In John 19:25, the Greek text states,

ΚΕʹ εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή TR, 1550

According to the Greek text, are there three or four women listed?


  1. «ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ»
  2. «ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ»
  3. «Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή»


  1. «ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ»
  2. «ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ»
  3. «Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ»
  4. «Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή»
  • Many commentaries also consider that it could be only two, but I don't think anyone actually takes that option.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 19, 2016 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


I would translate John 19:25 like this:

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For there to be four woman in the writer's list of those present near Jesus' cross, one would have to assume that the writer was not consistent in his use of καὶ. Since there is no evidence to support such an assumption, then the conclusion should be that there were only three women present.

  • Matthew's use of and in 10:3-4 seems consistent with a four women reading of John 19:25.
    – Lucian
    Aug 16, 2017 at 9:56
  • @Lucian It would be more of an issue if you had found an inconsistency in John. I will have a look at Matthew, but the logic is still valid as it stands in the context of John's writing.
    – enegue
    Aug 17, 2017 at 3:42
  • @Lucian Matthew gives his list of Apostles as pairs, with καὶ separating the individuals in each. John's use of καὶ in the verse here, is purely to separate the individuals in attendance at the cross, with additional detail (bracketed if you will) concerning Jesus' aunt, Clopas' Mary.
    – enegue
    Aug 17, 2017 at 11:12
  • ...or, just like Matthew, he's simply using and to separate the (four) persons into (two) groups of two (since both four and twelve are even numbers). See also Isaiah 11:2, for a somewhat similar treatment of the (first) six gifts of the Holy Spirit.
    – Lucian
    Aug 17, 2017 at 11:24
  • LOL A man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true, or as Paul Simon put it, "A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest... Mmm."
    – enegue
    Aug 17, 2017 at 11:29

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25 NET)

If I can count correctly that shows 4 women:

1) Mother Mary. 2) mother's sister. 3) Mary the wife of Clopas. 4) Mary Magdalene.

The other possibility is that there is no comma between mother's sister and wife of Clopas; that is to assume that this second Mary is the sister of Mother Mary. Since it is highly unlikely that someone would give same name to their daughters we must rule out this possibility and consider them different persons.

Hastings NT Dictionary - Christ, Gospels, Apostolic Church mentions this topic on the entries under Mary the Virgin:

Only one member of her immediate family is alluded to in the NT, viz. her sister (Joh 19:25). This sister of the Virgin was most probably Salome, wife of Zebedee, and mother of James and John. We know from the other Gospels (Mat 27:56, Mar 15:40) that Salome was present at the Crueilixion, and it is quite in accordance with St. John’s manner to allude thus to his own mother without mentioning her name. The other opinion, that this sister was Mary ‘of Clopas,’ would (cf. Westcott, in loc., also Mayor, St. James, pp. xix–xx) ‘involve the most unlikely supposition that two sisters bore the same name.’ The family of the Virgin was connected in some way with Elisabeth (ἡ συγγενίς σου, Luk 1:36), but what the degree of relationship was cannot be known. According to a theory brought forward in connexion with the harmonizing of the two genealogies of our Lord, Mary was a cousin of Joseph her husband (art. ‘Genealogy of Jesus Christ’ in Smith’s DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ), but such a theory has little to recommend it. That her family was but a humble one may be inferred from her betrothal to Joseph ‘the carpenter,’ especially if there be any truth in the tradition as to the disparity of their ages.

and "Sisters".

Amongst the witnesses of the Crucifixion mentioned by all four Evangelists were, according to St. John, two sisters—Mary the mother of Jesus, and His mother’s sister. Though it has been argued that Mary the (wife) of Clopas (Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ) was the sister of the Virgin, it is now generally agreed that the interpretation of Pesh. (Joh 19:25), which inserts the conjunction ‘and’ between the words ‘His mother’s sister’ and ‘Mary of Clopas,’ is correct (cf., on the other hand, pseudo-Matt. c. 42: ‘… Jesus et Maria mater ejus cum sorore sua Maria Cleophae,’ where the reason given why two sisters should have the same name is that the first having been devoted to the service of the Lord, the second too was called Mary for the consolation of her parents). From a comparison of the names of the women who witnessed the Crucifixion, given by the first, second, and fourth Evangelists, the most likely conjecture would seem to be that by ‘the sister of his mother’ St. John meant his own mother Salome (see, however, Schmiedel’s art. ‘Mary’ in EBi [Note: Bi Encyclopaedia Biblica.] iii. 2969, which denies her identity either with ‘Mary of Clopas’ or with Salome; cf. also Edersheim, LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah [Edersheim].] ii. 602, and Westcott, Gospel of St. John, ad loc.). If the identification by Hegesippus of Clopas with the brother of Joseph be correct, we have the interesting fact that this Mary, thus referred to by St. John, was closely connected with Jesus by the ties of family relationship (see Euseb. iii. 11, iv. 22). J. R. Willis.

  • 1
    "Since it is highly unlikely that someone would give same name to their daughters we must rule out this possibility and consider them different persons."—This does not consider the possibility that Clopas is Joseph's brother which would make "Mary the wife of Clopas" the sister-in-law of Mary the mother of Jesus. IOW, you're not considering all the possibilities.
    – user862
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:51
  • @SimplyaChristian it is possible but very less probable. I am choosing most likely possibility.
    – Michael16
    Dec 4, 2016 at 7:10

There are four women, given in pairs of two separated by and. The Virgin Mary is the third, Mary of Clopas, elsewhere given as Mary, the mother of James and Joses. She was a virgin when she got Jesus, therefore she was not the mother of Jesus but the step mother. Her husband Joseph was not the father of Jesus. But the prophecy was fulfilled: See, a virgin begets a child, because that is what is was seen to happen. Jesus' real mother is the first in the list: His mother, and His mother had a sister. So, who could have been the real mother of Jesus? This is easy because Bethlehem is not a place in Micah 5:1, it is a family. This family was the Hasmonean family, as they were kings of Israel. Pilate wrote above the cross: Jesus, king of Jews. That is for a Roman, Jesus, king of Judea, not Israel. The only possible king of Judea was Archelaus and Archelaus had a Hasmonean wife Mariamne III, before divorcing her. As Archelaus was Samaritan, Pharisees call Jesus Samaritan in John. Mariamne III hid her pregnancy and gave the child to Virgin Mary, and so it appeared that a virgin gets pregnant and has a son. Maria Magdalena is naturally Mariamne II Boethus, the same as Mary of Bethane, the former queen. The sister of His mother is Herodias, but Herodias could not have been called Herodias from birth, as Herod/Herodias is a throne name. Herod Agrippa had the birth name Marcus. We can assume Herodias had the birth name Salome. All these woment: Mariamne III, Herodias, Mariamne II Boethus, and Virgin Mary could appear close to the cross, while e.g. Lazarus (brother of Mariamne II) could not as Pharisees wanted him dead. The beloved disciple is Mariamne II Boethus. Hope this helps.

  • 1
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