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Joseph, Husband Of Mary

INTRODUCTION: It is necessary to use all four gospel accounts to get even a brief profile of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Matthew and Luke have the most information, but emphasize some very different details. There is no mention of him anywhere else in the New Testament. We find that he was a descendent of King David and he was loyal to the teaching and beliefs of the Jews. Matthew records the obedient response of Joseph each time the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. There is only one reference in Mark indirectly connected to Joseph, which refers to Jesus as a carpenter, and only names his mother and brothers. In a parallel passage in Matthew Jesus is called the carpenter's son, and his mother and brothers are named.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the 1769 King James Version.


Matthew 1 "1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; ... 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David [are] fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon [are] fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ [are] fourteen generations."

COMMENTS: The genealogical record in Matthew begins with Abraham and traces systematically down through 42 generations to Joseph. The genealogy includes all the kings in Judah after David down to the last one who Nebuchadnezzar carried into captivity to Babylon, and then continues down to Joseph. he is then identified as the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Additional information herein as recorded by Matthew will clarify that Jesus was not a descendent of Joseph. However, the fourteen generations from the carrying into captivity to the Christ was that generation when Joseph lived.


Matthew 1 "18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."

COMMENTS: Matthew recorded the birth of Jesus with certain detail, which included coupling the title of Christ directly with his name. Mary was already espoused {engaged, promised for marriage} to Joseph, but they had not yet consummated the marriage. Matthew also made a clear statement that Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit. There is no description of how word of her pregnancy reached Joseph, but he was a man who believed the right thing for him to do would be to break the engagement. He did not want to humiliate her publicly, so he was considering ending the engagement privately. Before he had made his final decision, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. The angel addressed him as Joseph, son of David, which emphasized he was in the line from King David. He was told not to hesitate to take Mary as his wife because the baby conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was instructed to give the baby the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. It is impossible to know how Joseph may have understood that statement, and later as Jesus had a seemingly common childhood, Joseph probably was unable to truly comprehend that Jesus was God in the flesh.

Matthew's gospel was written after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, so it is for the benefit of the reader of scripture to have the prophetic phrase spoken by the Lord, and found in Isaiah chapter 7, inserted here to be stated as fulfilled. It was not part of what the angel spoke to Joseph in the dream. That brief passage states that a virgin would conceive and that son born of her would be called Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew returns to information about Joseph as he wrote that when he was awakened from sleep he followed the instructions from the angel and formally took Mary as his wife, but they had no marital relations until after Mary's firstborn son was delivered, and Joseph gave him the name Jesus. Since Joseph had the intention of keeping the pregnancy before marriage from public notice, it is likely that none of the relatives over the years knew from either Joseph or Mary the facts about the conception of Jesus. Surely it would have been very difficult for anyone to believe anyway.


Luke 1 "26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. ... 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ... 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house."

COMMENTS: In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy carrying John the Baptist the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. The scripture identifies Mary as a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph who was a descendent of David, and this complements the passage in Matthew which speaks of a virgin to give birth, as the angel had told Joseph that Mary was with child of the Holy Spirit. There is no further mention of Joseph in this chapter. Gabriel told Mary she would conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son, and she was to call him Jesus. The Lord God would give him the throne of his father David to reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Mary asked how this could be since she was a virgin, and this was her own testimony that she had never had sexual relations with a man. Gabriel told her the Holy Spirit would come upon her by the power of the Highest. Therefore the holy thing to be born of her would be called the Son of God.

Gabriel then told Mary that her cousin Elisabeth had also conceived a son in her old age and was now in her sixth month. She had been called barren, but with God nothing shall be impossible. Mary submitted herself by saying she was the handmaid of the Lord ready for it to be done as Gabriel had said. Then he left her, and Mary made a trip to a city in Judah to visit Elizabeth. When she entered the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and greeted Elisabeth, the infant inside Elizabeth leaped for joy. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and declared Mary to be the mother of her Lord. . The passage states that Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months then returned to her own house. Since Mary left with haste after Gabriel had visited her, it is likely that she was only in about the third month of pregnancy when she returned to her own house. At that point Joseph may have heard of her condition after three months with no communication between them. But because he was obedient to the instruction of the angel, he took her to be his wife, and she then would have been with him in his house, as indicated in Mathew 1:24-25. Both of them had been told by a messenger from God that the baby boy was to be named Jesus.


Luke 2 "1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered."

Luke 2 "10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ... 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."

Luke 2 "21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present [him] to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. ... 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this [child] is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; ... 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."

COMMENTS: When the Romans required everyone to pay a tax, Joseph was obedient to the civil government to travel to Bethlehem to comply because he was of the house and lineage of David. Mary was with him and she was in the latter stage of her pregnancy, so while they were there Jesus was born. After the shepherds had been told by the Lord about the birth of the Christ they hurriedly went there and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Joseph continued to follow Jewish law so Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, and named Jesus as Mary had been told by the angel even before he was conceived in her womb, and as Joseph had separately been instructed by the angel. The next step by the law of Moses was to take the male child to be dedicated at the end of the forty day purification period of the mother. When they took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem, they again followed the law by offering the prescribed sacrifice. There was a man there named Simeon who was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. The things that Simeon said about the baby were said to be astonishing to Joseph (not being stated as his father) and to his mother. Simeon blessed them, and said specifically to Mary his mother this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Luke does not include the events that led to the time in Egypt and the return to Israel, but he records that they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord. They returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. The next section in this study deals with the events that were not covered in Luke between verses 38 and 39 of chapter 2.


Matthew 2 "7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

Matthew 2 "13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."

Matthew 2 "16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."

Matthew 2 "19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."

COMMENTS: The desire that Herod expressed to worship the child was insincere, but the Lord used his treacherous and murderous intent to bring about fulfillment of another prophecy from the Old Testament scripture. The wise men were obedient to the warning of the angel rather than their instructions from Herod. In the second and fourth passages above, Joseph is instructed by an angel to take the young child and his mother, first to Egypt, and later to return to Israel. The angel did not refer to Jesus as Joseph's son, but he did call Mary the young child's mother. Each time Joseph was obedient to the instructions of the angel, Matthew explains that prophecy was fulfilled about the Christ.


Luke 2 "41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not [of it]. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among [their] kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."

COMMENTS: Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, and when he was twelve years old they went there as was their custom. When it was time to return home, they had gone a day's journey back to Nazareth before they discovered that he was not among their relatives or acquaintances. They returned to Jerusalem and three days later found Jesus in the temple, sitting in the midst of the highly educated Jews, both hearing them, and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astonished by his understanding and answers. They were both amazed and his mother said to him, Son, why have you dealt with us this way as your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow? After twelve years, Mary has regard for the fact that Joseph has been in the role of father for Jesus, though she took the lead in asking him this question. Jesus asked them why they had searched, and states they should have expected him to be about his Father's business. This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the comparison between this Father God through conception by the Holy Spirit, and the chosen man in the line of David to stand in the role of a human father. Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus had said to them, but Jesus respectfully went back to Nazareth with them and was subject to their parental authority. The scripture has no further record of Jesus or Joseph until Jesus was about thirty years of age.


Matthew 13 "55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"

Mark 6 "3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."

Luke 3 "23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli, 24 Which was [the son] of Matthat, which was [the son] of Levi, which was [the son] of Melchi, which was [the son] of Janna, which was [the son] of Joseph, ... 31 Which was [the son] of Melea, which was [the son] of Menan, which was [the son] of Mattatha, which was [the son] of Nathan, which was [the son] of David, 32 Which was [the son] of Jesse, which was [the son] of Obed, which was [the son] of Booz, which was [the son] of Salmon, which was [the son] of Naasson, 33 Which was [the son] of Aminadab, which was [the son] of Aram, which was [the son] of Esrom, which was [the son] of Phares, which was [the son] of Juda, 34 Which was [the son] of Jacob, which was [the son] of Isaac, which was [the son] of Abraham, which was [the son] of Thara, which was [the son] of Nachor,"

Luke 4 "14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? 23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country."

John 1 "43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."

John 6 "35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 7 "1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 4 For [there is] no man [that] doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. 5 For neither did his brethren believe in him. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. 7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. 9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode [still] in Galilee. 10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret."

COMMENTS: In the passage from Matthew above Jesus is called the carpenter's son, and in Mark he is called the carpenter: the only indication of Joseph's trade. In both scriptures his mother and brothers are mentioned signifying that Joseph and Mary had children together. The passage in Luke chapter three identifies Jesus as being about thirty years of age, then states that it was supposed or thought that he was the son of Joseph. Other scripture clearly verifies for us that Jesus was not born from the line of Joseph. I agree with men such as Matthew Henry and C. I. Scofield that the genealogy in Luke Chapter three is of Mary's line beginning with her father and going back through David's son Nathan, not David's son Solomon as in the case of Joseph's ancestry. Through marriage to Mary, Joseph would be the son-in-law of Heli, and only thought by many to be the biological father of Jesus.

Jesus remained out of the public eye until he was about thirty, and the only unusual event recorded in scripture during those years was when he was at the temple at the age of twelve. He most likely went to synagogue regularly and to Passover in Jerusalem annually as was the custom of Joseph and Mary. The time of death of Joseph, the husband of Mary, is not recorded in scripture. We have no evidence that Jesus left Nazareth until he was baptized by John in the Jordan, then tempted by Satan for forty days. he then began to reveal his identity through teaching and miraculous signs in Galilee. After Jesus read a passage from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth and declared that scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing that very day, they responded with surprise because they had been familiar with him and knew him as Joseph's son, and not the person who could possibly be the Christ.

There are two passages in John which refer to Jesus as the son of Joseph. When Philip became a disciple of Jesus he told Nathaniel they had found the one written about in Moses and the prophets. He said this was Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. The disciples of Jesus had accepted him based on their knowledge of scripture as evidenced by Philip, but the response from Nathaniel was that he had no expectation of good coming from Galilee. The passage in John chapter 6 took place at Capernaum where he had said he was the bread that came down from heaven and that he would raise from the dead to everlasting life those who believed in him. The Jews there murmured against him because they knew him as Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother they knew, so how could he say he came down from heaven? Jesus was known in Galilee as the son of Mary and Joseph since he had been raised by them in Nazareth from the age of about two after they had returned there from Egypt. Joseph was faithful to perform the role of a father for Jesus, and Jesus was respectful to his mother Mary and to her husband Joseph. Thanks be unto God for this incomparable provision for the salvation to eternal life for those who believe! Galatians 4 "4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."


I thank you, Lord, for the example of Joseph as he faithfully accepted his role as the husband of Mary as she carried the Son of God in her womb, in her arms, and in her heart as he grew as the only unique Son of God. Whenever I read from your Word that which can apply directly to my life, may I be obedient as was Joseph to the instructions he received from the angel. From the very beginning he believed that Mary was pregnant through a miraculous means, and protected her reputation by taking her to be his wife. After the birth, Joseph followed the law of Moses to circumcise this Holy child, and then to dedicate him at the temple with the appropriate sacrifice. He believed the instructions to take the child and his mother into Egypt, probably without knowing this was to fulfill scripture. And the same was true when he obeyed the instructions to return to Israel, and then to go back to Nazareth to support his family. By following the precepts in your Word I want to be part of the plan you are currently working out for the building of your church and the adoption of many into your forever family. Joseph probably receives little attention for the role you designed for him as the husband of Mary, and that is why I wanted to learn about him more carefully. May you receive all the praise for whatever you accomplish through my life, my God and my Savior! Amen, and amen.

Published 20 August 2015