Many want to know how old Joseph was when he married the Virgin Mary. It’s intriguing, so who wouldn’t want to know?
Based on the most reliable sources we have, Joseph was most likely 18-20 years old at the time of betrothal, based on solid historical references, but some sources suggest other possible ages.
More details straight ahead.
How Do We Know How Old Joseph Was When He Married Mary?
The estimate of Joseph’s age when he married Mary is based on facts from the Bible and other documents and history of that time.
We can’t be 100% certain of Joseph’s age when he married Mary, as the Bible doesn’t provide too many precise details on the subject.
However, we can deduce that Joseph was most likely around 20 years old when he married Mary based on the following factors:
1- Women couldn’t enter into marriage before turning 12, according to Roman laws at the time. And –as I show in this other post- Mary’s age when she gave birth to Jesus was 12-16 years of age with a high degree of confidence.
2- It was the norm for husbands to be a few years older than their wives when entering marriage – the opposite (women being older) was pretty much unheard of.
3- Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for a census issued by Caesar Augustus, indicating that he must have been at least 18 years old (Luke 2:3-5 ESV).
4- Joseph was a man of integrity and a just man (Matthew 1:19 ESV), which implies that he kept the valuable cultural customs of the time.
These clues give us valuable insight into Joseph’s age when he married Mary.
But you might be wondering – what if he was actually younger (unlikely) or even much older?
Well, that’s unlikely –yet possible. The Bible –The Living Word of God- doesn’t provide a definitive answer.
The Bible gives us the important details. But there are certain other details we may be curious about, but they might not be that important.
The Bible’s main message is about Jesus and the work he did in purchasing redemption for all of mankind.
If He wanted us to know Joseph’s exact age when he and Mary got married, the Lord would’ve let us know in the Scriptures.
However, we can’t be exactly sure and that’s just fine.
Is this a problem for our salvation? Not at all!
Being right or wrong about Joseph’s age when he married Mary-the-mother-of-Jesus is not a salvation issue.
Focus on Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. Simply believe that He is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, and you’ll be saved (Romans 10:9 ESV).
Was Joseph 90 When He Married Mary?
Joseph was most likely not anywhere near 90 years old when he married Mary, although the Bible doesn’t specifically mention how old Joseph was when he married Mary.
But based on the factors already mentioned in the previous paragraphs, he was probably around 18-20 years old.
This is because he went to register himself and Mary as part of the census ordered by the Caesar.
This leads to one of the most remarkable parts of the story of Jesus’ birth. He was born in Bethlehem, where the prophet (see Micah 5:2) -750 years before the Nativity of Christ -said he would be born!
(Speaking of the Nativity, here’s a link to my post on the Difference Between Jesus and Santa Claus)
Yet Messiah would also be known as a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23) based on numerous Old Testament prophecies. The Bible is unique among any book in having prophecies as amazing as these!
And Nazareth is over 80 miles away from Jerusalem.
The Bible prophecy that Messiah would be the seed of the woman goes all the way back to Genesis 3:15 (the offspring –or “seed” in the KJV- of the woman). It’s one of the Bible’s first prophecies!
So where does the whole theory of Joseph being aged 90 when he married Mary come from?
Apparently, it comes from an extra-Biblical text titled The History of Joseph the Carpenter, which was written in Egypt sometime during the 6th or 7th century AD.
These writings include some Biblical truths, but the main problem is that they are not considered canon.
Or in other words, they’re not written by an inspired human writer, like the people who God led to writing the Bible.
And why does this book remain outside of the Biblical canon?
It was written much too late to be considered, and it has stories like Joseph being an old man at the nativity without eyewitness corroboration.
Hint: All of the genuine New Testament books were written before the end of the 1st century. Anything after that time period is suspect.
Whoever wrote this wants us to believe that these are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But to find His words, we simply need to look at the four Gospels and other books -all in the New Testament.
Of course, Jesus Christ is present throughout the entire Bible as He is God (one part of the Holy Trinity), but that’s a topic for a different post.
Speaking of which, don’t forget to read my article about the real difference between God and Jesus.
How Many Children did Joseph and Mary Have?
The Bible states that Joseph (also known as Saint Joseph due to his high moral character) and Mary had 4 natural-born sons after the virgin birth of Jesus, plus an unspecified number of daughters.
Although Jesus can be considered their first child, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This means that Jesus’ father was God Himself – Joseph was only his adoptive father.
Besides, don’t forget that Saint Joseph didn’t know Mary intimately before Christ was born (Matthew 1:24-25).
While the betrothal period was equal to being legally married, they were expected to wait until their wedding night to consummate the marriage.
So this is what Scripture says regarding the other children of Joseph and Mary:
-Sons – James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55)
-Daughters – unnamed and unnumbered, but at least two as the plural form of the word was used (Matthew 13:56)
Again, remember that all of them were half-brothers and half-sisters of Jesus.
Christ’s brothers and sisters were born in a natural way by means of Joseph being intimate with Mary (after Jesus was born). She didn’t receive them supernaturally through the Holy Spirit as she did with the birth of Jesus.
Perhaps this might explain why they didn’t really believe in Jesus (John 7:5), although some were converted at a later point.
In fact, James and Judas (also sometimes called Jude) wrote two epistles that were clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit as they’re part of the New Testament.
These are the Epistle (or Book) of James and the Epistle of Jude, both containing plenty of mind-blowing Christian truths and I’d definitely recommend reading them if you haven’t done so already.
Now that we know what the Bible says about Jesus’ brothers and sisters, let’s take a look at something that often causes unneeded confusion among believers.
Some Roman Catholics Claim that these were Jesus’ Cousins, Not Brothers
However, this is only a misleading speculation not backed by Scripture.
The Bible clearly lists all 4 brothers of Jesus – James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.
Not cousins – brothers!
The original text that’s written in Koine Greek uses the word “brother”, not “cousin,” when referring to Christ’s brothers.
Also, His brothers wouldn’t have hung around with Mary (their mother) if they were nothing more than His cousins.
Other Roman Catholic arguments include the unsubstantiated claim that Joseph had other children before marrying Mary and that the brothers and sisters of Christ came from a previous marriage.
This is not a Biblically-grounded argument, as Scripture clearly states who the brothers of Christ are – all half-siblings of Joseph and Mary.
Besides, why wouldn’t these supposed children of Joseph from previous marriages be mentioned as they fled to Egypt to escape the massacre ordered by King Herod? (see Matthew 2:16-18)
Exactly because Joseph didn’t have any children prior to marrying Mary.
So according to the Bible, Jesus clearly had half-brothers and half-sisters from the same parents.
Joseph the Carpenter –Tekton (τέκτων) in Koine Greek- was only Jesus’ legal, adoptive human father. Remember, Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega.
He is the eternal Son of the Father. He has no beginning and no end.
When he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was to become Immanuel, God with us:
How Old Was Joseph When He Died?
The Bible doesn’t clearly state how old Joseph (the human father of Jesus) was when he died, but he was most likely aged 40-50 based on several factors:
1- Jewish men typically married once they were more financially secure, which implies that Joseph was around 20 years old when he married Mary
2- Joseph was still alive when Jesus was 12 years old and the family traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-52)
3- It seems that Joseph had already died by the time Christ began His earthly ministry (Jesus was around 30 when this happened)
4- The average lifespan in the Roman Empire during the first century AD was about 35 years
However, we have absolutely no idea how Joseph died. Was it an accident, an illness or a natural cause? Scripture doesn’t provide any information on the subject.
But that’s perfectly okay because it is not an important Biblical topic.
Note that the Gospels don’t mention Jesus interacting with his human father once Christ began His earthly ministry. He’s only recorded speaking with other members of His family (mother and brothers).
This is in sharp contrast to the account in Luke 2:41-52 ESV, when Joseph and Mary searched for Jesus throughout Jerusalem, whom they eventually found 3 days later in the temple.
So it’s safe to assume that whatever happened to Joseph likely happened before Christ’s earthly ministry began.
Again, does it matter how and when Joseph died? Not really.
If this was something important, something that the Lord wanted us to know, He would’ve simply added it to the Bible.
What we do know are the things that are actually important in relation to Joseph’s life.
That he was a righteous man and that he obeyed the Most High.
Isn’t this what we should all strive for?
Based on the evidence we have, Joseph was most likely somewhere around 20 years old when he married Mary.
As we’ve already mentioned, it was normal for Jewish women to marry when they were at least 12 years old. But Jewish men had to be a few years older so that they could be more established in order to support their growing family.
On top of that, he registered in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus, implying he must’ve been older than 18.
Eventually, this is an obscure Bible topic that’s impossible to answer with 100% certainty.
Because nowhere in Scripture does it say, “Joseph was X years old when he married Mary…”
We simply don’t have this information and it’s not a big deal.
Knowing the correct answer to the question of Joseph’s age of marriage has no bearing on your eternal destiny.
We’re saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8 ESV). Never forget this.
Focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for YOU. For all humanity.
Spread the Gospel. Let others know they’re headed for hell unless they repent and turn to Jesus.
And don’t worry too much about how old Joseph was when he married Mary.
If you’re a believer in Christ, one day you’ll be able to find out the answer to this question, and a plethora of others when we enter into the presence of the Lord.