How Many Marys Are in the Bible (Who Were They

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/12/23 •  12 min read

In the Bible, there are several women named Mary who have significant roles. Let’s explore the identities of these Marys to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse roles and perspectives of women in biblical narratives.

One of the most well-known Marys is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Mary was a young virgin who was visited by the angel Gabriel. In the Gospel of Luke, it is written, ‘The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31). Mary’s obedience and faithfulness to God’s plan played a crucial role in the birth of Jesus, who would become the Savior of the world.

Another important Mary is Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned in all four Gospels and is known for her devotion to Jesus. In the Gospel of John, it is written, ‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance’ (John 20:1). Mary Magdalene was one of the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and she played a vital role in spreading the news of his resurrection to the disciples.

Mary, the Sister of Lazarus, is also mentioned in the Bible. In the Gospel of John, it is written, ‘So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’… When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:3, 32). Mary’s love for her brother Lazarus and her faith in Jesus were evident in this story, which ultimately led to Lazarus being raised from the dead.

Mary, the Wife of Clopas, is mentioned in the Gospel of John. She is described as being present at the crucifixion of Jesus. In John 19:25, it is written, ‘Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.’ Mary, the Wife of Clopas, stood by Jesus in his darkest hour, demonstrating her unwavering support and love for him.

Lastly, there is Mary, the Mother of James and Joseph. She is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, where it is written, ‘Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons’ (Matthew 27:56). Although not much is known about her, Mary, the Mother of James and Joseph, was present during Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

By examining the stories of these Marys, we can see the varied roles they played in the life of Jesus and the early Christian community. They were witnesses, disciples, supporters, and examples of faith. Their stories remind us of the important contributions of women in biblical narratives and inspire us to embrace the diverse perspectives and roles of women in our own lives.

Key Takeaways

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is a central figure in Christian theology and is revered by many as the mother of the Messiah. Her role in different Christian traditions reveals both similarities and variations in her significance, as depicted in the Holy Bible.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, Mary holds a unique and elevated position. She is seen as the Queen of Heaven and an intercessor for believers. This belief is supported by the words of Elizabeth, who exclaimed, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ (Luke 1:42). Mary’s special role as the mother of Jesus is emphasized in Catholic tradition.

In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Mary is venerated as the Theotokos, meaning the one who gave birth to God. This title is derived from the words of the angel Gabriel, who said to Mary, ‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus’ (Luke 1:31). The Orthodox Church recognizes Mary’s unique role in giving birth to the Son of God.

Protestant traditions, while acknowledging Mary’s important role as Jesus’ mother, place less emphasis on her compared to her son. They look to Jesus as the central focus of their faith. However, Mary’s faith and obedience to God are admired by Protestants. As Mary herself proclaimed, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38).

The significance of Mary’s virginity in Christian theology varies among traditions. Catholic and Orthodox believers affirm her perpetual virginity. This belief is supported by the words of Mary herself, who said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ (Luke 1:34). Protestants, on the other hand, interpret the biblical references to Jesus’ siblings as indicating that Mary had other children. This interpretation is based on verses such as Matthew 13:55-56, which mention Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

Mary Magdalene

One prominent figure in the Bible who has garnered significant attention is Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene holds a significant role in the life of Jesus and has great significance in early Christian history. According to the Gospels, Mary Magdalene was one of the followers of Jesus and is often referred to as a witness to his crucifixion and resurrection.

In Luke 8:2, it is mentioned that Mary Magdalene had been cured of seven demons by Jesus. This indicates that she had a troubled past but found redemption through her faith in Jesus. It is important to note that there is no biblical evidence to support the claim that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute.

The portrayal of Mary Magdalene in popular culture has created controversy surrounding her identity and relationship with Jesus. However, it is crucial to rely on historical and biblical sources to better understand her true role and significance. The Gospel of John, for example, describes Mary Magdalene as being the first person to witness the resurrected Jesus (John 20:11-18). This highlights her importance as a faithful follower and a witness to the miraculous events surrounding Jesus’ resurrection.

It is worth noting that the Bible does not explicitly mention a deeper, more intimate connection between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. While there may be speculation and interpretations regarding their relationship, it is important to rely on the biblical accounts to discern the truth.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about Mary, the sister of Lazarus, we explore another influential figure connected to Jesus. The story of Mary and Martha, found in Luke 10:38-42, provides insights into the relationship between Jesus and these two sisters. Mary is described as sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teachings, while Martha is busy with serving. When Martha complains to Jesus about Mary’s lack of help, Jesus responds, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:41-42).

This story emphasizes the importance of prioritizing spiritual matters and seeking wisdom from Jesus. Mary’s act of sitting at Jesus’ feet symbolizes her desire to learn and grow in her faith. It serves as a reminder for believers to focus on their relationship with Jesus and prioritize spiritual nourishment.

Mary, the Sister of Lazarus

The story of Mary and Martha, found in Luke 10:38-42, provides insights into the relationship between Jesus and these two sisters. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, has a special connection with Jesus, as seen in various biblical narratives. One particular account that highlights Mary’s faith and devotion is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11.

Mary’s relationship with Jesus is characterized by her deep devotion and eagerness to learn from him. In Luke 10:39, it is mentioned that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to his teachings. This position of sitting at the feet of a teacher was reserved for disciples, highlighting Mary’s desire to learn and follow Jesus closely.

Jesus recognizes and appreciates Mary’s heart for worship and her choice to prioritize spiritual matters over worldly concerns. In Luke 10:42, Jesus commends Mary, saying, ‘Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ This affirmation from Jesus reinforces Mary’s decision to focus on her relationship with him and her dedication to spiritual growth.

The resurrection of Lazarus holds great significance for Mary’s faith. In John 11, we see Mary’s deep anguish at the death of her brother Lazarus. When Jesus arrives, Mary expresses her belief that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died (John 11:32). This statement reveals Mary’s faith in Jesus’ power and her understanding of his divine nature.

When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Mary’s faith is strengthened even further. In John 11:40, Jesus says to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ This statement reminds Mary of Jesus’ previous teachings and reinforces her faith in him as the Messiah and the giver of life.

The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection not only impacts Mary’s faith but also serves as a powerful testimony to others. In John 11:45, it is mentioned that many Jews who had seen what Jesus did believed in him. Mary’s experience of witnessing Jesus’ power to raise the dead becomes a catalyst for the faith of others.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about ‘Mary, the wife of Clopas,’ let us now turn our attention to another Mary mentioned in the Bible.

Mary, the Wife of Clopas

Clopas, the husband of Mary, is briefly mentioned in the Bible as being present at the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:25). Mary, the wife of Clopas, holds a significant role in the Bible, particularly in relation to Jesus’ family. Although details about her life are limited, it is believed that she was a close relative of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

One of the most significant moments involving Mary, the wife of Clopas, is her presence at the crucifixion of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, it is mentioned that she stood near the cross with Jesus’ mother (John 19:25). This shows her deep devotion to Jesus and her willingness to stand by him in his time of suffering.

Mary, the wife of Clopas, exemplifies the strength and faith of a woman who remained steadfast in her love for Jesus, even in the face of immense pain and sorrow. Her presence at the cross serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of loyalty and unwavering support for those we love.

Additionally, we can also explore the role of another Mary in Jesus’ family, namely Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. This Mary is mentioned in various parts of the New Testament, including Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40. She too played a significant role in Jesus’ life, being present during his crucifixion and burial.

The presence of multiple Marys in Jesus’ family highlights the strong bond and support system that surrounded him during his earthly ministry. It also emphasizes the importance of family and the unity that can be found in times of hardship.

Mary, the Mother of James and Joseph

Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, is a figure of great significance in the New Testament. She played a crucial role in the life of Jesus, from his birth to his crucifixion and burial. Mary’s unwavering faith and devotion to God serve as an example for all believers.

As a mother, Mary provided unconditional love, care, and guidance to her sons. She nurtured their spiritual development and taught them about their faith. Mary’s presence and support were instrumental in shaping the character of James and Joseph.

In the Gospel of Luke, we see Mary’s faith in action when she receives the news from the angel Gabriel that she will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s response to this miraculous announcement is a testament to her deep trust in God. She says, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38). Mary’s willingness to embrace God’s plan for her life is truly inspiring.

During Jesus’ ministry, Mary continued to support her sons. She followed Jesus in his travels and was present at significant moments, including the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle. When the wine ran out, Mary turned to Jesus and said, ‘They have no wine’ (John 2:3). Her implicit trust in Jesus’ power led to the miraculous turning of water into wine.

Mary’s witness of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial was a harrowing experience. She stood at the foot of the cross, watching her beloved son suffer and die for the sins of humanity. In that moment, Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of his beloved disciple, John, saying, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ (John 19:26). This poignant scene illustrates the deep bond between Mary and Jesus, even in the midst of his suffering.

After Jesus’ resurrection, Mary’s faith was rewarded as she witnessed the fulfillment of God’s promises. She was present with the disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended upon them on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Mary’s steadfast faith and unwavering devotion paved the way for the early Christian movement.

Mary, as the mother of James and Joseph, exemplifies the profound impact a mother can have on shaping the lives and character of her children. Her love, faith, and support continue to inspire believers today. As we reflect on Mary’s role in the biblical narrative, let us strive to emulate her unwavering faith and devotion to God.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.