Ray Comfort and the staff at Living Waters recently devoted an episode of "The Comfort Zone" to explain that while the papyrus called "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" may be an ancient document, it in no way gives authenticity to the myth that Jesus Christ had a wife.
A fragment of papyrus was discovered in 2012 which has recently been analyzed for forgery. About the size of a business card, it reads, "Jesus said to them, 'my wife...'" in Coptic. "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" as it was named, is believed not to be a modern forgery. It dates between the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. - approximately 500 years after the New Testament was written.
Karen King, the professor who has analyzed the papyrus extensively, says that the document "should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married." King believes that it rather serves as historical evidence of the early church's acceptance of married women as disciples of Jesus - "The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus-a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued," the Harvard website reads. It also notes that the author of the fragment seems to have had only an elementary education, and that if a sigma were written instead of an alpha for the words which are translated "my wife," the document would instead simply read "the woman."
In spite of these disclaimers, many seem fascinated with the idea that Jesus may have had a wife. Christian evangelist Ray Comfort explains that for most, this is probably because they have not submitted themselves to the revealed word of God - the Bible. "Napoleon was right; man will believe anything as long as it's not in the Bible," he says with sadness.
Living Waters staff Emeal Zwayne and Mark Spence also touched on the subject. The notion that Jesus had a wife eventually birthed a widely popular novel and movie, "The Da Vinci Code." In fact, Zwayne says, there are numerous false gospels, like the gospels of Thomas and of Peter, that people have been fascinated by - but even these accounts do not indicate that Jesus was married, he says. "Don't waste your time [with] this stuff," Zwayne says - "Stick to what God's word says, and know that people are going to try to attach anything they can ... to things that are unbiblical, because they want an excuse to not believe in the word [of God]."
Mark Spence also explains that while marriage is instituted by God and is not by any means sinful, if Jesus were married it would have been mentioned in the Bible. "It talks about His mom, His dad, His brothers - it talks about His cousins - why wouldn't it talk about His wife? It doesn't," he says. The irony is that while many accuse believers of being gullible, Christians are actually very skeptical of extra-biblical claims about Christ.
Spence notes that the Apostle Paul went into detail about the distractions that marriage brings to a man and a woman, causing them to care for the concerns of their family rather than pursue God wholeheartedly - yet Jesus was solely devoted to the will of God. What's more, he says, "Jesus" was a very common name in the Lord's day, so the papyrus may not even refer to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.
The truth is that Jesus does have a bride - He is married to the church (to Christians). Marriage was instituted to paint a picture - it displays God's covenantal love with His people and demonstrates Christ's loving pursuit of the redeemed.
"Jesus was not married according to the text," says Spence - "I think everyone is trying to look for some kind of gnostic knowledge - some kind of insight that no one else has, so that they can get their fifteen minutes of fame on the news."
"I'm surprised that no one has come out with 'They've found the bones of Jesus' - that He didn't rise from the dead," Comfort adds - "It'll come out, it will make big news, and then we'll move onto the next thing. It's a crazy world in which we live."