The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

“But just when he resolved

To do this,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to him

In a dream.



Son of David!

Do not be afraid

To take Mary

As your wife.

The child conceived

In her is

From the Holy Spirit.”


ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου·


Joseph had resolved (αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος) to put away Mary, instead of taking her as his wife. Then an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared to him in a dream (ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ). This is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt, who interpreted dreams, but said that only God could tell them what they meant in Genesis, chapters 40-41. The various Israelite prophets often got their oracle messages in dreams. Notice that it is an angel of the Lord, “Κυρίου.” There will be no mention of Yahweh in the New Testament, since the Greek Old Testament had translated “Yahweh” into “Lord.” However, the sense was that this was God, the Father, the God of the Old Testament. Angels were the messengers of God, especially in the Book of Tobit, chapter 5, where the angel Raphael appeared to him. This angel goes unnamed here, not like the angel Gabriel of Luke, chapter 1. This angel told Joseph, the son of David, not to be afraid (μὴ φοβηθῇς) to take Mary (παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν) as his wife (τὴν γυναῖκά σου). He had nothing to be worried about. Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to reassure Joseph that everything would be alright. This angel then told Joseph that the child that had been conceived in her (ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν) was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου). In a somewhat awkward phrasing, this text said the conception was from a Spirit that is holy rather than a Holy Spirit as earlier in this text. This shows a developing sense of the divine Holy Spirit.

74 thoughts on “The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

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