Jesus: A Family Man

We’re continuing our discussion of mixed ministry—when men and women serve together. Let’s focus today on what the Bible says about it.

We’re continuing our discussion of mixed ministry—when men and women serve together. Let’s focus today on what the Bible says about it.

The Bible tells us straight up how we should behave.
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

(1 Tim. 5:1–2)

Paul indicates that in the community of faith we are called to honor older, mature men and women as if they were godly parents, and treat male and female peers as if they were our brothers and sisters. Paul insists that we see the opposite sex as family members first, not as sexual objects. God considers lust between a biological brother and sister to be abhorrent (Lev. 20:17). Just as sinful is lust between any man and woman, according to Jesus (Matt. 5:28). Shouldn’t it be unthinkable to lust after a spiritual brother or sister?

Followers of Jesus are to consider one another as family, as sacred siblings. Is this mission impossible? Are we able to see one another this way in the family of faith? Yes, God enables us through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and minds to love one another as siblings. How might our churches be changed if men and women caught this vision and lived it out?

Jesus too supports our premise—that with new eyes, Christian men and women can thrive as brothers and sisters in a spiritual family, leading to powerful partnerships in ministry. Yes, Jesus was a family man! Not in the sense that he was married and fathered biological children, but in the sense that he inaugurated the spiritual family we call the church.

Consider his response to his mother, Mary, and his biological brothers in this interchange: While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:46–50) .Undoubtedly Jesus’ biological family felt that, as blood kin, they deserved his attention. He should stop what he was doing and come out to see them.

Although he loved his mother and brothers, Jesus used this occasion to teach an important truth. He had come to create a new kind of family. Not a family related by genes, common heritage, or shared genealogy. It is a faith family, and in this passage, Jesus reveals that this new spiritual family trumps blood kin.


Do you think it’s possible for us to learn to view our brothers as sacred siblings? What are the implications of seeing one another as family, without sexual overtones in the relationship? What difference would “new eyes” make in ministry if we did?


Kelley Mathews (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) has written and edited for the Christian market for more than 20 years. Currently a writer for RightNow Media, she lives in North Texas with her husband and their four children. She has partnered with Sue Edwards to coauthor Mixed Ministry, Women’s Retreats, Leading Women Who Wound, Organic Ministry to Women, and 40 Questions about Women in Ministry. Find her books and blog at KelleyMathews.com.


  • Terri Moore

    On being part of a “family”
    I am honored to be part of a larger community group and a smaller home group in which this very type of family atmosphere exists and at this point it comes very naturally to view each other as sacred siblings. Things that help foster this are: leaders who encourage this type of atmosphere, spending time together as families "doing life" (sharing weekly meals together, helping each other with chores/household, etc), spending time together in ministry (working at shelters, in the nursery at church, or raising money for Younglife), and in bible study on Sunday mornings. I wonder how this could be fostered in a working environment? I also wonder what we could learn from other cultures in this regard–especially Asian and African cultures where this idea of siblings seems to be quite natural?

  • Gwynne Johnson

    Great thought…
    We have much to learn from other cultures in regard to relationships; especially older and younger. They celebrate the natural flow of life and value each one wherever they are.

  • Heather A. Goodman

    Like Terri, I’m thankful to
    Like Terri, I’m thankful to be a part of relationships that overcome this relational death of the Fall. I’ve been discussing with a friend the idea of doing spiritual formation in a mixed group rather than gender-exclusive. While this may not be the best idea for all, I think it’s a good step in overcoming a sacred intimacy (part of our victory as Christians) and being willing to share struggles (even sexual struggles–what would it be like if women truly knew what men struggle with and men truly knew what women struggle with). Of course, this would have to be in a group of more than two people for protection and would have to be a trusted group.