Eusebius on the Age of Christ at his Baptism and

 Length of his Ministry


 X. In the time of these rulers, then, according to the evangelist, when Tiberius Caesar was in the fifteenth year of his reign and Pontius Pilate the fourth of his governorship, and Herod, Lysanias, and Philip were tetrarchs of the rest of Judaea, our Saviour and Lord, Jesus the Christ of God, “beginning to be about thirty years old,” came to the baptism of John and there began the proclamation of the gospel.

The divine Scripture says that he completed the whole time of his teaching while Annas and Caiaphas wee high priest, showing that the whole time of his teaching was bounded by the years which cover their administration. Since, then, he began in the high priesthood of Annas and continued to the reign of Caiaphas the intervening time does not extend to a full four years. For since the regulations of the law were at that time already in process of destruction the rule had been relaxed by which the duties of the service of God were held for life and by inherited succession, and the Roman governors entrusted the high priesthood at different times to different men, who did not hold this office for more than one year.  

Moreover, Josephus relates that four high priests intervened in succession between Annas and Caiaphas, and speaks as follows in the text of his Antiquities: 

“Valarius Gratus, having deprived Ananus of the priesthood, appoints as high priest Ishmael the son of Phabi.  Him, too, he removes shortly and nominates as high priest Eliezer the son of Ananus the high priest. But when a year was past he removes him also and hands over the high priesthood to Simon the son of Kamithus. But neither did his tenure of office last for more than a year, and Josephus, who is called Caiaphas, was his successor.” 

Thus the whole time of the teaching of our Saviour is shown to be not even a full four years; since from Annas to the appointment of Caiaphas in four years four high priests held the yearly office.  Naturally, then, the scripture of the gospel has indicated Caiaphas as high priest of the year In which the Saviour’s passion was completed, and from this also the time of the teaching of Christ is shown to be not discordant with the preceding conversation.

Book X, Ecclesiastical History, Loeb ed.


Editor's Note: Eusebius says Jesus was still 29 years old when baptized by John and that his ministry spanned less than four years, between the high priesthoods of Ananus ("Annas") and Caiaphas, who orchestrated the murder of Christ.  This means Jesus was born in 2 BC.  Persons born in 2 BC will turn 30 before Dec. 31st AD 29.  Thus, Jesus’ birthday would have occurred sometime between his baptism and the end of the year.  To identify the range of months, we count backward from his death.  The traditional chronology says Jesus’ ministry was three and a half years.  Jesus died on Nisan 15, AD 33.  This means he was baptized Heshvan  15 (Nov. 8), AD 29.  After his baptism but before he began publicly teaching, Jesus undertook a forty day fast in preparation for his earthly ministry, followed by his temptation.  Jesus' fast and temptation would have ended on or about Dec. 25th.  He then returned to John who was baptising at Bethabara, where he made his first disciples, showing his was now 30 years.




Adoration of the Shepherds


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