Luke 1:36, Was Jesus really a cousin to John the Baptist?

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren

//Were Jesus and John, son of Elizabeth, really related? Most scholars doubt it, assuming this relationship to be a literary creation of Luke. Or, equally likely, a story Luke had collected. More evidence points to the idea that Jesus was originally a follower of John the Baptist. I’ve discussed this topic before, so I won’t repeat myself.

But if it isn’t true, why does Luke report them as cousins? It seems to be Luke’s personal conclusion, based on a typology of Old Testament relations. Here’s how it works.

Jesus’ mother’s name is Mary. John’s mother’s name, according to Luke (only), is Elizabeth. The only other Elizabeth (written in Hebrew as Elisheba) in the Bible is the wife of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Moses’ sister’s name was Miriam, a form of Mary. So, in the story of Moses, Mary and Elizabeth are sisters-in-law, and their offspring would be first cousins. 

Thus, concludes Luke, Jesus and John were also cousins.


  1. M.Baptist

    Haha, Moses’ wife’s name wasn’t Miriam! Read the Bible if you are going to comment on it. It was Zipporah. Miriam was his sister. Please do not make to conclusions when you do not know what you are talking about. It seems likely Luke’s conclusions have a firmer foundation than yours do.

  2. :) Thank you! That’s a rather embarrassing typo. I’ve corrected the post to read “sister”, not “wife.” The result is the same: first cousins.

  3. Julie Mann

    All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…Luke 1:36.

    Luke did not simply pick ideas out of thin air and write what he thought was good. He, like the other Biblical writers, was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  4. You can no longer trust the scriptures historically
    For reasons we cannot understand the gospel writers made up a whole lot In fact you cannot take any of it literally ever
    That’s why you have to trust in your own Holy Spirit to enlighten you with what is truth
    If you are a believer your father will reveal everything to you no differently than he did for Jesus
    The scriptures are best left to scholars who can be bothered interpreting them
    The quick route to your own peace of mind is very close at hand

    • Paul Benson

      If you comment is true that only “scholars” can adequately Interprete the Bible we are all in a mess. Scholars appear to debunk many sections of the gospel as irrelevant and leave us with distorted views of Jesus Christ.

  5. My friend we believe 2 Timothy 3:16 That my friends is called Faith.

  6. Who is John’s mom to Jesus, his auntie??? I’m confused…

  7. Hebrews, your position on scripture is very dangerous. May I suggest your read, your bible. You will realize the importance of it.john 15:7
    If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. The word of God is the source of all revelation of the will of God.Be you the smartest person or least intelligent.
    1 Tim 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
    Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    Without the word of God you are groping in the dark, and could very well grab onto or create wrong doctrine concerning your Salvation.

  8. This can be explained quite simply. The word Luke used to describe Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary was syggenis, meaning relative or kinswoman. Paul used the masculine form of this word (syggenēs) in Romans 9:3, 16:7, 16:11, and 16:21 to describe his “fellow Jews.” My guess is that they were just really close friends.

    This is my first time using this website, by I am currently writing an essay that includes this topic, so I took the opportunity to share, even though this thread was started five years ago.

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  10. Luke 1:5 says that Elizabeth was Aaron’s DAUGHTER, not wife. Aaron’s daughter would be MIRIAM’s (form of Mary) NIECE, not COUSIN! The Bible doesn’t say “Cousin” it says relative which could be GREAT-NIECE, Second Cousin, Aunt, etc. one would have to research the genealogy.

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