Triumph Prophetic Ministries (Church of God)

What Year Was Jesus Nailed to the "Stake"?

When was Jesus Christ nailed to the "stake" outside Jerusalem? What was
the YEAR of the crucifixion of Christ? Was it 33 A.D. as Catholics claim?
Was it 31 A.D.? Or was it in 30 A.D.? What is the truth? And what differ-
ence does it make? Here is vital information and historical proof that Jesus
the Nazarene was indeed the promised Messiah!

William F. Dankenbring

Jesus' ministry began in 27 A.D., about the time of the Passover. Therefore, to know what year He died, it would help if we could determine the length of His ministry. How long did He preach, before He was killed? This, too, is a matter of great controversy! Some say three and one half years; others claim He preached one year, and others, like Ernest Martin, say His ministry lasted only two years. But what is the truth?

Jesus' ministry began from the very moment of His baptism, by John the Baptist, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him in a special way. We read in Luke, chapter 3:

Jesus, of course, was literally begotten of the Holy Spirit at His conception (Matt.20-21; Luke 1:35). As He grew up as a boy, He "waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). What then is meant by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him at His baptism? This can only refer to the Holy Spirit anointing Him to begin His ministry, and to begin preaching the gospel, the purpose for which He was sent!

Since Christ was born about September, in 4 B.C., He would have been "about thirty years of age" in spring of A.D. 27. Thus He was baptized before Passover in A.D. 27, and "anointed" for His ministry at that time. At this point, Jesus went up to the wilderness, and fasted forty days, and was tempted of the devil (Luke 4:1-13, Matt.4:1-11). This was special preparation for His ministry. After this, he departed into Galilee, and dwelt in Capernaum (Matt.4:12-13), and began to preach the gospel.

This was after John was put into prison (Mark 1:14-15). Luke tells us further:

The First Passover of Jesus' Ministry

Jesus had already begun healing the sick miraculously, and casting out demons. He established a reputation with His preaching and miracles throughout the region of Galilee. At the Passover, that year, 27 A.D., He went up to Jerusalem. John records:

At Jerusalem, Jesus found the temple of God polluted by those who sold doves and oxen and sheep for sacrifices, and a host of moneychangers. Angered, He made a scourge of small cords, and drove out all the animals and their sellers, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers (John 2:14-17). This first Passover would have been in the spring of 27 A.D., shortly after His ministry got started.

At this Passover, Jesus was asked, "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" (John 2:18). Jesus answered: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (v.19). What did Jesus mean? First, we know He was literally in the grave for three days. However, using a "day" for a "year" principle, He also implied that three years from that time, or three Passovers hence, He would be killed, and resurrected! "Three years"! in other words, this statement is further proof that Jesus' ministry lasted exactly three years!

Notice what follows: "Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body" (John 2:20-21).

The Temple of Herod

When did Herod begin construction on the Temple? This statement was made at Passover 27 A.D. If we subtract the 46 years the Temple was in building, 46-27 19 B.C.; but since there is no year zero, we must add "1" year, bringing us to 20 B.C. Did Herod begin his massive reconstruction project on the Temple in 20 B.C.? Does this fit in with history?

Says The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, "According to secular history, Herod initiated the work sometime in 20 B.C. or 19 B.C. This statement was addressed to Jesus at the first passover after he begins his public ministry. The 'forty six years' therefore furnishes another means for identifying the year when his ministry began" (p.317). The authors continue, "Hence the first passover of Jesus' ministry must have been in the spring of A.D. 27" (ibid.). Schurer in A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ adds, "The rebuilding was begun in the eighteenth year of Herod, corresponding to B.C. 20-19 . . ." (vol.1, p.438).

The Unger's Bible Dictionary concurs, saying, ". . . though Herod began the rebuilding B.C. 20, as a whole it was literally true that the temple was 'built in forty and six years,' when the Jews so asserted to Jesus (John 2:20). But the end was not yet, for the work was really continued until A.D. 64, just six years before the final destruction of the temple by the Roman soldiers of Titus" ("Herod," p.471). Peloubet's Bible Dictionary adds, "The restoration was begun B.C. 20, and the temple itself was completed in a year and a half" ("Herod," p.252).

Counting 46 years, then, from 20 B.C., brings us to 26 A.D. by simple subtraction. But, since there was no year zero, we again must add a year -- bringing us to A.D. 27 -- the very year Jesus Christ began His ministry, and celebrated the first Passover of His ministry!

Public Announcement at Pentecost

Luke tells us further: "And He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the SABBATH DAY, and stood up for to read" (Luke 4:14-16).

The Greek word for "sabbath" here is actually the plural sabbaton, and literally means "sabbaths" or "weeks." This was the "day of weeks," or most likely the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost! Thus we see that Christ began His ministry in the spring of the year, in 27 A.D. As He addressed the worshippers in the synagogue, we read in Luke's account:

His own hometown folks didn't believe in Him. He replied to them, "Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country . . . No prophet is accepted in his own country" (v.24).

The Second, Third and Fourth Passovers of Jesus' Ministry

The second Passover of Jesus' ministry is mentioned at the end of the second chapter of John's gospel. By this Passover Feast, Jesus had already developed a well-established reputation as a doer of miracles and wondrous deeds. The brief account is as follows:

The third Passover of Jesus' ministry is mentioned several chapters later in the gospel account of John. This would be the Passover of 29 A.D.. John declares:

The final and fourth Passover was the Passover of 30 A.D., at which Jesus was crucified. This is the Passover which culminated Christ's ministry, showing that His ministry lasted a period of three years. We read of the events of this Passover, beginning in chapter 11 of the book of John:

Jesus' ministry began about Passover time, in 27 A.D., and ended, then, at Passover, 30 A.D., with His being slain and killed as our Passover lamb, as the apostle Paul wrote: "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Cor.5:7-8).

This evidence proves that Jesus' ministry was not just one and one half years, or two and one half years, or three and one half years, in length. All the evidence shows that Christ's ministry was THREE YEARS IN LENGTH! Interestingly, "three" is God's number of "decision," the number of "finality." It is "God's number." Time and time again, the number "3" appears in Scripture, and is connected with "God" in a very special way.

The number "three" is the number of finality, and of decision. Peter denied Christ three times (Luke 22:34, 61). Later Jesus asked him three times, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17), and told him three times, "Feed my sheep." Paul besought God three times to heal him of a thorn in the flesh (II Cor.12:8-9). Jesus was three days and three nights in the grave (Matt.12:40). His ministry lasted three years, and He spent three years "teaching" the disciples. Later, Paul, as an apostle, said he also saw Christ and was taught by him: "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (I Cor.15:8). He also was taught of Christ "three years" -- in the wilderness of Arabia (see Gal.1:15-18). Thus the number "three" is very significant with God. It is clearly the correct length of Christ's ministry. Jesus began preaching in spring of 27 A.D. and was crucified in spring of 30 A.D. -- three years later.

It is only fitting, therefore, that Christ's ministry would be "three" years long! This fits perfectly like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, into the Biblical picture.

Some say He was crucified in 31 A.D. However, this would make His ministry four years in length. Furthermore, it would destroy the relationship between the year of His crucifixion and the year of the destruction of the Temple, in 70 A.D.

It is significant that there were exactly forty years from the death of Christ in A.D. 30 till the conquest and overthrow of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus and Vespacian in 70 A.D.! "Forty" is God's perfect number denoting "trials" and "trouble" and "tribulation." Jesus was tried and tested of the devil while fasting 40 days (Matt.4:1-2; Luke 4:1-2). Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Num.14:34). And there were 40 years from the death of Christ till the fall of Jerusalem, which He Himself prophesied (Matt.23:36-38; Luke 23:28-31). "Forty" is the number of divine JUDGEMENT!

Therefore, when all the evidence is pieced together carefully, we come up with the following picture. Notice!

The Incredible Events of A.D. 30

The year 30 A.D. was truly a significant year. It was the year the Son of God died, paying the price for our sins! Is there evidence, outside of the Bible, that indeed A.D. 30 was the year the Christ, the Son of the Most High God, literally DIED and was PUT TO DEATH by wicked, conspiring men?

The astounding answer is, yes indeed -- there is shocking, incredible evidence that 30 A.D. was a year of astounding infamy and miraculous occurrences! According to Jewish history, preserved in the Talmud, there were four miraculous signs which all occurred in 30 A.D. These signs did not occur in 31 A.D., or in 33 A.D., or 29 A.D. or any other year. These signs also point to something very unusual occurring in A.D. 30 which earned the wrath and anger of God upon the Jewish nation of that time.

In the gospel accounts dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we find that some weird, bizarre, and strange events occurred, connected with the event of the crucifixion.

In the book of Matthew we read: "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. . . . Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that slept were raised, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now, when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:45-54).

Let me interject here that the "bodies of the saints that slept" that arose, following this earthquake which accompanied the death of Christ were the bodies of believers or saints who had recently died. This is not talking about Old Testament saints, patriarchs and prophets, but simply men and women who had recently died, and who were resurrected back to normal, physical life.

Alfred Edersheim describes the events which occurred when Christ died on the cross. Writes Edersheim in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,

The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years before that date would be 30 A.D. -- the year of the crucifixion! But that is not all: Says Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews:

In early writings of the church fathers, Jerome in a letter to Hedibia relates that the huge lintel of the Temple was broken and splintered and fell. He connects this with the rending of the Veil. Says Edersheim, "it would seem an obvious inference to connect again this breaking of the lintel with an earthquake" (p.610, op. cit.). The lintel was an enormous stone, being at least 30 feet long and weighing some 30 tons!

The Temple Veils were 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and the thickness of the palm of a man's hand, wrought in 72 squares. They were so heavy that we are told 300 priests were needed to manipulate each one. The Veil being rent from top to bottom was such a terrible portent because it indicated that God's Own Hand had torn it in two, His Presence thus deserting and leaving that Holy Place.

Sanhedrin Judged and Banished

This same year, 30 A.D., the Sanhedrin had to abandon the Chamber of Hewn Stones, near the Holy Place in the Temple, which was its official seat or location. This was about 40 yards southeast of the entrance to the Holy Place. In 30 A.D. the Sanhedrin had to move to another location, called "The Trading Place," farther to the east and a much less significant spot. To be forced to move from a beautiful, gorgeous, awesome location in the Temple to a spot much less beautiful, esteemed, and reverential, must have seemed a terrible "put down." Says the Talmud:

Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. is 30 A.D. -- the very year of the crucifixion of the Messiah! Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Jesus was crucified? Could it have been forced to do so because of damage caused by the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Jesus? Was it direct punishment for their complicity in handing Jesus over to the Romans and condemning Him to death? Was this evidence of God's official displeasure with their actions?

Prior to the War with Rome, Josephus tells us, the Sanhedrin had to move once again. This time they moved to an area outside the Temple complex, in an ordinary part of Jerusalem -- actually a place west of the Temple near a building called the Xystus (see Josephus' Wars of the Jews, V,4, 2). What a demotion and humbling!

The smug, self-righteous members of the Sanhedrin of that time would not have made such a humiliating move -- voluntarily! It had to be forced upon them by circumstance. There is no record of the Roman government compelling such a move -- they stayed out of Jewish religious life. Nor would Herod the king have been responsible -- to offend the entire Sanhedrin would have been a disastrous political mistake. Only a "natural cause" or "Supernatural" cause which men could not remedy would cause such a humiliating and abhorrent move on the part of the Sanhedrin members.

Was the Sanhedrin rebuked by God in 30 A.D., and forced to "relocate" to a much lesser station and position than that which they had previously held at the Temple itself? Was this due to the vicious, unprecedented "kangaroo" trial and phony "judgment" they had perpetrated upon Yeshua the Son of God?

Writes Rabbi Leibel Reznick of this traumatic event, in The Holy Temple Revisited:

Notice! The year the Sanhedrin was moved, 30 A.D., the year Christ was crucified, was also the year they CEASED to judge capital offenses! To humble them, they were reduced to meeting at a "shopping mall" where regular "commerce" and business of "trade" was conducted! Their authority was no more important, now, than mere buying and selling merchandise! Surely this constituted a withering and scathing rebuke from God Himself who was displeased with their treatment of and jealous rage against His own Son!

Writes Craig Blomberg of this event:

It was the very year of the crucifixion that the Jews were denied the right to perform capital punishment by the Romans. It was this very year when the Sanhedrin was forcibly removed from the Temple Mount!

When the members of the Jewish Supreme Court brought Jesus to Pilate, he told them, "Take him and judge him according to your law." But they replied, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (John 18:31). Yet they connived and pressured Pilate and stirred up the crowd to demand the crucifixion of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One of God (John 18:32-40; 19:1-16). God seriously punished them for their disregard of His Son. But that punishment was only the beginning of His warnings of further judgment to come!

Talmudic Evidence of Christ and A.D. 30

In the centuries following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish people began writing two versions of Jewish thought, religious history and commentary. One was written in Palestine and became known as the Jerusalem Talmud. The other was written in Babylon and was known as the Babylonian Talmud.

We read in the Jerusalem Talmud:

A similar passage in the Babylonian Talmud states:

What is this talking about? Since both Talmuds recount the same information, this indicates the knowledge of these events was accepted by the widespread Jewish community.

The Miracle of the "Lot"

The first of these miracles, the "lot" which was cast on the Day of Atonement to determine which of two goats would be "for the Lord" and which goat would be the "Azazel" or "scapegoat," has fascinating significance. During the two hundred years before 30 A.D., when the High Priest picked one of the stones, the random selection was governed by the laws of chance, and each year he would select a black stone as often as a white stone. But for forty years in a row, beginning in 30 A.D., the High Priest picked the black stone! The "odds" against this happening are astronomical (2 to the 40th power). In other words, the chances of this occurring are 1 in approximately 5,479,548,800 -- or about 5.48 billion to one! Your chances would be much better at winning the "Lottery"!

The lot for Azazel -- the black stone -- contrary to all the laws of chance, came up 40 times in a row from 30 to 70 A.D.! This was considered a dire event. This foreboded supernatural evil for the entire Jewish community. The "Azazel" goat represented Satan the devil! (See my articles, Who is Azazel? and New Insight on the Day of Atonement).

The Miracle of the Red Strip

The second miracle was of the crimson strip or cloth tied to the Azazel goat, which up until 30 A.D. had always turned white, remaining crimson. This undoubtedly caused much stir and consternation among the Jews, because it showed the sins of the people which had been confessed over the Azazel goat, represented by the red color of blood, were still crimson -- that is, they had not been pardoned and "made white." As God told Israel through Isaiah the prophet, "Come, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet [crimson], they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as [white] wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

Beginning in 30 A.D., the red strip placed on the Azazel goat, symbolizing the sins of the people, did not turn white, for forty years, till the destruction of the Temple itself! The clear indication is that the whole community was guilty of some great "sin" in 30 A.D., for which they were not pardoned, and their collective guilt remained for every year till 70 A.D.

Concerning the crimson strip, for the previous two hundred years, since the time of Simon the Righteous, this ceremony, though not mentioned in the Scriptures, was associated with the day of Atonement. During the 40 years he was High Priest, a crimson thread which he had associated with his person always turned white when he entered the Holy of Holies. The people noticed this. Also, it was noticed that "the lot of the LORD" -- the white lot -- came up for 40 straight years during his priesthood. The Jews began to believe that these signs showed God's pleasure or ill favour. They noticed that the "lot" picked by the priests after Simon would sometimes be black, and sometimes white, and that the crimson thread would sometimes turn white, and sometimes not. The Jews came to believe that if the crimson thread turned white, that God approved of the Day of Atonement rituals and that Israel could be assured that God forgave their sins. But after 30 A.D., the crimson thread never turned white again for 40 years, till the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of all Temple rituals!

What did the Jewish nation do in 30 A.D. to merit such guilt? On April 5, 30 A.D., Jesus Christ was crucified on the 14th of Nisan, the day of the Passover sacrifice. A completely innocent man -- the Messiah -- was put to death by His enemies, though no fault was found in Him!

The Miracle of the Temple Doors

The next miracle, which the Jewish authorities acknowledged, was that the Temple doors swung open every night of their own accord for forty years, beginning in 30 A.D. The leading Jewish authority of that time, Yohanan ben Zakkai, declared that this was a sign of impending doom, that the Temple itself would be destroyed. Says the Jerusalem Talmud:

Yohanan ben Zakkai was the leader of the Jewish community during the time following the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., when the Jewish government was transferred to Jamnia, some thirty miles west of Jerusalem.

The Miracle of the Temple Menorah

The fourth miracle was that the most important lamp of the seven candle-stick Menorah in the Temple went out, and would not shine. Every night for 40 years -- or over 12,500 nights in a row -- the main lamp of the Temple lampstand went out of its own accord -- no matter what attempts and precautions the priests took to safeguard against this event!

Earnest Martin states in a recent research paper published by him:

Again, the odds against this happening are astronomical. Something supernatural was going on. God had cursed the "light" Menorah, representing contact with Him, and His Spirit, and removed His Presence in a special way after the crucifixion of His only begotten Son, Yeshua the Messiah!

It should be clear to any reasonable mind that there is no natural way to explain all these four signs connected with the year 30 A.D. The only possible explanation has to be supernatural.

God Almighty intervened, to show the Jewish nation His utmost displeasure with their actions and particularly with what they had done to His Son!

After 30 A.D., and the death of the Messiah, great trouble and awesome trials began to come upon the Jewish nation. Jesus Himself foretold it. As He was led away to be crucified, Jesus warned the women of Jerusalem,

When we take an objective look at the events of 30 A.D., who can doubt that it was indeed the true year of the crucifixion and resurrection of the true Messiah God sent to Israel? Who can deny that Yeshua of Nazareth is the one and only true Messiah?

Who else has fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament -- including the amazing prophecy of Daniel 9 and the "70 weeks" -- coming at the very year predicted for the Messiah to appear?

Isn't it about time, after denying He is the Messiah for the past 2,000 years, that the Jewish people, and rabbis, in particular, as well as all "professing Christians," take another look at this prophesied "Messiah," and the merits of His claim to the Messiahship?

Like Pieces of a Divine Puzzle

All the evidence points to Christ's crucifixion as being on Wednesday, April 5, in A.D. 30.

All the Biblical evidence, and secular evidence from history, pinpoint the beginning of His ministry, the length of His ministry, the day of the week of His death, and the year of His death.

When all this evidence is weighed in the balances, who can seriously deny that Jesus Christ -- Yeshua Ha Moshiach -- is the Messiah of Israel, the Redeemer and Saviour of mankind?

Isaiah the prophet, 800 years before His coming, perfectly and beautifully prophesied:

Isaiah could not have described Jesus Christ, and His life, mission and purpose, more accurately, if he had been there himself, at Jesus' side, as an eye-witness to His life and ministry! The apostle Peter, who was literally an eye-witness of Christ's ministry, and sufferings, wrote of Him as well:

Isn't it about time we looked to Christ, studied His life, and His death, and came to know, and appreciate the One who did so much for us? Truly, all mankind has gone astray. All have turned to their own way. Isn't it about time we turn back to God?

Isn't it about time we really "get to know" our Saviour and Redeemer, the Messiah of Israel -- Jesus Christ of Nazareth?