Monday, April 6, 2009

How old was Jesus?

I did a quick poll on facebook and got all sorts of answers. Thanks to those who participated. This seems to also be the same assortment of answers I saw from the academic realm.

I think people assume he was born on 0AD, started his ministry at 30(per luke 3:23), and it only lasted for 3 years. So lots of people are on board with the 33 year old Jesus. Not sure why.

I propose to you that he wasn't 33, but in his 40s when he died.

1. Jesus was born between 6BC and 4BC; 4BC is when Herod the Great died.
2. Jesus was alive after the death of John the Baptist Matt14:12 NET
3. Historian Josephus records a defeat of Herod Antipas by Aretas at 36AD, people at that time contributed it as divine punishment for his behavior towards John the Baptist. - Jewish Antiquities (book 18, chapter 5, 2)
4. Herod Antipas' brother Philip died in 34AD. It is supposed to be Johns critisism of Herod taking Philips wife that gets him beheaded Matt 14:3-4
5. That puts John the Baptists death around 35AD
6. Pontius Pilate was Roman governor of Judaea (AD 26 – 36)
7. That puts a crucifixion before 36AD

If Jesus was alive for Johns death around 35AD and the governors in power by 36AD
Then Jesus would have died (and resurrected) around 35/36AD!
6BC to 36AD is 42 years of age.
Jesus could be around 42 years of age, and had a ministry of about 12 years.

Other resources: Link Link


  1. Very interesting! Good job on the research.

  2. Hey Dave! Interesting stuff you found. I'm always interested in seeing how scholars are using ancient documents and plain and simple reasoning to prove or disprove things that come up in the Bible.

  3. Hi Dave,
    Great work on this. However I think some of the premises and conclusions may be in error since the conclusions conflict with the fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy.

    It appears the crux of your argument hangs on John the Baptist being beheaded after the death of Philip in 34 AD which you suggest would be necessary to allow Herod Antipas to take Phillips ex-wife Herodius. The problem is that according to Josephus, Herodius divorced herself from Philip while he was still alive to be married to Antipas:
    "Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas" -Josephus AJ XVIII.V.4
    It was this union that John The Baptist publicly objected to and ultimately resulted in his death. So the year Philip died would not be an appropriate point of reference since Herodius and Antipas were married while Philip was still alive.

    Here is my argument for Jesus's ministry being 3 1/2 years in length resulting in Jesus being 33 years old when He was crucified:

    1. Luke 3:1 states that John the baptist began his ministry in the "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar". It is very well established that Tiberius's reigned from 14 AD to 37 AD, so if we count 15 years into His reign, as Luke notes, we arrive at the year 29 AD when John starts his ministry.

    2. Luke 3:23 has Jesus starting his ministry shortly after John at the age of 30. So we can conclude that it was probably the same year when Jesus started His ministry, since John was locked up by Antipas not long after he begun his ministry.

    3. The gospel of John notes three of the annual Passovers taking place over the duration of Jesus's ministry. Once in John 2:23, another in John 6:4, and the last supper in John 11:55-57.

    4. The year of the crucifixion must have taken place on a day when the annual Passover fell on the day before the weekly Sabbath and three days before Sunday since that was the day of the week Jesus Resurrected. These calendar conditions could only occur on April 3rd 33 AD, which also just so happens to have an eclipse happening on the same day.

    5. if Jesus was the messiah He must fulfill Daniels prophecy (Dan 9:24-27) of the year in which the Messiah would enter into Jerusalem to be "cut off but not for Himself" which would occur exactly 476 years and 24 days (Gregorian Calendar @ 365.242 days in a year) after the command to rebuild the temple given by Artaxerxes in his 20th year of reign in the month of Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1). Which falls exactly on March 29th 33 AD which just so happens to be exactly 5 days before the crucifixion, which is the day of the Triumphal Entry, the only time Jesus publicly accepted the title of Messiah (John 12:1-15).

    So in conclusion: if we can use scripture alone to show that Jesus, if He truly was the Messiah, must have been crucified on 33 AD then that is a surer argument. This date perfectly lines up with known historical timelines, namely Tiberius's Reign. I purposefully avoid using Herod the Great's death as a reference point because conflicting historical data exists as to when he died and it is debated by Historical authorities, the dates of Tiberius Caeser however is unanimously agreed upon, no conflicting texts is present, and Luke uses it as a historical reference point (Luke 3:1). So Jesus was 30 at 29 AD, his ministry lasted 3 ½ years (3 Passovers took place within the ministry) Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled 5 days before Passover, when Jesus was acknowledged as the Messiah entering into Jerusalem to be put to death. This makes Jesus 33 years old at His Crucifixion and subsequently this places Jesus’s birth between the year 1 BC and 1 AD (there was no year “0”).

    That being said, your argument is solid but the information you were using is at at fault. Keep up the good work Dave. Talk to you later, God Bless.

    -Malachi <><

  4. I signed in under the wrong profile above. So if you'd like to e-mail the google account would be better. Thanks and God Bless.

    -Malachi <><