How Old was Jesus when the Wise Men Came? (2022)

How Old was Jesus when the Wise Men Came? (1)

It seems every Christmas someone, a pastor, a friend, or a teacher, insists that the Nativity scenes and the common Christmas story are all wrong because Jesus had to have been a toddler by the time the wise men arrived in Bethlehem. Is this Biblical? I would like to answer this question once and for all, "How old was Jesus when the Wise Men came?"

There are two views on this question. The traditional view is that Jesus was a baby. I call this view the Wise Men/Baby Jesus view. The other view says that Jesus was one or two years old. I call this view the Wise Men/Toddler Jesus view.

The Wise Men/Toddler Jesus View

The Wise Men/Toddler Jesus view seems to have it roots in the actions of King Herod at the time of Jesus' birth. When the wise men came to him looking for the Messiah, he asked them when the star had appeared (Matthew 2:7).

The wise men went to visit Jesus and then returned home.

When Herod saw that they did not return to him as he had asked them to, he "was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men." (Matthew 2:16 KJV) Evidently, Herod figured that Jesus had to have been born at some time around when the star appeared or later.

(Video) The Story of Christmas (Jesus and the Wise Men)

The Wise Men/Toddler Jesus crowd agree with Herod's conclusion. They make three points in support of their view: 1) Jesus was born when the star appeared; 2) Jesus is called a young child (KJV) in the wise men account (Matthew 2:8,9,11,13,14,20,21) and not a baby; and 3) the wise men found Jesus in a house (Matthew 2:11), not a stable or an inn.

These points may sound plausible, but upon closer examination of the Bible and its underlying Greek text, some major problems emerge.

How Old was Jesus when the Wise Men Came? (2)

The Start of the Star

The Bible does not say that Jesus was born when the star first appeared. Those who say He was are only guessing.

Despite who Herod was, he did not know when Jesus was born. Just because he ordered that children two years old should be killed does not mean that Jesus was two years old at that time. Herod evidently also thought that Jesus could have been a newborn baby only days old because he also ordered newborn babies to be killed.

A Baby is Called a Young Child Too

The Greek word behind the term, young child, is paidion. It does not refer only to a toddler. It may also be a newborn baby. Paidion is used of John the Baptist when he was eight days old (Luke 1:59,66,76,80). It is used of Jesus when he was born (Luke 2:17), when he was eight days old (Luke 2:21), and when he was 40 days old (Luke 2:27,40). In fact, paidion is used of Jesus when the shepherds were there on the night of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:17), just one verse after babe (brephos) is used. So just because Jesus is called a young child (paidion) in the wise men account (Matthew) does not mean that he was older than a baby.

An Inn was a Room in a House

In the Bible times when people traveled, they stayed in homes as non-paying guests because hotels were very rare. There were no Holiday Inns or Motel 6s. The law commanded the Jews to treat strangers as themselves and not take advantage of them (Leviticus 19:33). It was wrong for them to charge money for travelers to spend the night. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that there was an inn in Bethlehem.

The term, inn, in the Bible can also refer to the guest room in a house. The Greek word for inn (kataluma) is only translated as inn in Luke 2:7. The other two times it appears (Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11), it is translated as guest chamber (chamber is an old word for room) in the KJV. In those verses, it is obvious that it is a room in a house, not an inn.

(Video) The Wise Men Seek Jesus

Many people built guest rooms in their homes (usually as a second floor over their existing house with an external door and stairway) so that they could have a place for visitors to sleep, especially around Jerusalem. During Israel's three national holidays, Jews traveled from all over the country and lived in houses as non-paying guests in and around Jerusalem. Two of the holidays were a week long and so it required that the people with houses in Jerusalem and the surrounding cities be hospitable.

What is referred to as an inn in Bethlehem most likely was a guest room in someone's house. The guest room was full and so Mary and Joseph slept in the barn.

When the people in the guest room saw that Mary had given birth to Jesus, it is likely that someone offered to sleep in the barn so Mary and Jesus could sleep in the house. So the wise men could have come the day Jesus was born and found him in a house. The mention of a house does not require or hint that Jesus was not a baby.

But for argument's sake, let's say that everything in this section is wrong. There was an inn in Bethlehem and there was no room in the inn for Jesus. What form would this inn be in? A thirty story building able to sleep thousands with a big lighted sign on top that says, "Bethlehem Inn"? No. It was not in New York City in the twenty-first century. It was in Israel at the end of the BC era. They did not have skyscrapers. They had houses. If there had been an inn in Bethlehem, it would have been in a house, a house that the wise men came to. Again, the mention of a house does not require or hint that Jesus was not a baby.

How Old was Jesus when the Wise Men Came? (3)

The Wise Men Arrived in Jerusalem When Jesus Was Born

Another proof for the Wise Men/Baby Jesus view is Matthew 2:1. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem." (KJV) This verse states that the wise men came into Jerusalem "when Jesus was born". They did not come a year later. They came when he was born.

"When Jesus was born" is an aorist participle in Greek. It can be translated as "when Jesus was born", "after Jesus was born", or "Jesus was born and." Aorist participles are frequent in the New Testament. With an aorist participle, the action of the participle (Jesus was born) is closely followed by the action of the main verb (wise men came to Jerusalem). There was not a year or two or even a week or two between the time Jesus was born and when the wise men came into Jerusalem.

Bethlehem was only half a day’s walk from Jerusalem. It did not take the wise men long to get to Bethlehem after they arrived in Jerusalem when Jesus was born.

(Video) How Old was Jesus when the Magi arrived?

We Know When they Returned to Nazareth

Another proof for the Wise Men/Baby Jesus view is Joseph, Mary, and Jesus' return back to Nazareth. It only happened once and both the wise men account (Matthew) and the shepherd account (Luke) record it. In the shepherd account (Luke) it is very clear that they returned to Nazareth (Luke 2:39) very close to 40 days after Jesus was born, "when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished" (Luke 2:22). The wise men account (Matthew) tells us that they returned to Nazareth after their return from Egypt (Matthew 2:22,23). So the wise men's visit, Joseph and Mary's trip to Egypt, and their trip back, all of it had to have happened within 40 days of Jesus' birth.

How Old was Jesus when the Wise Men Came? (4)

The Christmas Timeline

How did these events fit together? Here is a narrative that combines the two accounts in chronological order.

Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be taxed. When they arrived, they went to Joseph’s relative's house. His relatives had a guest room, but the guest room was full, so they stayed in the barn.

Jesus was born at night in the barn. Angels appeared to shepherds telling them of Jesus' birth. They found Jesus lying in the feed trough of the barn. When they left, they told everyone what had happened. The news spread throughout that small village.

That night or the next morning Joseph's relative brought Mary and the baby into the house and kicked out some other distant relatives.

About this time the wise men entered Jerusalem asking where the Messiah was. Herod consulted the people whose job it is to copy the Old Testament by hand and they answered, Bethlehem. Herod asked the wise men to find the Messiah and then come back and tell him where the Messiah was.

The wise men left on the several hour trip to Bethlehem traveling in the cool of the night. The star reappeared and guided them to the house where Jesus was. They went into the house and gave him gifts.

(Video) Mystery of the Magi

As they slept that night, God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod but to go home a different way. They left.

The next night an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to escape to Egypt. He, Mary, and Jesus set off for Egypt. After a few days journey Mary and Joseph arrived in Egypt.

Herod saw that the wise men had not returned. He got mad and killed all of the boys in the Bethlehem area that were two years old and younger.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt for about a month. Herod died. An angel appeared in Joseph's dream again telling him it is alright to return to Israel.

They traveled to Jerusalem and went to the temple to offer the sacrifices required by the law. Simeon and Anna recognized the baby Jesus as the Messiah.

The proper thing for them to have done next would have been to go back to Bethlehem, tell the relatives and friends there that they were alright, and thank them for their hospitality, but talking with other worshippers at the temple, Joseph found out that Herod's son, Archelaus, had replaced Herod, and he was afraid to go to Bethlehem. Nervous about the attention his Son was getting in Jerusalem, they headed west out of Israel and then north to Nazareth.


How old was Jesus when the wise men came? The Bible does not say exactly how old He was, but from what it says we can make a safe guess that He was from 0 days old to several days old. He was not one or two years old.

FAQs

How old was Jesus at the Epiphany? ›

The baptism of Jesus was originally assigned to the same date as the birth because Luke 3:23 was misread to mean that Jesus was exactly 30 when he was baptized. Epiphanius of Salamis says that January 6 is Christ's "Birthday; that is, His Epiphany" (hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion).

How long was the 3 wise men's journey? ›

Journeying more than 900 miles, the pilgrims, representing seven nationalities from four continents, have been walking from Iraq to Bethlehem for the past three months in what is being called the first re-enactment of the expedition of the three kings — or Magi — 2,000 years ago.

How old was Jesus when he was presented in the temple? ›

"Jesus at the Age of Twelve Years goes to the Temple" . A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture.

When did the wise men come? ›

The visit of the Magi is commemorated in most Western Christian churches by the observance of Epiphany, 6 January, which also serves as the feast of the three as saints. The Eastern Orthodox celebrate the visit of the Magi on 25 December.

What is Jesus real birthday? ›

By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized — and now also celebrated — as Jesus' birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor).

When was Jesus actually born? ›

The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical reference, but most biblical scholars assume a year of birth between 6 and 4 BC.

How old is God in the Bible? ›

'How old is God? When was God born?' || A reading from ... - YouTube

How old was Joseph when Jesus was born? ›

He was around 50 when Jesus was born. Joseph, Simon's uncle, would have been born a generation earlier.

What Magi means? ›

Magi, singular Magus, also called Wise Men, in Christian tradition, the noble pilgrims “from the East” who followed a miraculous guiding star to Bethlehem, where they paid homage to the infant Jesus as king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1–12).

When did Jesus become 12 years old? ›

Jesus visited the Temple in Nazareth when he was twelve years old. The angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.

Where did Jesus go for 18 years? ›

The 18 unknown years

Christian tradition suggests that Jesus simply lived in Galilee during that period. Modern scholarship holds that there is little historical information to determine what happened during those years.

What was Jesus's wife's name? ›

Mary Magdalene, sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and resurrection.
...
Mary Magdalene.
Saint Mary Magdalene
BornPossibly Magdala, Roman Judea
7 more rows

When did Mary know she's pregnant? ›

The gospel of Matthew is the only one to tell us Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph had sex. She was said to be “with child from the Holy Spirit”. In proof of this, Matthew quoted a prophecy from the Old Testament that a “virgin will conceive and bear a son and he will be called Emmanuel”.

Who came to see Jesus when he was born? ›

Matthew calls the visitors “Magi” (wise men) and they may well have been astrologers , following the sign of a special star in the sky. They probably came from Persia . The Magi could have come to visit weeks or even months after the shepherds visited, when Mary and Joseph had found accommodation in a house (verse 11).

How many years was Jesus in Egypt? ›

The Holy Family took almost the same route on their journey back to Palestine, after spending over three years in Egypt.

What was Jesus last name? ›

What was Jesus's Real Name? - YouTube

What is Jesus real name? ›

Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.

Did Jesus have a wife? ›

"Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim," King said in a press release.

What is God's birthday? ›

From Rome, the Christ's Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ's birth on December 25.

Why was December 25th chosen as the birthday of Jesus? ›

The Roman Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus dated Jesus' conception to March 25 (the same date upon which he held that the world was created), which, after nine months in his mother's womb, would result in a December 25 birth.

How old was Mary when Jesus was born? ›

From the age at which Jewish maidens became marriageable, it is possible that Mary gave birth to her son when she was about thirteen or fourteen years of age. No historical document tells us how old she actually was at the time of the Nativity.

What height is God? ›

This looks like one of those unanswerable questions, but it turns out that the Mormons – and the leaders of the American "Prosperity Gospel" movement – believe they know the answer: God is about 6' 2" tall. (He doesn't use the metric system).

Who old was Jesus when he died? ›

Considering Jesus' varying chronology, he was 33 to 40 years old at his time of death.

How old is Adam and Eve? ›

They used these variations to create a more reliable molecular clock and found that Adam lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago. A comparable analysis of the same men's mtDNA sequences suggested that Eve lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago1.

How many children did Mary have after Jesus? ›

They may have been: (1) the sons of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph (2) sons of the Mary named in Mark 15:40 as "mother of James and Joses", whom Jerome identified with the wife of Clopas and sister of Mary the mother of Jesus; or (3) sons of Joseph by a former marriage.

Was Joseph and Mary married? ›

The betrothal legend in the Golden Legend

After the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and caused Joseph's rod to blossom, he and Mary were wed according to Jewish custom.

What are the 3 Magi names? ›

From a wide assortment of names suggested for the Magi, those that eventually prevailed were Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar. But the names, like the lands of origin, were never consistently assigned to a particular king.

What gifts did the 3 wise men bring? ›

The magi knelt down for the baby Jesus and “offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Their gifts are possibly an allusion to Isaiah's vision of nations rendering tribute to Jerusalem: “A multitude of camels shall cover you.

Was there a fourth wise man in the Bible? ›

The story expands the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. It tells about a "fourth" wise man, a priest of the Magi named Artaban, from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens that a King had been born among the Jews.

What is the phone number of Jesus? ›

In some Christian numerology, the number 888 represents Jesus, or sometimes more specifically Christ the Redeemer.

What age did Jesus leave home to preach? ›

Another approach to estimating Jesus' year of birth is based on the statement in Luke 3:23 that he was "about 30 years of age" when starting his ministry.

What does 12 stands for in the Bible? ›

12: The Number of Authority

Some interpret the number 12 as representing authority and governmental rule. So the 12 sons and the 12 apostles are symbols of authority both in ancient Israel and in the Christian church. In this painting of the Last Supper, Jesus is depicted with his 12 disciples.

What language did the Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

Are there any stories about Jesus as a child? ›

The Gospel of Luke records just two narratives about Jesus' childhood: His dedication (Luke 2:21-40) and His visit to the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). The Gospel of Matthew includes another story: a visit from some wise men.

Does the Bible talk about Jesus as a child? ›

This passage in Luke 2 is the only account of any of the so-called “hidden years” of Jesus' childhood. John and Mark's gospel begin with Jesus' public ministry as an adult.

Who was the son of Jesus? ›

Jacobovici and Pellegrino argue that Aramaic inscriptions reading "Judah, son of Jesus", "Jesus, son of Joseph", and "Mariamne", a name they associate with Mary Magdalene, together preserve the record of a family group consisting of Jesus, his wife Mary Magdalene and son Judah.

Is Sarah the daughter of Jesus? ›

Some authors, taking up themes from the pseudohistorical book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, suggest that Sarah was the daughter of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Who Wrote the Bible? ›

Even after nearly 2,000 years of its existence, and centuries of investigation by biblical scholars, we still don't know with certainty who wrote its various texts, when they were written or under what circumstances.

Where did Mary go after Jesus died? ›

Ancient traditions, which are not always reliable, tell us that Mary associated with the church in Jerusalem for many years, and finally accompanied John to Ephesus, where she eventually died. But Mary's contribution to the church and to the work of her Son may be more lasting than most people realize.

What did Mary do after Jesus died? ›

After Jesus' death, the most controversy around Mary Magdalene's life would unfold. In all four Gospels, she is the first to witness Jesus after his resurrection. Believed to be the Jesus' favorite by the apostles, Mary is asked to reveal secret teachings given to her by Jesus while consoling the apostles.

Does God Look Like? ›

What Does God Look Like? | Igniter Media | Church Video - YouTube

At what age did Jesus start doing the work of his father? ›

Luke 3:23 states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry.

What country did Jesus live in? ›

The Gospels say that although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he spent much of his early life in Nazareth, in northern Israel. Recent archaeological research reveals that during the first century A.D., Nazareth was a Jewish settlement whose inhabitants appear to have rejected the spread of Roman culture.

Who was the first visitor of Jesus? ›

9 Now when he was risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, disbelieved.

When did Jesus go to Africa? ›

Jesuit missions in Africa

Missionary expeditions undertaken by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) began as early as 1548 in various regions of Africa.

Which religion did Jesus follow? ›

Of course, Jesus was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues.

Why did God send Jesus a baby? ›

So God's love for us is at some level rooted in our identity as his image-bearers. By sending his son Jesus to die for our sins, God is working to restore the radiance of his own glory shining in and through us.

What was the age of Jesus when he was crucified? ›

Considering Jesus' varying chronology, he was 33 to 40 years old at his time of death.

When did Jesus become 12 years old? ›

Jesus visited the Temple in Nazareth when he was twelve years old. The angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.

What was Jesus doing when he was 30? ›

Christians have generally taken the statement in Mark 6:3 referring to Jesus as "Is not this the carpenter...?" (Greek: οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, romanized: ouch outos estin ho tektōn) as an indication that before the age of 30 Jesus had been working as a carpenter.

Why did Jesus go to the temple when he was 12 years old? ›

According to the gospel, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days (inclusive) after His birth to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Torah (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12–15, etc.).

What was Jesus's wife's name? ›

Mary Magdalene, sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and resurrection.
...
Mary Magdalene.
Saint Mary Magdalene
BornPossibly Magdala, Roman Judea
7 more rows

What was Jesus's full name? ›

Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.

How many children did Mary have after Jesus? ›

They may have been: (1) the sons of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph (2) sons of the Mary named in Mark 15:40 as "mother of James and Joses", whom Jerome identified with the wife of Clopas and sister of Mary the mother of Jesus; or (3) sons of Joseph by a former marriage.

What is the phone number of Jesus? ›

In some Christian numerology, the number 888 represents Jesus, or sometimes more specifically Christ the Redeemer.

What age did Jesus leave home to preach? ›

Another approach to estimating Jesus' year of birth is based on the statement in Luke 3:23 that he was "about 30 years of age" when starting his ministry.

What does 12 stands for in the Bible? ›

12: The Number of Authority

Some interpret the number 12 as representing authority and governmental rule. So the 12 sons and the 12 apostles are symbols of authority both in ancient Israel and in the Christian church. In this painting of the Last Supper, Jesus is depicted with his 12 disciples.

Where did Jesus go for 18 years? ›

Of course, the widely accepted Christian belief is that he spent these years plying his trade as a carpenter in Galilee, but there's little reference to that in the bible. This gaping hole in Jesus' life has led to several theories.

How long was Jesus ministry before death? ›

public ministry would be two to three years in length. (4) If it began in 28-29 A. D., and the crucifixion came in the spring of 29 A. D., the ministry would have continued but a few months.

How many brothers did Jesus have? ›

Mark 6:3 tells us that Jesus had four younger brothers and at least two sisters, the children of Mary and Joseph. The sisters' names have not been preserved, but the brothers were called James (in the Hebrew, Jacob), Joses (in the Hebrew, Joseph, after his father), Simon, and Judas or Juda (also known as Jude).

Are there any stories of Jesus as a child? ›

The Gospel of Luke records just two narratives about Jesus' childhood: His dedication (Luke 2:21-40) and His visit to the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). The Gospel of Matthew includes another story: a visit from some wise men.

Does the Bible talk about Jesus childhood? ›

This passage in Luke 2 is the only account of any of the so-called “hidden years” of Jesus' childhood. John and Mark's gospel begin with Jesus' public ministry as an adult.

How old is Virgin Mary? ›

While unproven, some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old. According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12. Hyppolitus of Thebes says that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.

Videos

1. The Wise Men Visited Jesus
(B&H Publishing Group)
2. How Many Wise Men Were at Jesus' Birth?
(Covenant Presbyterian, Orange)
3. The Wise Men, Baby Jesus, and … Baby Moses?
(OverviewBible)
4. The Wise Men Visit Baby Jesus
(Mina Baskharoun)
5. Wise Men Visited Jesus
(Reynolda Church)
6. Three wise men present Jesus with gifts!
(Forest Park Studios)

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