Q. Was Jesus married?

A. Over the years, I have heard the claim that Jesus was married. One of the more fantastic claims is that people alive today are His descendents! But usually the claim is made that in Jewish society of the first century a man would be expected, practically required, to be married. But as the apostle Paul often asked, "What sayeth the scriptures?" (Romans 4:3; Gal. 4:30)

I have found no mention in the Bible that Jesus was married or had children. The issue is not specifically addressed in the Bible, probably because is was not raised during His earthly ministry. But when Jesus' authority was challenged, His family was brought up as an objection (see Matt. 13:55, 56; Mk. 6:3; Lk. 4:22). The popular idea of the Messiah or Christ was the He would come directly from Heaven (Jn. 6:42;7:27). That Jesus came from a regular family and was a Galilean was offensive to many (Jn. 1:45, 46), even a prospective disciple! But as the people of Nazareth raised their objections to Jesus as the Messiah, they mentioned only His mother and siblings. If Jesus had been married, I believe His critics would have brought up his wife and children instead. But these same passages may also explain why Jesus could remain unmarried in spite of social expectations.

There is no appearance of Joseph in the Gospel accounts after the visit to the temple when Jesus was twelve (Lk. 2:39-52). While the Bible does not say so, Joseph probably died, leaving Mary a widow with at least seven children. As the first born son, Jesus took over Joseph's job and responsibilities. To the people of Nazareth, Jesus was being the good son, taking care of his widowed mother and dependent siblings. Under such circumstances, He would not have been expected to marry because He already had a family to care for. Joseph was assumed to be the father of Jesus (Lk. 3:23) and his other sons to be Jesus' brothers (Acts 1:14; I Cor 9:5). There is no indication that Jesus ever married and prophecy says he had no children (Acts 8:32-33, cf. Isa. 53:7-8).

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William Michael Kelly
E-mail: kelly@kconline.com