The Problem of Jesus’ Birth Date

If anyone studies the birth and early life accounts of Matthew and Luke closely, they will soon notice a huge

Jesus birth year

What year was Jesus born according to the Bible?

problem.  One that the most brilliant scholars and minds of today can not answer.

The birth year of Jesus.

It’s the year “0” isn’t it?  Well, we know there is no year “0” as the calendar went from 3 BCE to 2 BCE, 1 BCE to 1 AD/CE, 2 AD/CE, 3 AD/CE, right?

But, his birth marks the change of our entire calendar system.  Yet there is a year missing.  The year “0” that “divides” one side from the other.  Ponder that.  It’s powerful and amazing.

What does God’s Word say about this powerful and amazing spot in time and history that we believe is the “birth of Jesus” the savior of the world.   Was he truly born in mysterious time that divides our calendar?  Was he a mere human man like us or the very son of God himself?

What does scripture say is the year of his birth?

Did you know that Matthew and Luke reveal two separate and different years that Jesus was born?

And I am not talking a small difference of a year or two here.   This may sound crazy, but is it possible the “Son of God” was born twice?  Could God make that happen?

Really, this is not surprising to me.  If you have been reading anything I have been finding in my deep investigative search into God’s Word, you will see that I have concluded that there literally is two of everything.

Why should the birth of Christ be any different?

Most people simply overlook it.

Some say that one of the authors (usually Luke because he was a “gentile”) was incorrect.   Others simply say “one of the authors was incorrect as they were just people”.  Well, if anyone or anything is incorrect or untrue from the Bible, then can we really trust any of God’s written Word?

If we believe God’s Word is true, then don’t we have to assume that the written Word is true right down to the last details in the original language?  Sometimes we can reconcile these differences as they are/were simply errors in translation from the original language.  Sometimes man has purposely translated the original words to his own liking and understanding of God.   This is not the case here because this goes way beyond a word or words being mistranslated.

Actually, it’s downright scandalous and it could be one of the main reasons so many do not believe the Bible is true and is God’s Word.  

What the Bible really says makes the Bible appear to be false.

Is it false or is it possible we simply do not understand the full magnitude of God himself?

To find the truth, we must first be honest and admit what his Word really says and then seek the answers from him.  Then, we must simply listen within as he reveals what his Word truly means.  After all, isn’t his Son inside us the true, living Word?  If we really believe that God’s Word is true and supernatural, then we have to let go of our natural realities and limitations of space and time.  Or we will simply make God in our own image.

We must totally let go of all we know as humans and be open to anything.

Anything is possible with God, right?  Matt 19:26, Mark 10:27

There is no order to things in the way we expect.  Anything can occur or “appear” at any time.  God could even make Genesis 1:1 happen last if he wanted to.  It could still be happening.  Who and what is to say that things appear or are ordered the way we currently live in a natural human body subject to death?

After all, God is ONE and in him there is NO division or separation of space and time.  Ponder that a bit. It’s mind blowing.

Let’s review the birth and early childhood accounts from Matthew and Luke.

The first statement we have related to the birth of Jesus in history from Matthew is Matthew 2:1.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying Matt 2:1

This one verse reveals that Jesus was born in the days of Herod the king.  If we study history, we can see that Herod the King was also named “Herod the Great” and he ruled from 37 to 4 BCE.  “BCE” is before common error or before the changeover where the year count up instead of down.  It is also called “BC” or “before Christ”.  Here is a Wikipedia page on Herod the Great.

If you look at this life, you will see that he died in 4 BCE.  (This is Before Common Era where the numbers count down.) This would mean that Jesus would have to have born in the year of 4 BCE or later in order to be born or alive during the reign of Herod the King.

Could this “Herod” from Matt 2:1 be one of his sons also named “Herod”?

Great question!  One I asked too.

Herod did, indeed have 5 sons many of which were, you guessed it, also named HEROD!  They don’t make this easy, do they?

Well, lets consider that.  To do so, we have to go back to Matthew 2 and follow the birth account more.  It goes like this.  (Matthew 2)

Jesus is born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the King.  Three magi see a star in the sky and go to Jerusalem looking for “he who was born King of the Jews” so they can worship him.  They run into King Herod who feels threatened by this new “King of the Jews” who was just born.   King Herod asks the magi to “go find him so I can also worship him”.  They comply.  Herod is planning to kill baby Jesus (the newly born “King of the Jews”) though and only wants to use the magi to find his whereabouts.  God warns the magi to return home after visiting baby Jesus and NOT go back to Herod and they do so.  God warns Joseph, (Jesus father) to take the child and his mother and go to Egypt as Herod is going to search for the child and destroy him.  Joseph moves his family to Egypt.  Herod finds out he has been tricked by the magi and becomes angry and kills all the male babies 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.  God then tells Joseph that Herod has died and he can move back from Egypt.  Joseph finds out that Herod’s son Archelaus was reigning in place of his father in Judea so he didn’t go there.

Now, let’s stop here.  This is a HUGE clue.  The changing of the ruler of Judea.  It changes from Herod the King to his son Archelaus while Joseph and his family are in Egypt.

Let’s look into the historical information on this.

Archelaus is the son of Herod the Great (King Herod) who ruled after his fathers death in 4 BCE.  He ruled Judea until 6 AD.  Here is more historical information on him to confirm these things.

Now, if we think about this, we realize that “Herod the King” talked about in Matt 2:1 can NOT be one of the son’s of King Herod.  It has to be the father because his own son Archelaus took his place according to Matthew 2:22.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee  Matt 2:22.

We have to conclude that the “King Herod” of Matthew 2:1 is indeed Herod the Great whose son was Herod Archelaus.  King Herod or Herod the Great died in 4 BCE.   That is 4 years BEFORE the changeover to CE where the years count up.   Now, go back to Matthew 2:1 again and read it.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying Matt 2:1

It clearly says that Jesus birth occurred “in the days of” the reign of Herod the Great who died in 4 BCE.

Jesus had to have been born in the year 4 BCE or later according to this evidence.  I like to call this year -4 because then comes -3, -2, -1 and then +1, +2, +3.  Integers do well for me in understanding this timeframe.  I am a math (and logic) person and minored in it in college.

There is more information revealed in Matthew 2 that gives us the year of Jesus birth.

Now, also remember that Herod the King thought that baby Jesus was up to 2 years old when his family moved to Egypt.  This is because Herod killed all the male children 2 years old and younger.  Thus, he knew Jesus was at most 2 years old when his family moved to Egypt.  Thus, we have to add this time of 2 years onto the year 4 BCE to arrive at the actual birth date (year) of Jesus.  This is because the numbers are reversed on that side of the calendar.

We end up with a birth year of 4-6 BCE according to Matthew.

Putting all the evidence of Matthew together with history, we have to conclude that Jesus was born in the years of 4 BCE to 6 BCE in order for it him to be alive during the reign of Herod the King or Herod the Great who died in 4 BCE.  I am going to conclude it was 6 BCE according to Matthew.

What about Luke?   What does Luke say about the birth year of Jesus? Is there anything that backs up the date from Matthew?

In Luke, the birth of Jesus is in Luke 2:7.  Here is the account from verse 1.

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn Luke 2:1-7

According to Luke, Joseph (and his family?) lived in Nazareth but went up to Bethleham to register for the census during the rule of Quirinius.  During this time of the census, Jesus mother gave birth to him.

This is the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  Very important information because maybe we can confirm this in historical documents?

When did this census occur?  Can we confirm it from historical sources?

YES!   Here is the historical information on it the “Census of Quirinius“.

When is the year this census took place?

6 AD.

That’s right “AD” which would be the year +6 or on the “counting up” side of the calendar.  We can confirm that here from reliable historical sources.

In the year 6 AD, the son of Herod the Great (King Herod) who was Herod Archelaus was removed from his ruler ship and replaced by Quirinius, a Roman senator.

This is the year that Luke puts the birth of Jesus.  6 AD.

So, there we have it.

According to Matthew, Jesus was born as early as the year 6 BC and according to Luke, he was born in the year 6 AD.  How can that be?

It can’t!

At least not with our natural human minds (under law) who only see “natural” order of time in a linear fashion.  Under the “natural” view, an event can only occur in ONE specific “instance” of time.

But, is GOD limited to this view?

Is this how God works?

Or, is he OUTSIDE of time?

Could he make the birth of the Savior of the World appear WHENEVER HE WANTED TO?

Could he even do it TWICE?   Or even continuously?

Let me ask you this.

Do you really believe that “with God anything is possible”?

If so, then ponder this.

What is the span of years here between -6 and +6.


What does “twelve” really mean?   Is just simply two more than 10?

Or does 12 have a SUPERNATURAL meaning to it?

I believe there is something very powerful and supernatural going on here and right now it is giving me goose bumps as I believe the Spirit is speaking this to me inside.

“Twelve” is really “two and ten” in the original language.  It is also the beginning of maturity and it also speaks of means “spiritual wholeness”.  Becoming complete.

Now, was Jesus merely a human man?  Or was he the very Son of God himself?

Were ALL things created IN him, BY him and FOR HIM according to Col 1:16, John 1:3 and Romans 11:36?

Could “Jesus” be SO MUCH MORE than an earthly man as we are taught?

Could he be the very parts of creation and SPIRITUAL MAN himself who was divided (crucified) under law in the Old Testament and God is putting him back together in this current realm of time?

Could God have merged realms and ages together 2000 years ago when “our calendar changed directions entirely”?

Could the true birth of Jesus be the very “maturing” and spiritual birth of creation itself?

How big is your Jesus?

May God open our minds and hearts to the TRUE reality.

God bless.


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