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What Became of Joseph?

The New Testament begins with a man named Joseph. Matthew traces his lineage back to Abraham.

Joseph was betrothed to Mary. When he discovered that his wife-to-be was pregnant, he assumed what any man in that situation would, and he planned to end his relationship with her. But an angel explained that her child was conceived of the Holy Spirit and would be the savior of the world. Joseph, therefore, did as he was instructed: he took Mary as his wife, kept her a virgin until the child was born, then named the child Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25).

Joseph moved his family to Egypt for a time to evade Herod’s attempts to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15). They then settled in Nazareth.

Joseph is next mentioned when Jesus was twelve years old. The family went to Jerusalem for the Passover. Unbeknownst to his parents, Jesus stayed there when the rest started home. He was in the temple talking with teachers (Luke 12:41-51).

That is the last mention of Joseph. What became of him? In view of Jesus’ word from the cross entrusting Mary to John’s keeping (John 19:26-27), most assume Joseph had died by this time.

There are several other Josephs in the New Testament. One was Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who was also a disciple of Jesus. He buried Jesus’ body in his own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). Another was Joseph of Cyprus, better known as Barnabas (Acts 4:36). He was a valuable member of the Jerusalem church.

The other Joseph also had multiple names: Barsabbas and Justus. He was one of two men considered to become an apostle to replace Judas. The brethren identified Joseph and Matthias as having the necessary qualifications, then prayed the Lord to show which one He chose. They drew lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, who was added to the eleven (Acts 1:21-26).

What became of Joseph? Again, the Bible does not say. Did he pout because he was not chosen? Did he cut off his association with the Jerusalem disciples and go elsewhere? Did he eventually abandon the Lord? I have seen brethren shamefully react that way when they were passed over for some appointment. Since Joseph had accompanied Jesus beginning from the baptism of John (Acts 1:21-22), we would like to think he was more filled with Jesus’ teaching; that he maintained a good disposition and faithfully used whatever opportunities he had in the Lord’s work.

The real question is not, What became of Joseph; it is, What will become of us?

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