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Robert Jackson wrote:

Hi, guys —

The Bible says that Jesus was Mary's First Born. I believe the Church teaches this was her only child and I'm trying to explain this to someone that does not believe this.

  • Are there any examples that I can use to point out that this was a common phrase for that time?

Thank you for any help you can give me with this.


  { Are there any examples I can use to point out that the term 'first born' was a common phrase? }

Mike  replied:

Hi, Robert —

This is one of those questions we have already answered.

Try searching our knowledge base next time or checking our Frequently Asked Questions.

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that may help:


Robert replied:

Hi, Mike —

I guess I didn't word my question correctly. Jesus is referred to as Mary's First Born. I remember something about a woman dying during child birth. She had only the one child and this was referred to as her first born child, even though it was her only child. I don't recall where this was in the Bible and was hoping you could help.

Thanks again for any help you can provide.


Eric replied:

Robert —

This is not in the Bible. It's a historical inscription. You may be conflating this with Michel never having children until the day she died.

However, you can find plenty of places in the Law of Moses (Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus).

Do an online bible search for "first born" and firstborn, where this term is used as a legal term for the male who opens the womb.

Certain sacrifices had to be offered for the firstborn man and beast. One never waited until the second born to make these sacrifices or argued, if there was only one child, that they weren't necessary. That would be absurd. Even if you had only one male, he was, for legal and ritual purposes, the firstborn.


Robert replied:

Thanks Mike,

You came through for me with your answer. It's certainly clear and is a help to me. 

For your information, someone from my Church asked if I knew anyone that could provide reading material to one of their relatives that is in prison. I sent him some meditation books written by Mark Link, S. J. He wrote back he wanted a New American Bible, I sent one to him and learned the policy of the prison doesn't allow them to receive books. I now write him, giving him as much help as I can, and this was one of his questions to me. He found it hard to believe Mary did not have sexual relations with Joseph after the Birth of Jesus.

Anyway, I am trying to help him as much as I can. You and others at AskACatholic have been a really great help to me.

Thanks for all you do.

Bob Jackson

Mike replied:

Hi, Bob —

Thank-you for the kind words, but on this one, my colleague Eric deserves the credit.

I have a great volunteer group of lay Catholics that assist me in this work. Many times, I learn
a lot from their answers.

You are right. Prisons will not allow inmates to have books. The only way to get around this
is if you:

  • call the publisher
  • buy
    • the Bible
    • Catholic Catechism
    • book on the Early Church Fathers
    • or whatever for them and
  • ask them to send it directly to the prison at an address the inmate gives you.

They will allow this.

John's answer to this question will also help address your friend's concern:

Take care,


Eric replied:

Bob —

Check the prison policy.

Texas prisons, for example, do not allow individuals to send books, but if you send it directly from Amazon or another legitimate site, they will accept it.


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