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The Roman Catholic Church venerates Mary as not only having been blessed to be the mother of Christ, but also as having been born without sin (Immaculate Conception), and to have been a perpetual virgin. Protestants do not believe the former, and most do not believe the latter either.

What is the Biblical basis for presuming that Mary was one of Jesus' disciples, i.e. a Christian?


Note - this is not meant to cast aspersions on any particular belief, and only looks for evidence of her conversion and belief in her son's work on the cross, not whether she was born without sin, or was a virgin after Jesus' birth.

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    Does perpetual virginity have anything to do with this question?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 1:55
  • @PeterTurner - it would seem that it would be related, but perhaps not
    – warren
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 13:34
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    Yes, because the original poster is comparing the two beliefs which are predominately held by almost all Catholics with some exceptions, and not held by almost all Protestants, with some exceptions - maybe Greek Orthodox.
    – Tennman7
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 18:44
  • @Tennman7 The Orthodox think like us!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 4:41

4 Answers 4

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Luke records Mary's faith on the occasion of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-56). Gabriel informs her (v35) that "the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God", and she replies (v38) "let it be done to me according to your word". When Elizabeth addresses her as "the mother of my Lord" (v43), Mary proclaims with the Magnificat (vv46-55), invoking her faith in "God my saviour", and her expectation of the fulfilment of God's promise. This would seem to demonstrate both knowledge and trust in the Messiah-hood of Jesus.

After the ascension of Jesus, Mary is recorded as praying together with the remaining apostles, in the upper room:

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. Acts 1:12-14

From this continuation of Luke's account, it is clear that Mary retained faith in Jesus following his resurrection. At this point, he's spent several weeks instructing the disciples, so she is participating in prayer with people who have seen and spoken with the risen Lord. She could not have been praying together with them, in this way, if she did not share in the same faith.

(All Biblical quotations are from the NRSV.)

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14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

(Acts 1:14)

Mary's closeness to Jesus' disciples in the scripture gives evidence that she was one of Jesus' followers - especially this verse in Acts.

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    Whoops, looks like we answered at the same time. Welcome to this site! Your answer here is a good start to being here, and I hope you stick around :-)
    – James T
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:39
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    James - thanks. I just discovered this Stack format and really enjoy the "renewing of my mind" here. I sneak in a few minutes here and there when I can. Thanks for your answer to this.
    – David C.
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:50
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What is the Biblical evidence that Jesus' mother was one of His disciples?

Not only was Mary the Mother of Jesus, she was also one of his most devoted disciples.

She was certainly very contemplative:

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. - Luke 2:16-19

Mary went directly to Jesus to ask a favour and to show us how to do the same:

The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Mary never abandoned Christ. She was there at the foot of the Cross:

And standing by the Cross of Jesus his mother, and the sister of his mother, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary, the Magdalene. Jesus, therefore, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by, said to his mother: “Woman, behold thy son.” Then, he said to the disciple “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own (home). - Jn 19: 25-27

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First, we should look at one specific word "disciple" in the question, which creates some confusion. Jesus had scores of followers and "disciples" but there were 12 close followers of Christ, whom he specifically called, and these were the ones who often traveled with Jesus in his ministry, and the ones who were the eye-witnesses, and are portrayed in many stories in the 4 Gospels. These are the 12 apostles- Matthew, Mark, Peter, James, John, Bartholomew, etc. as distinct from the thousands of disciples, who we see also witnessed his miracles, and many of whom believed, and which became the first Christians. The word Christian means Christ follower.

We can say with certainty that Mary was one of the many disciples, but not one of the 12. She is not listed in any of the Gospels when the 12 special close disciples are listed, and she was also not listed in Acts of the Apostles with the other 12.

Now, we should look at the Biblical basis for the fact that Mary was a disciple - follower of Christ.

First and foremost was the Virgin birth. Luke chapter 2. She could easily dismiss the visit by the Angel in a dream as simply being bad pizza, but when she got morning sickness and actually had the baby, then it was clear that this was the Son of God.

Secondly, we have the account in the Gospels of the young boy Jesus, who was missing on the return journey from Jerusalem, and then they found him teaching in the Temple and the religious leaders were amazed at his wisdom. When Mary and Joseph asked him, he told them that He had to be about His Father's business.

Third, we see that Mary was present at Christ's very first miracle, and it was she who told Jesus that they were out of wine. It's clear that she didn't expect him to run to SuperTarget and get a case of wine. It's significant because she had many clues or confirmations before this, but this was the first time she saw him perform a real miracle.

Lastly, and most importantly, she was there at the foot of the cross, when he was crucified, and was listed as the only two who were the first ones to go to the tomb and who saw the risen Christ.

If there was even a tiny shred of a doubt of Christ being the Messiah before, there was certainly none when she saw him and talked to him after she witnessed death, burial and resurrection, after being in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights.

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