Morgan Books

The Lord's Brothers


By Amos Morgan



The Lord's Brothers
Copyright © 2018 By Amos Morgan
Do not duplicate without permission


The Lord's Brothers

In telling a little of his own history from the book of Galatians in chapter 1:18-19, the Apostle Paul said "I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." I would love to have asked Paul a little more about that statement. Who was James the Lord's brother? James was an ordinary New Testament name; there was James the brother of John, James the son of Alphauus, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and perhaps others also who were named James, so it is often necessary to ask which James do you mean? But there seems to be one James who needed no introduction; his name bears the New Testament book which we believed to have been written by him; the book of James.

It seems that it was on the first year of "Christmas-on-the-Campgrounds" I was deeply impressed by one of the living displays; a grandmotherly lady in a bonnet was relating to her grandchildren how that her first-born son was the Savior of the world. Somehow I was startled that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also a grandmother. I had never thought of it that way. In fact I somehow had refused to think of it in that way; did Mary have other children, did Jesus have a brother? I knew the Apostle Paul had spoken of James the Lord's brother but I had crowded it from my mind. Now I could no longer do so.

Could the Lord's brothers be older children of Joseph, perhaps by a previous marriage? I checked John 2:12 and found that "After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days." Notice the time-line here; if Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his ministry wouldn't have Joseph's older children have been about thirty-five to forty-five or fifty years old if such children existed? Wouldn't their children have their own homes in and around Nazareth? Why would they have left their homes to go to Capernaum and live with Mary? Did someone forget to do their math?

Another indication of their dependency status is illustrated in a story told by Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

  • Matthew 12:46-50 "While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
  • Mark 3:31 "There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother."
  • Luke 8:19-21 "Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it."

This story also shows the dependency status of the four brothers and their sisters. The notion that the brethren of the Lord were somehow older children of Joseph, perhaps by a previous marriage is contradictory.

And finally John tells of Jesus' brothers going to the temple and asking Jesus why, if he were the Christ, did not show himself to the world. This conversation would never have occurred if the brothers had not maintained their dependency status, see John 7:2-10. Jesus was obviously the head of the household.

Some have speculated that the 'brethren of the Lord' may actually have been his cousins since they were younger than he. Could that be so? I made a list of people who were acquainted with him and referred to him as brothers and another list of those who may not known of him personally and referred to him in some other way in the scripture.

Person(s) Relationship to Jesus Scripture
The Apostle Paul James the Lord's brother Galatians 1:19
Matthew his brethren Matthew 12:46
Mark his brethren Mark 3:31
Luke his brethren Luke 8:19
John his brethren John 2:12
Neighbors in Nazareth Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? Mark 6:3
New neighbors in Capernaum they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. Mark 3:31
(No other listing could be found for anyone knowing Jesus by any other designation than brother, or brethren.)

The virgin birth of Jesus is rock-solid theology. Mathew 1:24-25 "Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." It is very clear that Jesus was her firstborn son and that he was conceived by the Holy Ghost before they came together but why cannot the children of Joseph and Mary be the children born to them after the virgin birth of Christ? Would they not then have been the Lord's brethren? Isn't that what the scripture says?

Here is an interesting note; on the day of Pentecost when tongues of fire sat upon each one of them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost did you notice who was present among them? Why of course, the Lord's brethren. You see when it says the Lord's brothers did not believe on him that doesn't mean they were sinners; it just meant that before his crucifixion they couldn't wrap their minds around the fact he was the Christ, see Acts 1:14. And also 1 Cor. 15:7 tells us that Jesus was seen of James (after his resurrection) so they were given the assurance of his deity.

Back in the beginning of our narrative Paul told us that he had seen the Lord's brother, James. Paul also told us of another very interesting encounter with James years later. It was after Paul and Barnabas had returned from one of their missionary journeys and there was some disputation whether it was necessary for the Gentiles to obey the same ceremonial laws the Jews. Read Acts 15:1-29 at your leisure for the whole story but here is a synopsis: there was a lot of discussions then Peter told of his trip to Cornelius house and told them that God had purified the hearts of the believers by faith so we shouldn't burden them with the Law which we ourselves (Jews) could not bear. James listened then said, "My sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God". He then outlined rules to be followed by Gentile believers and had them send letters and also give them verbal instructions. James' authority, his wisdom, and his standing with the other apostles show a high regard for him. Certainly we cannot imagine anyone filling his shoes who was still dependent upon their parents after they were more than thirty years old!



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