From Gabriel's visitation of Mary in Luke 1:26-38, ending with this famous line:

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her.

And also a dream Joseph was given from Matthew 1:18-25:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

One of these visitations must have happened before the other and it's not clear to me which since they are from different authors of the Gospel. Are we to infer that Joseph did not relate this to Mary, and that she kept quiet as well? If so, why? I don't believe that either was asked to keep the visits to themselves.

  • There is ample reason to conclude that Mary was visited first, then became pregnant, and then Joseph considered divorcing her quietly before an angel visited him. In Mary's position, she was the first woman in the world to become pregnant as a virgin. How do you tell someone that the impossible happened and that you really are a virgin still? That seems pretty implausible. Perhaps Mary just left it in God's hands.
    – Narnian
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 13:47
  • Good catch, I don't know how I missed that. Joseph wouldn't have had reason to consider "lawful" divorce if she was not pregnant out of wedlock. I'm still curious about why neither spoke to the other, though. Is there any evidence in scripture?
    – Yuck
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 13:48
  • 1
    I don't know. We actually don't know if Mary told Joseph or not. Again, though, even though it was true, Mary may have shrunk back from telling Joseph such an incredible story and expecting him to believe it. She may have just assumed he would divorce her, but that it would all be in God's plan.
    – Narnian
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 13:56
  • 1
    I don't see anything to suggest whether she did or didn't tell him. If she did then the simplest explanation is she didn't believe him. Also, they may not have lived close together - perhaps Joseph heard Mary was pregnant while she was staying with Elizabeth.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 0:27
  • This appears to be the answer. If someone would be so kind as to write it up as such I'll accept it.
    – Yuck
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


If we look at the part from Matthew, it is clear that Mary knew she was pregnant, or was getting pregnant before Joseph did. Joseph thinks about putting her away before he has a dream where he is told to stay with her. Matthew 1:19:

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily

Joseph is thinking of putting her away because he is a just man, he knows the scripture that says in Deteronomy 22:22-27 that, at least Mary, is in trouble.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. 25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. 26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: 27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

Mary might, very likely, have told Joseph about the visitation of Gabriel. If she told, it did not matter for Joseph to worry. He knew that the Law forbids Mary to have had sex before they are married. The thought of putting Mary away is because no one will believe that Mary was pregnant from the Holy Ghost (yet). This makes being pregnant for very dangerous for Mary, and perhaps also for Joseph.

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