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The Coming
of the Messiah
The Herods are
overshadowed by
the great events that
occurred during their
time: the ministry,
crucifixion, and
resurrection of
the Messiah.

(37 b.c.a.d. 30)

The epoch that witnessed the Mes
siahs coming actually began with the
rise to power of King Herod the Great.
The lives of Herod and his sons were
closely connected with the earthly
life of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
According to the Gospel of Matthew,
Herod the Great ordered the deaths
of all male children in Bethlehem who
were under the age of two (Mt 2), an
order that forced Joseph to flee, tak
ing his wife and young child to Egypt.
After Herods death, his sons con
tinued to impact the life of the Mes
siah. One of Herods sons was partly
responsible for the Messiah becom
ing known as Jesus of Nazareth.
When Joseph returned from Egypt
with Mary and Jesus, he chose to
avoid Judea. Herods son Archelaus
ruled over Judea and was worse than
his father, so Joseph (with Jesus)
settled in Nazareth of Galilee. Herod
Antipas, another son of Herod the
Great, ordered the death of John the
Baptist and held a mock hearing of
Jesus after his arrest. Despite having
positions of power, the Herodian fam
ily was overshadowed by the great
events that occurred during their
time: the ministry, crucifixion, and
resurrection of the Messiah, bringing
victory over sin, death, and the devil.
Archaeology and the Past
Archaeological discoveries in the Holy
Land from the Roman period (37 b.c.
a.d. 325) fall into two categories: those
which shed light on the Roman world,
and those which shed light on the life

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of Jesus. Sometimes the same archae

ological find fits into both categories.
The Roman period, archaeologi
cally, is the world of Herod the Great.
Among his many building accom
plishments is the great seaport Caes
rea Maritima. Excavations have
uncovered the theater, the harbor,
vast warehouses, temples, and one
important inscription. A stone bear
ing the name of Pontius Pilate, the
governor, reminds us that Caesarea
was also the headquarters of Roman
forces occupying the land. Military
installations were placed all over
Judea, since it was a border province.
Roman Jericho, built on a site differ
ent from both Old Testament Jericho
and the modern city, was also the
work of Herod. The ruins of a mag
nificent palace and baths have been
uncovered in Jerichos excavations.
In Jerusalem are more remains of
Herods building programs. The Wail
ing Wall is actually part of the great
retaining wall Herod built around
the Temple Mount to make a surface
large enough for the temple rebuild
ing project. On the western side of
the Old City, at a site called the Tower
of David, are the remains of one of the
towers Herod built to defend the city.
It is probably the tower called Pha
sael, as described by Josephus. Either
in one of these towers, or in his great
palace nearby, Herod and his soldiers
mocked Jesus.
The ministry of Jesus is illumined
by archaeology. In Galilee, the famous
Jesus boat was discovered in a lake
during a drought. One can picture
Jesus, Peter, and the others setting
out across the lake in such a boat,
since it is much like the ones used
by fishermen of the 1st century. In
Capernaum, the center of Jesus Gali
lean ministry, are at least two pos
sible links to Jesus. The synagogue
that visitors see is dated to the 4th
century, but more recent excavations
have shown the foundations of a 1st-
century building underneath it. Since

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37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

synagogues were always built on the same site, The Peoples and Groups
the 1st-century synagogue may have been where Peoples outside Judea and Galilee were also promi
Jesus preached. Nearby are the ruins of an octago nent in this period. The Nabateans were an Arabic
nal church. Archaeologists believe that this ancient people, with their capital at Petra to the south. The
church is on the site of Peters house, and that the daughter of the Nabatean king Aretas IV married
foundations discovered underneath the church are Herod Antipas. When Antipas threw her over for his
literally the remains of the building where Jesus own sister-in-law Herodias, war broke out between
stayed while in Capernaum.
Herod Antipas and the Nabateans. This was the
Around Jerusalem are many reminders of Jesus same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist and
ministry. Just over the Mount of Olives is the vil held a hearing for Jesus at the request of Pilate.
lage of Bethany, where we find a 1st-century tomb
Southeast of the Sea of Galilee were the cities
belonging to a wealthy family. This is the traditional of the Decapolis. Founded by Greeks and Mace
tomb of Lazarus, having a vestibule chamber and donians, the Decapolis was united not by political
a small inner chamber. Somewhere on the Mount organization, but by Hellenistic culture and institu
of Olives is the Garden of Geth
tions. Gerasa has been excavated, and
semane. Whether it was located at
one can see the city walls, temples,
Jesus Christ
the Church of All Nations or nearby
the marketplace, and paved streets
at the Tomb of Mary is debated.
with colonnades. The only remains of
marked a new
But beyond debate is the reality that
1st-century Philadelphia are the ruins
Jesus prayed in this vicinity.
of a Roman theater, near the down
Excavations at the southern end of
town heart of a bustling, modern city.
in Gods dealings
the Temple Mount have uncovered
The Gospels mention such groups
with His people.
the steps that led up to the temple.
as the Samaritans, Pharisees, Sad
Several steps remain in an unre
ducees, and Zealots. The Samaritans
stored condition, and represent the
and Jews suffered a long history
way 1st-century persons, including Jesus, usually of hatred for each other, going back to the fall
entered the temple. The steps are also identified of Israel in 722 b.c. But out of this background of
as the rabbis teaching steps, meaning that Jesus hatred, Jesus identified a Samaritan as one who
likely sat on them, teaching His disciples and the was truly a neighbor to a Jewish person in need.
The Sadducees were the priestly aristocracy in
On the north end of the Old City are twin pools Jerusalem, the leaders of the people. They walked
which possibly represent the Pool of Bethesda, where a fine line between Jewish nationalism and keep
Jesus healed a lame man. The colonnades men ing the peace with their Roman overlords. The
tioned in Johns Gospel (Jn 5:2) stood along the sides Pharisees were a group of laymen dedicated to
of the pools and on the causeway between them. the keeping of the Law (Torah). They had a say
Back on the south end of the city are the remains ing: if all Israel would keep Torah perfectly for just
of the Essene Gate, a 1st-century gate that led into one day, the Messiah would come. Some Pharisees
Jerusalem. Nearby the gate are the remains of the opposed Jesus; others befriended himwarning
house of Caiaphas, who was high priest at the time him of trouble, speaking for him at his trial, pro
of Jesus trial. A dank, cold basement cell reminds us viding a place for his burial. The Zealots were the
that Jesus may have been imprisoned there for at revolutionary underground. Jesus disciple Simon
least a few hours. A paved courtyard above reminds the Zealot probably belonged to one of the 1st-
us of Peters denial by the high priests house.
century groups who actively opposed Roman rule.
One of the most powerful archaeological remains
is the discovery of a man who had been crucified. The Biblical Literature
Johanan, the name inscribed in the stone box that The biblical books relating the time of the Messiah
held his bones, had nail marks in his wrists, and one are the GospelsMatthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
nail driven through the heel bones. The wood of Although they tell us almost everything we know
the cross had been cut apart and buried with him. about the life and teachings of Jesus, they are not
Johanans bones illustrate crucifixion, a common true biographies. Rather, they are theological docu
method of execution for the Romans, and possibly ments telling who Jesus is and why he is important.
They say little about Jesus family background and
suggest the way Jesus himself was executed.
Archaeologists almost universally agree that the youth, and nothing about his physical appearance.
site of Jesus tomb is located inside the Church of They concentrate almost totally on Jesus ministry,
the Holy Sepulchre. At two points in the church, but even here they do not give enough informa
one can actually see what is left of the hill of Cal tion to reconstruct the history of those years with
vary. The traditional site of Jesus burial is found absolute certainty. Rather, they focus on Jesus
very near other 1st-century tombs.
person and his teachings, and give considerable

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Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30


attention to his death and resurrection and the sur

rounding events.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic
Gospels. The name Synoptic means that they view
the life of Jesus from a common perspective. After
introducing Jesus in different ways depending on
their purpose, they relate the ministry of John the
Baptist, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, his
ministry in Galilee, his journey to Judea and minis
try there, his final week in Jerusalem, his death, and
his resurrection.
The Gospel of John differs from the Synoptics in
a number of ways. It tells us more about Jesus early
ministry in Judea. John also records long thematic
discourses by Jesus instead of the usual shorter
sayings of the Synoptics. More than the Synop
tics, John includes theological reflection on the
meaning of Jesus life and death. The four Gospels
together give us a more complete picture of Jesus
than any one of them would by itself.


The Prehistory of Jesus

The prologue of Johns Gospel locates the

beginning of the story of Jesus in timeless
eternity, before the dawn of creation (see Php
2:511; Col 1:1520). John at once identifies
the Word as God the Son and distinguishes
Him from God the Father. Although there was a
time when Jesus of Nazareth did not exist, there
never was a time when the Word did not exist.
Yet John announces a time when the Word
became flesh (Jn 1:14). The Word became
incarnate in this Jesus. This event, the Incarna
tion, marks the time when the Revealer of God
became a specific human being. After the Incar
nation, Johns Gospel never again refers to Jesus
as the Word. Since the Incarnation, God may be
known in the person and work of Jesus.
John 1:118


36 to 31 b.c.

Relations between Octavian and Antony

break down


Cleopatra visits Herod to impose rent


Octavian defeats Antony at the battle of Actium


Herod the Great changes allegiance

from Antony to Octavian


Octavian dominates the Roman Empire


Tomb of Jason west of Jerusalem is damaged

by earthquake

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John 1:1 | John 1:14

Introductions to Jesus Christ

Each of the four Gospels uniquely introduces the
story of Jesus Christ as marking a new beginning in
Gods dealings with his people. The Gospel of Mark
uses a brief superscription (Mk 1:1) and prophetic
announcement (1:2, 3) to make it clear that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God, a truth previously declared
by the prophets. Matthew begins his Gospel with a
genealogy (Mt 1:117), showing his Jewish readers
that Jesus is truly the Messiah by tracing his ances
tors back to David. That Jesus ancestry goes back
also to Abraham evidences Jesus fulfillment of
Gods promises to Israel.
Two Gospel writers, John and Luke, alert their
readers concerning their purpose for writing a
Gospel. Luke provides a brief preface (Lk 1:14)
in which he sets out his intention. In a prologue,
John begins with a clear statement about Jesus
preexistence and divinity. He wanted his readers
to know and believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God (Jn 20:30, 31).

The Word Became Flesh
:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through
him all things were made; without him nothing
was made that has been made. 4In him was life,
and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The
light shines in the darkness, and the darkness
has not overcomeait.
There was a man sent from God whose
name was John. 7He came as a witness to testi
fy concerning that l ight, so that t hrough him all
might believe. 8He himself was not the l ight; he
came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to ever y
one was coming into the world. 10He was in
the world, and though the world was made
through him, the world did not recognize him.
11He came to that which was his own, but his
own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did
receive him, to t hose who believed in his name,
he gave the r ight to become children of God
13children born not of natural descent, nor of
human decision or a husbands will, but born
of God.
The Word became flesh and made his
dwelling a mong us. We have seen his glor y, the
glor y of the one and only Son, who came from
the Father, full of grace and truth.


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JOHN 1:15 | Luke 1:4


37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

The Word Becomes Flesh (Jn 1:14)

Johns Gospel describes Jesus preexistence by identifying him as the divine Word (Jn 1:1), or, as
expressed in the Greek language, the Logos. Many Greek philosophers spoke of the Logos as universal
Reason. People familiar with Greek thought could have understood John to be proclaiming Jesus as the
organizing principle or Reason behind the universe.
Some Jewish people adapted the Greek idea of Logos to fit the traditional Jewish idea of the Word.
But more thought of the Word in traditionally Jewish categories. They identified Gods creative Word
with divine Wisdom, which they also identified with Gods Law (the Torah). They brought various ideas
together: that God created all things through the Law or Wisdom (Jn 1:3), that the Word was life and
light (1:4), and that Wisdom had been with God from the beginning (1:2).
In the prologue of his Gospel, John declares something that neither the Greek philosophers nor the
Jewish teachers conceived: the Word became flesh and dwelt among his people. To the Greeks Logos
was invisible reason, not part of the material world. To the Jewish teachers Wisdom was a divine attribute of Yahweh. But to John the Word was the divine Christ who became a human being. The Words
glory was full of grace and truth, revealing to us the full character of God (Jn 1:14, 17, 18).
15 (

John testified concerning him. He cried

out, saying, This is the one I spoke about when
I said, He who comes after me has surpassed
me because he was before me.) 16Out of his
fullness we have all received grace in place of
grace already given. 17For the law was given
through Moses; g
race and truth came through
Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but
the one and only Son, who is himself God anda
is in closest relationship with the Father, has
made him known.

Some manuscripts but the only Son, whob1Orbeen

surely believed


Introduction and Dedication

The author of the third Gospel introduces

his historical work, identifying his sources and
purpose. Lukes Gospel is dedicated to a dis
tinguished patron, Theophilus, whose name
in Greek means lover of God. Theophilus

already had been instructed in Christian

teachings, but Luke wished to provide him
with certainty (Lk 1:4). Luke is alone among
the Gospel writers in beginning his account
with a preface that explains in some detail
his procedure and desire to write an orderly
account (1:3).
Luke 1:14

:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an ac
count of the things that have been fulfilledb
among us, 2just as they were handed down to
us by those who from the first were eyewit
nesses and servants of the word. 3W ith this in
mind, since I myself have carefully investigated
everything from the beginning, I too decided
to write an orderly account for you, most ex
cellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the
certainty of the things you have been taught.

Early Lives of John the Baptist and Jesus lee, and there raised by his mother, Mary, and her
Elizabeth and Mary, the mothers of John and Jesus, husband, Joseph, a carpenter by trade. Hence the
Child was known as Jesus of Naza
were either blood relatives or close
reth (Mk 1:24).
kinswomen (Lk 1:36). The angel
Even before birth,
Jesus was his mothers firstborn
Gabriel appeared to both families
he had four brothers (James,
to Elizabeths husband and to Mary
these babies were
Joses, Judas, and Simon) and an
herselfand announced their future
named and set
unspecified number of sisters (Mk
sons John and Jesus. Even before
6:3). The only incident preserved
birth, these babies were named (Lk
apart for unique
from his first 30 years (after his
1:13, 31) and set apart for unique mis
infancy) was his trip to Jerusalem
sions (1:16, 17, 32, 33).
with Joseph and Mary when he was
Practically nothing is known of
12 years old (Lk 2:4150). Occurring
Johns boyhood, except that he grew
and became strong in spirit (Luke 1:80). Only in the year that, as a Jewish boy, he attained the age
slightly more is known of Jesus upbringing. Early in of religious responsibility, the trip was at a crucial
his life Jesus was taken to Nazareth, a town of Gali juncture of his development.

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Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Luke 1:5 | Luke 1:21


Augustus Brings Peace to the Roman World

Cicero is executed by
new government of
Octavian and Antony
43 b.c.


Octavian becomes
Augustus Caesar
27 b.c.

Julius Caesar is murdered
by a conspiracy
44 b.c.

Antony and Cleopatra
commit suicide
30 b.c.


The Birth of John the Baptist

Luke gives an extraordinary glimpse of ordi

nary, pious Jews at the time. We should not
imagine that everyone was as spiritually bank
rupt as the Jewish leaders who later opposed
Jesus. The lives of the barren, old Elizabeth and
the young, virgin Mary intersect at the point of
Gods unexpected favor to his humble servants.
Elizabeth was from the tribe of Levi (Lk 1:5) and
was also related to Mary (1:36). Because Eliza
beth was barren and elderly, the birth of John
the Baptist is presented by Luke as a special
work of God.
Luke implies that John was born 6 months
before Jesus (Lk 1:26) and that the two were
relatives (1:36). No other Gospel mentions their
kinship, and Johns Gospel raises a question: If
Jesus and John the Baptist were related, why did
John not recognize Jesus at the time of his bap
tism (Jn 1:31)? Some think that the Baptist knew
Jesus, but did not recognize him as the Messiah.
Geography allows for another possibility: Luke
indicates that John was raised in the wilderness
of Judea (Lk 1:80), whereas Jesus was raised in
Nazareth of Galilee (2:39). During their early
years they were separated by quite a distance
by ancient standards, possibly distant enough
to be unfamiliar with each other as adults.
Luke 1:580

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
:5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there
was a priest named Zechariah, who be
longed to the priestly division of Abijah; his
wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
6Both of them were righteous in the sight of
God, observing all the Lords commands and
decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless
because Elizabeth was not able to conceive,
and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariahs division was on
duty and he was serving as priest before God,
9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom

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Augustus revives
the priesthood of
Jupiter in Rome
11 b.c.

Herod the Great
begins rebuilding the
Jerusalem temple
19 b.c.

Altar dedicated in
Rome to the Peace
of Augustus
9 b.c.

of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the

Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time
for the burning of incense came, all the assem
bled worshipers were praying outside.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to
him, standing at the right side of the altar of in
cense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was star
tled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel
said to him: Do not be a fraid, Zechariah; your
prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will
bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many
will rejoice because of his b
irth, 15for he will
be great in the s ight of the Lord. He is never to
take wine or other fermented drink, and he will
be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is
born. 16He will bring back many of the people
of Israel to the Lord t heir God. 17And he will go
on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of
Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their
children and the disobedient to the wisdom of
the righteousto make ready a people pre
pared for the Lord.
18Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be
sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is
well along in years.
The angel said to him, I am Gabriel. I
stand in the presence of God, and I have been
sent to speak to you and to tell you this good
news. 20And now you will be silent and not able
to speak until the day this happens, because
you did not believe my words, which will come
true at their appointed time.
while, the people were waiting for
Arts & Literature
Ancient books were often dedicated
to a noble or prominent person. The
title most excellent indicates that
Theophilus was a person of high standing (Lk 1:3). He probably helped Luke
with time, space, and materials for his
work. The formal style of Lukes dedication announces that the book is the
serious work of a responsible person.

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Luke 1:22 | Luke 1:52


Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so

long in the temple. 22When he came out, he
could not speak to them. They realized he had
seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making
signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23When his time of service was completed,
he returned home. 24After this his wife Eliza
beth became pregnant and for five months re
mained in seclusion. 25The Lord has done this
for me, she said. In these days he has shown
his favor and taken away my disgrace among
the people.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26In the s
ixth month of Elizabeths pregnan
cy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a
town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be mar
ried to a man n
amed Joseph, a descendant of
David. The virgins name was Mary. 28The an
gel went to her and said, Greetings, you who
are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
29Mary was greatly troubled at his w
ords and
wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid,
Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You

the child to be born will be called holy,

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

will conceive and give birth to a son, and you

are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and
will be c alled the Son of the Most High. The
Lord God will give him the throne of his father
David, 33and he will reign over Jacobs descen
dants forever; his kingdom will never end.
34How will this be, Mary a
sked the angel,
since I am a virgin?
The angel answered, The Holy Spirit
will come on you, and the power of the Most
High will overshadow you. So the holy one to
be born will be calleda the Son of God. 36Even
Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child
in her old age, and she who was said to be un
able to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no
word from God will ever fail.
38I am the Lords servant, Mary answered.
May your word to me be fulfilled. Then the
angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to
a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she
entered Zechariahs home and greeted Eliza
beth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Marys greet
ing, the baby leaped in her womb, and Eliza
beth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud
voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you a mong
women, and blessed is the c hild you will bear!
43But why am I so favored, that the mother of
my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the
sound of your greeting r eached my ears, the
baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is
she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill
his promises to her!
Marys Song
46And Mary said:
My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me
49 for the Mighty One has done great things
for me
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his
he has scattered those who are proud in
their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their
but has lifted up the humble.

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Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Luke 1:53 | Luke 1:80


53 He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
56Mary s
tayed with Elizabeth for a bout t hree
months and then returned home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her
baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors
and relatives heard that the Lord had shown
her g
reat mercy, and they s hared her joy.
59On the eighth day they came to circumcise
the c hild, and they were going to name him af
ter his father Zechariah, 60but his mother s poke
up and said, No! He is to be called John.
61They said to her, There is no one among
your relat ives who has that name.
62Then they made s
igns to his father, to find
out what he w
ould like to name the child. 63He
asked for a writing tablet, and to everyones
astonishment he w
rote, His name is John.
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his

tongue set free, and he began to s peak, prais

ing God. 65All the neighbors were filled with
awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea
people were talking a bout all these things.
66Everyone who h
eard this wondered about it,
asking, What then is this child going to be?
For the Lords hand was with him.
Zechariahs Song
67His fa
ther Zechariah was filled with the
Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and
redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horna of salvation
for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of
long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without
75 in holiness and righteousness before him
all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet
of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to
prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us
from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

the c hild grew and became s trong in

spirit b; and he lived in the wilderness until he
appeared publicly to Israel.

Horn here symbolizes a strong king. b80Orin the


Herods Kingdom at Jesus Birth

Born in Idumea, Herod the Great was a Jew by religion,

but was also immersed in Greek culture and politically
loyal to Rome. The Roman emperor Augustus Caesar
appointed Herod over a kingdom including the regions
of Idumea, Judea, Perea, Samaria, Gaulanitis, Iturea, Tra
conitis, Batanea, and Auranitis.

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The Genealogy of Jesus

The first Gospel begins, like 1 Chronicles,

with a genealogy. This account of the ances
tors of Jesus Christ sets his story within the
sacred history of the people of Israel. As

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Matthew 1:1 | Matthew 1:17


Abrahams descendant, Jesus is identified as

a Jew. As Davids descendant, he is located
more narrowly in Israels royal family. Mat
thews account follows Chronicles, but omits
some generations, apparently grouping the
descendants into sets of fourteen (Mt 1:17).
The mention of four non-
Jewish women
Tamar (1:3), Rahab, Ruth (1:5), Uriahs wife
anticipates the Gospels conclusion,
which calls for the evangelization of all nations.
Numerous attempts have been made to
account for the disagreements between
Matthews and Lukes genealogies (see The
Genealogy of Jesus at Luke 3:23). Some have
proposed that Matthew provides Josephs
genealogy and Luke, Marys. But Luke describes Mary as related to Elizabeth from the
tribe of Levi (Lk 1:5, 36) while placing Jesus in
the tribe of Judah (3:33), making it improbable
that Lukes genealogy is actually Marys. Prob
ably the discrepancies between the genealo
gies arise from the different sources used by
the two evangelists.
Matthew 1:117

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
:1 This is the genealogy a of Jesus the Mes
siah b the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Ju
dah the father of Perez and Zerah,

whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, w
hose moth

er was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother
was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose
mother had been Uriahs wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
a1Oris an account of the origin b1OrJesus Christ.
Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed
One; also in verse 18. c11 That is, Jehoiachin; also in

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1091

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah c and

his brothers at the time of the exile to

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zer ubbabel,
13 Zer ubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the

husband of Mary, and Mary was the
mother of Jesus who is called the Mes
17Thus there were fourteen generations in all
from Abraham to David, fourteen from David
to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the
exile to the Messiah.

Culture & Society

An honorable genealogy was necessary
for a person to have a place in society. The
genealogy given by Matthew is divided into
three groups of fourteen (Mt 1:17), a system recalling the numbers 3 and 7, which
ancient people thought were significant or
perfect. David and the Babylonian captivity
are the high and low points of the period


The Birth of Jesus

No one knows precisely when Jesus was

born. Even his year of birth is only an edu
cated guess based on the information avail
able. The intention of the medieval creators
of our c alendar was to set the date of Jesus
birth at a.d. 1. They simply miscalculated. The
Jewish historian Josephus places the death of
Herod the Great in 4 b.c., and both Matthew
(Mt 2:1) and Luke (Lk 1:5) presume that Herod
was king at the time of Jesus birth. But it is not
clear how much before Herods death Jesus
was born.
We know that Herod became king of the
Jews in 37 b.c. Outside of Matthew (Mt 2:16),

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

no historical record mentions Herods slaugh

ter of the infants in Bethlehem. Josephus does
write that Herod ordered the murders of mem
bers of his own family to protect his throne. So
it is not surprising that a few peasant children
in Bethlehem went unnoticed among Herods
many atrocities, leaving us no help with dat
ing. Since Herods calculations led him to tar
get children under two years old, Jesus birth
likely occurred one or two years before Herods
deathin either 6 or 5 b.c.
A date of about 5 b.c. could fit with Lukes note
that Augustus, who reigned from 27 b.c. to a.d. 14,
was the Roman emperor when Jesus was born
(Lk 2:1). Lukes mention of Quirinius (2:2), how
ever, creates a problem. After Herod died, Rome
divided his territory among his surviving sons.
Archelaus ruled in Judea (see Mt 2:22) until he
was deposed by the Romans in a.d. 6. Only then
was Quirinius appointed governor, after serving
for more than a decade as commander of the
Roman troops in the area. Perhaps Luke simply
identified him by his later office.
Some have tried to specify Jesus birth date
by appeal to astronomical phenomena that
might explain the star of Bethlehem (Mt 2:2, 7,
9, 10). Halleys comet appeared in 12 or 11 b.c.
and another comet in 5 b.c. But in antiquity com
ets were thought to forecast evil, not blessed,
events. In 7 b.c. a rare (once every 794 years) con
junction of the planets Jupiter, Venus, and Sat
urn occurred in the constellation Pisces. Whether
Matthews star was any of these is pure specula
tion. For ancient people the star confirmed again
that Jesus was the Messiah who fulfilled Balaams
star prophecy (Nu 24:17).
Matthew 1:1825
Luke 2:120



Matthew 1:1825
Joseph Accepts J esus as His Son
:18 This is how the b
irth of Jesus the Mes
siah came about a: His mother Mary was
pledged to be married to Joseph, but before
they came together, she was found to be preg
nant t hrough the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph
her husband was faithful to the law, and yetb
did not want to expose her to public disgrace,
he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel
of the Lord appeared to him in a d
ream and
said, Joseph son of David, do not be a fraid to
take Mary home as your wife, because what is
conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She
will give birth to a son, and you are to give him


origin of Jesus the Messiah was like this

a righteous man and


30 to 27 b.c.


Herod the Great meets Octavian

in Alexandria, Egypt


Octavian confirms Herod the Great

as king of Judea


Herod executes Hyrcanus II


Herod the Great executes his wife Mariamne

27a.d. 14 Augustus Caesar is founder and emperor


Herod builds city of Sebaste in Samaria


Roman Senate gives the title Augustus

to Gaius Octavian

Betrayal and Betrothal (Mt 1:18)

The betrothal of Mary and Joseph (Mt 1:18) involved much more than engagement does today. Even
though a young Jewish man was considered an adult around age 13, he would work for a few years to
save up for his marriage, around the age of 18 or 20. After the making of a legal contract between the
two families, the young man and the woman (who was normally between the ages of 12 and 16) were
That Mary became pregnant after their betrothal, but before their wedding, prompted Joseph to
divorce her (Mt 1:19). A betrothed couple could not sleep together before the wedding. In fact, Galilean parents normally kept the man and woman from spending time together privately until the wedding
(normally a year after betrothal). Thus, Joseph would not have known Mary very well, and should not
be blamed for mistrusting her and deciding to end the betrothal.
The commitment of a betrothal was so legally binding that a divorce was required to break it off
(1:19). Joseph had little choice. If a mans betrothed wife became pregnant, people would assume that
she had regarded him as an inadequate man and this would publicly humiliate him. Worse yet, should
he not divorce her most people would assume that he was the one who had gotten her pregnant, and he
would bear great shame in a culture that was obsessed with shame and honor.
Jewish law required a man to divorce a wife who had been unfaithful. Joseph could have divorced
Mary publicly in a court. The court would not only establish his innocence, but also profit him financially: he would get to keep all of Marys dowry (the money her father gave her for her marriage). By
planning to divorce her privately (writing out a certificate of divorce for her in front of two witnesses),
Joseph elected to forfeit profit rather than shame her any further.

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1092

11/20/13 8:54 AM

MATTHEW 1:22 | LUKE 2:20


37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

Augustus, the First Roman Emperor (Lk 2:1)

Luke refers to Caesar Augustus as the Roman emperor who ruled the Mediterranean world during the
birth and youth of Jesus (Lk 2:1). The Roman Senate gave the title Augustus to this ruler in 27 b.c. He
was born Gaius Octavius in 63 b.c., the great-nephew of the famous Julius Caesar.
In his will Julius Caesar made Octavius his adopted son. The untimely death of the dictator in 44 b.c.
by assassination was the beginning of Octaviuss path to the emperorship. He changed his name to
Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian.
Octavian, as he was now called, sided with Mark Antony against the assassins of his adopted father.
He initiated a coalition of three dictatorshimself, Antony, and Marcus Lepidusknown as the Triumvirate. The three not only gained victory over Caesars murderers by 42 b.c., but also carried out the
bloodiest purge in Romes history. From 36 to 33 b.c. there was a break in relations between Octavian
and Antony, culminating in Octavians dominion over the empire by 31 b.c.
After 27 b.c. Octavian became known as Augustus, the name bestowed on him by the Senate.
He was the first Roman emperor, reigning solely as ruler of the Roman realm for more than 40 years
(27 b.c.a.d. 14). In essence, Augustus was the second founder of Rome, reorganizing it as an empire,
and presiding over the Silver Age of Latin literature, dominated by names like Virgil, Livy, and Ovid.
Augustus did not change foreign policy in Palestine much from that of his predecessors. He continued the employment of client kingdoms in the remote parts of the Roman Empire and in 30 b.c.
confirmed Herod the Great as ruler of Judea.

the name J esus,a because he will save his peo

ple from their sins.
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord
had said through the prophet: 23The virgin
will conceive and give b
irth to a son, and they
will call him Immanuel b (which means God
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the an
gel of the Lord had commanded him and took
Mary home as his wife. 25But he did not con
summate their marriage until she gave birth to
a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Luke 2:120
The Birth of Jesus
:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a
decree that a census should be taken of the
entire Roman world. 2(This was the first cen
sus that took place whilec Quirinius was gover
nor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to t heir own
town to register.
4So Jo
seph also went up from the town of
Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem
the town of David, because he belonged to the
house and line of David. 5He went there to reg
ister with Mary, who was p
ledged to be mar
ried to him and was expecting a child. 6While
they were there, the time came for the baby to
be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a
son. She w
rapped him in c loths and p
laced him
in a manger, because there was no g
uest room
available for them.
8And t here were shepherds living out in the
fields nearby, keeping watch over their f locks at


J esus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord

saves. b23Isaiah7:14 c2OrThis census took place

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1093

night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them,

and the glor y of the Lord s hone a round them,
and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to
them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all the people. 11To
day in the town of David a Savior has been born
to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will
be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped
in cloths and lying in a manger.
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly
host appeared with the angel, praising God and
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his
favor rests.
15When the angels had left them and gone
into heaven, the shepherds said to one anoth
er, Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing
that has happened, which the Lord has told us
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Jo
seph, and the baby, who was lying in the man
ger. 17When they had seen him, they spread
the word concerning what had been told them
about this child, 18and all who h
eard it were
amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19But Mary treasured up all these things and
pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds
returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
things they had heard and seen, which were
just as they had been told.


Jesus Presented in the Temple

Luke indicates that on the eighth day... it

was time for the circumcision of Jesus (Lk 2:21).

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Luke 2:21 | Matthew 2:4


Since the Jews considered the day of birth as the

first day, this would be 7 days by our way of count
ing. The mother of a newborn son was deemed
ceremonially unclean for 7 days (Lev 12:2), after
which the parents had to take the child to the
temple for circumcision. She was then considered
unclean for an additional 33 days, after which she
would go to the temple to offer a sacrifice for her
purification (Lk 2:22).
Luke 2:2138

:21 On the eighth day, when it was time to
circumcise the child, he was named J esus,
the name the angel had given him before he
was conceived.

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22When the time came for the pu
rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph
and Mary took him to Jer usalem to present
him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of
the Lord, Every firstborn male is to be conse
crated to the Lorda ), 24and to offer a sacrifice
in keeping with what is said in the Law of the
Lord: a pair of doves or two young pigeons.b
25Now there was a man in Jer usalem called
Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He
was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and
the Holy Spirit was on him. 26It had been re
vealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he w
not die before he had seen the Lords Messiah.
27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple
courts. When the parents brought in the child
Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law
required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and
praised God, saying:

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31 which you have prepared in the sight of
all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

childs father and mother marveled

at what was said a bout him. 34 Then Simeon
blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
This child is destined to cause the falling and
rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that
will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts
of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword
will pierce your own soul too.
36There was also a prophet, Anna, the daugh
ter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was
very old; she had lived with her husband sev
en years after her marriage, 37and then was a
widow until she was eighty-four.d She never left
the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting
and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very
moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke
about the child to all who were looking forward
to the redemption of Jer usalem.

Jesus Escapes to Egypt

The visit of the wise men occurred some

months after the birth of Jesus. Joseph and
Mary were no longer in the stable, but living in
a house (see Mt 2:11) in Bethlehem, a village
about 5 miles south of Jerusalem. The family
fled from there to Egypt to escape the plot of
Herod, who apparently feared the new King
would replace him.
Herod died in 4 b.c., and Mt 2:16, 19 sug
gests that Jesus may have been one to two
years old at that time (see The Birth of Jesus
at Mt 1:18). Herods death meant that Joseph
could take his young child and wife Mary back
to Israel (Mt 2:1921).

29 Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismissc your servant in

Matthew 2:121

25 to 22 b.c.


Antioch in Pisidia passes into Roman hands


Rome annexes kingdom of Amyntas to form

province of Galatia


Herod relieves drought and plague in Judea


Cyrus becomes a senatorial province of Rome


Herod builds a square (the Praetorium?)

in front of the palace


Herod the Great begins construction

of Caesarea, a new seaport


The ruler of the Ethiopians signs a treaty

with Rome

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1094

The Magi Visit the Messiah
:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Ju
dea, during the time of King Herod, Magie
from the east came to Jer usalem 2 and asked,
Where is the one who has been born king
of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and
have come to worship him.
3When King Her
od heard this he was dis
turbed, and all Jer usalem with him. 4When he

a23Exodus13:2,12 b24Lev.12:8 c29Orpromised,

now dismiss d37Orthen had been a widow for eighty-four

years. e1Traditionally wise men

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Matthew 2:5 | Matthew 2:15


Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

The Young Jesus

Herod the Great
executes his oldest
son, Antipater
4 b.c.

Census of Judea
under Quirinius
(?; Lk 2:2)
7 b.c.

Herod the Great

dies (Mt 2:19)
4 b.c.

Jesus astonishes
teachers in the temple
(Lk 2:46, 47)
a.d. 7

Jesus Christ is born

(Mt 1:24, 25)
5 b.c.

had called together all the peoples chief priests

and teachers of the law, he asked them where
the Messiah was to be born. 5 In Bethlehem in
Judea, they replied, for this is what the proph
et has written:
6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of
are by no means least among the rulers
of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people

Herod called the Magi secretly and

found out from them the exact time the star
had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and
said, Go and s earch carefully for the c hild. As
soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too
may go and worship him.
9After they had h
eard the king, they went on
their way, and the star they had seen when it
rose went a head of them until it s topped over
the p
lace w
here the c hild was. 10When they
saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming

Augustus makes
Judea a Roman
a.d. 6

Quirinius takes
a tax census of
a.d. 6

to the house, they saw the child with his moth

er Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped
him. Then they opened t heir treasures and pre
sented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and
myrrh. 12And having been w
arned in a d
not to go back to Herod, they returned to t heir
country by another route.
Trade & Economics
The gifts given to Jesus by the foreign rulers were luxury items (Mt 2:11), like the
symbolic gifts exchanged by rulers today,
and like the wealth brought by Gentiles to
Israels king (Ps 72:10; Isa 60:6). Frankincense and myrrh are resins or gums taken
from plants that grow in Arabia or the Horn of
Africa. They were used for incense and perfume.

The Escape to Egypt

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord
appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, he
said, take the c hild and his mother and escape
to Egypt. Stay t here until I tell you, for Herod is
going to search for the child to kill him.
14So he got up, took the c
hild and his moth
er during the night and left for Egypt, 15where
he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was

The Journey of the Magi

by James Jacques Joseph Tissot
c. 1894
Minneapolis Institute of Arts

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1095

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Epoch 8

37 b.c. to a.d. 30


MATTHEW 2:16 | LUKE 2:40

Judea Groans Under Archelaus (Mt 2:22)

Archelaus was the eldest son of Herod the Great (374 b.c.), the Roman-appointed king of Judea. He
was the principal heir of his fathers kingdom and was given the territory of Judea and Samaria, which
he ruled himself from 4 b.c. to a.d. 6. Most of our information concerning Archelaus comes from the
Jewish historian Josephus (a.d. 37100), who states that the monarch was raised in Rome.
Although Archelaus was not as harsh a ruler as his father, his reign was marked by great unrest.
He rigorously oppressed the Jews, culminating in 3,000 Jewish deaths in the temple precincts during a
Passover celebration. He also continually interfered in the election of the Jewish high priest.
Jewish unrest climaxed in a large-scale rebellion which had to be quelled by the Romans. Because
of instability in the region, the Roman emperor Augustus (27 b.c.a.d. 14) decided to depose Archelaus
and exiled him to Gaul in a.d. 6. Roman governors or procurators were appointed by the emperor to
rule the Palestinian provinces.
Josephs fear of returning to Judea with the young Jesus (Mt 2:22) is understandable in light of the
conditions during the short time Archelaus was in office. Tension and unrest in Judea probably made
Galilee seem a much safer region in which to raise a child.

fulfilled what the Lord had said through the

prophet: Out of Egypt I called my son.a
16When Herod realized that he had been out
witted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave
orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its
vicinity who were two y ears old and under, in
accordance with the time he had learned from
the Magi. 17Then what was said through the
prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

the familys flight to Egypt, Luke reports only

that from Bethlehem they traveled to Jerusa
lem (2:2138) before returning home to Naza
reth where Jesus was raised.
Obviously, the details of Jesus childhood
were buried in obscurity. Such things did not
matter when he was thought to be only the
son of simple peasants. After his death and
resurrection, these differing accounts of his
childhood did agree on two central points:
he was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of
popular messianic expectations, but he was
better known as Jesus of Nazareth (Mt 26:71;
Mk 1:24; 16:6; Lk 18:37). The so-called Infancy
Gospels among the New Testament apoc
rypha offer wild speculation about events
surrounding the youth of their wonder-child

18 A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.b
The Return to Nazareth
19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord ap
peared in a d
ream to Joseph in E
gypt 20and
said, Get up, take the c hild and his mother
and go to the land of Israel, for those who were
trying to take the childs life are dead.
21So he got up, took the c
hild and his mother
and went to the land of Israel.


Jesus Childhood in Nazareth

of Galilee

Matthews Gospel does not specify Josephs

hometown, but indicates that he decided not
to return to Bethlehem of Judea to avoid liv
ing in the territory of Archelaus. The choice to
settle instead in Nazareth of Galilee fulfilled a
messianic prophecy (Mt 2:23), for which no
corresponding verse is found in the Old Testa
Lukes Gospel, however, presumes that Joseph
and Mary were residents of Nazareth (Lk 1:26; 2:4,
39). Jesus birth in Bethlehem occurred because
of a census that required his parents to return
to their ancestral home (2:14). Not mentioning

9781401680114_08_epoch8_niv_chrono_fourth.indd 1096

Matthew 2:22, 23
Luke 2:39, 40

Matthew 2:22, 23
:22 But when he heard that Archelaus
was reigning in Judea in p
lace of his father
Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been
warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district
of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town
called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said
through the prophets, that he would be called
a Nazarene.

Luke 2:39, 40
:39 When Joseph and Mary had done ev
erything required by the Law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee to their own town of
Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became
strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the
grace of God was on him.

a15Hosea11:1 b18Jer.31:15

11/20/13 8:54 AM

Luke 2:41 | Luke 2:52



20 to 12 b.c.

20a.d. 50

Historian Philo is part of wealthy Jewish

family of Alexandria


The Parthians return captured standards

and prisoners to Augustus


Herod the Great meets Augustus in Syria


Herod receives the region of Gaulanitis

from Augustus


Herod begins rebuilding the temple

in Jerusalem


Herod cuts taxes


Death of Virgil, Roman poet and friend

of Augustus

19 The Aeneid manuscript is still incomplete

at the poet Virgils death

Herod the Great visits Augustus in Rome


Augustus appoints the children

of M. V. Agrippa as his heirs


M. V. Agrippa presents sacrifices

at the temple in Jerusalem


Veterans of two legions colonize Berytus (Beirut)


Quirinius becomes praetor of Rome


Herod invites M. V. Agrippa to visit Judea


Augustus becomes high priest of Rome,

the Pontifex Maximus


Quirinius elected consul of Rome

37 b.c. to a.d. 30

Epoch 8

The Boy Jesus at the Temple
:41 Every year Jesus parents went to Je
rusalem for the Festival of the Passover.
42When he was twelve years old, they went up
to the festival, according to the custom. 43Af
ter the festival was over, w
hile his parents were
returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind
in Jer usalem, but they were unaware of it.
44Thinking he was in t heir company, they trav
eled on for a day. Then they began looking for
him among their relatives and friends. 45When
they did not find him, they went back to Jer u
salem to look for him. 46After three days they
found him in the temple courts, sitting among
the teachers, listening to them and asking
them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him
was amazed at his understanding and his an
swers. 48When his parents saw him, they were
astonished. His mother said to him, Son, why
have you treated us like this? Your father and I
have been anxiously searching for you.
Why were you searching for me? he
asked. Didnt you know I had to be in my
Fathers house? a 50But they did not under
stand what he was saying to them.
51Then he went down to Nazareth with them
and was obedient to them. But his mother trea
sured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus
grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with
God and man.


about my Fathers business


Jesus Visits the Temple

The date of Jesus visit to the temple

depends on the year of his birth (see The Birth
of Jesus at Mt 1:18). If he were born in 5 b.c.,
this temple event could have occurred about
a.d. 7. However, the date also depends on how
exact we understand the age 12 (Lk 2:42).
The circumstances described in this event
do not present Jesus as a child-prodigy. A Jew
ish boy was considered a man, accountable to
the Laws demands, following his bar mitzvah
at age 13. (Bar mitzvah, meaning son of the
commandment, is a religious rite of passage
comparable to catechism and confirmation
in some Christian traditions.) It was custom
ary for Jewish parents to take their son to the
temple one or two years before he turned 13.
Thus Jesus visit to the temple at this age, as
well as his questions of and by the teachers
of the Law, are consistent with normal Jew
ish practice. He took his relationship with God
seriously. What was exceptional was his level
of understanding (Lk 2:47).
Luke 2:4152

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The Journeys of Jesus Birth

The decree of Caesar Augustus required Mary and

Joseph to leave the Galilean city of Nazareth and regis
ter for the census in the Judean city of Bethlehem. After
Jesus was born and circumcised, his parents took him to
the temple in Jerusalem (Lk 2:140). Joseph fled from
Bethlehem, taking his family to Egypt to escape from
Herod the Great. Returning from Egypt after Herods
death, Jesus family settled in Nazareth (Mt 2:1323).

11/20/13 8:55 AM