Meet Joseph - Earthly Father of Jesus

Joseph obeyed God in the face of severe humiliation

The Anxiety of Saint Joseph
The Anxiety of Saint Joseph by James Tissot.

Getty Images

God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus. The Bible tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, that Joseph was a righteous man. His actions toward Mary, his fiance, revealed that he was a kind and sensitive man. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary's apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.

Although Joseph's initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. But God sent an angel to Joseph to verify Mary's story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God's will. Joseph willingly obeyed God, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality made him God's choice for the Messiah's earthly father.

The Bible does not reveal much detail about Joseph's role as father to Jesus Christ, but we know from Matthew, chapter one, that he was an excellent earthly example of integrity and righteousness. Joseph is last mentioned in Scripture when Jesus was 12 years old. We know that he passed on the carpentry trade to his son and raised him in the Jewish traditions and spiritual observances.

Jesus did not begin his earthly ministry until he was 30 years old. Until that time, he supported Mary and his younger brothers and sisters with the carpentry trade Joseph had taught him. In addition to love and guidance, Joseph equipped Jesus with a worthwhile occupation so he could make his way in a hard land.

Joseph's Accomplishments

Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus, the man entrusted to raise the Son of God. Joseph was also a carpenter or skilled craftsman. He obeyed God in the face of severe humiliation. He did the right thing before God, in the right manner.


Joseph was a man of strong conviction who lived out his beliefs in his actions. He was described in the Bible as a righteous man. Even when personally wronged, he had the quality of being sensitive to someone else's shame. He responded to God in obedience and he practiced self-control. Joseph is a wonderful biblical example of integrity and godly character.

Life Lessons

God honored Joseph's integrity by entrusting him with a great responsibility. It is not easy to entrust your children to someone else. Imagine God looking down to choose a man to raise his own son? Joseph had God's trust.

Mercy always triumphs. Joseph could have acted severely toward Mary's apparent indiscretion, but he chose to offer love and mercy, even when he thought he had been wronged.

Walking in obedience to God may result in humiliation and disgrace before men. When we obey God, even in the face of adversity and public shame, he leads and guides us.


Nazareth in Galilee; Born in Bethlehem.

References to Joseph in the Bible

Matthew 1:16-2:23; Luke 1:22-2:52.


Carpenter, Craftsman.

Family Tree

Wife - Mary
Children - Jesus, James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and daughters
The ancestors of Joseph are listed in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-37.

Key Verses

Matthew 1:19-20
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Luke 2:39-40
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. (NIV)

Key Takeaways

  • Besides feeding and clothing Jesus from his birth, Joseph obviously sent him to Nazareth's synagogue school, where Jesus learned to read and was taught the Scriptures. This care helped prepare Jesus for his earthly ministry.
  • As a physically strong man, Joseph was able to make the arduous journey from Palestine to Egypt, sparing Jesus from death by Herod's soldiers. While there, Joseph probably used his carpentry skills to support his family.
  • Without question, Joseph's leading quality was his righteousness. He trusted God and in turn, God trusted him with His precious Son. Joseph did not always know all the details, but he acted in faith knowing God would lead him to the next step.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Meet Joseph - Earthly Father of Jesus." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Fairchild, Mary. (2023, April 5). Meet Joseph - Earthly Father of Jesus. Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Meet Joseph - Earthly Father of Jesus." Learn Religions. (accessed June 8, 2023).