Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Who was Mary Magdalene?


Who was Mary Magdalene? Prostitute? Wife of Jesus? There has been a great deal confusion, speculation, and straight-up lies regarding this Biblical character.

I’d like to give you a quick profile of Mary Magdalene. This is not intended to be an in-depth study. First, I’d like to dispel a few false beliefs about her:

False belief #1: Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus.

Scripture never states that Jesus had a wife. Consider what John’s gospel tells us about Jesus’ final hours:

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
-John 19:25-27

We see that Jesus asked John to take care of his mother. If Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, wouldn’t he have asked someone to take care of her? After all, she was right there with Jesus’ family!

Nowhere does the New Testament claim that Magdalene was Jesus’ wife. Even false gospels like the “Gospel of Philip” make no such claim (contrary to what Dan Brown’s book claimed—Brown didn’t even correctly identify the language of the Gospel of Philip).

False belief #2: Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.

We find no evidence of this in Scripture. This is what the Bible tells us about Magdalene’s past:

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. . .
-Luke 8:1-2

Mary suffered from demon-possession, but we have no reason to believe she was a prostitute. This believe apparently came when she was confused with other women in the Bible (such as the one mentioned at the end of Luke 7). Such confused interpretations led to more myths and stories that are unscriptural.

The Truth about Mary Magdalene:

Mary Magdalene became a follower of Jesus after she was healed of demon possession. She was there at his crucifixion and was the first witness to the empty tomb. The Gospel of John records that she was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection (John 20). This is about all we can say with absolute certainty.

I’ll close this article with a quotation from 1st Timothy. We would be wise to apply this instruction and avoid “myths” and “meaningless speculations”:

When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
-1st Timothy 1:3-4

4 Comments

  1. Mary Magdalene should not be seen as someone negative. she is just like us, a sinner. we like her should repent and follow God. how much more since we didnt have seven demons in us, and yet she’s a saint now!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Harold. It is a good point–she had major problems but turned out to be a follower of Jesus.

    Keep in mind that I have a different definition of “saint” than what some religious traditions teach. According to Scripture, a saint is simply a follower of Jesus Christ–not a special title or position given by the church. In other word, all true believers are saints.

    Blessings and thanks for reading!

  3. Amen to that brother. One becomes a saint when he believes Jesus Christ’s work on calvary to be the propitiation for his sin. (Col 1:2, Philippians 1:1, Eph 1:1 are few example passages that give us the idea what the Apostle Paul meant when he used the word “saint”)

  4. and i forgot to ask my pastor how to be a saint!! now i know.. too late, i’m already one!

    –kaye

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