From "Insight on The Scriptures"
*** it-2 pp. 56-58 Jesus Christ ***
Time of Birth, Length of Ministry.
Jesus evidently was born in the month of Ethanim (September-October) of the year 2 B.C.E., was baptized about the same time of the year in 29 C.E., and died about 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the 14th day of the spring month of Nisan (March-April), 33 C.E. The basis for these dates is as follows:
Jesus was born approximately six months after the birth of his relative John (the Baptizer), during the rule of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (31 B.C.E.?14 C.E.) and the Syrian governorship of Quirinius (see REGISTRATION for the probable dates of Quirinius? administration), and toward the close of the reign of Herod the Great over Judea.?Mt 2:1, 13, 20-22; Lu 1:24-31, 36; 2:1, 2, 7.
His birth in relation to Herod?s death.
While the date of Herod?s death is a debated one, there is considerable evidence pointing to 1 B.C.E. (See HEROD No. 1 [Date of His Death]; CHRONOLOGY [Lunar eclipses].) A number of events intervened between the time of Jesus? birth and Herod?s death. These included Jesus? circumcision on the eighth day (Lu 2:21); his being brought to the temple in Jerusalem 40 days after birth (Lu 2:22, 23; Le 12:1-4, 8); the journey of the astrologers "from eastern parts" to Bethlehem (where Jesus was no longer in a manger but in a house?Mt 2:1-11; compare Lu 2:7, 15, 16); Joseph and Mary?s flight to Egypt with the young child (Mt 2:13-15); followed by Herod?s realization that the astrologers had not followed his instructions, and the subsequent slaughter of all boys in Bethlehem and its districts under the age of two years (indicating that Jesus was not then a newborn infant). (Mt 2:16-18) Jesus? birth taking place in the fall of 2 B.C.E. would allow for the time required by these events intervening between his birth and the death of Herod, likely in 1 B.C.E. There is, however, added reason for placing Jesus? birth in 2 B.C.E.
Relationship to John?s ministry.
Further basis for the dates given at the start of this section is found at Luke 3:1-3, which shows that John the Baptizer began his preaching and baptizing in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar." That 15th year ran from the latter half of 28 C.E. to August or September of 29 C.E. (See TIBERIUS.) At some point in John?s ministry, Jesus went to him and was baptized. When Jesus thereafter commenced his own ministry he was "about thirty years old." (Lu 3:21-23) At the age of 30, the age at which David became king, Jesus would no longer be subject to human parents.?2Sa 5:4, 5; compare Lu 2:51.
According to Numbers 4:1-3, 22, 23, 29, 30, those going into sanctuary service under the Law covenant were "from thirty years old upward." It is reasonable that John the Baptizer, who was a Levite and son of a priest, began his ministry at the same age, not at the temple, of course, but in the special assignment Jehovah had outlined for him. (Lu 1:1-17, 67, 76-79) The specific mention (twice) of the age difference between John and Jesus and the correlation between the appearances and messages of Jehovah?s angel in announcing the births of the two sons (Lu 1) give ample basis for believing that their ministries followed a similar timetable, that is, the start of John?s ministry (as the forerunner of Jesus) being followed about six months later by the commencement of Jesus? ministry.
On this basis, John?s birth occurred 30 years before he began his ministry in Tiberius? 15th year, hence somewhere between the latter half of 3 B.C.E. and August or September of 2 B.C.E., with Jesus? birth following about six months later.
Evidence for three-and-a-half-year ministry.
Through the remaining chronological evidence an even more definite conclusion can be reached. This evidence deals with the length of Jesus? ministry and time of death. The prophecy at Daniel 9:24-27 (discussed fully in the article SEVENTY WEEKS) points to the appearance of the Messiah at the start of the 70th "week" of years (Da 9:25) and his sacrificial death in the middle or "at the half" of the final week, thereby ending the validity of the sacrifices and gift offerings under the Law covenant. (Da 9:26, 27; compare Heb 9:9-14; 10:1-10.) This would mean a ministry of three and a half years? duration (half of a "week" of seven years) for Jesus Christ.
For Jesus? ministry to have lasted three and a half years, ending with his death at Passover time, would require that that period include four Passovers in all. Evidence for these four Passovers is found at John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; and 13:1. John 5:1 does not specifically mention the Passover, referring only to "a ["the," according to certain ancient manuscripts] festival of the Jews." There is, however, good reason to believe this refers to the Passover rather than to any other of the annual festivals.
Earlier, at John 4:35, Jesus is mentioned as saying that there were "yet four months before the harvest." The harvest season, particularly the barley harvest, got under way about Passover time (Nisan 14). Hence Jesus? statement was made four months before that or about the month of Chislev (November-December). The postexilic Festival of Dedication came during Chislev but it was not one of the great festivals requiring attendance at Jerusalem. (Ex 23:14-17; Le 23:4-44) Celebration was held throughout the land in the many synagogues, according to Jewish tradition. (See FESTIVAL OF DEDICATION.) Later, at John 10:22, Jesus is specifically mentioned as attending one such Festival of Dedication in Jerusalem; however, it appears that he had already been in that area since the earlier Festival of Booths, hence had not gone there especially for that purpose. Different from this, John 5:1 clearly implies that it was the particular "festival of the Jews" that caused Jesus to go from Galilee (Joh 4:54) to Jerusalem.
The only other festival between Chislev and Passover time was that of Purim, held in Adar (February-March), about one month before Passover. But the postexilic Feast of Purim was likewise celebrated throughout the land in homes and synagogues. (See PURIM.) So, the Passover seems to be the most likely "festival of the Jews" referred to at John 5:1, Jesus? attendance at Jerusalem then being in conformity to God?s law to Israel. It is true that John thereafter records only a few events before the next mention of the Passover (Joh 6:4), but a consideration of the chart of the Main Events of Jesus? Earthly Life will show that John?s coverage of Jesus? early ministry was very abbreviated, many events already discussed by the other three evangelists being passed over. In fact, the great amount of activity of Jesus as recorded by these other evangelists (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) lends weight to the conclusion that an annual Passover did indeed intervene between those recorded at John 2:13 and 6:4.
Time of his death.
The death of Jesus Christ took place in the spring, on the Passover Day, Nisan (or Abib) 14, according to the Jewish calendar. (Mt 26:2; Joh 13:1-3; Ex 12:1-6; 13:4) That year the Passover occurred on the sixth day of the week (counted by the Jews as from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday). This is evident from John 19:31, which shows that the following day was "a great" sabbath. The day after Passover was always a sabbath, no matter on what day of the week it came. (Le 23:5-7) But when this special Sabbath coincided with the regular Sabbath (the seventh day of the week), it became "a great one." So Jesus? death took place on Friday, Nisan 14, by about 3:00 p.m.?Lu 23:44-46.
Summary of evidence.
Summing up, then, since Jesus? death took place in the spring month of Nisan, his ministry, which began three and a half years earlier according to Daniel 9:24-27, must have begun in the fall,
about the month of Ethanim (September-October). John?s ministry (initiated in Tiberius? 15th year), then, must have begun in the spring
of the year 29 C.E. John?s birth therefore would be placed in the spring of the year 2 B.C.E., Jesus? birth would come about six months later in the fall of 2 B.C.E., his ministry would start about 30 years later in the fall of 29 C.E., and his death would come in the year 33 C.E. (on Nisan 14 in the spring, as stated).