Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part II: The Commencement of Christ’s Ministry -- By: Harold W. Hoehner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:521 (Jan 1974)
Article: Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ Part II: The Commencement of Christ’s Ministry
Author: Harold W. Hoehner


Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ
Part II:
The Commencement of Christ’s Ministry

Harold W. Hoehner

Having concluded in the previous issue of Bibliotheca Sacra that the birth of Christ occurred either in December 5 B.C. or January 4 B.C., the next important chronological aspects of the life of Christ are the commencement and duration of His public ministry. This article will deal with the first area and a subsequent article with the duration of His ministry. Concerning the year in which our Lord began His ministry, there are four passages of Scripture to be considered.

“In the Fifteenth Year of the Reign of Tiberius”

Luke 3:1–3 mentions that it was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius that the Word of God came to John the Baptist in the wilderness and that he went into all the region around the Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. At the time John was baptizing the people, he also baptized Jesus which marked the commencement of His ministry. Thus, Jesus’ ministry commenced after the opening of John’s ministry. Since Luke dates the beginning of John’s activity with chronological notes of secular history (which he does not do for the beginning of Christ’s ministry), it is necessary to determine when John embarked on his ministry.1 This will establish the terminus a quo (the earliest limiting point in time) for Christ’s ministry.

In Luke 3:1–22 six chronological notations3 are listed. Five of these give only the broadest limits: (1) Pilate was prefect of Judea from A.D. 26 to late 36 or early 37; 4 (2) Herod Antipas was deposed in A.D. 39;5 (3) Philip died in A.D. 34;6 (4) Lysanias, tetrarch of Abilene cannot be dated;7 and (5) Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 until not later than the Passover of A.D. 37.8 Hence, the broad limits for the beginning of John’s ministry are A.D. 26

and the Passover of A.D. 37. The one precise date is the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and this may be interpreted in five different ways.

Reckoning from Tiberius’ Co-Regency

The first method of reckoning to be considered is that...

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