Q. Thanks for the work you do on the site. Its a fantastic tool. I was reading a timeline in my bible today and it stated that Jesus was born in 5BC. If this is correct then Jesus would have been 38 at the time of the crucifixion. I doesn’t really matter how old he was but I’ve always assumed that he was 33. Which do you believe is correct?
A. Neither the date of the Lord’s birth nor His death are free from controversy. The estimates that make the most sense to me are that He was born between 6-4 BC because that’s when Quirinius, the Syrian governor mentioned in Luke 2:2 held office. And Herod the Great died in 4 BC. He’s the one who had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed following the visit of the wise men (Matt. 2:16-18). His death made it safe for Joseph and Mary to return from Egypt where they had fled to protect the Baby’s life.
According to Luke 3:23 Jesus was about 30 years old when He began His ministry and since it lasted about 3 years He should have been about 33 at His death. But as you can see these are approximations.
About 100 years ago, Sir Robert Anderson from Scotland Yard and the London Royal Observatory teamed up to determine that Jesus died in 32AD. By comparing full moons through out the years they determined that April 32 AD was 483 years from the time Artaxerxes Longimonus issued his decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1).
We know that Jesus wasn’t born in the year zero because there’s no such year. When converting from the Hebrew calendar to the western one you have to skip from 1 BC to 1 AD. But no matter how you do it, tradition and reality don’t match up. If the Lord was born in 5 BC and died in 32 AD He would have been 36.