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If Jesus was the “first-born”, wouldn’t there be siblings?

There are two Greek words which are pertinent to this discussion: monogenes (only-born or only-begotten) and prototokos (first-born).

Those who reject the perpetual virginity of Mary point to the fact that the New Testament writers do not use “monogenes” to describe the relationship between Mary and Jesus and that “prototokos” is often used [Birch, 1960:59].

Jesus is called the first-born son of Mary (Luke 2:7). This being the case, does that not imply at least one other child if not more? Not really. The term “first-born” referred to the one who opened the womb (Ex 13:2; Num 3:12). It was the first-born who was to be redeemed (Ex 34:20). An only child would still be the first-born by virtue of the fact that he was still the one to open the womb.Celibacy Was Uncommon

It might be protested that it was not common for a woman, especially a married woman to live celibately. We must keep in mind, however, that the Holy Family was not a typical family. After all, is it not unusual to have as a family member, the Son of God. While this, in itself, does not prove anything, it does prevent us from using, as an excuse, the normal practices of the day.

While it is true that celibacy was not a common practice in New Testament times, it was not unheard of. The Essenes, of Dead Sea Scroll fame, practiced celibacy and it is recorded that the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) remained unmarried after the death of her husband at an age when most other women would have remarried.

The Protoevangelium of James records some miraculous circumstances surrounding the childhood of Mary which led to her vow of virginity. No attempt is made to make it appear that what Mary did was common. It is, however, the most reasonable explanation for Mary’s response at the Annunciation.How Can an Unconsummated Marriage Be a True Marriage?

Under Catholic Canon Law, an unconsummated marriage can be annulled. The marriage partners are expected to make themselves available sexually to each other. If Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage, was it a valid marriage?

Sacramental marriage, as the Catholic Church currently celebrates it, was established by Jesus. This occurred when Jesus raised the level of the Jewish practice at the wedding in Cana (John 2). From this point on, marriage would be a sign of His presence and a mirror of His love for His bride, the Church (CCC 1613). Therefore Mary and Joseph were not married in this manner and Canon Law, as it exists now, was not binding upon them.

© 2017 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.


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Written by Gary J Sibio