It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or is it? The debate rages on: when was Jesus born according to the Bible, was it at Christmas? For many, the answer is a resounding yes. However, there are those who believe that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but instead at a different time of year.
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s important to understand the truth about Jesus’ birth and the history behind the celebration of Christmas. Join us as we explore the evidence from the Bible and other ancient sources to uncover the truth about when Jesus was born and why we celebrate Christmas today.
When was Jesus born?
On what date was Jesus really born?
To know the date on which Jesus was born it is important to understand several aspects.
The first aspect is that the Holy Scriptures affirm that Jesus was born in the time of the government of Herod the Great.
Considering that this terrible king died in the year 4 or 3 BC, it is possible to conclude that Jesus could not have been born after that time. Therefore, it is more likely to point to the birth of Christ in some period before 3 or 4 BC and not in the year 1 as some conventionally do.
We must also consider in the birth of Jesus the census mentioned in the Gospel of Luke( Luke 2:1-5 ), which was carried out by Cyrenius, possibly in the year 6 AD, so the first census could have been around the year 8 BC (there is a possible cycle of every 14 years).
Thus, Jesus would have been born in any period between the years 8 BC time of the first census and 3-4 BC time of the second census.
Was Jesus born on December 25?
The date of December 25 as the day of the birth of Jesus was set by the Catholic Church in the year 525 to coincide with the pagan festivals of the East and Rome.
According to some historians, it was Pope Julius I who made the celebration official, although some say that it had already existed since the time of Emperor Constantine. In any case, Eastern Christians have never accepted this date and even today Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6.
It is almost impossible that Jesus was born on Christmas, although today the entire world celebrates his birth on December 25.
In the northern hemisphere, winter occurs in the months of December, January, and February of each year.
Therefore, if Jesus had been born in any of these months, it would be a very cold season and it would not make sense that there would be shepherds and flocks camped for the night in the Judean hills ( Luke 2:8 ).
On the contrary, this is a scene typical of warm seasons. Although there is nothing to prevent symbolic commemoration on December 25, it is definitely not the historically appropriate date of his birth.
What does the Bible say about the birth of Jesus?
The Bible says that when Jesus was born, there were shepherds with their flocks in the open air on the tops of the mountains ( Luke 2:8-20 ).
Keeping the animals in the field even at night was a common practice at that time, but it was conducive to the months from spring to autumn. December, which corresponds to the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, is the period of winter and heavy rains ( Jeremiah 36:22; Ezra 10:9; Zechariah 7:1 ).
No one would leave their flock out in the open at that time of year. Similarly, Mary and Joseph’s trip would not be appropriate in the winter season. Given the limitations of the time, any journey of more than 100 kilometers required a superhuman effort.
Thus, the appropriate moments for long trips would be Easter (or Pesaj, in April), at the beginning of sowing; Pentecost or Shavuot (June), seven weeks later, when the first fruits were ripe, and Tabernacles (or Sukkot, in October), when the last fruits were collected.
What is the most probable date for the birth of Jesus?
Assuring the day of the birth of the Lord Jesus is impossible, the Bible does not reveal anything about the day, however, there is a possibility regarding the month.
To know what it would be, we must look at the Scriptures carefully, especially in the gospel of Luke, in the book of 1 Chronicles, and know the Jewish calendar.
Starting with Luke, this evangelist gives the information that before the birth of Jesus, there was the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth became pregnant by John while her husband, Zacharias, was ministering to him in the Temple as a priest. In Luke 1:5, 23-28 it is told that
Now, the Bible mentions that Zacharias was from the class of Abijah. What would that be? The first book of Chronicles in chapter 24 explains how David divided the priests into 24 shifts of 15 days each.
Thus, the shifts would cover the entire year, that is, 52 weeks. Verse 10 says that Abijah took the eighth turn ( 1 Chronicle 24:10 ). Counting that there were two shifts per month and that the Jewish calendar began in the month of Nisan, which is equivalent to March/April,it is understood that in the second half of Tammuz (July), Zacharias served the eighth shift and received the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, and consequently, the beginning of Elisabet’s gestation.
Nine months later, Elisabet had to give birth in the month of Nisan, which would be March/April.
Mary became pregnant when Elizabeth, her relative, was in her sixth month of pregnancy, that is, that Mary became pregnant in the month of Tiber (December/January). And what about Jesus? Luke 1:26-36 says that
Thus, Jesus would be born nine months later, in the month of Ethanim, which would be September/October. Therefore, this would be a very reasonable hypothesis for the time of Jesus’ birth.
The birth of Jesus has been celebrated since the 4th century and the exact date of Jesus’ birth has been a topic of debate among theologians, historians, and scholars for centuries. So, when was Jesus actually born according to the Bible?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. The Bible does not provide a clear answer to this question but rather hints at a time period and season in which Jesus may have been born. We hope you like this article, kindly share if you do.