As a Christian, we sometimes look at our calendar and ponder upon this very question, ‘When was Jesus born?’. If you’re asking the same question, you are not the only one! There is a reason biblical scholars have spent centuries trying to figure out the exact date of the birth of Jesus. Therefore, it is extremely normal to find ourselves being curious over this information especially for those who believes in Yahuah (The LORD’s name) and Jesus.
Before we get right into the main question ‘When was Jesus Born?’, let’s first understand the importance of Jesus birth as well the reason of his coming.
*All Bible verses used are in ESV version*
Why do people want to know the exact date of Jesus Birthday?
Jesus is the holy son of our LORD, whom have born and died to save us from our sins. The Birth of Jesus is important to all christians because this symbolises the love from Yahuah, our LORD and saviour. For he sent his only son to sacrifice for the evil in the world. The day Jesus was born also marks the start of a new beginning. Through Jesus Christ’s painful sacrifice on his own life, we are saved. Jesus saved us. Therefore, many christians in the world feels the need to celebrate this special day on the coming of Christ as he is our Messiah and our saviour.
The Reason Jesus was Born
The History of The First Sin
Before we start to look at why Jesus was born, let’s take a look at the history of the first sin because this ties closely to Jesus birth.
Sins of the humankind started way back from the beginning with our first parents, Adam and Eve.
Based on biblical history in the bible, after the LORD created Adam, he says to him – never eat from the tree of knowledge because it grants you the power to know the good and evil. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve took this for granted and went against Yahuah’s words. Eve was deceived by the lies of Satan and ate the forbidden fruit which she gave to Adam as well. Despite Yahuah’s instructions, Adam went against his command and sinned as he too ate the forbidden fruit.
When the LORD came to realise what Satan have done. Yahuah says ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3 : 15) referring to the coming of Jesus Christ whom will destroy Satan when the time comes. Even in the beginning, Yahuah already planned the birth of his only begotten Son to whom he will redeem the world of sin.
As for Adam and Eve, he casted them away from the Garden of Eden and down to Earth. Since then, humans were no longer granted with eternal life. If Jesus wasn’t born, we will never be able to enter the gates of Heaven.
“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” (Genesis 3 : 22)
Jesus as the perfect sacrifice
Before Jesus was born, the book of Exodus recorded the events where Yahuah says to the people through Moses – offer animal sacrifices to the LORD. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” (Exodus 25 : 8).
However, our sins are too great for animal sacrifices.
“But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10 : 3, 4).
Without the perfect sacrifice, humans will never reach eternal life as sins have broken the connection between people and Yahuah. Jesus Christ was born and suffered a painful sacrifice for the people of the LORD. His birth has re-established the connection between mankind and the LORD.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3 : 16).
Jesus as a good shepherd
Just like how a shepherd guides his flock of sheep, Jesus Christ acts like a good shepherd towards the people. When the earth was filled with wickedness, Jesus was willing to lay his life down to redeem us, because he loved us and sacrificed his life for our sins on the cross.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10 : 11).
Just like any great shepherd, he guided and taught the people biblical teachings leading by being a great example through his life which had no evidence of sin. Showing the people of the LORD the righteous way to live our life through wisdom and faith.
Based on the bible, Matthew recorded the events of Jesus teaching the people. “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matthew 4 : 23).
Isn’t Jesus Birthday on Christmas?
Christmas is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. Many christians will come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus on this very day!
Now that we know Jesus was born on December 25, we can close this topic off and mark it as answered…Right?
Unfortunately, it is not that straightforward! Truth is, there are no specific answers to when was Jesus born. Based on the bible, no clear specifications could be found on the exact date of Jesus birth. However, many biblical scholars have come forth with their speculations backed by evidence found from the history based on the bible texts.
Why isn’t Jesus Birthday on December 25?
The Shepherds wouldn’t be watching their flocks in the winter
According to the bible, the first few who have received this message of Jesus birth are the shepherds who were out in the field, watching their flock that night. An angel sent from the LORD reached them, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2 : 10 , 11).
Theoretically, no shepherds will be out watching their flocks in a winter season which falls in the month of December. Many biblical scholars will suggest a warmer time in terms of when was Jesus born. According to this argument alone, it is also safe to say that the time period of Christmas which falls on the date of 25 December is not the exact date or day of Jesus birth.
A Look into Biblical Records of Jesus Birth
The time of Herod The Great
to It is clear in the bible, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Herod the King who was tetrarch of Galilee and ruled at that time. When Herod The King heard of Jesus birth, he felt troubled. Many scholars have interpreted that he was afraid that he together with Herod’s offsprings will be overthrown in power and dismissed from his throne by the Messiah, baby Jesus at that time.
“Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew2 : 7 , 8). He says this but in reality, he is planning to know the whereabouts of Jesus so that he can scheme against this rival, according to the location he could obtain from the wise men.
The wise men went out to find the place according to the star mentioned by Herod. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew2 : 10 , 11).
Later, instead of heading back to Herod’s way, the wise men went back to their country as they were warned in a dream to not return to the King.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matthew2 : 16). Based on the bible, Matthew recorded the events where Herod The King acted out in fury and attempted to kill Jesus by putting all babies who were under two years old to death, as Jesus was around that age at the time.
However, Herod’s attempt have failed as Yahuah warned Joseph to flee to Egypt as Herod is about to destroy Jesus.
Later in the bible, Matthew recorded the events of the king’s death. “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (Matthew2 : 19, 20). To when his death happened, remains a huge debate even until today.
Many biblical scholars suggests the year of his death was in 4 b.c while some suggest otherwise that he died in the year of 1 b.c. This plays an important factor to knowing when Jesus was born in terms of years and months, as it was his reign during Jesus birth. If we take it that Herod’s death was in the century of 4 b.c, many scholars believe that Jesus birth year is around the year of 6 to 7 b.c. In the other case, if we take it that his death was in the century of 1 b.c, Jesus birth year is speculated to be around the year of 2 to 3 b.c.
The Ministry of John The Baptist and Jesus The Messiah
Another method biblical scholars have tried to identify the birth year of Jesus is by the ministry of John The Baptist and the ministry of Jesus The Messiah.
According to the third chapter in the book of Luke, he recorded the events where John The Baptist started his ministry during the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar where John went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3 : 3).
After the death of Augustus’ in August of B.C 14 (Augustus was the stepfather of Tiberius Caesar and the first Roman emperor), Tiberius Caesar became Emperor. However, Roman historians appeared to skip years on the calendar and only started recording an emperor’s reign on the first January after they gained power. According to this estimate from the first January, Tiberius Caesar’s fifteenth year corresponds to the year B.C 29.
Now let’s take a look at Jesus’s ministry. According to the book of Luke chapter three, “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph” (Luke 3 : 23). The difference in terms of time period between John and Jesus is not significantly huge with Jesus just a few months or weeks away from John’s ministry. This will also mean that Jesus is around the age of 30 during the year B.C 29.
Now, it is time for some calculation! If Jesus was around the age of 30 during B.C 29, we should go back thirty years from B.C 29 which lands us at 1 b.c. However, there are no Year Zero (0 b.c), so it would result to around the year of 2 b.c or 3 b.c.
The Birth of John The Baptist
Now that we have a brief understanding on Jesus’s birth year, let’s take a look at the possible month of Jesus birth. We will be looking at biblical records of Zacharias and Elizabeth, John’s parents who walks righteously with the LORD.
Based on Luke who have recorded these events during the reign of Herod The Great, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah with his wife Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” (Luke 1 : 6, 7).
There was once when Zechariah was serving with his fellow Jewish priests before the LORD in duty, which he was chosen by ‘lot’ to burn incense in the temple of LORD (the odds in getting chosen to burn incense in the temple is extremely low). Many scholars suggests that this was in Yahuah’s plan who chose Zechariah.
When Zechariah is in the temple, an angel of the LORD says to him ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.’ (Luke 1 : 13). However, Zechariah doubted the words of the angel as both he and his wife are old at age. This led the angel, Gabriel to silence Zechariah and he could not speak anymore until the day this (referring to the day of John’s birth) happens.
After his service at the temple, he returned home to Elizabeth which later became pregnant and was in seclusion for five months. Many scholars used the estimated priestly service schedule of Zechariah’s division – Abijah as each division of the Jewish priests will have their respected schedule when serving in the temple. This leads scholars to believe that John was conceived during the month of July or August.
Jesus Birth Foretold by Gabriel
One month later (Elizabeth is now six months pregnant) in Bethlehem, the same angel that met Zechariah came forth to Mary in a city of Galilee named Nazareth. The reason why Mary and Joseph was in Bethlehem was because of the Roman census. Gabriel said to her “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1 : 30, 31).
However, Mary was confused as she was a virgin which Gabriel answered “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1 : 35). The angel continues to mention about the six months pregnant Elizabeth as she was conceive with John The Baptist and is on her sixth month pregnancy at the time this took place which shows that nothing is impossible with the LORD.
It is now time for another calculation! Many speculate that Elizabeth was conceived in the month of July or the month of August (no date was biblically recorded). Six months later, which was around the month of January, Gabriel was sent to meet Mary to tell her about the birth of Jesus in which he mentioned “And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.” (Luke 1 : 36).
To know when Mary gave birth to Jesus, we have to add 9 months from the month of January which will bring us to the timeline of around September to October on our calendar, which coincides with the major Jewish festival, Feast of Tabernacles.
Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths)
Based on the bible, there are seven important feast days (celebration) on our calendar which Yahuah has specifically assigned for believers to observe. Feast of Tabernacles is among the seven feast days mentioned several times in the bible such as Deuteronomy 16 : 13 – 15.
The Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the LORD’s protection for the people of Israel when they were wandering for 40-year wilderness. The people observe this feast by living in temporary buildings for the seven days of the feast, just as the people of Israel did in the wilderness. This feast also commemorate Yahuah’s presence as he tabernacles (dwells) with us in the desert.
Lastly, this feast symbolises the LORD’s promise to return and gather his people through the Messiah, Jesus. Hence, the connection of Jesus Christ’s birthday and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Why is the world celebrating Christmas as Date of Jesus?
So, are you still looking at your calendar wondering, was he born on Christmas?
After the long read on the historical records and events mentioned in the nativity accounts from the Gospel, the answer is’No’.
So if Christmas is not Jesus’s birthday, why is the world celebrating it as the day Jesus born?
Origin of ‘Christmas’
Firstly, let’s look into who set the day and date of December 25 to become Christmas, the date of Jesus. Based on the history, many scholars believe that the Roman Catholic Church in the roman world were the ones who have set the day 25th of December with possible reasonings. To name the main motive of the church, is to tie the date to the winter solstice as well as Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival which began on December 17 and ends around December 23. By observing Jesus Christ’s birthday on this particular day, the church can combine the famous pagan festival, as well as other pagan religions winter celebrations. This is done so that it will be easier for the church to persuade Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion as festivals like winter solstice were highly celebrated.
So when did people started celebrating the date of Jesus on the 25th of December?
To start off, Jesus Christ’s date of birth was not commemorated in the early three centuries of Christianity’s existence. It was not until 336 A.D. where people started to celebrate December 25 based on the Gregorian calendar. On December 25, the church in Rome officially started their celebration for Jesus Birth but this wasn’t widely adapted by the early christians. In the ninth century, people in christianity began celebrating this festival which now has evolved into an international holiday.
Jesus’s Crucification in March (25 March)
Ancient christians believe Jesus’s date of death (March) and the date of conceive (March) will be the same for great prophets. This makes believers to perceive Jesus’s crucification date to be March 25. They also believe that March 25 is the day Adam and Eve was created and March 25 was also the day of mankind’s earliest sin. March 25 is also the day Satan fell from Heaven and March 25 was when the Red Sea part for the Israelites. However, Jesus’s crucification and the biblical events on March 25 are just speculations without proper evidence as the bible have no writings on the exact timeline being in March or March 25. Therefore, the month of March being Jesus crucification is weak and couldn’t be used to prove the date of Christmas.
Is Jesus’s Birthday Really Important?
When was Jesus born, is it really important to know? If it is our LORD’s plans for us to honour Jesus’s birthday, shouldn’t the bible be clear with a specified date of the Messiah’s birthday? Instructions should also be provided, just like how Yahuah provided us clear instructions in honouring the feast days.
The fact that there are no specific date pointing towards Jesus’s birthday says a lot about the importance of this particular date.
With all that is said, nobody can pin point the exact date or year of when Jesus was born. No matter the speculation of Jesus birth year being 4 b.c or 3 b.c or the birth month being August or September, in the end it’s just human speculations backed with history records and biblical evidence.
What’s More Important?
As the children of Yahuah, our LORD, this is a great knowledge to hold because now we finally know that Christmas is not the actual date of Jesus’s Birthday. Is it important to know the actual day? Our honest answer will be ‘No’.
As a Christian, the most important thing is to obey the commandments given, read your bible as it holds precious teachings, always be faithful and trust in Yahuah, our LORD and Saviour.
However, it is understandable if you still want to celebrate Jesus on special day or date on the calendar. Good news for us, our LORD have given us the feast days to observe which is instructed by Yahuah. The feast days includes Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.
Even though the birth date of our Messiah remains unknown, one thing that we are sure to know is that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, and was raised again from the dead. The Christ is alive today as we speak, he is now sitting at the right hand of our Heavenly Father in Heaven. Jesus had accomplished the goal of His incarnation, which was to make salvation available to all who would believe. Jesus really loves us that he saved us.
Similarly to how we don’t know the precise date and day of Jesus’s birth, we also don’t know when he will come back for his church (the Body of Christ).
We should always be ready for he may come anytime in the day or night. Even Jesus will never know
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24 : 36).
The most important thing for a Christian, is to always stay close to Yahuah, our LORD, to love one another and to always read your bible as your guidance! Believers, remember to also follow the commandments. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” (James 2 : 10)
Most importantly, never fall into the trap of the evil ones by identifying them early so that you won’t be a victim. “Submit yourselves therefore to the LORD. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4 : 7).
Start preparing yourself today, we will never know when the Messiah will come back and we must be ready when he comes. Remember, the LORD never wait. Be ready when he comes as there will be no second chances if you refuse to believe.