At Acts 20:34-35 (NRSVCE) we hear St Paul saying :

You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions. In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

That implies that Jesus Himself worked for a living , like some of his disciples who fished during the night (Luke 5:5). My question is : Does the Catholic Church substantiate that Jesus worked to earn a living for Himself and for Mother Mary during and before His public life ? What was the work He specialized in ?

  • Is not preaching the Good News work????????????
    – Ken Graham
    Sep 15, 2017 at 11:01
  • Do you mean before his ministry or during it?
    – bradimus
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:09
  • @KenGraham: It's not working for a living, which implies getting paid for it. Our Lord definitely didn't ask for a bronze as of His disciples or of anyone else.
    – Wtrmute
    Sep 15, 2017 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


In the Vulgata, Mark 6:3 reads:

Nonne hic est faber, filius Mariæ, frater Jacobi, et Joseph, et Judæ, et Simonis? nonne et sorores ejus hic nobiscum sunt? Et scandalizabantur in illo.

The first verse is usually translated as:

Isn't this the carpenter?

Similarly, in Mark 13:55 we read:

Nonne hic est fabri filius? nonne mater ejus dicitur Maria, et fratres ejus, Jacobus, et Joseph, et Simon, et Judas?

The first phrase is commonly translated as:

Isn't this the carpenter's son?

In effect, the Catholic tradition interprets the profession of Jesus' putative father, Joseph, as carpenter. As the respective entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia states;

St. Joseph, indeed, was a tekton, as we learn from Matthew 13:55, and Mark 6:3. The word means both mechanic in general and carpenter in particular; St. Justin vouches for the latter sense (Dialogue with Trypho 88), and tradition has accepted this interpretation, which is followed in the English Bible.

There is also reference to Joseph's profession is several apocrypha. For instance, the "Story of Joseph the Carpenter" states:

He was, besides, skilful in his trade, which was that of a carpenter

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in numeral 2427, when referring to the dignity of work, states:

Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat." Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work.

Finally, Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia states:

We then need to peer into those thirty long years when Jesus earned his keep by the work of his hands

To conclude, the Catholic Church believes Jesus did work for a living during part of his private life, probably as a carpenter. It might not be unreasonable to assume Jesus learnt this trade from Joseph.


Jesus first words recorded in the bible was

  • dont you know i must be about my fathers business) .
  • Jesus came to do the work of the Father. To bring us back to Him and in a personal relationship with the Father. I have never found in English translation were he actually did labor as your asking but it does state He worked with wood.
  • My personal answer ,i speak as a man. Is yes He did work to help His family because God with us wanted us to know He related with our life from child to death He was perfect and we were not. I also know that while growing up there custom was to paid taxes in several ways but i dont know much on this subject.
  • Now to lineup Jesus first words,his last words on the cross for us was it is finished. John:19. This is the beginning of Christian walk who believe on Him in all ways.
  • John:20 peace be with you. Peace is founded on finished work.
  • John:21 three times He asked Peter (for us also)do u love Me?
  • John 21: you follow me.

Yes Jesus did work,one of true love that was the greatest gifts(Grace) of all time and that will ever be. John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. So did Jesus work for a living. Yes he taught us what True labor is that is to work as fishers of men. To lay down our life for God and our Brothers. Praise be to God and Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior for ever and ever. Amein

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for taking the site tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. If you could break your answer up into a few paragraphs it would be a lot easier to read. For some tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Sep 20, 2017 at 3:17

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