Thursday, July 5, 2012

When Was Jesus Born & Date of His Death

If you are anything like me when you think of the birth of Jesus you have always assumed that it was A.D. 1 right, and that he died as a thirty-three year old man. Well apparently we are all wrong and that is a shame that this myth has not been addressed from enough pulpits! According to Kostënberger, “…the traditional dates approximate the actual date of Jesus’ birth, Jesus was probably born in the winter of either 7-6 BC, 6-5 BC, or a 5-4 B.C., with a 5 BC date for Jesus’ birth being perhaps the most likely.”[1]  To help further support this idea Carson and Moo point out that, “Herod the Great is undoubtedly the “king” of Matthew 2. It is almost certain that Herod died in late March or early April of 4 B.C. Jesus must therefore have been born before 4 B.C.—but probably not much before, since Herod slays children only two years old and younger (2:16).”[2]
            In regards to Jesus’ death Kostënberger believes that he died in A.D. 33.  Kostënberger argues that, “The Passover meal was eaten by the Jews on Nissan 14. Thus the year of Jesus’ execution must be a year in which Nissan 14 fell on a Thursday. This probably occurred in AD 30 and definitely occurred in the year 33…the most likely year of Jesus’ death is AD 33.”[3]
            What we know is that Jesus’ birth took place in Bethlehem. When Jesus was around two (he may have been slightly younger), his family fled the terror of Herod who was having young males murdered. They lived in Egypt for a period of time, and after the death of Herod returned to Nazareth. Most commentators are in agreement about not being exactly sure about the start of Jesus’ ministry because they cannot be certain of how Luke uses the phrase “in the fifteenth year of Tiberias.” They do however agree that His ministry would have started in etiher 28/29 AD. Kostënberger points to the fact that, “The Passover 46 years after the completion of the sanctuary would fall in the spring of AD 30. This date would confirm that Jesus began his ministry in the summer or fall of AD 29.”[4] Most scholars believe that Jesus’ ministry was anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 years long. “If one affirms that Jesus’ ministry included only three Passovers, his ministry lasted approximately two and a half years. If one allows for another Passover between the first and second Passovers explicitly mentioned by John, Jesus ministry lasted approximately three and a half years, the latter being more likely.”[5] His ministry was then followed by His death and resurrection.
            Matthew’s depiction of Jesus birth and youth point to His identity as the coming Immanuel, and that He was the one coming that would be greater than Moses was. The purpose of the genealogy in Matthew is because,
It stresses Jesus’ identity as the son of Abraham the recipient of the divine promise that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3), and as the promised King from the line of David who will rule over God’s people. It also underscores his supremacy over the OT patriarchs; and the redemptive mission first to Jews but also to Gentiles.
It is amazing that through years of reading our Bibles and sitting under preaching we can learn to appreciate so much about our Lord through these studies.

[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum, Charles L. Quarles. (The Craddle, The Cross, and the Crown. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009)139.
[2] D. A.Carson, and Douglas J Moo.( An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids,, MI: Zondervan, 2005)124.
[3]Kostenberger, The Craddle, 143.  
[4] Ibid, 41.
[5] Ibid, 142.