Age 33?


It never dawned on me to wonder. Odd how things just come into my mind, when I should have thought of them long ago… But I don’t remember Scripture ever stating clearly Jesus’s age. Is His age of 33 only speculated or estimated, just like His true birthdate (and possibly death date) are?


Luke 3: 23:

When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli…

Also, check this out:



23* * Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,…

Luke 3:23

Note that it says “about thirty”. I think thirty was the age at which a rabbi was expected to begin his work.

As I recall there are references to three Passovers in the Gospels, which gives His ministry a duration of about three years.

From this I think 33 is an estimate; not an exact calculation.


We don’t know how old Jesus was. Scripture states he was about 30 when he started his public ministry.
In my view that could mean plus/minus 3 years or even more.

In short, we don’t know when he was born, how old he was when he started his ministry or how old he was when he died.


But we can make some rough estimates with some very reasonable assumptions.

We know Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.

Figuring in a two-year search, Jesus was born no later than 6 B.C.

We know that Caiaphas was removed as High Priest in A.D. 36, and Pilate removed as Prefect in A.D. 37.

Now, assuming that Jesus was born in 6 B.C., and was crucified in A.D. 36, we arrive at an age of 41.

Caiaphas assumed power as High Priest around A.D. 27.

Assuming that Jesus was born in A.D. 6 and crucified in A.D. 27, he would have been 32 at the time of his death.


Luke states that Jesus was baptized in the fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign. That would be A.D. 28.

So A.D. 29 would be the year of his crucifixion at the earliest in Caiaphas’ tenure, giving him an age of 34.

And, of course, Jesus could have been born considerably earlier that 6 B.C.

So there are all sorts of ways to work things, depending on your assumptions about certain clues in the bible.

As in a previous post, I would recommend Hagan’s “Year of the Passover” if this area interests you.


Only John speaks of three Passovers; the synoptics expressly speak only of one. And actually, taking John’s chronology literally it would give you just a little over than two years (Jesus in John begins His ministry on the first Passover and dies at the third, two years later.)

Actually, the idea that Jesus’ ministry lasted for three and a half (to be exact) years doesn’t come from the gospels at all. It comes from a patristic interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.” (9:27) On the literal/original sense, the ‘he’ who will abolish the sacrifices (identified in the preceding verse as “the prince who is to come”) most likely referred to Antiochus Epiphanes. The Church Fathers meanwhile interpreted it typologically as referring to either the Antichrist or Jesus: the latter interpretation rests on the idea that Jesus did, in some sense, ‘put an end to sacrifice and offering’ (i.e. the Old Law). The earliest Church Father to hold this interpretation AFAIK is Eusebius in the 4th century and before him, Origen.


That is what I was taught. The OP needs to look into Jewish customs around at that time.


’Luke 3:23: *The Ancestry of Jesus -

When he started to teach, Jesus was about thirty years old*…’

This website gives a pretty clear answer: to do with the duration of His ministry, from the age of thirty onwards…

It estimates His ministry as lasting about three and a half years due to the number of Passovers He was alive for as written in the Gospels:

‘Question: "How long was Jesus’ ministry?"

Answer: According to Luke 3:1, John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign. Tiberius was appointed as co-regent with Augustus in AD 11, and 15 years later would be AD 26. **Jesus began His ministry shortly thereafter at approximately the age of thirty (Luke 3:23). **This gives us a basis upon which we can approximate what year Jesus began His public ministry: around AD 26. As for the end of His ministry, we know that it culminated with His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

According to John’s Gospel, Jesus attended at least three annual Feasts of Passover through the course of His ministry: one in John 2:13, another in 6:4, and then the Passover of His crucifixion in 11:55–57.

Just based on that information, Jesus’ ministry lasted 2 years, at the very least.

Because of the amount of things that Jesus accomplished and the places He traveled during His ministry, many scholars believe there was another Passover, not mentioned in the Gospels, which fell between the Passovers of John 2 and John 6. This would lengthen Jesus’ ministry to at least 3 years.

We can add more time because of all that took place before the first Passover of Jesus’ ministry in John 2.

By the time of that first Passover (in the spring of 27), Jesus had already traveled from the area of the Jordan to Cana to Capernaum to Jerusalem. He had been baptized by John (Matthew 3:13–17), been tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–2), began His preaching ministry (Matthew 4:17), called His first disciples (John 1:35–51), performed His first miracle (John 2:1–11), and made a trip to Capernaum with His family (John 2:12). All this would have taken several months, at least.

** Add to that the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension (Acts 1:3), and we have a total length of Jesus’ earthly ministry. From His baptism to His ascension, the late summer of 26 to the spring of 30, we have approximately 3½ years**.’

It is all there, to be discovered in Scripture! :thumbsup:


Tiberius’ reign would have begun in the year of Augustus’ death in A.D. 14.

No way around that.

So Tiberius’ fifteenth year of reign would have been in A.D. 28.

A.D. 14 would count as the FIRST year in Tiberius’ reign- even though it was a partial year. Josephus is clear on this manner of dating reigns of the emperors.

And any length of time could have passed between when Jesus started his ministry and when he ramped it up enough to the point of challenging the moneychangers in the Temple. Years, most likely.

Even in Mark, there is a period of time between Jesus’ baptism and him arriving in the Galilee and doing miracles in the year leading up to his crucifixion.


Crown of Stars

There are scholars who will challenge just about any date that other scholars put forward for the events in the life of Jesus, from his birth to his Crucifixion, including his baptism and the duration of his ministry. There are really only two things that can be said with virtual certainty:

  1. Herod the Great died in April, 4 BC. Jesus was born shortly before that date, though “shortly” may mean anything from a few months to a few years.

  2. The date of the Crucifixion was either April 7, AD 30, or April 3, AD 33.


And you started off so well with number 1…


Lot of people are now thinking that Herod died in 1 BC.


[quote=BartholomewB] The date of the Crucifixion was either April 7, AD 30, or April 3, AD 33.

Make that the former. :thumbsup:

Chronology of the Cross


Maybe the dates are correct as they are. With 33AD being the correct date of the end of our Lord’s mission. People always have to find reason to question what we already know.

Three has a special holy significance but people think that just because it appears a lot it can’t be true. I rather think that with our Creator nothing is impossible, and when numbers are used in this way, it is simply because they are correct - numbers are used in the Bible, because they represent exactly how events turned out (signs). But there will always be the naysayer being icky picky about it.

I am certainly not thinking the link I provided earlier was correct. It seems way out. But our Lord’s mission ended when he was 33, IMHO.



You’re a thirty-sixer, right? If I remember correctly from other threads. Would you care to summarize in a few lines your reasons for that preference? I have an open mind and I’m ready to add it to my list, if you can convince me that I ought to.




Not convoluted. Just nice and straightforward!


Yes, 30 is my preference too, but I don’t think the evidence is strong enough to reject 33 as an impossibility.



Thank you for that link, but Jimmy Akin, on this occasion, hasn’t managed to present his argument in a way that the reader can easily grasp. He seems to rely rather heavily on the hypothesis that Josephus disregards the first few months of an incoming monarch’s reign and starts his “Year One” from the beginning of the first full calendar year.

I’m not in a position to refute Akin’s hypothesis, but I think he needs to substantiate it more fully. In particular, he would need to supply two pieces of information:

  1. The reference to the passage in Josephus in which he found this statement that the first first few months are not counted.

  2. The date of the New Year, which potentially could be any one of these three:

The New Year, reckoned as 1 Tishri (the present-day Rosh Hashanah, close to the fall equinox)
The New Year, reckoned as 1 Nisan (close to the spring equinox)
The Julian New Year, 1 January.



Bart- I’ll summarize my (which follows Hagan’s) “36’er” argument in a later post.

The problem for many is that you have to assume that Luke is in frank error in some “facts.” Few Catholics are willing to admit that.

Year of reign is something we can deal with now. My source is Josephus, who is a legitimate secular Roman historian as well as Jewish Historian. Josephus should be the standard.

In talking about Vespasian, Josephus calls A.D. 69 the first year in the reign of Vespasian, even though he was declared Emperor in December of A.D. 69.

Moreover, Josephus documents that the fall of Jerusalem in the fall of A.D. 70 was in the 2nd year of the reign of Vespasian.

I don’t think we need to debate this any more. The fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign would have been A.D. 28.



OK, take your time! No rush.

On the numbering of regnal years in Luke and Josephus, I think I agree with you, at least in broad outline. Specifically, I think Luke is almost certainly following the same rule as Roman historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius. That is to say, Year One of each reign would last less than a full year, running only from the date of accession to the end of that calendar year. This means that Luke reckoned Tiberius’ first year from August 19, AD 14, to December 31, AD 14, and his fifteenth year from January 1 to December 31, AD 28. Up to this point, at least, I’m in full agreement with you.

I also think Josephus set out to follow the same rule, except that he may perhaps not have followed it very consistently. If you look at the post #12 on this thread, by ZZ912, you’ll find a link to an article by Jimmy Akin in which he states that, at least in the case of Herod the Great, Josephus disregarded the first few months of his reign and began Herod’s Year One with the first full calendar year. If Josephus was using the Julian calendar, that would have been ― according to Jimmy Akin ― the year 38 BC. On the other hand, perhaps he was using one or other of the Jewish calendars (see my post #18). In any case, as I said, there is reason to believe that, whatever system Josephus set out to follow, he may have slipped up from time to time.


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