Why do we hear that Joseph was older than Mary?

Why do we hear that Joseph was older than Mary?

Several assumptions underlie this conclusion. The fact is that Joseph last appears in the gospel narratives when the Lord is 12 (Luke 2:43). Later mentions of Joseph merely relate to the Lord’s lineage (Luke 3:23; 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42). Another fact is that references to the Lord’s family during His ministry include references to his mother, brothers, and sisters (Matthew 12:47; 13:56), but not to Joseph. A third fact is that, while He was on the cross, the Lord committed His mother to the care of His beloved disciple. From that time, John took her to His own home (John 19:26, 27). Being the first of Mary’s children (Luke 2:7), He was responsible for her care and He entrusted that to John. From these facts comes the assumption that Joseph had died after the Lord was 12 and before He was 30.

Mary is assumed to be young because of at least two facts. Isaiah 7:14, prophesying the Lord’s virgin birth (Matthew 1:23), uses a word, translated "virgin," that implies both youth and moral purity. Also, Mary was able to walk to Jerusalem at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion, when He was around 33. At a time when life expectancy was less than today, this indicates that relatively few years separated her age from His.

Joseph’s maturity in handling the news of Mary’s being with child (Matthew 1:18, 19) may suggest a mature age. Also, his being addressed as "Son of David" (v. 20) may indicate that his father was deceased and he was the living heir to David’s throne. The Lord’s being proclaimed as "Son of David" during His ministry may also indicate that Joseph had died previously.

These various suggestions make it reasonable to assume that Joseph was somewhat older than Mary.

D. Oliver