Birth of Jesus Timeline

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The Bible's first and oldest written prophecy, given directly by God, is found in the opening chapters of Genesis. It alludes to the miraculous birth of Jesus. The Messiah is prophesied to oppose the devil, overcome his attacks and ultimately seal his eternal fate.

15. "And I will put enmity between you (the devil) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed (an illusion to the virgin birth); He (Jesus) will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15, HBFV)

The birth of man's Savior, more than two thousand years ago, is one of the most pivotal events to have ever occurred in the universe! This appearance of Jesus, sometimes referred to as the Incarnation, is an eternal witness of perfect love. It shows that God's love is so deep and profound that he was willing to make the greatest sacrifice, at the greatest risk, in order that his greatest creation could live forever with him.

7 B.C.

Wise men or Magi "from the east" (Matthew 2:1) begin to see what appears to be a bright star appearing in the sky. They firmly believe that this miraculous beacon will lead them to where the "King of the Jews" (Jesus) will be born (verse 2). They decide to undertake what will become a 1,000+ mile (1,609+ kilometer) journey. Preparations are begun to transport these important men (and many others) westward in a caravan laden with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Who exacly ARE the Magi?
Timeline of the New Testament
Does God celebrate Christmas?
Why was Christ born in Bethlehem?

6 B.C.

Mid-May to Early June

A man named Zacharias begins his work at Jerusalem's temple during the "course of Abijah (Abia)" (Luke 1:5, 8 - 9), which is the eighth of twenty-four "shifts" priests could serve within (1Chronicles 24:10). Shifts ran from noon on one Sabbath (Saturday) to the next. The first shift this year runs from March 20 (Nisan 1) to 27, meaning that Zecharias' shift ran from May 15 to 22. Since May 23, however, is Pentecost, and ALL priests are required to work during the three busy Festival seasons (the other two being Passover and Tabernacles), his time of service lasts until May 29.

While fulfilling his priestly duties, the archangel Gabriel (likely on Pentecost, since John's birth was a major fulfillment of prophecy) visits Zacharias. This powerful angelic being informs him that his barren wife Elizabeth will miraculously bear him a son. This son, to be named John, will be filled with God's spirit from conception and will be raised under the Nazarite vow (Luke 1:5 - 15).

Because Zacharias doubts the veracity of what the angel states, he is rendered unable to speak until the birth of John (Luke 1:18 - 20, 57 - 64). John the Baptist, in early June, is conceived (Luke 1:23 - 24).

Late November - Early December

Gabriel, during Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy, is sent to a young virgin named Mary in the city of Nazareth (Luke 1:26 - 27). She is betrothed to a man named Joseph. The archangel informs her that she will miraculously conceive (through the power of God) the Savior of mankind (verses 28 - 37)! Mary, though amazed at what she is told, accepts God's will for her (verse 38) and Jesus is miraculously conceived in her womb. She then leaves Nazareth to spend about three months (Luke 1:39 - 40, 56) with her cousin Elizabeth.


The Mystical Nativity by Botticelli
The Mystical Nativity
Sandro Botticelli (c. 1500)

5 B.C.

Late February - Early March

Mary leaves Elizabeth and travels back to Nazareth (Luke 1:56). Elizabeth then gives birth to John between February 27 and March 11, six months before the arrival of Jesus (Luke 1:26, 36). Zacharias, on the day his son is circumcised, is able to again speak after he writes down that his name should be John (Luke 1:59 - 64).

Joseph soon discovers that his espoused wife Mary is three months pregnant (Matthew 1:18). Although he believes she has committed adultery (punishable by death, see Leviticus 20:10), he considers saving her through a private divorce (Matthew 1:19). An angel appears to him in a dream and tells him the child in Mary's womb was miraculously created by God. Joseph believes the angel and decides to stay married to Mary. He also chooses not to have sex with her until after the birth of Jesus (verses 20 - 25).

Late August - Early September

The small city of Bethlehem, when Mary and Joseph arrive in order to pay Roman taxes, is inundated with people (Luke 2:1 - 3). The couple, since all available lodging in the city is taken, must stay in a stable. Jesus is born in this location and laid in a manger (verse 7). His birth occurs between August 27 and September 9, with the likelihood it happened on the Feast of Trumpets (Saturday, September 2).

An angel proclaims to shepherds tending their flocks that man's Savior has been born (Luke 2:8 - 11)! He also tells them that the unique location of his birth, along with what he is wrapped in, will be the sign that they have the right child (verse 12). The shepherds, after countless angels appear in the sky to praise God, travel into Bethlehem to look for Jesus (verses 13 - 16).

Jesus, on the eighth day after his birth, is circumcised in obedience to God's law (Leviticus 12:3, Luke 2:21).

Early October

The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and are important enough dignitaries to warrant an immediate audience with Herod the Great. Since the star that has led them on their journey has DISAPPEARED, they seek any information he can provide regarding the King they are seeking. The size of their caravan, which includes armed soldiers, alarms both Herod and the city (Matthew 2:1 - 3). Herod immediately sets out to gather all the city's chief priests and scribes (verse 4).

Mid-October

After Mary's forty days of impurity are completed (Leviticus 12:1 - 4), she and Joseph travel to Jerusalem so that Jesus can be presented to God in the temple (Luke 2:22 - 24). While at the temple Simeon blesses the family and gives several prophecies (verses 25 - 35). A prophetess named Anna recognizes the Savior and tells others concerning him (verses 36 - 38). The family heads back to Bethlehem.

Herod tersely demands the priests and scribes tell him where the Christ is to be born (Matthew 2:4). They quote to him Micah 5:2 where it states he will come out of Bethlehem (verses 5 - 6). He then arranges a secret meeting with the Magi and finds out the star they originally saw in the sky appeared two years ago. He reveals to the wise men that the King they are seeking (Jesus) is in Bethlehem. Herod requests that after they find exactly where the child is located they come back to Jerusalem to tell him (Matthew 2:7 - 8).

The star the Magi saw, which had disappeared, appears again when they leave Jerusalem! It shines and moves before them such that it leads them directly to a HOME (not a stable!) where they find Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:9 - 11). They present their gifts to the family. The Magi, although they had planned to report back to Herod, are warned in a dream not to do so. They take another route back home that bypasses Jerusalem (verse 12).

Joseph, right after the Magi leave, is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt until Herod dies (Matthew 2:13 - 15). This is done because Herod will soon seek to murder the Christ child.

Late October

Herod, falsely believing that the Magi are mocking him by not coming back to Jerusalem, flies into a rage. Remembering that they told him they first saw the star two years ago, he orders all male children in Bethlehem (AND the surrounding areas!) two years old or younger murdered (Matthew 2:16 - 18). This murderous act fulfills prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15).

Additional Study Materials
How many angels announced the birth of Jesus?
Journeys of Mary and Joseph Map
What is the REAL reason for Christmas?

Primary Sources

Harmony of the Gospels in Modern English
Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah
The Free Biblical Calendar Program


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