Three things in the Bible lead some Protestants to believe that Mary was not ever-virgin: the reference to Jesus’ “brothers”, the use of the word “until” in Matthew 1:25, and the reference to Jesus as Mary’s “firstborn.” Let’s look at these one at a time.
The word “brother” or “brethren” is often used in Scripture for relationships other than that of those born of the same parents:
Lot - Abraham
nephew - uncle
Jacob - Laban
nephew - uncle
1 Chronicles 23:21-22
Children of Kish and Eleazar
2 Kings 10:13-14
42 “brethren” of King Azariah
Deuteronomy 23:7, Jeremiah 34:9
practitioners of the same religion
all who love Christ
members of the Church
Christ - His disciples
Savior - saved
1 Corinthians 15:6
500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ
This isn’t every reference to “brother(s)” or “brethren” in the Bible, but it’s enough to prove that the use of the words “brothers” or “brethren” doesn’t necessarily indicate “blood brothers” at all. This is true is because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic have words for “uncles,” “nephew,” “niece,” “step-brother,” “step-sister,” etc. All were referred to as “brother” and “sister,” which were translated into Greek as adelphos or adelphe.
Nonetheless, and despite Tradition, there are four people that some Protestants claim are the blood brothers of Jesus, an idea which comes from Mark 6:3 which says that Jesus is “the brother of James, and Joses, and of Jude and Simon.” But to find out who the real mother of these four are, look at the following:
Matthew 27: 55-56 tells us of three women at the Cross: “And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.”
Mark 15:40 tells us of the three women there, “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.”
John 19:25 is the most inclusive, telling us of four women’s presence, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” (Note here the reference to Mary’s “sister” who’s named Mary!)
Putting all these together, we can cross off Joses and James the Less as being Jesus’ blood brothers because their mother is the wife of Cleophas.
We can cross Simon off the list because Mark 3:18 tells us he is a Canaanite, “And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite...”
Jude, we are told in Jude 1:1, is the “servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.”
Crossing just one name off the list is enough to prove the point that the Hebrew word “brother” means many things (just as the word does in English today, my “brother or sister in Christ!”) and to prove that this is so even in the very particular context of Mark 6:3.
St. Papias, writing in the first and early second centuries and called by St. Irenaeus a “hearer of John,” refers clearly to all the above Marys in his letter, a fragment of which survives to this day. He writes:
Mary the mother of the Lord; Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph; Mary Salome, wife of Zebedee, mother of John the evangelist and James; Mary Magdalene. These four are found in the Gospel. James and Judas and Joseph were sons of an aunt of the Lord’s. James also and John were sons of another aunt of the Lord’s. Mary, mother of James the Less and Joseph, wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord, whom John names of Cleophas, either from her father or from the family of the clan, or for some other reason. Mary Salome is called Salome either from her husband or her village. Some affirm that she is the same as Mary of Cleophas, because she had two husbands. [read the complete letter fragment here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0125.htm. Will open in new browser window.]
In addition to this, Jesus could well have had step-brothers, as Church Tradition and early Church writings tell us that Joseph was an older man when Mary, a consecrated virgin, was betrothed to him so that he could act as her protector when she got to be of age enough to “defile the Temple” (though she could not, in fact defile the Temple). Please read the Protoevangelium of St. James, dated to ca A.D. 125, which, in chapter 9, clearly states that St. Joseph had other children from a former marriage. Though this document was rejected by the Church as being a part of infallible Scripture, it is very early evidence of the belief, held as possisble from the beginning of the Church, that Jesus had “brothers” because his earthly father, Joseph, had children when he married Mary, a consecrated virgin. Also see the apocryphal document, the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, yet another early source which proves that many of the earliest Christians believed in Mary’s consecrated virginity, that Joseph was an aged man when he married her, and that she was kept free from sin.
You’re Joseph. Your wife gave birth to God. Would you have sex with her?
Another note on this: when Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive a child, she says to him in Luke 1:34, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” We are told seven verses before that when this happened she was “a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph.” She was already engaged, knew she was to be married, is visited by an angel who tells her she will have a Son, and she acts bewildered, as though it’s an impossibility because she “knows not a man.” She’s not confused that she will bring forth a Son who “shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David”; she is confused that she will bring forth a son at all! She doesn’t “get it” because she knows she is a consecrated virgin and will not “know a man!” She is confused that she will have a son at all!
Yet another poser: why, in the name of all that’s Holy, would Jesus give Mary to John to care for if He had all these brothers and sisters around? John 19:26-27 reads, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
And finally, if Jesus had brothers and sisters, don’t you think their descendants would know it? At least in the first 300 years or so of the Church? Where were they? Did they speak of “Uncle Jesus” often? I’d think that if He had all of these brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews around, there’d have been some word of it.
So these ignorant humans had no way to identify between a distant relative and a blood brother, or sister...Somebody's pulling your chain...And you're falling for it...
And then you copy and paste miles of words by your experts that are supposed to appease the simpletons who are told and believe they themselves can not understand the scriptures ...
Luk 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
Mar 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
All were referred to as brother and sister, which were translated into Greek as adelphos or adelphe.
HaHaHa...Why isn't Mary's cousin Elizabeth referred to as Mary's sister???
You apparently have no clue why non relatives of Jesus were called brothers/ sisters and that not all relatives were called brothers/sisters...
You guys are so gullible...A little bible study with some belief in the pure words of God will clear up all of those fallacies and fantasies of your religion...