Joseph of Arimathea Biography

Joseph of Arimathea was a carpenter

Joseph of Arimathea was a carpenter

Joseph was a quiet man—reserved, gentle, and soft-spoken.  He was betrothed to a young woman from Nazareth named Mary.  To his horror, during the engagement period he learned that Mary had become pregnant.  Knowing he had not violated her, Joseph naturally assumed that Mary had become pregnant by another man.  But instead of angrily exposing her to public humiliation, Joseph decided to break the engagement privately.

According to the biblical accounts, Mary apparently knew of the origin of her pregnancy before Joseph did.  She may have attempted to explain the situation to Joseph, but the man can hardly be blamed for finding the story beyond belief.  Then Joseph himself had a dream in which an angel told him not to break his engagement, for the child within Mary was conceived through the Holy Spirit.   Joseph was also told that the child was destined to save the people from their sins.

Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem

Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem

From this point we have only brief glimpses of Joseph in the gospel narratives.  He gently took Mary with him to pay taxes in Bethlehem and that is where Jesus was born.  From there they fled to Egypt for several years to avoid King Herod’s killing spree.  After Herod’s death they returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth where Joseph practiced the carpenter’s trade.  The last reference to Joseph is when he and Mary went to retrieve twelve-year-old Jesus from the temple, where he was answering questions of the Pharisees.

It would be nice if more was recorded about Joseph’s relationship with Jesus during Christ’s childhood and youth.  However we can only surmise an intimate relationship between the two based upon assumed years spent working together in Joseph’s carpenter shop.  During Christ’s ministry, Mary appears alone in gospel narratives or only with her children.  Thus most believe that Joseph probably died sometime during Jesus’ youth or young adulthood.  The quiet man lived and died with a righteous reverence for God and a fatherly love for His Son. We can find no criticism for this man whom Jesus called dad.

What can we learn from Joseph of Arimathea?

Some soft-spoken souls leave a quiet legacy of reverence for God and gentle kindness toward others.  Their goal is not a renowned spiritual reputation—they keep many of their deepest thoughts and feelings to themselves.  Yet they can be entrusted with the mysteries of God.  Joseph was such a person.

Bible Verses about Joseph of Arimathea

Matthew 1:16, 2:13-19; Luke 2:4, 2:41, 3:23, 4:22

What questions does this help to answer?

  • Who was Joseph of Arimathea, the father of Jesus?
  • Was Joseph of Arimathea a good father?
  • What did Joseph of Arimathea do?
  • What was the relationship between Joseph and Jesus?
  • What did Joseph think of Mary’s pregnancy?

Author Info

Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes.  Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education.  Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally.  He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.

Steve Fortosis