Were there only THREE wise men?

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QUESTION: Does the Bible clearly state that THREE wise men came to visit and worship Jesus after he was born?

ANSWER: There are many ideas connected to the birth of Jesus that are simply not true and not in the Bible! There is much regarding Christ's nativity that is wrapped up in tradition, folklore, and custom. Such is the case with the common assumption that only THREE wise men (important people from Parthia) visited Jesus after his birth.

Countless Christmas-related books, paintings, Sunday school lessons, posters, church bulletins, displays in stores, TV programs, decorations and so on show three (usually odd dressed) wise men, each one with one gift, in front of a manger where baby Jesus rests. Although many times well intentioned, such depictions only add to the confusion and misunderstandings surrounding our Savior.

Since the Bible is silent regarding the number of Magi, many theologians and church members have ASSUMED a one-to-one correlation between the number of gifts and those giving them. This amounts to nothing more than a guess. The belief that three "wise guys" came to worship the Lord is a classic example of a speculation or theory (like the idea of evolution) made to seem like fact through its consistent repetition.

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We must remember that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, really was born in Bethlehem long ago. This part of the story is not custom and tradition. The scripture concerning your question is found in the Gospel of Matthew. This is the place where the idea concerning how many "wise" individuals came to worship the Lord is derived. Matthew is the only Gospel writer that mentions them traveling a great distance to see Jesus soon after his birth.

Matthew states that after Jesus' birth Magi visit Herod the Great to inquire exactly where Jesus is located. Herod, however, does not have a clue himself as to where he is. After leaving Jerusalem without an answer, the wise men see a star that leads them to where they need to go.

11. And when they (the men from Parthia) had come into the house (notice Jesus was NOT visited in some stable or manger!), they found the little child with Mary His mother, and they bowed down and worshiped Him; then they opened their treasures and presented their gifts to Him - gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2)

Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico
Adoration of the Magi
Fra Angelico

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, in an article about who visited Jesus, admits that Matthew (and the rest of the New Testament) completely omits the number of high-ranking men, who were wise, that came more than 1,000 miles to worship the true King of all Kings. According to this reference, not only is there no certain tradition regarding this question but that "Some (Catholic church) Fathers speak of three Magi. They are very likely influenced by the number of gifts. In the Orient, tradition favors twelve."

According to the book "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel . . .Found!" by Stephen M. Collins, the significance of the journey undertaken to worship the KING of KINGS would have made it likely several, if not a delegation of twelve or more 'wise men,' would have made the trip to Judea (page 381).

Additional Study Materials
How did the wise men fulfill Bible prophecy?
WHY was Jesus born?
How many angels were at Jesus' birth?

Were there only THREE wise men?

Holy Bible, a Faithful Version
Lost Ten Tribes of Israel . . . Found!

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