Biblical People

Biblical People: Joseph

Joseph’s excited. He’s engaged. Mary’s the perfect girl for him. She’s chaste and devout. Her deep faith matches his own.

Then everything falls apart. 

Joseph hears that his fiancée, the one he knew as pure, is pregnant. He must end their engagement, but, being a good man, he doesn’t want to make life any harder for her. He plans a private breakup.

But before he acts, God sends an angel to him in a dream. The angel says, “Don’t dump her. Proceed as planned. Her pregnancy is not of human origin but from the Holy Spirit. This divine-human conception will produce a child who will save the people from their sins. Name him Jesus.”

That’s a lot to take in.

Joseph does as the angel instructs. He marries Mary, but they don’t consummate their relationship until after Jesus is born. Then, an angel again comes to Joseph in a dream, “Quick! Leave! Herod’s trying to kill your baby. Hightail it to Egypt.” Again, Joseph obeys.

Later, in Egypt, an angel again comes to Joseph in a dream. “Herod’s dead. It’s safe to return to Israel.” A third time Joseph obeys God’s instructions. They settle in Nazareth.

Fast-forward twelve years. Joseph and Mary head to Jerusalem for the Passover. On their trip home, things get hairy. After one day of travel, they discover Jesus isn’t part of the caravan.

Joseph and Mary rush back to Jerusalem to find their son. Their worry is more intense than what other parents would feel. They lost the Son of God.

Three days later, they find him in the temple courts, talking theology with the Jewish teachers. When they scold him for causing them worry, Jesus says, “Didn’t you know I’d be in Papa’s house?” 

Joseph and Mary don’t get it. I can’t blame them. I wouldn’t either.

Regardless, Joseph obeys God at each turn, and he does so without hesitation.

When God tells us to do something crazy, how willing are we to obey?

[Discover more about Joseph in Matthew 1:18–25, Matthew 2:13–23, and Luke 2:1–40.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at