Was Mary A Perpetual Virgin?

Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox teach in the doctrine of Perpetual Virginity of Mary that Mary remained a virgin all her life. The Bible does not support this idea. 

No where does the Bible state that Jesus was the only son of Mary, but it DOES say Jesus was GOD’s only Son in John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Notice that Scripture says Joseph had no sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus. This says Joseph and Mary had no sex up to the point of when Jesus was born. She was a virgin when Jesus was born, but the word ‘until’ implies afterwards Joseph had sex with her. 

Matthew 1:24-25

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her UNTIL she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Also, she had other children later – at least James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, as well as at least two sisters.

Matthew 13:55-56

55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things? 

Mark 6:3

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The word translated as ‘brother’ is adelphos, and ‘sister’ is adelphe. Although these words can mean cousins or kinsmen, the actual meanings of the words indicate brothers and sisters of the same mother. It is interesting to note that every place where adelphos is used in the Gospels in relation to a named person, it speaks of people as actual brothers. 

If they were cousins, why would they show up with her so often?

Mark 3:31-32

 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

Luke 8:19-20

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

John 2:12

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Acts 1:14

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

1 Corinthians 9:5

5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

Also, when one uses the term ‘firstborn’, this implies there are other children born afterwards.

Luke 2:6-7

6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Then we have the extra-biblical evidence. Josephus wrote in “Antiquities of the Jews Book XX”, “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned” (http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-20.htm). Now as to whether Josephus was lying or not, we have the archeological find of the James Ossuary. An ossuary is a box used to house the bones of someone after the flesh, muscles, and organs had decayed. It was dated to 1st century AD, before 70AD. This particular ossuary had the inscription, “James the son of Joseph the brother of Jesus.” In all fairness, it is slightly possible this is not of James the Just, brother of Jesus of Nazareth, but all signs point to it indeed being the bone box of the brother of Jesus Christ (http://biblicalstudies.info/James/james.htm). Conservative estimates say there is the possibility of up to 3 people in Jerusalem at the time who matched the description of “”. Others say there is no question this box held the bones of the brother of Jesus of Nazareth (http://www.biblenetworknews.com/northamerica/112302_canada.html).

Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus and when she delivered Him, but she was not one afterwards; she had sex and gave birth to other children. To believe otherwise is to add to the Bible and change the meaning of words that are in the Bible showing otherwise.


4 Responses

  1. I am new to the Orthodox church. I do not claim to be any kind of an authority, but I have been told by the church that Mary did not have other children, and that brothers and sisters was a term used to include even cousins. Or step-brothers and sisters. Furthermore, I listened to a teaching on Ancient Faith Radio, that explained that the word “until” in the original text did not imply that she had sex on a future date only in the weak translation did it appear to imply she had other children.

    One proof of this they claim is that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, turned to the the disciple and presented Mary to him as his mother, this was huge. Any of her other sons would have been insulted by this.
    Just food for thought. You might want to research a little further.

  2. bmcelroy,

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment. I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, so am familiar with what that particular church has to say on the matter. I have read what the Greek Orthodox Church has to say on the matter as well. In fact, I have read the Greek, looked at Greek Lexicons, done the research.

    As I wrote above, the lexicons mentions adelphos, and adelphe could be used for cousin or kinsman (or kinswoman in the case of adelphe) – however the actual meaning is brother or sister, particularly when used in conjunction with a person’s name, as in the Gospels.

    There is a difference between saying ‘he had no union with her’ and ‘he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son’, as was used in reference to Mary not having sex with Joseph until Jesus was born. Of course, it is slightly possible that Joseph never had sex with Mary. ‘Until’ COULD mean only that he had no sex with her to that point, with no implication of having had sex later. But the implication is that after she gave birth, he had sex with her. Otherwise, Mary not having sex with Joseph would go against one of the reasons for marriage – to prevent sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2). It is also against what God said men and woman as husband and wife are supposed to do, to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:7). If Mary was a God fearing woman (and we have EVERY reason to believe she was), then she would have fulfilled her marital duties to her husband.

    There is a difference between ‘one and only’, as was used in reference to Jesus being the One and Only Son of God, and ‘firstborn’, as was used in rerference to Jesus being Mary’s firstborn. Why name Jesus as firstborn? Because there were more born later.

    Additionally, notice when Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for the census. In Luke 2, that there was no mention of children other than Mary giving birth to her firstborn. In Matthew 2:13-18, when Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt with Jesus, no mention was made of other children. The same is true in Matthew 2:19-23, when Joseph was told to go to Nazareth. In both cases, Joseph took the child and his mother Mary – no mention was made of other children. If they had been step-siblings they would have been children of Joseph from an earlier marriage. So they would have also had to go to Bethlehem at the time of the census. Yet there was no mention of them going there, nor when Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt or to Nazareth.

    If they were cousins, the authors would have most likely used the actual word for cousin, Anepsios (which has no other meaning), as used in Colossians 4:10 to speak of Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. And it is unlikely they would have been with Mary so often if they had only been cousins.

    As for Jesus giving responsibility for Mary to John, this shows His great love and trust for the disciple (as a brother) and the disciple’s faith (he was there at the end) and his brothers’ lack of faith (they were not there at the end). Perhaps if his brothers HAD been there, Jesus would have given the responsibility to them.

    No, the people mentioned as Jesus’ brothers and sisters were younger siblings of Jesus – not cousins or step-siblings. And the Greek supports it.

  3. It seems you have not the revelation of the Event & Words of Jesus at the wedding in Cana.

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