There are numerous references to the brothers of Jesus. Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:31, and Acts1:14 are three of them. My question is, how many siblings did Jesus have? I know I have heard in past discussions some speculation, but is there specific knowledge of the number? Thank you for your response.
In Mark 6:3 we read: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him." According to this verse, Jesus should have had at least four brothers and more than one sister. In a parallel passage in Matthew (13:55), that author has Joseph instead of Joses. Most scholars think Juda(s) is the same as Jude and consider at least the possibility that Jesus' brother was the author of the book of Jude. James was the best known of Jesus' brothers. He was prominent in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; I Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19; 2:9, 12) and probably authored the book of James. Josephus and Eusebius (ancient historians) record the account of his violent death. We don't know anything about Simon or Joseph, or any of his sisters.
Some of the speculation about his siblings is derived from the belief promulgated by some traditions that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. They argue that the words "brothers and sisters" really refer to cousins or Joseph's children by a previous marriage. Neither Mark nor Matthew knows of this later controversy. Jesus' family is mentioned in the simple context of a factual statement. Jesus is simply an ordinary person, raised in an ordinary family, and not remarkable in any way. "And they took offense at him" means that the townspeople could not get past his hometown status and were unable to see him with any spiritual knowledge. In other passages, Jesus' own family is just as unenlightened. James (the brother of Jesus) was not the disciple named James. It is believed that none of Jesus' family understood or supported his mission to the world until after his resurrection.