National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

Joseph, also known as Joseph of Nazareth or Joseph the Carpenter, is an important figure in the New Testament of the Bible. He is best known as the earthly father of Jesus Christ and the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Bible provides limited information about Joseph, but his role in the life of Jesus is significant and deeply revered in Christian tradition.

 

1. Background and Genealogy:

Joseph’s lineage is traced back to King David through his father Jacob, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18)

 

2. Engagement to Mary:

Joseph and Mary were betrothed, which in Jewish culture was a legally binding stage of marriage that preceded the consummation. However, before they lived together or had intimate relations, Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit’s divine intervention:
“But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'” (Matthew 1:20)

 

3. The Angel’s Message:

Upon discovering Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph was initially troubled and considered divorcing her quietly. However, an angel appeared to him in a dream and revealed the divine origin of Mary’s child and instructed him to proceed with the marriage:

“But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'” (Matthew 1:20)

 

4. Protecting the Holy Family:

Joseph obeyed the angel’s instructions and took Mary as his wife. He protected her and Jesus, ensuring their safety during the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, including the flight to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath:

“And Joseph arose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.” (Matthew 2:14)

 

5. Raising Jesus:

Joseph played a vital role in raising Jesus as his earthly father, teaching him the trade of carpentry, and providing for their family:

“And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.'” (Matthew 2:23)

 

6. Jesus’ Visit to the Temple:

During a visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old, Joseph and Mary temporarily lost Him but found Him in the temple, discussing deep spiritual matters with the teachers:
“And when they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.'” (Luke 2:48)

 

7. Absence from Jesus’ Ministry:

The Bible does not provide any further information about Joseph after the incident at the temple. It is believed that he likely passed away before Jesus began His public ministry.  However, the Bible does not offer evidence regarding this belief. 

 

Though the Bible gives us only a glimpse of Joseph’s life, his humility, obedience, and dedication to the care of Jesus and Mary have inspired countless Christians throughout history.