Christmas Questions - When was Jesus Born?
Is the birthday of Jesus December 25th? The truth is most of us know that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th. So, the natural question is, when was He born? Although this post will not give a definitive answer, it will provide some thoughts on the subject and reveal an educated guess to the month that Jesus may have been born.
To get an approximate date when Jesus was possibly born, we will build upon facts mentioned in scripture related to John the Baptist. Luke 1:24-36 says that Elizabeth, John’s mother, was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Jesus was conceived, therefore, we should be able to determine the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born.
We will start this process by looking at the circumstances around the birth of John. John the Baptist was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple, and that is where we begin.
Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
To make the needed calculations, we need to understand that priests, like Zechariah, served in the temple at certain times of the year, depending upon when their designated time. There were 24 of these appointed times throughout a year.
A priest and his family could live in Jerusalem, but they could also live in other settlements in the land of Israel. When it was time for their division to go up and serve in the temple, they would leave their homes, go and serve in the temple of Jerusalem for a week, and then return home.
As Luke 1:5 gives us, John the baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the temple during the division of Abijah. Historical records show this most likely took place around June 13-19 in that year.
It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias came to learn through an angelic messenger that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child.
Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not fear, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
After Zechariah fulfilled his allotted service, Luke records that he traveled home, and shortly after that, Elizabeth conceived.
Luke 1:23-24 As soon as the days of his service were fulfilled, he departed to his own home. After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself…
The conception of John would have likely taken place near the end of June or the beginning of July.
From here, we can begin to get an understanding of the timeline of Jesus’ birth. Luke tells us that after Elizabeth conceives, she hid for five months, but that in the sixth month (note: this is speaking to in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), the angel Gabriel went to give a message to a virgin named Mary.
Luke 1:26-27 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary,
Luke 1:30-31 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS.
We also get confirmation from the angel that Elizabeth is six months pregnant as the angel also tells Mary, “Listen, your cousin Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age. And this is the sixth month with her who was declared barren.” Luke 1:36
If we assume John’s conception took place near the end of June or the beginning of July, adding nine months would bring the likely timeline for the birth of John into March.
Therefore, adding another six months, the difference in ages between John and Jesus would bring us to the end of September. An interesting note, this would be approximately nine months from the end of December or the beginning of January when Gabriel possibly visited Mary and gave her the news of Jesus. From all this information, we can conclude that the more likely date for the birth of Jesus was sometime in September.
Some scholars even conclude that the end of September, September 29th, as a possible date for Jesus’ birth. This possible date would place the birth of Jesus during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. One thing about the Bible and God, everything that God does, including the dates He chooses for events to happen are not by accident. So, it would have very fitting for Jesus to have been born at such a time.
In conclusion, please remember this is only a possible timeline for the birth of Christ; we don’t know for sure. In conclusion, please remember this is only a possible timeline for the birth of Christ; we don’t know for sure. The most important thing to know is not the date He was born, but that He came to bring as the angels said, “on earth peace, and good will toward men.” Luke 2:14.