When Was Jesus Really Born?

Was Jesus born on December 25? Most biblical scholars and preachers readily admit that they know Christ was not born on December 25. There is no evidence for this date. So then, who decided that Jesus’ birth would be celebrated on that date? The early Christian church did not celebrate Jesus’ birth. Later, in the 4th Century AD, it was celebrated on different dates in different cities. It wasn’t until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was observed near the winter solstice.

The apostles in the New Testament predicted that some Christians would adopt pagan beliefs to enable them to make their religion more palatable to the pagans around them. Therefore, some scholars think the church chose the date of this pagan celebration to interest them in Christianity. The pagans were already used to celebrating on this date.

The New Testament, tells us that Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod. Herod died in either 4 B.C. or 1 B.C, depending upon certain astronomical events described around his death. This fixes Jesus’ birth somewhere between 6 B.C. and 2 B.C. But what month and day was He born?

The history of John the Baptist also helps determine when Jesus may have been born. John is the son of Aaron and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, was a cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus. The Gospels tells us the Mary attended to Elizabeth while she was pregnant and during the birth of John. John was born in the Spring, around Passover. We also know that John was 5 months older than Jesus. This, means that Jesus was probably born in the month of September, between 2 and 4 B.C.