Was Jesus Married? Did Jesus have a wife and children? Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?
The question that we are concerned with is, “Was Jesus Married?” Related questions are, “Did Jesus have a wife“, “Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?” and “Did Jesus have children?” These questions have become popular in recent years. Therefore, we will explore if there is any truth to these claims.
Books That Claim Jesus Had A Wife
Many defamatory statements were made about Jesus during His lifetime. He was called a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19). In other words, He associated with unacceptable people. The Pharisees accused Him of using Satanic or demonic power to cast out demons (Matthew 12:24). That was an illogical accusation – demons working against themselves. They accused Jesus of lying when He said that He was the Son of God (John 10:33). The Pharisees refused to believe that He performed miracles (John 9:1-41). Eventually, the Pharisees ordered Jesus arrested and brought Him to the Sanhedrin Council for trial. Why? Mark 15:10 says that the Pharisees were jealous of Him, and John 11:48 says that they were afraid of loosing their political power. They slandered Christ because they had a motive.
Consequently, the Jewish leaders also falsely accused Jesus of blasphemy and plotted His death. The gospels reveal that Pontius Pilate believed Jesus was a righteous man. He was innocent of the charges. The wife of Pontius Pilate warned her husband to not kill Him. The gospel of Matthew records her warning to her husband.
While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” Matthew 27:19 (NASB)
After Christ was hanging on the torturous cross, the Jewish religious leaders claimed that He was not the King of the Jews (John 19:19-22). After Christ died and later was resurrected, the religious leaders lied when they claimed He was not resurrected. They ordered the Roman soldiers to say that the disciples of Christ stole His body, even though Christ had told them numerous times that He would be raised three days later.
Since then the defamatory statements have continued. They are like a never ending waterfall. In recent history many articles have been written that claim new archaeological findings prove that Jesus was married. Typically, they claim that Mary Magadelene was Jesus’ mistress or wife and that Jesus had children. Their supposed proof is derived from the The Gospel of Philip and The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.
The Gospel of Philip (A.D. 150 and A.D. 350)
Critics who claim that the Gospel of Philip reveals that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus reveal their own lack of scholarship. First, the critics are either not aware or have ignored the fact that The Gospel of Philip is a Gnostic document. It is not inspired Scripture. Gnosticism was opposed to Christianity. In fact, the book of Colossians in the New Testament was written to refute the heretical pre-Gnostic teachings that did not become fully developed until the second century A.D. Gnosticism claimed that salvation was achieved by special knowledge (gnosis). Colossians 2:8 warns Christians to not be deceived by those who claim believers need special knowledge. This should be a major blow to their argument because the Gnostic writings are not Christian writings. They are opposed to Christianity. The Gospel of Philip is not part of the New Testament.
Critics refer to a statement in The Gospel of Philip that says Mary Magdalene was the companion of Jesus (Gospel of Philip 63:32-64:10). But companion does not mean wife. The following quote provides important information about the word “companion“,
Mr. Brown’s quote from the The Gospel of Philip is misleading and inaccurate. Here is the actual wording. Brackets and dashes “[–]” are included in the place of missing words from the original document.
The S[–] [–]ed [–]ry Mag[–]lene more than [–] the disciples, and kissed on her [–] often. (The Gospel of Philip. New Testament Apocrypha. James Clarke and Co. Westminster/John Knox Press. 55b, p. 194)
Mr. Brown’s quote does not look like the statement from the existing document. The word “companion” does not even appear. It is true that the word “companion” does occur in section 32 of The Gospel of Philip. But the word “companion” comes from the Greek word koinonia which means friendship and not wife.
In conclusion, The Gospel of Philip does not state that Jesus married Mary Magdalene or any other woman. Further, The Gospel of Philip was written one hundred to three hundred years after Christ. Therefore, the author would not have had any first hand personal information regarding any woman in Jesus’ life, whether a mistress or a wife. For more information read “Da Vinci Code — Attack On Christianity”.
The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (A.D. 60 and A.D. 140)
In 2016, critics of Jesus were thrilled when they believed an ancient document called The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was discovered. The title given to the document summarized what they believed it proved. The document supposedly revealed that Jesus was married. However, it was demonstrated that The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a forgery. That is, the document was created in the twentieth century. It is not ancient. That is the most important fact about this document. Yet, a few who reject Christ and seek to defame Him argue that the document is authentic. But the weight of evidence is that the document is a forgery. One of the strongest arguments that the document is a forgery is that the original advocate or promoter for the document was later forced to admit that it was a fraud. The document proved that deception about Jesus is still rampant in our times.
The Gospel of Mary (circa A.D. 150)
A fifth century papyrus called The Gospel of Mary has been used by critics in an attempt to prove that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene. The document was discovered in 1896 . It is written in Sahidic Coptic. Two lines in the “gospel” are quoted by critics. Here are the two quotes.
Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than all other women. Tell us the words of the Savior that you remember, the things which you know that we don’t because we haven’t heard them.”
Assuredly the Savior’s knowledge of her is completely reliable. That is why he loved her more than us.
Note that the first quote says, “Savior loved you more than all other women” and the second quote says, “he loved her more than us.” The critics claim that these two statements reveal Jesus engaged in sexual activity with Mary Magdalene. But The Gospel of Mary does not describe any romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. These two statements can just as easily refer to a friendship relationship.
The critics have a major problem since the author of the book would not have been alive at the time Jesus was living. That is, the author could not have seen Jesus or Mary. Further, the book was another Gnostic document, which immediately makes the document suspect as a trustworthy document regarding Jesus Christ. In summary, there are no reasons to conclude that The Gospel of Mary proves Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a romantic relationship and that Jesus engaged in sexual activity with her or that Jesus was married to her. The critics have demonstrated that they are willing to create fraud when it comes to Jesus Christ. Jesus said that the world hated Him (John 7:7).
The Lost Gospel (A.D. 2014)
The Lost Gospel was published in 2014 by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson. In the book the authors claim that the pseudepigraphal work called Joseph and Aseneth (British Library Manuscript Number 17,202) has a secret meaning which they decoded. James H. Charlesworth, author of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, dates this pseudepigraphal work as having been created in 2nd century B.C. to A.D. 2nd century.
The story of Joseph and Aseneth, a Syriac work, is supposedly about the man called Joseph from Genesis and Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera Priest of On (Genesis 41:45). Most of Joseph and Aseneth is a romance story and includes the marriage of the couple. A major portion of the story is about the conversion of Aseneth to Judaism. The books ends with an attempt to murder Joseph.
Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson claim that they discovered the hidden meaning coded into the book. Supposedly, the secret decoding reveals that Joseph and Aseneth is primarily a story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Additionally, they claim the secret decoding reveals that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married, had a vigorous sex life and had two children.
The authors claim that the secret decoding reveals that sex is sacred and this news is welcome since Christianity is sexless. In summary, the name of Jesus does not appear anywhere in the ancient manuscript which has twenty-nine chapters. There are no descriptions of sexual activity in the book, except for a statement that “Joseph went in to Aseneth, and Aseneth conceived.” Yet, the authors claim that the secret decoding proves Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a vigorous sex life.
The Lost Gospel is a fraud. No credible biblical scholar has recognized this 2014 creation as being authoritative. This book does not prove that Jesus had a wife. It does not prove that Jesus had children or that Jesus had sex with anyone. Once again, critics will ascribe almost anything to Christ to make some money, just as Judas did.
Was Jesus Married? — Evidence From The Bible
It is important to know the Bible never teaches that Jesus married. Yet, one could claim that silence does not mean He did not marry, even though such an argument is hardly convincing. A better argument would be a direct and straight forward statement that Jesus did marry and have children. Therefore, what follows are four reasons that help us understand He never had a wife or children.
1) Did Jesus Have Parents, Siblings and Friends?
The answer is, “Yes! The gospels reveal that Jesus had parents, siblings and friends!” For example, Jesus’ father, Joseph, and His mother, Mary, are mentioned in many places in the Bible (Matthew 1:16; Luke 1:27, 35; 2:41-52; John 2:3-4; 19:25; Acts 1:14). Jesus’ brothers and sisters are mentioned (Matthew 12:46-48; 13:55-56; John 7:1-6). Three friends of Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, are named (John 11:1). The disciples of Jesus are named multiple times (Matthew 10:1-4). Some of the women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples are named (Luke 8:2-3) and women who were with Jesus at the cross are mentioned (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25-26). But the gospels never refer to Jesus having a wife or children. If Jesus had a wife and children, why are they not mentioned when other relationships are identified? Finally, if Jesus had been married and had children, why are they not mentioned along with Mary in the Upper Room in Acts 1:12-14 when the disciples, the mother and brothers of Jesus, and others gathered for prayer? They are not there because Jesus was never married.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:12-14 (NASB)
2) Why Was The Supposed Wife of Jesus Missing At The Cross?
The wife of Jesus and His children were missing at the foot of the cross because Jesus did not have a wife and children. Matthew 27: 55-56; Mark 15:40 and John 19:25-27 tell us that many people, including the mother of Jesus, other women and the apostle John, stood at the foot of the cross while Jesus was crucified. Here is John 19:25-27.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. John 19:25-27 (NASB)
If Jesus was married, why was His wife missing? Further, if Jesus had been married and had children, why did He ask the apostle John to care only for His mother and not His wife and children?
3) Why Was Jesus Not Motivated To Marry?
It is important to understand that marriage and sexual activity was God’s idea and plan for mankind (Genesis 1:26-28). In the Song of Solomon, romance and marital sexual activity are exalted, especially in chapter 4. In 1 Timothy 4:3, the apostle Paul warns against those who forbid marriage, calling such teaching a doctrine of demons. Yet in 1 Corinthians 7:26-27, the apostle Paul encourages us to remain single, if we can, in order to devote ourselves to God (1 Corinthians 7:32). It is a personal choice.
I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:26-27 (NASB)
Is this the reason why Jesus never married? In Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus said that for the sake of the kingdom of God some are eunuchs in this life. That is, God has given them the gift of not needing to married.
4) Why did Jesus Not Marry?
Why did Jesus not marry? Here are some thoughts from the human perspective. First, the major theological issue is what kind of children would have been produced if our sinless, holy Savior had married a sinner? While we cannot answer that question, it is a serious question and we do not know the answer. Second, since we understand the holy, loving and compassionate character of Christ, why would He marry a woman and have children when He knew He would die at the age of thirty-three years? This would have left His wife and children without a husband and father. Additionally, since His ministry required excessive travel, He would have left His wife and children alone for many weeks and days. Third, His family would have to endure insults and persecution from the religious leaders. Fourth, if Jesus did marry and have children, they would have become famous among the early Christians and any sinful activity by the members of His would have reflected on Him. There are no reasons for Christ to have married. Most importantly, it was not God’s plan for Him to marry.
5) Why Is Jesus’ Marriage Not Used As An Example?
The New Testament is silent about any marriage of Jesus because He was never married. Jesus did not have a wife. If He had a wife, numerous passages in the New Testament would have referred to is as the prime example for couples to imitate. In Hebrews 13:7, believers are encouraged to imitate their leaders or elders. The apostle Paul urges believers to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). And surely, His marriage would have been given as an example in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16; Ephesians 5:22-31; Titus 2:3-8; and 1 Peter 3:1-7. But we cannot find any such teachings. Why? Because Jesus was never married.
Was Jesus Married? Did Jesus have a wife and children? The answer is no! Jesus did not have a family and did not have children. Neither the gospels nor the New Testament say anything about Jesus having a wife and children. The Gnostic writings which are anti-Christian cannot be trusted. The modern authors who write such books for the purpose of financial profit are simply guilty of defamatory publications. We have demonstrated their work lacks scholarship. Sadly, their publications deceive because individuals will not take the time to research and discover that they are false teachers and profiteers. Jesus was never married and their “documentary proof” is not proof. Jesus never had a wife and never engaged in sexual activity. Jude 14-15 has warned such “researchers” that God will judge them.
It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Jude 14-15 (NASB)
For a more in-depth study about The Lost Gospel visit “Review of The Lost Gospel by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson,” which was written by Tim Chaffey in January 22, 2015 and published by Answers In Genesis.org.
1. Merrill C. Tenny. New Testament Survey. Eerdmans Publishing. 1961. p. 75.
2. John Calahan. Da Vinci Code — Attack On Christianity.
3. Ariel Sabar. The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. July/August 2016.
5. Papyrus Berolinensis. Gospel of Mary of Magdala.
6. James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Doubleday. 1985. p. 187.
7. Nico Hines. Is ‘The Lost Gospel’ Book a Fraud? The Daily Beast. Jul. 12, 2017.
8. Joseph and Aseneth. James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Doubleday. 1985. pp. 202-247.
Suggested Links:Da Vinci Code — Attack On Christianity
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