Matthew 2:13-23 Adoptive Father

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,     weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children     and refusing to be comforted,     because they are no more.”[d]

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Adoptive Father

A lot of prophesy is fulfilled in a strange way above.  God the Father is taking care of his Son in ways that were laid out before the foundation of the world.  However, God has assigned Joseph as the adoptive father.  He obediently foloows through on God’s will for the family.  He protects the family as an active participant.  He moves the family to Egypt for at least a year.  Although Mary has seen an angel who told her she was having a child, in Matthew the recipient of visions and dreams becomes Joseph.  He takes initiative and leads the family wisely.  He could have distanced himself from Mary and a son that was not his biological offspring.  No-one would have blamed him.  However, he endures in his faithfulness under duress.

I am a father who has no bioogical ties to his own children.  Therefore I am challenged to step up like Joseph.  I need to take initiative in matters of spiritual well-being.  I need to protect those that God has placed in my care.  I need to endure when my patience wears thin or I feel devalued or threatened.  God works through such people.  He can raise up healthy children even in such unlikely places like Nazareth or McHenry, Illinois.


  1. How is Joseph a capable father to Jesus?
  2. How does Matthew use ‘prophecy’ to show how Jesus’ life mirrors the history of Israel?
  3. How are God the Father and Joseph shown to work together in parenting Jesus?
  4. How should God the Father and an earthly father work together in parenting today?
  5. How can parents develop godly attitudes?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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1 Response to Matthew 2:13-23 Adoptive Father

  1. Kelli says:

    God and Joseph are clearly working together in the care and parenting of the child Jesus. God is sending his messengers to Joseph in his dreams. The instructions are crystal clear, though I’m sure the actual escape to Egypt and the actual return to Israel were not so simple to execute. Regardless of how difficult these trips may have been, Joseph simply obeys. He gets up and goes.

    My first thought in response is: I wish God would give me such clear parenting instructions. There are many nights when I lay awake, thinking through the best way to handle a certain situation. (I wonder if Joseph and Marry lay awake at all, thinking about how to care for Jesus.) I would welcome an angel in my dreams who would tell me exaclty what to do. Then I wonder…how often is God waiting to guide me through a difficult parenting situation and I just keep muddling through in my own. The challenge here for me is to seek His face for guidance in parenting more often, to pray for wisdom in my parenting continually, even when I feel it’s going well.

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