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Mark 3:31

ESV And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.
NIV Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
NASB Then His mother and His brothers *came, and while standing outside they sent word to Him, calling for Him.
CSB His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to him and called him.
NLT Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them.
KJV There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

What does Mark 3:31 mean?

Jesus' popularity is steadily growing. He alternates between taking His core group of disciples to secluded places for extra teaching (Mark 3:13), healing mobs of people (Mark 3:7–10), and arguing with Pharisees (Mark 3:1–6, 22–30). His mother, Mary, and His brothers have heard that something is going on and are worried (Mark 3:21).

It's unclear if Jesus' family is in Nazareth or Capernaum, but probably Nazareth. They would have heard about His actions much sooner had they been nearer. But as people come from all over Galilee and Judea to Capernaum to see Jesus, many would have travelled back through Nazareth, twenty miles away.

For some unknown reason, Joseph is out of the picture, but Mary still has four other sons and at least two daughters (Mark 6:3). Although Mary knows Jesus is the Messiah, she doesn't fully understand what that means. From the reports coming from Capernaum, she and her sons are worried. Some of the family seems to think that Jesus has lost His mind.

Before we judge these family members too harshly for this, it's important to remember how limited communication was in that era. Jesus is attracting a great deal of attention, but there is no way for the family to directly speak with Him, or to know exactly what is happening. The scribes were not the only ones who disliked Jesus' message, so it's easy to see how false gossip or exaggerated rumors could make their way to Mary and her children.

So, out of concern, Jesus' family has come to the house where He is teaching. Once again, however, the house is too crowded for anyone else to come in (see Mark 2:1–2). They are forced to remain outside, hoping someone will relay their message and Jesus will come out.

This verse presents some controversy, since the Catholic Church teaches that Mary remained a virgin her whole life. There is no evidence in the Bible that this is true, and there is no theological reason why it should be. The word translated "brothers" is from the Greek root word adelphos. It means a biological brother with at least one shared parent. In no way does it suggest that they were cousins or Joseph's children from an earlier marriage or a concubine. In fact, the context of these verses makes it clear that the persons in question are not "cultural" brothers, but actual family members.
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