TOM - In thinking about the Christmas story
this year I thought about Joseph and I wondered why we
don't hear of him more during the whole crucifixion.
We read plenty about Jesus' earthly mother but never much
about his earthly father. I have heard that people
suppose that Joseph died before it all took place. I
also heard that Joseph was older than Mary and that is
why he died long before her. And in correlation to
that I heard that Mary was perhaps his second wife and
that his first wife had died. Just wondering if you
know anything about that.
JOEL - Much of what is believed about what happened to Joseph comes mostly from speculation, based on the lack of his name being mentioned at critical moments in the life of Christ.
The last mention of Joseph occurs at Passover time in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years of age (Luke 2: 41-49).
At the wedding feast at Cana, when Jesus was thirty, we know that Mary was present, but no mention is made of Joseph (John 2:1-10). Also, at the time of the Crucifixion Mary is said to have stood at the cross with other women, but again no mention is made of Joseph. At this time Jesus gave his mother over to the care of his beloved disciple, John (John 19:25-27). Why would he do that if Joseph were still alive to take care of her? These events suggest that Mary was widowed sometime after Jesus was twelve years old and before he began his ministry.
TOM - I know that Christ had brothers and sisters and that we don't know the names of his sisters. But I'm pretty sure that we know the names of his brothers. Can you remind me of who they are. Isn't there a James or a John and also a Jude?
JOEL - We don't know exactly how many other children there were in Mary and Joseph's family, but the New Testament names four boys and mentions some sisters.
"Is not this the carpenter's son?" they asked in astonishment. "Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?"(Matt. 13:55-56)
The most often mentioned brother is James, who played a prominent role in church leadership (Gal. 1:19, Gal. 2:9). Ancient tradition, preserved for us by Eusebius, a Christian historian who lived about A.D. 300, states that James became bishop of the church at Jerusalem and was called James the Just, respected by Jews and Christians as being the most just man alive.
(Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, tr. Hugh Lawlor and John Oulton, 2 vols. (London: S.P.C.K., 1954), 1:II.23.)
Jude refers to himself as "the servant of Christ and the brother of James".(Jude 1:1.)
There is nothing more recorded about Simon and Joses in the New Testament.
Matthew speaks of "all" (Greek: pantai) his sisters (Matt. 13:56), suggesting more than two. The Greek term hai adelphia (the sisters) also is used in the Greek manuscripts, signifying a plurality-that is, three or more sisters. Their names however are never mentioned in the scriptures.
Some believe that Jesus' siblings were children of Joseph by a former marriage and not the children of Mary at all. In this case Jesus would be younger than they, and of no close blood relation.
Others believe that the others were actually the children of Joseph and Mary and therefore were half-brothers and sisters to Jesus, he being the eldest. Jesus is termed Mary's "firstborn" son, which is indicative that she later gave birth to other children (see Luke 2:7). A more compelling reason for believing that these are Mary's children is that Joseph's firstborn son from a first wife would have been the heir to the throne of David instead of Jesus.(Sources of information: Behold the Messiah, Robert J. Matthews, and “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Sep 1975, 36–39, Gerald N. Lund)
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