The Gospel according to Luke is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.
According to the preface, the purpose of Luke is to write a historical account, while bringing out the theological significance of the history. The writer divides history into three stages:
The first ends with John the Baptist, the second consists of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the third is the life of the church after Jesus’ resurrection, written as the Acts of the Apostles.
The Gospel of Luke is written as a historical narrative. Certain popular stories, such as the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, are found only in Luke’s gospel.
Luke’s account also has a special emphasis on prayer, the activity of the Holy Spirit, women and joyfulness. Jesus is presented as the Son of God, but attention is especially paid to the humanity of Jesus, featuring his compassion for the weak, the suffering, and the outcast.
The four gospels of the new testament taken together are referred to as the Synoptic gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are noticeably similar in their reporting of the events in the life of Jesus, although chronological order is not strictly followed. Matthew’s gospel contains more than 90 percent of Mark’s writings, and Luke contains more than 50 percent of Mark’s gospel.
Writing was widely used in Jesus’ day, and it is reasonable to assume that written fragments and eyewitness accounts were composed concerning events in the life of Jesus and used by the Synoptic authors.
The most common view currently is that the Gospel of Mark was written first with written fragments and eyewitness accounts used later by Luke as source material. It is thought that Matthew (an apostle eyewitness) was written about the same time as Mark, with Luke being written last.
Most of Jesus’s life is told through the four Gospels of the New Testament Bible, known as the Canonical gospels, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are written to engender faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the incarnation of God, who came to teach, suffer and die for people’s sins.
The Eastern Orthodox Church names Joseph’s first wife as Salome and holds Joseph as a widower of advanced age who took Mary for his wife and references the brothers of Jesus and the children of Joseph as by his first wife.
Joseph fathered four sons (Judas, Justus, James, and Simon) and two daughters (Assia and Lydia). But there are several schools of thought as to who was their mother.
The Eastern Orthodox Church holds that some years after his wife died, Joseph, now advanced in years, took Mary as his wife but had no children with her. This view is called the doctrine of perpetual virginity, held by the Roman Catholic church, Martin Luther and other early Protestant leaders.
A second school of thought holds that Jesus was the eldest child born of the union of Joseph and Mary, and they together fathered four sons (Judas, Justus, James, and Simon) and two daughters (Assia and Lydia).
Matthew 13:54-56 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
Finally, a third school holds with the possibility of children from both parents but no mention is made of Joseph’s children or of Mary having more children.
A question arises as to how old were Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born? There is no actual passage that says how old either of them was, but Mary was an unmarried virgin and in traditional country cultures, young women were generally paired off at around age 13-16, as soon as they could safely bear children.
Men were expected to be older, working at a job or profession, having a place to live where his wife could raise their children, and have some money saved, perhaps for a dowry. In the Jewish tradition, when a man became an adult at age 18, he was expected to take a wife and start a family.
Joseph was a fully trained carpenter, not a journeyman or someone new to his profession. He would be able to support his bride by his work and start a family.
There is no reference in any documentation to suggest that Joseph was of advanced age. Rather it was invented to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of perpetual virginity. Wide gaps in age between a husband and wife were discouraged, so we can assume that they were both near the same age.
Mary and Joseph were probably betrothed near the age of 16 but there would be no official marriage until they paid the marriage fee to the temple and received a little coin that was worn around their neck in the Roman custom.
“But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matt 1:25)
When Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem on the order of Caesar Augustus, it was to register for a census and pay their first tax. This ‘logica’ is specifically for people who have just become 18, the age of maturity.
Young people did not pay taxes, so we can assume that Joseph was paying his first tax as an adult. Assuming an age gap between two and four years, the age of 20 for Joseph and 16 for Mary at the time of Jesus’ birth is not unreasonable.
When Jesus, (then their only child) is left behind in Jerusalem at age 12, it is explainable that Mary and Joseph did not miss their eldest child in the confusion of their large traveling group when setting out on their five-day journey home.
Joseph was a working carpenter when Jesus was born, and as he grew, Joseph no doubt taught his son the skill. Carpentry is a profession that requires great strength, a strength that a 90-year-old Joseph would no longer have.
Israelite males were required to travel to Jerusalem three times a year and the Scriptures show Joseph was strong enough to make that trip when Jesus was 12 years old and perhaps several times thereafter. This trip would have required walking for some five days from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back, a distance of 91 miles, with climbing some 1400 ft. in elevation.
So it is likely that Mary was at puberty (14-15) and Joseph a little older (18-19). Mary and Joseph could easily have had some more children after the virgin birth of Jesus.
The problem that some Christians have is that after Jesus’ teenage years there’s no mention of Joseph. We can only assume that Joseph passed away by accident or disease but not before having six more children.
If Joseph had died before Jesus was 18, it would explain why Jesus had not taken a wife at the customary age and was still single when he began his ministry at age thirty. As the responsible eldest son, he would raise and care for his siblings until they were properly set with their own families.
The adult Jesus was a fully trained carpenter, not a journeyman or someone new to his profession. And, if Jesus was busy supporting his family, it was because Joseph had died.
In one gospel, when Jesus is dying, he commands one of his disciples to look after his mother. This would imply that Mary was a widow. In Jewish culture, women were not allowed to hold a job and were usually required to be looked after by the eldest son or senior man in the family.