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So Who Are My Mother and My Brothers? Part II

The oldest Pentecostal educational institution that I am aware of is the Holmes Bible College in Greenville, SC.  For many years Dr. Paul F. Beacham was its President, impacting the lives of many of his students.  In his 1950 book Questions and Answers on the Scriptures and Related Subjects (published by the Pentecostal Holiness Church publishing house), he makes a very interesting statement, which I will cite in its entirety:

Q. Did Jesus have any brothers and sisters?

From my study of the matter in question, it is my opinion that Jesus did not have any half brothers and sisters in the flesh.  I know there are people who feel that they have good reason not to accept the idea that I hold, but I feel that while it does not eliminate all questions, there is more support for this than any other view of it.  Without enlarging too much upon the subject, I mention two reasons for holding to the view I have expressed.  First, if the four men and sisters were the children of Mary, this would mean that at least six children were born after Christ, and were grown up sufficiently to be generally known when Jesus was about thirty-one years of age.  This, of course, might have been possible, but I hardly think it is probable.  Second, it hardly seems reasonable that when Jesus was crucified He would have committed His mother to the care of John if there had been several of her own children who could have cared for her.  Since the question is debatable, it is fortunate that no one’s salvation depends upon it, but I have given my opinion.  The persons mentioned as brothers, could have been children of Joseph by a former marriage, but I rather think they were cousins with whom Jesus grew up.  Lot was the nephew of Abraham, but he is called his brother, which was not out of harmony with their manner of expressing relationship (Gen. 13:8, 14:14).

 It is interesting to compare this to Jerome:

You say that the mother of the Lord was present at the cross, you say that she was entrusted to the disciple John on account of her widowhood and solitary condition: as if upon your own showing, she had not four sons, and numerous daughters, with whose solace she might comfort herself? You also apply to her the name of widow which is not found in Scripture. And although you quote all instances in the Gospels, the words of John alone displease you. You say in passing that she was present at the cross, that you may not appear to have omitted it on purpose, and yet not a word about the women who were with her. I could pardon you if you were ignorant, but I see you have a reason for your silence… In Genesis (Genesis 13:8, 11) we read, And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herdmen and your herdmen; for we are brethren. And again, So Lot chose him all the plain ofJordan, and Lot journeyed east: and they separated each from his brother. Certainly Lot was not Abraham’s brother, but the son of Abraham’s brother Aram. ForTerah begot Abraham and Nahor and Aram: and Aram begot Lot. Again we read, (Genesis 12:4And Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out ofHaran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son. But if you still doubt whether a nephew can be called a son, let me give you an instance. (Genesis 14:14) And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen. And after describing the night attack and the slaughter, he adds, And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot(Against Helvidius, 15, 16)

Obviously Beacham is not arguing for Mary’s perpetual virginity.  But a necessary prerequisite for that idea is that Our Lord be only-begotten in both of his natures.   It is the rare Protestant who will assert that Jesus’ brothers, so designated in the New Testament, are not in fact the sons of Joseph and Mary.

My “Part I” of this discussion is here.


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