Sunday, December 17

Was Jesus Born on December 25Th?

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Was Jesus born on December 25th? No. The Roman Catholic Church adopted this date to take away from the worship of the pagan myth Saturn on this date (among other false gods that were supposedly born or celebrated on this date). It wasn’t until A.D. 440 that they officially proclaimed December 25th as the birth date of Christ. 

But could Christ have been conceived on that date? Yes. The evidence to His birth date remains with the shepherds, who were keeping watch of their flocks. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8) Shepherds, watching over their flocks in fields just east of Bethlehem, were the first people told of the birth of Jesus. In December Palestine is very cold. Shepherds were not in the fields during the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is agreed upon by most scholars that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.

Other evidence that December 25 is the wrong date for the birth of Jesus comes from early writings. Iranaeus, born about a century after Jesus, notes that Jesus was born in the 41st year of the reign of Augustus. Since Augustus began his reign in the autumn of 43 B.C., this appears to substantiate the birth of Jesus as the autumn of 2 B.C. Eusebius (A.D. 264-340), the “Father of Church History,” ascribes it to the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the 28th from the subjection of Egypt on the death of Anthony and Cleopatra. The 42nd year of Augustus ran from the autumn of 2 B.C. to the autumn of 1 B.C. The subjugation of Egypt into the Roman Empire occurred in the autumn of 30 B.C. The 28th year extended from the autumn of 3 B.C. to the autumn of 2 B.C. The only date that would meet both of these constraints would be the autumn of 2 B.C.

John the Baptist also helps us determine that December 25 is not the birth of Jesus. Elizabeth, John’s mother, was a cousin of Mary. John began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar. The minimum age for the ministry was 30. As Augustus died on August 19, A.D. 14, that was the accession year for Tiberius. If John was born on April 19-20, 2 B.C., his 30th birthday would have been April 19-20, A.D. 29, or the 15th year of Tiberius. This seems to confirm the 2 B.C. date, and, since John was 5 months older, this also confirms an autumn birth date for Jesus.

Some brief facts about Bethlehem: Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” was originally called Ephrath (Genesis 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It is located about five miles south of Jerusalem at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above sea level, making it 100 feet higher than Jerusalem. Bethlehem’s (Ephrath) first mention in the Bible is in regard to the burial of Jacob’s wife Rachel who died during labor (Genesis 35:19, 48:7). The city was also the birthplace of David and the location where he was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4-13). 

Lastly I will leave you with the lyrics to a great song that reiterates many of the concepts of what I have written, and is one of my personal favorite songs about Jesus Christ. The First Noel was first published in 1833 when it appeared in “Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern,” a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys. It’s origin is unknown but is generally thought to of been an English song that dated back to the sixteenth century.

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both Pause and stay
Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

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