I guess I started hearing this about two years ago. It doubtlessly pre-dates my awareness. It has been brought up by conference leaders, pastors, and other respected Bible teachers. I have not found any Biblical foundation for it and on the contrary am highly convinced that the Bible speaks against it. So, what is it? That Jesus was perceived by those around Him in the Biblical accounts as born out of wedlock.
Please understand that I make this argument knowing that God the Father was indeed the true Father of Jesus, from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). Joseph, Mary’s husband, adopted Jesus to serve as Jesus’ human father by the direction of God. The argument is important because it preserves the integrity of the Bible and preserves Jesus’ true offensiveness to the people – His perfect righteousness.
The only Biblical indication of this that I have heard is an implication from Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” Citing this passage some say that the people of Jesus’ home town were taunting Him because He born out of wedlock. It seems to have been a taunt of the time to call someone a son of their mother, not their father, when the person was born of unmarried parents. In the least, this conclusion of Mark 6:3 is quite vague.
If this is the case though, we would expect other passages to convey that there was some knowledge the public in general had of Joseph not being the human/adoptive father of Jesus.
Matthew 1:19 speaks of Joseph desiring to “divorce [Mary] quietly”. How could he have done this if it was well known that she was pregnant (especially by someone other than Joseph)?
Let us go back to Mark 6:3 where some offer as proof of the crowd’s supposed taunting of Jesus. This is closely linked with Matthew 13:55. In Mark 6:3 Jesus is in His hometown. Matthew 13:55 also tells of Him in His hometown (if it is even a different occasion). Matthew 13:55 includes that Jesus was known as the carpenter’s son.
Luke begins his recount of Jesus’ genealogy with the statement, “Jesus … being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph” (Luke 3:23). The “as was supposed” is no less inspired that the rest of the Bible. People of Jesus’ time supposed that Joseph was Jesus’ father.
In John 6:42 after Jesus reveals that He is the bread of life from heaven the people respond, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” These people knew his parents and, humanly speaking, had no doubt that Joseph was His father.
These examples give adequate evidence that the Bible speaks plainly of the knowledge of Jesus’ human father as Joseph. They did not think Him illegitimately born. The offense of Jesus to the people around Him was clearly from His perfect righteousness. Due to the Biblical witness it is not advisable that we read into statements a thought pattern obviously derived from other sources.