Joseph As A Type of Christ—God’s Greater Purpose

Joseph was horribly mistreated for many years.  He was thrown into a pit by his brothers.  Sold by them into slavery!  Taken from his homeland into Egypt.  Falsely accused of rape…any innocent man’s nightmare.  Imprisoned.

And forgotten.

I can’t imagine being treated the way Joseph was. And by so many different people!

black Bible bunch of tulips

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God’s Greater Purposes

Surely, at some point, Joseph wondered…for don’t we all…“Why?  Why do these things keep happening to me?”

However, it wasn’t until many years later that Joseph was finally able to see one of the reasons for the difficult events of his life—

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.  Genesis 50:20

Joseph finally understood that his sufferings led him to be right where God needed him to be in order to use him to save his people in a time of great famine.

While Joseph could see one reason for his suffering, he never could have imagined the other good purposes of God for that suffering—God would include his life in the record of scripture!

And use his life and testimony as a type and foreshadow of the coming Christ!


Types in Scripture

The purpose of God’s Word, the whole of scripture, is to reveal God’s Son Jesus and His plan to redeem fallen man through Him.  One way God does this in His Word, is to use “prophetic symbols,” or types, to point to the coming Christ, the Messiah.

In scripture, a type is a person, thing, or event that foreshadows, or represents, a future person, thing, or event.  There are many types in the Old Testament used to foreshadow something yet future in the New Testament.

Those types can be objects, such as the veil of the temple.  The veil is seen as a type of Christ in that it was rent to allow access to the holy of holies.  Christ’s flesh was also torn in order to provide believers entrance into God’s presence.

Other types of Christ are events such as the Passover.  (1 Corinthians 5:7)  There is much included in this event that points to, and was fulfilled in, Jesus Christ.  For example, the lamb sacrificed had to be without blemish.  (Exodus 12:3, 5)  Jesus is the perfect sinless Lamb of God.  (1 Peter 2:22, John 1:29)

Many people in the Old Testament are seen as types of Christ.  Their behavior in some way(s) corresponds to the actions or character Jesus displays in the New Testament.

Joseph is one such person.



Joseph’s life foreshadows Christ.

It is amazing to me to see just how many ways the events of Joseph’s life foreshadow Jesus’ life.  A few of those ways are—

  • Joseph was loved by his father. (Genesis 37:3) Jesus was the Father’s beloved Son. (Matthew 3:17)

  • Joseph was a shepherd. (Genesis 46:34) Jesus is the good shepherd. (John 10:14)

  • Joseph resists severe temptation from Potipher’s wife. (Genesis 37:7-9) Jesus resists Satan’s temptations. (Luke 4:1-13)

  • God was with Joseph. (Genesis 39:21) And with Jesus. (John 3:2)

  • Joseph’s brothers stole from him the special coat his father gave him. (Genesis 37:23) Jesus’ seamless robe was taken from Him. (Matthew 27:28)

  • Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver. (Genesis 37:28) Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 27:14-16)

  • Joseph was made a servant. (Psalm 105:17) Jesus willingly became a servant. (Philippians 2:7)

  • Joseph, while innocent (Genesis 40:15), was cast into the dungeon with two criminals…one released while the other was executed. (Genesis 40) Jesus, though innocent (Luke 23:4,14-15,20,23,41,47), was crucified between two criminals…one died redeemed while the other died lost. (Luke 23:43)

  • Others recognized that both Joseph and Jesus had the Spirit of God. (Genesis 41:38, Luke 4:1)

  • Both Joseph and Jesus are 30 years old when they begin their life’s work. (Genesis 41:46, Luke 3:23)

  • Joseph and Jesus each prepared a place for his brethren, and received them into it. (Genesis 45:10-11, John 14:1-3)

  • Joseph wanted all of his family to come to him. (Genesis 45:9-10) Just as Jesus wants all to believe and come to Him. (Matthew 11:28, 1 Timothy 2:4)


Joseph’s character foreshadows Christ.

Joseph is also a type of Christ in his character.  The kind of person Joseph is and the way he responds to adversity and false accusation and cruelty is very much like the way Jesus later responds to such treatment from the Jews and the Romans…calm, quiet acceptance and confident assurance that God’s will is being enacted.

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While Joseph was not a perfect person, the Lord did not see fit to include in the account of Joseph’s life any wrongdoing on his part.  I believe, in order to use Joseph as a very strong Old Testament type of the sinless Christ.

Joseph’s life is characterized by Christ-likeness.  Joseph’s integrity, faithfulness, longsuffering, patience, leadership, compassion, and wisdom is certainly like that of Christ.


Are you a type of Christ?

While Joseph was an Old Testament type of Christ, we also are to be types of Christ.  We are called to be Christ-like.  We, too, are to point others to Christ by the way we respond to the good times and the hard times of life.

Could God use the story of your life to point others to Christ?

I wish I could say that my own life could be used as a really effective type of Christ.  I want to be more Christ-like.  Surely you do, too.

I pray that I can follow Joseph’s example and accept by faith whatever God allows into my life.  And know that…

In the hard times of our lives, God is working out far more than only what I can see or know about. 

Just as He did with Joseph.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9


Drawing nigh to Him,


This post is part of our Genesis Bible study.

Study Journal available >> HERE!


Can you think of any other ways that Joseph’s life or character foreshadows, or is like, that of Christ?  Can you relate to any of Joseph’s sufferings?  In what ways has God used your sufferings for His greater purposes in your life or in the lives of others?


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