While reading the Bible, especially the New Testament, many Christians have encountered several characters named Mary. The name Mary has appeared in different contexts, thus proving that several women were regarded as Mary in the Bible. Some Christians can distinguish them from each other, while others have found out challenging to differentiate them. Some do not even know the number of Marys noted in the Bible. They have been curiously asking, “how many Marys are there in the Bible?”
There are six Marys in the Bible, all of who appear in the New Testament. The most common is Mary, the mother of Jesus, followed closely by Mary Magdalene. Four other Marys are also mentioned in the Bible, and each has a unique role that they played in the Bible. Some scholars have included Miriam, the sister of Moses, as a Mary in the Bible since the name translates to Miriam in Hebrew. However, in the Christian Bible, only 6 Marys have been recorded, with Miriam maintaining her original name.
How many Marys were there in the Bible? Who were they, and what role did they play in the Bible? Where are they mentioned in the Bible? These are some of the questions that several Christians have been thirsting to answer. Read this article to the end to find out who the 6 Marys were in the Bible and the critical role they played that warranted their mention in the Bible.
Marys in the Bible
Six Marys have been mentioned in the Bible; Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany; Mary, the mother of James; Mary, the mother of John Mark; and Mary, a member of the first church. The roles they played are discussed below.
Mary the Mother of Jesus
Mary, the mother of Jesus, also referred to as the Virgin Mary, is the most famous Mary in the Bible and is known by most Christians for her role in bringing the Messiah to the world. Before conceiving Jesus Christ, Mary was a virgin from Nazareth who was betrothed to a young man named Joseph, who came from the ancestry of King David. She is first mentioned in the gospel of Luke 1:27 when Angel Gabriel is sent to deliver the good news that she would be the one to bring the Messiah to the world. Angel Gabriel calls her the favored one during this vision from God. Mary humbly accepts the message from God and sings praises to Him, as recorded in Luke 1:46-49.
Mary was not an extraordinary human to be chosen by God; she was just more righteous and had the grace of God. Mary carried the pregnancy of Jesus Christ, which Joseph gladly accepted after a vision, to full term until the Messiah was born. She also played a significant role in ensuring Jesus was taken well care of in Egypt when they were forced into exile by the brutal acts of King Herod, killing boy children.
Mary and Joseph were also recorded to have taken Jesus for dedication at the temple when he was eight days old. Simeon prophesied how Mary would feel during the crucifixion of Jesus. Mary was present when Jesus, who was only 12 at the time, got lost in Jerusalem during the Passover feast and was upset by whatever happened. Jesus ended up defending himself when he was supposed to be in his father’s house.
Jesus was not the only child that Mary ever had. As mentioned in Matthew 13:55-56, Jesus had four other half brothers and sisters. The brothers are mentioned as James, Judas, Simon, and Joseph, while the sisters are not mentioned. Mary was considered a blessed woman in the Jewish culture by being given several children.
Mary was also a cousin to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who played a crucial role in ensuring that he prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. They met while both were heavily pregnant with the two great men, and Jesus and John the Baptist kicked in the wombs during this crucial time. In Luke 1:42-44, Elizabeth praises Mary for being favored to bring forth the Messiah.
In Mark 3:20-21, Mary was part of Jesus’s family who grew concerned by the crowds he was gathering before Jesus told them that his family was only those who did the will of the father. Since Mary was a believer that Jesus was the Messiah, she was present at the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is recorded in John 19:25. Simultaneously, she ensured that the prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled as she felt like a sword had pierced her soul.
At the cross, Jesus gave John, his favorite disciple, the responsibility of caring for his mother, Mary. John took her and played his role as a son in ensuring the well-being of Mary in the absentia of Jesus. This is recorded in John 19:26-27.
In Acts 1:14, Mary is mentioned for the last time in the Bible on the day of Pentecost, where she was also present to receive the Holy Spirit. No further information about her is found in the Bible. It is not recorded whether she died a natural death or was taken to heaven, as some Christians argue.
Several Christians rate Mary as the most blessed woman ever to grace the earth because she carried the pregnancy of Jesus Christ, who eventually saved the world.
Mary Magdalene is introduced in the Bible in Luke 8:1 as a woman with seven demons that Jesus Christ cast out. She ended up becoming one of the women followers of Jesus Christ. This is quoted in Luke 8:1-2. Some biblical scholars have referred to her as one of the staunch female disciples of Jesus.
Some Christians have confused Mary Magdalene with the sinner woman who wiped Jesus’s feet with her tears in Luke 7:36-50, but it is not biblically proven. As a follower of Jesus, Mary was heavily mentioned as one of the women who witnessed the last moment of Jesus. When Pontius Pilate was holding the mock trial of Jesus, she was present and witnessed the death sentence pronounced to his master.
Mary Magdalene was present in the crowd where Jesus Christ was being whipped and humiliated on the way to crucifixion. She was also present at the cross with other women, offering comfort to Jesus Christ, who was in deep agony at the time.
The most notable moment about Mary Magdalene was being the first person to witness the resurrection of Jesus early on Sunday morning. While sitting outside the tomb weeping, Jesus appeared to her and asked her to go and deliver the good news of his resurrection to the other followers, as recorded in John 20:11-20.
Some biblical scholars have also linked Mary Magdalene to the women present with the disciples on Pentecost. However, she is not directly mentioned in the scripture.
Mary of Bethany
Mary of Bethany was one of the women who were closest to Jesus. She was the sister to Martha and Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. Mary is first mentioned in Luke 10:38-42 at the home of Martha, where Jesus and his disciples were being entertained. As Martha was busy preparing meals for the group, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his word, and faced a reprimand from Martha. Jesus defended her for choosing to be near the Lord Jesus, which was much better than preparing a meal for him.
Mary of Bethany is further mentioned in John 11, where Jesus performed one of his greatest miracles, raising Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Mary quickly goes to his arms for comfort, and they weep together before Jesus finally raises his brother.
Mary of Bethany is finally mentioned at the feast held at Martha’s place before Jesus faces his crucifixion. The resurrected Lazarus was also present together with the disciples of Jesus. While Martha is serving the meal, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus Christ and anoints Him with costly perfume by wiping with her hair. This time she faces a reprimand from Judas Iscariot for the wastage of that expensive commodity. Still, Jesus defends her for her service and for keeping the perfume for his burial. This is noted in John 12:1-8.
Mary, the mother of James
She is recorded in the Bible as being the mother of Joseph and James the less. She was also the wife of Clopas. She is first noticed in Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:26 as one of the women present at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Mark 15:47, she is mentioned as one of the people who saw the burial place of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1, she is named among the women who went to the tomb with spices to embalm the body of Jesus only to find the tomb open.
Mary, the mother of John Mark
Mary, the mother of John Mark, is mentioned in the book of Acts of the Apostles 12:12 as a woman believer who allowed other believers to fellowship in her home. During one of their prayer meetings, Peter got miraculously released from prison. The gospel of Mark was written by his son John Mark.
Mary, a member of the church
She is the 6th and last Mary to be mentioned in the Bible in Romans 16:16. She is honored by Apostle Paul, who commends her for being a very hardworking member on behalf of the church.
John Mark and his mother, Mary
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.