In 2014, a new book referred to as the lost gospel emerged. The book quickly made headlines due to its radical claim that Jesus Christ had children. This notion elicited sharp reactions and heated debates in Christianity with most vehemently denying the assertion while some were open to the idea of a “lost gospel” that had only been recently retrieved from an ancient manuscript.
Whichever side of the divide you may be, there is no denying that this question has far-reaching implications for the Christian faith. For starters, the idea that Jesus might have children raises many theological questions that may not have easy answers. As such, it is best to know the answer to the question for certain.
So Did Jesus Actually Have Children?
No, Jesus did not have a spouse or children. We know this because there isn’t a single Biblical reference to his spouse or children even though the Bible talks about his family (father, mother, and siblings). Also, the supposed historical documents that are quoted to say Jesus had children are not considered authoritative by scholars.
The Historical Context
When investigating the question of whether or not Jesus had children, it is a good idea to step back into history and examine the environment in which Jesus lived. We know from historical documents and oral tradition that Jesus the Nazarene lived in the 1st century CE in a region that is now referred to as the Middle East. He was born in the province of Judea at a time when the Roman Empire had spread throughout the region. Even though the cultures and belief systems of the Romans were stronger, they were nothing compared to the strong Jewish customs that had survived slavery and many attempts by other nations to change them.
In the days of Jesus, family life was mostly influenced by the customs of the Jewish people. The Jewish people valued marriage and considered it a sacred covenant, Not only did the Jews get married to answer God’s call to “multiply and fill the earth” but they also did it to preserve the Jewish identity. This is because intermarriages with the neighboring nations were highly discouraged in almost every Jewish home. The Jewish people practiced arranged marriages which entailed parents helping select the spouses of their children. This also added to the communal nature of marriage which was typically conducted in a public marriage ceremony that was held outside with the bride and groom standing under a canopy.
The public and communal nature of marriages is important because it was almost impossible for a Jewish person to be married in secret. The implication is that if Jesus was married and had children, then it wouldn’t be shrouded in secrecy as some scholars seem to suggest. It would be so public and pedestrian that the Bible would also include records of the same.
Does the Bible Mention Jesus’ Children?
The Bible, especially the gospels, gives a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. From his birth all the way to his death, we can easily reconstruct his life just from what we gather from the gospels. It is worth noting that there isn’t a single account in any of the books of the Bible that would allude to the idea of Jesus having children. And it is not because the Bible didn’t want to talk about the family of Jesus. In fact, we know who Jesus’ mother was (Mary), who his foster father was (Joseph) and we also know who his brothers were (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas) (Mathew 13:55). The Bible also mentions that Jesus had sisters (Mark 6:3). Clearly, the Bible didn’t shy away from revealing the family of Jesus and if he had a spouse and kid(s), we would also have some Biblical references to the fact.
Scholars have tried to analyze the Biblica texts to try and prove that Jesus had a spouse and children but they are left without anything concrete. There isn’t even a single scripture that can be used to infer the children of Jesus. For instance, while the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that Peter was married, there is a story about Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. Such a scripture could be interpreted to mean that Peter had a wife although that is just one of the possibilities. Since there aren’t any such scriptures that point to the nuclear family of Jesus, it would be ludicrous to say that he had children.
The idea that Jesus had a spouse and children would put the divinity of Jesus in jeopardy. The whole reason why Jesus the incarnate came on earth was to die on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind. For this sacrifice to be acceptable, Jesus had to present himself as a lamb without blemish. Apostle Peter testified that indeed, Jesus was presented on the cross as a lamb without blemish which qualified him as God’s aultimate sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18).
See, if Jesus had known a woman carnally, that would enjoin him to the sinful nature. This is because as the scripture teaches, you become “one” with the person you sleep with. For instance, if you sleep with a harlot, you become one with the harlot (1 Cor. 6:16). IN other words, Jesus would lose his divinity if he slept with a woman that would invalidate his sacrifice on the cross. Thankfully, that was not the case. Jesus not only kept himself sexually pure but also overcame any other kind of temptation to ensure he was pure in readiness for the cross. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, He was tempted in every way that we are but he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15)
In conclusion, the question of whether Jesus had children carries profound implications for the Christian faith and theology. Based on the historical context, biblical accounts, and theological considerations, the verdict is clear – Jesus did not have a spouse or children. While debates and speculations may continue, this exploration underscores the importance of critically analyzing historical and theological aspects of faith, contributing to a deeper understanding of the life and mission of Jesus Christ within the Christian tradition.