, we know that they are not from the same womb [as the derivation of that word might suggest.]   Their father King Herod the Great had many wives and these brothers “adelphos” were born of different mothers.

(See  DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE  by John L. McKenzie,S.J., page 355 for a more detailed chart of Herod's family. Note:  Philip , the first husband of Herodias, is sometimes called
Herod II, or even Herod Philip I, but he should not be confused with Herod Philip II, the Tetrarch.)



James, The Brother of the Lord

 Galatians 1:19
“But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.”

There are two Apostles named James. However, it is clear that neither one of the Apostles named James is the son of Joseph and Mary. They are stated to be the “son of Zebedee” and the “son of Alphaeus” in the lists of the Apostles.   See Mark 3:14-19, and Matthew 10:2-4.

 Mark 3:14-19
“He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) … Simon, …  James, son of Zebedee, and … James the son of Alphaeus …”

When we compare these texts with John 19:25  we can deduce that Clopas and Alphaeus must be the same person.   This can be easily explained, as Karl Keating points out, because the Aramaic name Alphaeus can be rendered in the Greek as either Alphaeus or as Clopas. Or Alphaeus could have taken a Greek name similar to his Jewish name the same way as Saul took the Greek name Paul.

In the second century church historian Hegesippus explained that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, Mary’s husband.  Therefore, by marriage, Clopas’s sons and Jesus were close relatives, and hence they were called brothers in close knit familial society of the Hebrews.

Another example is, Plato (429 -347 BC) in his LAWS  XI  924 E for his model state:  “That brother  [adelphos]  who is born of the same father or of the same mother …”     Therefore, the word  “adelphos”  cannot necessarily mean from the same womb.   Plato also uses the same word to mean  “kindred, or relatives.”

Therefore, the reference to the brothers and sisters (ADELPHOS) of Jesus does not mean that Mary had other children.


Also see the following objections answered: 
Mat. 1:25  Until,  
Luke 2:7   Firstborn

Mat. 1:18  Before

Luke Chapter One implies that Mary had taken a vow of virginity.

Mary's   Perpetual   Virginity   Was   Implied

Protestant Reformers Affirm Mary's Perpetual Virginity



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