What exactly does "took her into his home" mean in the following passage?

John 19:26-27 (NIV)
26  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

If it means that Mary came to live with John, why would this be allowed? Since Mary is married to Joseph? Did Joseph die somewhere down the line? Wouldn't it be frowned upon that a woman lives with a man who is not her husband? Why isn't Joseph mentioned, at all?

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    Why do you assume the beloved disciple is John? The gospel writer never identifies the disciple, nor do we know the name of the actual writer.
    – Schuh
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 3:38
  • @Schuh Do we have evidence that the Gospel was ever known as a Gospel according to someone else than John? What causes you to doubt the perennially accepted authorship, in other words? In the text itself, there are clearly scribes/disciples who note the beloved disciple is the one who gave this gospel account. They both agree that the Apostle John is both the writer and this beloved disciple. In that part of the Gospel Jesus also tells them He will keep John alive until He comes, which seems to be a clear reference to the John kept to old age and to which was given the contents of Revelation Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 17:11
  • The gospel is anonymous and it’s authorship debated by scholars. The author may be ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, but we don’t know who that was. Personally, I think it was James – Jesus’ brother, Mary’s son – which answers many of the questions. But we don’t know, so can’t assume. More here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disciple_whom_Jesus_loved?wprov=sfti1
    – Schuh
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 21:30

4 Answers 4


This is supplemental to @LanceRobert's answer (if Joseph was not dead, these points do not avail much).

  1. Remember how much older than John Mary would have been. It has traditionally been held that John was a rather young disciple (note for example that he outruns flamboyant Peter; also a late date for the book of Revelation supports this idea if you subscribe to that). Jesus told him to take Mary in as his mother. Mary would have been in at least her mid forties at this time, but in my opinion at least fifty (33 years of Jesus' life + surely at least 12 years old when she conceived him—though I do not think there is warrant for believing she was that young.) Thus, I would expect that there would be less of a social stigma for her living with him, as it would have been fairly clear that she was not his girlfriend if she was at least twenty years older than him, and maybe more.
  2. Jesus' death was extremely high-profile. Thus it would be easy to make the connection to why she would have moved in with John: her husband and firstborn both gone.
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    Semitic cultures didn't (and don't) make as sharp a distinction between brother and cousin as we do. The difference is always there, but it is accentuated when the nuclear, rather than the extended, family becomes dominant in the modern period. And that comes to my point: if Jesus had brothers, i.e., if Mary had other sons or married daughters, then she would not have been Jesus' responsibility to delegate. That he delegates the responsibility indicates there was nobody else to whom it could naturally fall. She had no other sons or sons-in-law.
    – Ryan Haber
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 19:24
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    @Ryan, No, we know she had other sons (and daughters). If he was referring to cousins, he wouldn't have mentioned both brothers and sisters. Also, Galatians 1:19, "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." Jesus delegating the responsibility shows us just how close John was to him. Commented Dec 27, 2011 at 4:22
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    @LanceRoberts et al., Jesus obeyed the Jewish law. There wouldn't have been even a question of whose responsibility Mary would be. It would have been a younger son if one had existed. "Cousin" is a neuter word in English, but in Semitic languages "cousin" (DVD or DVDVT) is either masculine or feminine, just as brother and sister are a matched set. This pattern exists in any number of modern languages as well. The word is used in Biblical Hebrew more or less interchangeably with brothers and sisters. That was my point. The use of the words "brothers" or "sisters" doesn't make a difference.
    – Ryan Haber
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 0:00
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    @Ryan, because it was a custom, and with his INFINITE wisdom, he decided that John should take care of her. Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 4:06
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    @Ryan, surely cousins would be closer relatives than John and hence would by default inherit the responsibility if Jesus had no brothers or brothers-in-law? So either way the delegation to John is unusual, and hence it lacks evidential value in interpreting Mk 6:3, etc. It's also worth noting that legal adoption would have been a familiar concept, at least from Roman practice, although I don't know whether we have any sources for the opinion of Palestinian Jews on the subject. Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 21:37

The last we hear of Joseph is in Luke 2 during the Jerusalem passover trip when Jesus was 12.

Luke 2:43  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

The consensus is that Joseph was long since dead by the time of Jesus' ministry. It would have probably been a good time after the Jerusalem trip, because Jesus had a number of brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3). Though since he was twelve at this point, they all could have been born by then.

Mark 6:3  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Another verse that verifies Jesus had brothers Gal 1:19:

Galatians 1:19  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

The fact that Mary was part of Jesus' retinue is a good indicator that Jesus was in the role of head of household and was taking care of her. This is also shown by his giving to John the responsibility to take care of the widow Mary (showing just how close John was to Jesus).

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    While the scriptural foundation is rather circumstantial, we have no record of Joseph beyond Jesus' childhood. Cana? (John 2:1-11) Mary was there, Joseph was not (or was not mentioned.) Nazareth, when Mary and Jesus' brothers were outside? (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-32) Joseph isn't mentioned. He never appears in context of Jesus' ministry, arrest, trial, or crucifixion. Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 16:17

Jesus love and concern for his mother.

Mary obviously now a widow and Jesus now the head of the family, despite the pain that he is enduring, wants to take care of his mother. Mary’s other sons, the half-brothers of Jesus were still unbelievers, (John7:5 Mark6:3) so Jesus entrusts the care of his mother to an apostle, a man of faith, whom he loves. By doing so, he not only takes care of her physical and material needs but also her spiritual needs.


John was a very gracious Apostle. His Epistle clearly shows he was very gracious to women in "Beloved woman etc". He was also the first cousin of Jesus, being the son of Salome, the sister of Mary. Salome was alive and with Mary at the Cross. So Jesus was saying to his mother "Go and live with your sister and John, my beloved disciple, for whom I will provide and will be your provider. In this way you will know that I am still providing directly for you, as your faithful eldest son".

Jesus had four brothers, named in the Gospels, as Joseph, James, Judas and Simon. Why did He not give Mary to one of them, is the question. He also had an unknown number of surely married sisters as everyone was married then. The reason may be that their level of faith was the issue and Mary was very special.

I don't want to surmise without evidence but clearly Mary was very close to her sister, Salome, and her nephew John was a very special man, the only Apostle,as far as we know, faithful at the Cross and no doubt at that point, physically supporting his mother and aunt. The Cross was an experience that would have deeply bonded them. Clearly Jesus knew the whole story of the family, and his brother James did become a leader of the Jerusalem church and was martyred I think, but there is a suggestion that he was a trained priest.

Finally, maybe Mary just wanted to be with her sister and John and they were lovely faithful Christians, with a proven track record. She felt safe with them. John lived to a great age and possibly Mary did too, while many of the rest died violently quite young.

  • Please quote a reference for John being the son of Salome and for Salome being the sister of Mary.Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 11:13
  • In this forum, it's important to include specific support as stated. So, for example, your readers will be interested in the evidence that you've found that James was a trained priest. In most other forums, your assertions would be sufficient, but here, you need to build a case.
    – Dieter
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 1:07

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