The Conception and Birth of Jesus Christ
|There seems to be a lot of discussion these past 20-30 years about the events and the order of events relating to the Birth of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. When one takes the two narratives from the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, the issues seem to be self clearing. These two narratives are interleafed in verse order. They do not conflict with each other. There are some supposed issues which come up and these are discussed in the right column. There has been discussion as to the probable date of the Christ's birth. This study will show surprising information but clearly confirms cause for our traditional date of celebration.|
|The Narration from the Book of Matthew||The Narration from the book of Luke||Commentary on the Narration|
|Luk 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a
declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Luk 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Luk 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
Luk 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Luk 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Luk 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
Luk 1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
Luk 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
Luk 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
Luk 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Luk 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
Luk 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
Luk 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
Luk 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
Luk 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Luk 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
Luk 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
Luk 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Luk 1:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
Luk 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
Luk 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luk 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Luk 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Luk 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The basis for establishing approximate dating of Christs birth begins with this narrative. John the Baptist's father is noted here as going to the temple to offer incense. He was a priest after the course of Abia. This means that he was only to offer incense at certain times of the year. Each course of priests were assigned to do so by Biblical sequence. They were to serve a week at a time by course twice a year. The course of Abia (Abijah) is the 8th course which places the service of this priest 8 weeks after the the religious new year (related to Passover). 1Chronicles 24:5-19. There were weeks not counted such as Passover feast days and Pentecost. At these times, all priests served because most Israelites gathered at the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and celebrate these feasts.
After his service as priest in the temple, Zacharias returned home. John the Baptist then was conceived approximately in late June (Roman Calendar). This means he was born approximately on Passover the next spring fulfilling the expectation relating to his coming. This expectation is still celebrated with the empty place setting and chair at Passover in many homes.
|Mat 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.|
| Luk 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto
a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Luk 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Luk 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Luk 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Luk 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Luk 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Luk 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Luk 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Luk 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Luk 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Luk 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
Luk 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Luk 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luk 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
Luk 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
Luk 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
Luk 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Luk 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Luk 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Luk 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Luk 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Luk 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Luk 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Luk 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Luk 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
Luk 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Luk 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
Luk 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Luk 1:54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
Luk 1:55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
Luk 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luk 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
Luk 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
Luk 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
Luk 1:60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
Luk 1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
Luk 1:62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
Luk 1:63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
Luk 1:64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
Luk 1:65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
Luk 1:66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
Luk 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
Luk 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
Luk 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
Luk 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
Luk 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
Luk 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
Luk 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
Luk 1:74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
Luk 1:75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Luk 1:76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
Luk 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Luk 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
Luk 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luk 1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
The sixth month here would be the counting of months after the above narrative relating to the conception of Elizabeth. This would place the conception of Jesus in late December, the sixth month. This would correspond roughly with the feast of Hannukkuh. This would bring the conception of Jesus, the Light of Lights to coincide with the Little Festival of Lights, as the Light manifest in Mary. This would mean that we are in reality celebrating the entrance of Almighty God into this world by His conception.
Then As Mary goes to see Elisabeth, the baby lept in Elisabeth's womb. Mary stayed with Elesabeth until about the birth of John the Baptist (three months [6 + 3 = 9]). Mary then returned to her own house.
|Mat 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to
make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Mat 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Mat 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Mat 1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Mat 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Mat 1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
Mat 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
|Luk 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree
from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Luk 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Luk 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
Luk 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
Luk 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Luk 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luk 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Luk 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luk 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luk 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Luk 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
One of the questions relating to there being no room for them in the inn relates to the fact that Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem. The Feast of Tabernacles is at this time of year. Everyone in all of Israel is come to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast, as is commanded by Scripture. The typical dewelling for most was a constructed one room house made out of poles of willow with woven sides and top cover. People slept and ate here. In off season, some may have converted this to a place to keep animals, therefore a manger might be present. The general description is that this is a house or primary dwelling, so considered, during feast days. (This is a normal interpretation in Jewish tradition.) The dwelling is also called a Suchah (Sukkah-spelling varies). See also the Encyclopedia Judaica.
It should be noted that Jesus would then born at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (9 months later), which was also called the Great Feast of Lights. Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus comes to the feast and declares that he is the Light of the World.
It should be noted that the shepherds, when they left visiting the Babe Jesus, went away in a rejoicing manner. Being that Bethlehem was a military outpost of Herod, only a few miles from Jerusalem, and being that this event happened at night, the leaving of the shepherds would have left an impression on the residents of Bethlehem.
Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days
of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Mat 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord
appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child
and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring
thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
The wise men came from a far. They came because of the appearance of a star according to the prophecy of Scriptures. (Possible Numbers 24:17 and Daniel 9:25-26) It is apparent that when the wise men arrived in Israel and in particularly Jerusalem, they no longer had the star to guide them. So they asked King Herod for directions, being this was a watershed event, the birth of the King of the Jews.
The word "when" in this passage may be reasonably presumed to indicate immediacy of current time. All uses give no indication that there was a delay of time, but suggest that such things happened concurrently or as joint action or as happening at the same time.
Who were the "wise men"? This term comes from foreign origin - "magos" Strongs Concordance indicates that this term includes an oriental scientist, and maybe by implication a magician. Some suggest they may be Israelites who never returned from dispersion in Ezra's day. Their number is unknown. Some say that there were three because three gifts are mentioned.
Because King Herod received them in his court, the wise men were presumed to be very important persons deserving immediate attention. They were treated with high diplomatic stature.
It is known that Herod was an insanely jealous man. (Matthew 2:13c) He was also very brutal. When he was disturbed, all of Jerusalem and the surrounding country side was on edge.
It was determined to send the wise men to Bethlehem, according to the prophesies of Scriptures. When they left Herod, the star reappeared and led them directly and specifically to where Jesus was. (Numbers 24:17 and Micah 5:2)
It is presumed that the star ceased to shine for two reasons. One, that Israel would be put on notice of the birth of their King by the visit to Herod's palace. Secondly, the birth had not taken place yet. The wise men were apparently occupied at the Kings palace until such time as the birth of Jesus after which the star reappeared and led them to where Jesus lay. The distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was 6-7 miles or two to three hours travel time.
The shepherds alerted Bethlehem by overt rejoicing in the birth. The wise men had notified Herod and the palace of the birth. The wise men did not return to Herod and tell him where the young child was. It can be presumed that the child was in imminent danger. Joseph must have taken his family and left town the first or second night from the birth. It was unquestionably a very short time.
Genesis 3:15 and Rev 12:1-5 (v 4)... and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." This is reason for the quick departure of the new born child to Egypt. This was reasonably a journey which began within a day or two after His birth if not hours.
Matt 2:11 There is discussion in some circles regarding the dwelling where Jesus was born. The term "house" in this verse has become an issue. What does it mean? What size was it? How was it constructed? Does it indicate that Jesus lived in two different locations in Bethlehem at the time of His birth? The Greek word is "oikia". It is properly a residence (abstractly), but usually (concretely) an abode (literally or figuratively). So it is where Joseph and Mary resided or abided while in Bethlehem. Considering that they were there a short period of time, and considering that it was in proximity of time to the Feast of Tabernacles, and considering that there was no room for them in the inn, they probably abode in a similar structure that thousands of others abode in during feast days, a sukkah. A sukkah was a semi-permanent structure made out of willow or other woody substance with woven or fiber walls and ceiling. Also the Encyclopedia Judaica includes this structure in it's definition of house, because it is lived in for several days at a time as a house would be. It was the official abode of travelers. In off seasons, it would be abandoned and was suitable for use as a shelter for cattle and thus it gives cause for a manger being there.
Matt 2:11, 13-14 The term "young child" comes from the Greek word "paidion" which in the proper or strict sense means "infant" according to Strongs Concordance. The implication of this observation is that Jesus was not a child who had grown to be a toddler. The Latin "infans" suggests that they are unable to speak or are speechless. A medical dictionary says, from birth to one year of age. Two dictionaries say,"A child in the earliest period of life, especially before he or she can walk." He was carried as an infant to Egypt.
Succoth (Sukkot), Egypt was approximately 200 miles from Bethlehem. This would make the journey about 6-7 days in length walking about 30 miles a day.
|Luk 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.||This would have had to have taken place during or just at the conclusion of the trip to Egypt. Egypt was but a few days trip south.|
Mat 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
Based upon the order of events, Herod was very sick and died within a week or three from the time he destroyed the babies in Bethlehem.
Herod was capable of quick response to deal with Jesus who was a presumed threat to his throne and heritage. Bethlehem was a military outpost from Jerusalem. To be sure, the soldiers were already aware of a special event birth taking place, because of the shepherds and Magi visits and responses.
Who was killed? The age of children in that part of the world is determined thusly. From conception to birth is year one. The following year is counted the second year. Herod then had no difficulty being sure that he had done the job well. Kill all babies who could neither talk nor walk nor had any teeth. How else would a soldier know who to destroy? These are clear characteristics of a child at the end of a year following his birth. (Conception to birth = is considered 1 year. Birth until teeth, walking, and beginning to talk = 1 year. Add these up = 2 years.)
Mat 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth
in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Mat 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room
of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being
warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
|The note of interest in this portion is that Joseph did not take the baby and Mary to Jerusalem nor Bethlehem. They went directly to Nazareth from Egypt. The reason is given here.|
|Luk 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of
Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him
to the Lord;
Luk 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Luk 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Luk 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luk 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Luk 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Luk 2:28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luk 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
Luk 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luk 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luk 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Luk 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Luk 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Luk 2:35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Luk 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
Luk 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Luk 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Luk 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Luk 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
This portion is the clue for how long they were in Egypt. This ceremony had to take place within a very short time from birth. It was weeks not months. It happened after they came back from Egypt. They came from Nazareth for the ceremony for it says they returned to Nazareth.
This passages requires understanding that the Baby Jesus did not reside in Bethlehem for two years as many suggest. This portion clearly states that after this sacrifice ceremony, they went to Nazareth and remained there.
All of the events of the birth of Jesus took place within a few short weeks. The fulfilling of scriptural imperatives required it.
Luke 2:39 Some would like to put this verse together with Matthew 2:22-23. When some thus separate this verse from the context, they place Luke 2:22-38 before the passage of the wise men and before the travels of Joseph and Mary to Egypt. Luke 2:39 does not allow this separation from the previous verses because it destroys the context of "when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord". This phrase refers directly to the dedication of Jesus. The possiblilities of reference to the Egypt journey are clearly excluded. These two reference are entirely distinct in context.