Joseph – Husband of Mary; Stepfather of Christ

Majoring in English, there were times when I had to study a character, or do a character sketch. This exercise would help me to understand the circumstances of the character and how he or she fit into the entire text. It was always helpful – both in studying texts and when trying to write my own stories. I have decided to apply this to scripture study, and here’s a character sketch of Joseph – to help me learn more about him and see if I can glean anything from his nature and example.

Sketch of Joseph
Sketch of Joseph

Ancestry of Joseph

Why His Ancestry is Important: Joseph was of the House of Israel; Tribe of Judah; and was a direct descendant of David – in two ways. It is important to know that through both Mary and Joseph, if the Jewish royalty had remained in power, Jesus would have been the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. You can read about his ancestry in the first chapter of Matthew.

Quick Facts about Joseph

Sex Male
Age Not sure
Marital Status Betrothed and later married to Mary
Background Hebrew; lineage of Judah; direct descendant of David
Beliefs He was faithful to the Jewish faith and believed in Jehovah
Career Carpenter
Strengths Charity, obedience, faith

It is thought that Joseph died before Christ began His ministry – as Joseph was not present at the wedding in Cana, yet he lived long enough to raise Jesus – as people asked, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?

Actions Demonstrate Qualities

Often, you can determine a lot about a character or individual based on what they do. Here are things that Joseph did, and the qualities about him that they demonstrate.

  1. Joseph was betrothed to Mary. We know what kind of woman Mary was – worthy to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Joseph was allowed to marry Mary. Additionally, God saw fit to send His Son to be raised by Joseph. Joseph was a goodly parent.
  2. Joseph didn’t react to Mary’s pregnancy. He didn’t rush to have her stoned. Instead, he was thoughtful, kind, and level-headed. This response enabled him to be receptive to the Spirit and learn that Mary bore God’s son. Joseph was a just man.
  3. Joseph received revelation on several occasions. He saw an angel who announced that Christ would be born of Mary. He was directed to flee to Egypt, then Nazareth while Christ was still a child. Joseph was a spiritual man.
  4. Joseph knew the prophecy given to Isaiah – that a Virgin would conceive and bear a son – Joseph knew the scriptures. Joseph was knowledgeable.
  5. Joseph not only as prompted by the spirit, but faithfully did as he was instructed. Joseph was Obedient
  6. Joseph defended Mary’s purity – by marrying her. Additionally, he didn’t consummate their marriage until after Christ was born. Joseph was virtuous.
  7. Joseph righteously presided in his family. He protected them and provided for them. He took his responsibility as the patriarch seriously. Joseph was honorable in his priesthood.
  8. Joseph didn’t dawdle or waste time when acting on revelation. Joseph was quick to obey.
  9. Joseph saw an angel announce the birth of the Savior. Joseph also received other revelation in dreams. Joseph was a visionary man.
  10. When warned to flee Egypt, and go back to Judea, Joseph was afraid. Herod’s son – Archelaus – was wicked, too. Yet he trusted in God’s instruction and took his family to Nazareth. Joseph trusted in God.
  11. Joseph travelled with Mary to Bethlehem at the time of the census. Joseph was of the lineage of David and heir to the throne. Joseph was of a royal heritage.
  12. No room was made for Joseph when he went to Bethlehem – looking for a place to stay – despite their royal lineage. Joseph was of no major social status.
  13. Joseph aided in and was (as far as we know) the only other human witness of the Savior’s birth. What an amazing miracle! He must have been overwhelmed by the task. What an honor. Joseph was trusted of God.
  14. Joseph raised Christ in the gospel. Christ was circumcised and named “Jesus.” he observed his temple covenants and taught his children to do the same. Joseph kept his covenants.
  15. Joseph knew of Christ’s miraculous origin, but also witnessed Simeon’s prophecy and marveled. Joseph was a witness.
  16. Joseph kept his covenants despite difficulty. He traveled about 70-90 miles to get to the temple. Joseph worshipped God.
  17. Even though there isn’t much about Joseph in the scriptures, we can learn a lot from him. He gives a good example, and worthy legacy.

    On a personal level, I really admire Joseph because I was raised by a man who was not my biological father. Yet he treated me like a beloved daughter and taught me as well as he could. Additionally, Homey is raising the children (Tiger and Panda) from my first marriage. He loves them and does all that he can for them. He has adopted them and has raised them as his own. I can see the love that my father and that homey have for these children – who are not their literal offspring. They rejoice and worry just as much as any parent does for their own children. I imagine that Joseph was the same. Although he knew that Jesus wasn’t his, Joseph still loved this child as a father would love his son. He protected and raised Jesus. Joseph is such a good example of a good parent.

    What strikes you in Joseph’s example, life, and history?

4 thoughts on “Joseph – Husband of Mary; Stepfather of Christ

  1. Very insightful, l love it. I have always wondered about Joseph.Do you think that Joseph and Mary are exalted because of their being the “earthly parents” of Jesus, as a reward for being good and faithful servants? I am glad you brought out those points concerning the character of Joseph, the world tends to “emasculate” Joseph. Sometimes he is portrayed as an older man, but according to Jewish customs of the day, the marriageable age was at least 15 for boys and 13 for girls.

    1. Thanks for the comment. šŸ™‚ While I haven’t pondered much about Joseph and Mary’s lives after this earth, I assume that their reward for living righteous and faithful lives would be the same as ours. I think about the pressures that they must have faced, and am filled with reverence for them. I know how much I worry about my own children!

      I have heard that some people think that Joseph was a much older man. I’m not sure where they get it from. Nothing much is said about his age – as far as I know.

      As far as the world’s perception of Joseph, I agree with you…a lot of people try to detract from him…have you ever seen the Movie The Nativity Story? I like the way that they portray Joseph. He is a tender, thinking man. In my mind, I just figure that if Heavenly Father was picky about to whom He would send His Son. Mary was chosen above all women, and I think that Joseph was probably pretty special, too. Certainly his actions in the Bible indicate that he was kind, obedient, and receptive to the Spirit.

  2. Mary

    When I read the story of Jesus, I thought on this and I said I wonder can Joseph be a step father for Jesus? Joseph was right by his wife side helping raised Jesus. I believe that he can be called his step father.

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