Was Mary Magdalene really a prostitute?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Mary Magdalene is often assumed to have been a harlot, a prostitute. Is there any Scriptural basis for this idea? Or, is it just another example of widespread Bible ignorance?

There are 12 verses in which Mary Magdalene appears by name in the Bible (Matthew 27:56,61; Matthew 28:1; Mark 15:40,47; Mark 16:1,9; Luke 8:2; Luke 24:10; John 19:25; John 20:1,18). She only shows up toward the end of Christ’s earthly ministry—particularly the cross and Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Two verses alone provide us with a glimpse into her past; Luke 8:2 is the more informative of the two.

  • Mark 16:9: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
  • Luke 8:2: “And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,”

Notice that Mary Magdalene’s characteristics are past tense—she had at least two “infirmities” (sicknesses, illnesses) and had been possessed by seven devils (evil spirits). The dear lady had been in awful shape, but—praise God (!)—she was not hopelessly lost! Jesus Christ could and did heal her of all her afflictions. As you can read for yourself, though, God’s Word never says prostitution was one of her predicaments (compare this to the language of “Rahab the harlot” in Joshua 6:17,25 and James 2:25).

We do not know what Mary Magdalene did to earn a living, but her surname “Magdalene” reveals her origin. She was from Magdala, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus Christ visited and preached in Magdala in Matthew 15:39—perhaps she was converted here?

By the way, Mary Magdalene being a prostitute is just one of the many erroneous ideas about her. Others, equally ignorant of Scripture, have suggested that she married the Lord Jesus and even had His daughter! Again, this is all vain speculation… utter nonsense. None of this is found in the Bible either. We have to be very careful, dear friends, when holding to “commonly-held beliefs.” They may be popular, but, as we saw here, they are not necessarily Scriptural and true.

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Also see:
» Who was Melchizedek?
» Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?
» Who was Theophilus?