The Duration Of The Lord’s Ministry

Q. Was Jesus 30 when he started his ministry and 33 & 1/2 when he died ?? Are there scriptures to prove this?

A. According to Luke 3:23 Jesus was “about 30” when He began His ministry. John’s gospel indicates there were three Passovers between then and his death (John 2:13, John 6:4, John 11:55). This indicates a minimum of two years. My research into the birth of John the Baptist has led me to conclude that Jesus was born in the early fall, perhaps on Rosh Hashanah. If so, He could have been in ministry for as long as 6 months before that first Passover.

As you can see, there are no clear dates in the Bible by which we can accurately measure the duration of His ministry. But by adding 6 months before that first Passover and another 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension, you could reasonably estimate the time to be something around 2 1/2 years.

Some scholars don’t believe this would have given Jesus enough time to accomplish all that He did, so they assume there must have been another Passover, not mentioned in the Bible, which would add another year to His ministry. That’s how the 3 1/2 year duration came into existence, and by assuming Jesus was 30 when He began His ministry, they also assume He was 33 1/2 when He died.

To further complicate things, Luke 2:1 says Jesus was born during the time when Quirinius was governor of Syria. He served from 6-4 BC, and again from 6-9 AD. And Herod, who ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed upon learning of the Lord’s birth (Matt. 2:16) died in 4 BC. That puts the tradition that Jesus was born in what would become 1 AD in serious doubt. And of course, scholars are also divided on the exact year of the crucifixion as well. So to answer your question, there are no Scriptures that specify either the beginning or ending dates of the Lord’s ministry or His exact age when He died.

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