When Was Jesus Born?

When Was Jesus Born?

When Was Jesus Born?

When Was Jesus Born?

When asked, "When was Jesus born?" most Christians answer, "December 25th." After all, it's Christmas, which is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, depicted above in a mural in Bethlehem near the Nativity Church.

Is December 25th really the date when Jesus was born?

It isn't. December 25th was chosen as Jesus' birthday by Rome to replace the major pagan feast on winter solstice after Constantine, the first "Christian" Roman emperor, made Christianity the official religion of the empire.

When does the Bible say Jesus was born?

While the Bible does not give Jesus' birthday, it does indicate the season in which He was born:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:8-11)

"Living out in the fields" is the English translation of one Greek word, agraulountes (άγραυλουντες) that originates from agros (άγρος), which means farm field (derivations of this root word gives the English words, "agrarian" and "agriculture"), and aulē (αυλη), which means courtyard; the shepherds were making farm field their courtyard.

This is an important detail because the shepherds and their sheep normally could not enter farm fields, lest the sheep eat the crop. They could enter only during a brief period just after the harvest when the farmers invited them in so that the sheep can "clean up" the field. This detail indicates that Jesus was born in the fall.

Also, Luke chapter 1 indicates* that Mary's pregnancy began during the "sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy, which commenced just after her husband Zacharias, who was of the "division of Abijah" had performed his duties of "priesthood" in the "temple of the Lord."

The "division of Abijah" performed its priestly duties in the "temple of the Lord" in the latter half of the fourth month in the Jewish calendar, which starts after Passover. Since Passover is in March or April, Elizabeth conceived in June or July, Mary conceived in the "sixth month" from then - i.e., December or January - and Jesus was born nine months thereafter in September or October.

* There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth... So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord... Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John... Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren." (Luke 1:5, 8-9, 11-13, 26-36)