Was Jesus Married?


This question brings to light the difference between scholarship and theological doctrine. Most people reading this will quite certainly respond “No, Jesus was not married” - and if you assert this - you are asserting a theological belief, and not Biblical scholarship. There is no Biblical verse that states Jesus was married. There is also no Bible verse stating that Jesus was not married. The correct answer to the question therefore, is “We don’t know”.Interestingly, the Biblical evidence in favor of Jesus being married is, in my view, persuasive. Everyone remember the wedding in Cana? The location of Jesus’ first miracle? Turning water into wine? Let’s take a look again:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” John 2:1-11 (King James Version)

Now, let’s examine this simple story in a little more detail. The “Governor of the Feast” would be called today the “Master of Ceremonies”… (Strong’s calls him the “Director of the Entertainment”) and it’s clear from his words that he expected that it was the duty of the bridegroom to provide the wine. “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” Yet we know from the Bible that not only did Jesus provide it, but his mother expected him to! This seems pretty ironclad to me… guests don’t provide food & drink at a wedding… and as Mary seems to be involved with providing drink for the wedding party, one of Mary’s children must have been either the bride or bridegroom. With the added expectation of Mary that it was Jesus‘ duty to provide the wine, I find no problems understanding this to be Jesus’ own wedding.

Another interesting note is the amount of wine that was produced… Bamford’s Bible Dictionary specifies a “firkin” as 10 gallons. Vine’s Greek Dictionary puts it at 9 gallons. So Jesus produced somewhere between 108-180 gallons of wine! Keep in mind that this was an additional amount of wine for the wedding. As one person noted, this would be enough to get 750 people rip-roaring drunk, and considering that many would only drink toasts, there’s enough wine here for a wedding party of over 1,000 people! This wasn’t the small wedding that’s implied in the Bible!

Now, there are other indications in the Bible that Jesus was married, and even fairly good indication as to who his wife was. But it’s only implication - so there’s certainly no proof that Jesus was married. Here’s another tidbit:

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42

This seems like a fairly simple scene. Jesus is a guest in a home of two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha is doing what women have done since time immemorial when guests arrive - they rush to the kitchen and prepare food. (Where would us men be without women who cook for us?) And as Martha is busy with the food preparation, she notices that her own sister is just sitting around at Jesus’ feet. Yet rather than berate her sister directly, she approaches Jesus and tries to get Jesus to bid her sister to help her. This makes very little sense in an ordinary way, but if you presume that Jesus and Mary were married, it suddenly makes perfect sense. Martha acts as if her sister Mary is under Jesus’ control and authority, ie; his wife. But again, it’s only an implication, and falls far short of proving that Jesus was married.

If, however, you accept that Jesus was married, there are only two serious possibilities for his wife. They are: Mary Magdalene (who, I might note, is not referred to as a prostitute in the Bible), or Mary of Bethany. The Catholic Church regards these two women as the same person.

I post this as a reminder that theology and Biblical scholarship are two different things.  It can be interesting to see if what you believe is supported by explicit Biblical reference… or if it is derived from church doctrine.