Was Jesus an Only Child?

By pintswaquinas April 25, 2024

Catholics believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary always remained a virgin. She never had intimate relations with St. Joseph — Jesus being conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.

While many Protestants believe in Christ’s miraculous conception, they hold that Mary and Joseph had other children after our Lord was born.

But Scripture, the Church Fathers and even the early Protestant Reformers are against them.

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Here’s the evidence that Jesus was indeed Mary’s only child.

The “brothers” of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels are not his blood brothers.
In Matthew 13:55 we read, “Is not this [Jesus] the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”

Sure sounds like Jesus had siblings!

The first-century Jews used the word “brother” to mean more than blood brothers. It also meant “cousin” and, in some cases, “uncle.” The Hebrew and Aramaic languages don’t have a word for “cousin.”

Scripture confirms that James and Joseph are not Jesus’ blood relatives. In Matthew 27:56, they are identified as the sons of a different Mary than Our Lady.

The Church Fathers defended Mary’s perpetual virginity.
From The Protoevangelium of James (written c. A.D. 120) onwards, there is a clear consensus among early Christians that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth. The first record we have of someone challenging this universal belief is Tertullian (A.D. 160-240), but this was after he became a heretic. The Church Fathers roundly criticized him and later heretics for their doubts about the Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity.

The Reformers believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity.
Ulrich Zwingli was one of the most extreme early Protestants, yet his words on Mary’s perpetual virginity sound Catholic: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the Gospel as a pure Virgin, brought forth for us the Son of God, and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”

Martin Luther had this to say about our Lady: “Christ…was the only Son of Mary and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him.”

Even some later Protestants — such as Methodist founder John Wesley – believed in the ancient teaching, saying, “as well after as before she brought [Christ] forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin.”

Here’s a question for our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters: Why contradict the unanimous voice of Scripture, the early Church Fathers, and the early Protestants?


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