In ancient times there was no continuity of accounting for what year it was. In the Old Testament we find a phrase like “King Asa died in the forty-first year of his reign.” This same system was used with almost all kings and emperors. You had to know when their reign began before you could determine when it ended.
For this reason, when trying to determine when the Lord Jesus was born, and therefore which year was 1 A.D., they made a mistake. There have been guesses and estimates of when Jesus was born.
I believe the Bible tells us. Like so many facts in the Word of God, you have to search it out.
In the account of the birth of Jesus, when Joseph was warned that King Herod sought to kill Jesus, he took his small family to Egypt as instructed by an angel. The provision of God, through the gifts of the Wise Men, enabled them to travel and live there. Upon the death of Herod, Joseph was told that it was safe to return to Israel. (Matthew 2:13-23)
Most historians agree that Herod died in 4 B.C. This seems to be confirmed by the reigns of his two surviving sons, whose reigns began in 4 B.C. This would indicate that Jesus was born earlier, at least in 6 B.C.
If this is so, then the only episode we are given of the youth of Jesus must have occurred in 7 A.D. This is the story of Mary and Joseph losing track of the twelve year-old Jesus while returning to Nazareth after Passover. (Luke 2:41-50)
A little background: The Patriarch Jacob gave prophecies about his twelve sons while on his deathbed.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. . .” – Genesis 49:10Shiloh is defined as “tranquility” or “peace”, and is thought to refer to the Messiah, Jesus.
The scepter, or authority, did not depart from the Hebrews or the Jews for over a thousand years. Even during the Babylonian Captivity the Jews retained the right to use their own judges. (Ezra 10:14) With this authority came the right to prescribe capital punishment. The Jews held this right even under Roman rule. The Sanhedrin was the authority at that time, and the Sanhedrin held the power of capital punishment . . . until 7 A.D.
At this time Rome finally had enough of the murderous activities of Herod’s sons. The Romans took over and instituted the Jus Gladii, the Law of the Sword. The Babylonian Talmud (chapter 4:37) reports the Sanhedrin exclaimed, “woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!”
I believe this was an amazing confirmation from history of the Lord Jesus as Messiah.
In 7 A.D. when Jesus was twelve years old, He went to the Temple. I believe He went to metaphorically claim the scepter as a descendant of King David and as Messiah. The Sanhedrin did not know, but the Messiah had come.
If Jesus was born in 6 B.C., then when He began His ministry at age thirty it was the Fall of 25 A.D. Three and one-half years later, Jesus completed His earthly ministry when He was crucified, in the Spring of 29 A.D. If this is correct, Resurrection Sunday in the Year of Our Lord 2029 will be the two-thousandth anniversary of the death of Jesus on the Cross.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!