A Dozen Similarities Between Joseph & Jesus
A careful study of both the Old and New Testaments reveals that there are many types and antitypes in Scripture. The Old Testament records certain events and people (i.e., the "types") that foreshadow other events and people in the New Testament (i.e., the "antitypes"). For example, the flood in Noah's day has an antitype in baptism in the Christian age (cf. I Pet. 3:20,21). Jesus Himself, as the Lamb of God, was foreshadowed by the Passover lamb of old (cf. I Cor. 5:7).

There are many of these type/antitype relationships that we could explore, but I want to focus at this time on similarities that can be seen between Joseph (son of Jacob) and Jesus. By way of disclaimer, it should be noted that there is no Biblical reference that identifies Joseph as one who foreshadowed Christ. Thus, we must be careful in what we suggest regarding any link between the two. Nevertheless, the similarities between the two are striking, even if only coincidental.

  1. Joseph was beloved by his father--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 37:3; John 10:17).

  2. Joseph was sent by his father to his brothers--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 37:13,14; John 3:16-18). Joseph was sent to his half-brothers and Jesus was sent to all humanity (i.e., His "brothers" in the flesh, so to speak).

  3. Joseph was rejected by his own people--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 37:18; John 1:11). Joseph was rejected by his own brothers and Jesus was rejected by the very beings He created!

  4. Joseph was sold by his brothers--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 37:28; Matt. 26:15). Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver, the price to redeem a young man (cf. Lev. 27:5) and Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave (cf. Exo. 21:32).

  5. Joseph was tempted yet victorious--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 39:7-12; Matt. 4:1-11). According to Romans 3:23, we are certain that Joseph sinned in his life (though we have no specific inspired record of such). Joseph was tempted sexually repeatedly by Potiphar's wife, but he would not give in! Though a servant, he had been put in a position of great power and authority, and he would not misuse his privileges. Such is also true of Jesus (though He never sinned at all; cf. Heb. 4:15). Though the devil did his best to seduce Christ to sin, Jesus was victorious over the tempter.

  6. Joseph suffered for doing what was right--and so did Jesus (cf. Gen. 39:20; I Pet. 2:21,22). Through no fault of his own, Joseph spent 13 years total as a slave and prisoner. Jesus was entirely innocent in every sense of the term, yet He was brutally executed in a most excruciating way.

  7. Joseph was a prophet--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 41:25-32; Matt. 16:21). Both men were given prophetic powers by God. Joseph could interpret dreams in order to foretell the future. Jesus, as the very "Word of God" (Logos), was a prophet in a fuller sense of the term, of course.

  8. Joseph started his greatest work at the age of 30--and so did Jesus (cf. Gen. 41:46; Luke 3:23).

  9. Joseph was greatly exalted--and so was Jesus (cf. Gen. 41:41; Phil. 2:9).

  10. Joseph (in a physical sense) became both a lord and savior to his brothers--and so did Jesus (in a spiritual sense) (cf. Gen. 41:45; 42:6ff; Acts 16:31).

  11. The evil that was perpetrated against Joseph was used by God for great good--and so it is regarding the evil committed against Jesus (cf. Gen. 50:20; 3:15). Joseph's words are of special interest here - "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." In Joseph's day, God used the wickedness of men to send Joseph to Egypt where he would ultimately save multitudes from starvation. In the first century, God used the wickedness of men to send Jesus to the cross where He would ultimately save multitudes from sin, crushing the serpent's head in so doing.

  12. Joseph was forgiving--and so is Jesus (cf. Gen. 50:19-21; Luke 23:34). Neither Joseph nor Jesus held a grudge against those who tried to destroy them. Both men manifested a gracious spirit of forgiveness.