When discussing the disciples of Jesus, one question that often arises is which of them were his brothers. The answer to this question is not straightforward, as there are different interpretations of the term “brother” in the Bible.
One interpretation is that Jesus had biological brothers, meaning siblings who shared the same parents as him. This view is based on several passages in the New Testament that refer to Jesus’ brothers by name.
For example, in Mark 6:3, Jesus is described as having four brothers: James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. In Matthew 13:55-56 and Galatians 1:19, these same brothers are mentioned along with their mother Mary.
However, some scholars argue that the term “brother” in these passages could also refer to close relatives or disciples of Jesus rather than literal siblings. This interpretation is based on the fact that in Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages spoken by Jesus and his followers), there was no specific word for “cousin” or “nephew,” so these relationships were often referred to as “brothers.” Additionally, some scholars point out that Mary’s perpetual virginity (the belief that she remained a virgin throughout her life) would make it unlikely that she had other children besides Jesus.
Regardless of whether or not Jesus had biological brothers, it’s clear from the Bible that he had a close relationship with several men who are referred to as his “brothers” or “brethren.” These men include James and John (the sons of Zebedee), Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother), and Philip.
James and John were among Jesus’ closest disciples and were present at many key moments in his ministry. In Mark 1:19-20, they are described as fishermen who left their nets to follow Jesus.
Later on, they ask him if they can sit at his right and left hand when he comes into his kingdom (Mark 10:35-37). Jesus responds by saying that they will indeed drink from the same cup that he does, referring to the suffering and persecution that they will face as his followers.
Andrew is also described as a fisherman who became a disciple of Jesus. In John 1:40-42, he is introduced to Jesus by his brother Simon Peter and becomes one of the first disciples. Andrew is often depicted in the Gospels as bringing others to Jesus, such as when he brings a boy with five loaves and two fish to feed the crowd (John 6:8-9).
Philip is another disciple who is mentioned in several key moments of Jesus’ ministry. In John 1:43-45, he is called by Jesus to be his disciple and then goes to find Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) and bring him to Jesus. Later on, when some Greeks want to see Jesus, they approach Philip and ask him for an introduction (John 12:20-22).
In conclusion, while there is debate over whether or not Jesus had biological brothers, it’s clear from the Bible that he had close relationships with several men who are referred to as his “brothers” or “brethren.” These men were key disciples in his ministry and played important roles in spreading the message of Christianity after his death and resurrection.