Question: Was Jesus born on December 25th, and in what year was He born?
Answer: The answers to these questions are involved and lengthy, so we will summarize. To ascertain Jesus’ birth, let us first determine the date of His death. There is strong evidence that Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 3rd in 33 A.D. The fact that His crucifixion occurred at the close of the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, and that this date rarely falls on Friday, but did so in the year 33 A.D., substantiates that date so thoroughly that most Bible scholars conclude that 33 A.D. was the year of His death.
Second, it is a generally accepted fact that our Lord’s ministry was three and a half years, proven by Daniel’s prophecy concerning Messiah’s cutting off (our Lord’s death) in the middle of the seventieth week of Israel’s favor (Daniel 9: 23-27). The “seventy weeks” (v. 24), or 490 days, represent 490 years, each symbolic day representing a year. So, when did the 490 years begin to count? Nehemiah made a decree to restore and to build Jerusalem in 455 B.C. Notice that the sixty-nine symbolic weeks, or 483 years, reach unto Messiah the Prince (v. 25), and not to Jesus’ birth. The Hebrew word Messiah, corresponding to the Greek word Christ, means Anointed. Jesus became the Anointed following His baptism. Compare (Acts 10: 37, 38) and (Matthew 3: 16). This was when He had attained manhood’s estate, which was at thirty years according to the Law. Therefore, Jesus was thirty years of age in the autumn of 29 A.D. Beginning there, we find the seventieth week fulfilled like the rest, a day for a year.
Knowing that Jesus was thirty-three and a half years old on April 3rd in 33 A.D., let us count back thirty-three and a half years. That brings us to October 3rd in B.C. 2 as the date of His birth. The difference between lunar time, used by the Jews, and solar time, now in common use, would be a few days, so we could not be certain that the exact day might not be sometime between September 27 and October 1, B.C. 2. Nine months back of that date would bring us to about Christmas time, B.C. 3, as the date at which our Lord laid aside the glory which He had with the Father before the world was made, and the taking of, or changing to human nature began. It seems probable that this was the origin of the celebration of December 25th as Christmas Day. Some writers on Church history even claim that Christmas Day was originally celebrated as the date of the annunciation to the virgin Mary by Gabriel (Luke 1: 26). Furthermore, a midwinter date does not agree with the Scripture, that at the time of our Lord’s birth the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks.