The Lord’s Life In Time

Q. I enjoy your website and appreciate the time you put into it.

My interest was piqued earlier this week to
look deeper into our Lord’s birth and Crucifixion.
From what I can tell, based upon Matt 2, Jesus was
born in 6/5 BC based upon Herod’s death in 4 BC. Is this your understanding? Luke 3:23 tells us that Jesus was around 30 when He began His ministry. If Jesus was baptized in 29 AD, then Jesus would have been around 34. How do you reconcile Luke with Matt? Does around 30 include the possibility that He was 34 or so?

A. This issue is so clouded by tradition that it’s hard to find the truth. Tradition holds that Jesus was born in 1 AD (there is no Zero) began His ministry at age 30 and was crucified in 33. None of these dates is specific and only the start of His ministry is mentioned in the Bible. (Luke 3:23) The rest is pure speculation.

Here’s what I think. Matt. 2:1 and Luke 2:1 agree. Herod died in 4 BC and the first term of Quirinius ended in 4 BC. So 4-5 BC gives us a good starting point. Luke said that Jesus was “about” thirty when He began His ministry of roughly 3.5 years, according to various other clues we’re given in the Gospels.

Re: Luke 3:1. If you count the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign from the time he actually had the authority to rule (11 AD) it puts the beginning of John’s ministry in 26AD, when Jesus was about 30, but throws out Sir Robert Anderson’s crucifixion date of 32AD. If you count from the official beginning of Tiberius’ reign in 14AD then John’s ministry begins in 29. This fits with the date for the crucifixion but makes Jesus a few years older when He died. Giving Luke 3 or 4 years latitude for his “about thirty” term seems the best way to resolve it without wandering too far from Biblical sources.

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