Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Beginning of the Messiah's Ministry
It is evident that John the Baptist and the Messiah began their ministries in the Sabbatical Year from Tishri 1, A.D. 27 to Tishri 1, A.D. 28. And what a significant symbolic time for John and the Messiah to start their ministries. The people of Judaea were keenly aware of the prophetic significance of Sabbatical Years as they related to prominent people of the OT periods, and also to the advent of the Messiah into the world.
by Ernest L. Martin
The Gospel of John records some prime chronological references for reckoning the years of the Messiah's ministry which the other three Gospels do not report. For example, John mentions three Passovers by name which occurred during the ministry of the Messiah (2:23-25; 6:4; 19:14). Other Jewish festivals were acknowledged as well. There was the "unknown feast" between the first and second Passovers (5:1), and after the third Passover he mentions the feasts of Tabernacles (7:1) and Dedication (10:22). These feasts provide some chronological benchmarks for establishing the proper sequence of years associated with Yeshua's ministry.
The Day of Pentecost?
In Luke's account (found at Luke 4:17-21) of the Messiah's reading of the scroll in the synagogue after he had returned to his hometown of Nazareth following the Passover at Jerusalem, we find an unusual Greek expression -- "the Day of the Sabbaths" (ήμέρα τών σαββάτων) This expression can also be rendered, "the Day of Weeks" -- another way of saying Pentecost, agreeing with the terminology of Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10, 16 and II Chronicles 8:13. The Messiah was handed the scroll of Isaiah and he read chapter 61, verses 1 and 2 -- notice!
"And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up, and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the Day of the Sabbaths [Greek, or, The Day of the Weeks] and stood up to read. And he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the scroll, and found the place where it was written: 'The Lord's Spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor, hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set free the bruised, to proclaim the Lord's acceptable year.' And he rolled up the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And he began to say unto them, 'Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears'" (Luke 4:17-21).
It should be noted that the synagogue attendant handed Yeshua the scroll of Isaiah. This shows that the synagogue liturgy required Isaiah to be read that day. If so, this indicates that the Messiah read the regular triennial cycle selection from the prophets that accompanied the sequential readings from the five books of Moses. It is interesting that the section that the Messiah quoted was that which paralleled the readings from the Law of Moses for Pentecost on the second year of the triennial cycle. See the chart accompanying the article on the "Triennial Cycle in the Jewish Encyclopedia," Funk and Wagnalls, 1906. This may well be another indication that this event in the synagogue in Nazareth occurred on Pentecost.
Though I am in no way insisting that the phrase "The Day of the Weeks" on which the Messiah read Isaiah 61:1, 2 was Pentecost (yet it seem to have been), it is still clear that the event happened in the Summer after the Messiah had returned from Jerusalem from John's first Passover. With this in mind, we may have a reference that this particular year was Sabbatical. Note that Yeshua called that year "the acceptable year of the Lord" -- the time of release.
These are terms associated with Sabbatical Years (and with the Jubilee which was a type of Sabbatical Year). Jubilee Years were not being celebrated by the Judahites in the first century, yet the ordinary seven year sabbatical cycle was very much in evidence among the Judahites and Samaritans.
Look at the factors within the Messiah's quote from Isaiah which suggest this. He said that he was anointed (1) to preach good tidings to the poor. This is a reflection on the sabbatical regulations that the poor and the stranger could eat from the fields without hinder. (2) He was to proclaim a release and to free the bruised. This recalls the Sabbatical release regulations and being free of debt as mentioned in Deuteronomy 15:1-6. And (3), the Messiah was ordained to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. This is a reference to a Sabbatical period (which years commenced on the Day of Atonement -- Leviticus 25:9 and Isaiah 58:1-14). Such years are always associated with
"unloosing the bands of wickedness, undoing heavy burdens, letting the oppressed go free, and the breaking of every yoke" (Isaiah 58:6).
This is the type of "acceptable year" that the Messiah was proclaiming at the synagogue in Nazareth, and the theme smacks of a Sabbatical Year.
If it can thus be shown that the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry and that of the Messiah's started in a Sabbatical Year, then it makes excellent sense why so many people were able to follow both of them during the times of their preaching -- many of the people would have been off from their farm labor and able to travel at leisure over the land of Palestine.
The Sequence of Sabbatical Years
Though over the past few centuries historians studying the records about Sabbatical Years have been able to arrive at their sequence within a year or two, only within the last 50 years (and especially the last 20), has it become possible, through archaeological discoveries, etc., to determine with an almost certainty what the exact Sabbatical Years' sequence is. This can be known from 163 B.C. to the present. Two brilliant historical studies by Prof. Wacholder of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, have solved the riddle of when the Sabbatical Years occurred in ancient times, and when they ought to be observed today. His first study is in the Hebrew Union College Annual, 1973, titled "The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles During the Second Temple and the Early Rabbinic Period" (pp. 153-196), and the same Annual for 1975 has his "The Timing of Messianic Movements and the Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles" (pp. 201-218). In this article we will summarize the results of Prof. Wacholder's excellent studies. It will demonstrate the number of precise years over the centuries as Sabbaticals, and how we can know the exact sequence of the seventh years for the period we are discussing.
1). We are told by I Maccabees 6:49 that Judas Maccabee's defeat at Beth-Zur was in a Sabbatical Year. And this can be dated to the Sabbatical Year from the Autumn of 163 to Autumn 162 B.C.
2). Josephus, the Jewish historian, shows the murder of Simon the Hasmonean as happening in the Sabbatical Year of Autumn 135 to Autumn 134 B.C.
3). Josephus shows Herod's conquest of Jerusalem as occurring in the Sabbatical Year of 37 to 36 B.C.
4). King Agrippa the First recited the section of Deuteronomy which a king was required to do as associated with the Sabbatical Year (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). He performed it at a time which historically shows that Agrippa's Sabbatical Year was A.D. 41 to 42.
5). A papyrus document written in Aramaic has recently been found in Palestine which is dated to the second year of Nero, and it says that that year was a Sabbatical Year. Thus, A.D. 55 to 56 was Sabbatical.
6). A reference in the second century Jewish work called the Seder Olam can be interpreted as showing the Temple at Jerusalem being destroyed in a Sabbatical Year. That would have been A.D. 69 to 70.
7). Dated documents have been found concerning the Bar Kochba revolt of the Judeans against the Romans which show that the year A.D. 132 to 133 was also a Sabbatical Year.
8). The ruins of an ancient synagogue have recently been uncovered which have a date, in a mosaic, for the Jewish year 4000, and that it was the second year of a Sabbatical cycle. This answers to A.D. 237 to 238.
9). There is a reference in the Jewish Talmud (Sanh. 97b) that the Messiah will release the world from its bondage of corruption in the year after 4291 of the Jewish calendar. Since it was believed this would occur in a Sabbatical Year, this reference becomes important (though the prophecy did not occur) because the year after 4291 was A.D. 531 to 532 and it was Sabbatical.
The interesting thing about these Sabbatical Years is the fact that they are all in proper sequence This gives the historian a great deal of confidence that they are correct. Now, all the Sabbatical Years in between can be known (Schurer, following Zuckermann, felt that the Sabbatical Years' cycle was a year earlier than the one presented here, but Wacholder has shown this to be untenable. For example, in Schurer's sequence, the year A.D. 40 to 41 was Sabbatical, but Josephus says that crops were able to be harvested that year -- War II. 200; Antiq. XVIII. 271-284 -- and even Schurer admits to the difficulty (JPJC I, I. pp. 42, 43)). Prof. Wacholder, however, reveals the answer to the sequence of Sabbatical Years. See also The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Suppl. Vol., pp. 762, 763. Other historical incidences mentioned in Josephus also support Wacholder's proofs.
Historical Events in Judaea Can Now Make Better Sense
Once the proper annual occurrences of Sabbaticals are understood, all other intervening years in sequence can be tallied. We then discover how important events occurred on them. Those years were times when the majority of the population, being mostly in agriculture, were off from their ordinary jobs and something had to be done in order to keep them busy at earning a proper living. There was a simple answer to this that many people have not thought of. During the six years of farm labor the government took some grain and foodstuffs like Joseph did in Egypt and when the Sabbatical Year came around, they paid the people this produce to work at construction or other types of work. Since there was a vast reservoir of workers then available, new buildings, cities, walls, roads, irrigation projects were undertaken. And for the most part the people did the work willingly because they believed YEHOVAH God to be behind their efforts of keeping the Sabbatical Years. Note examples of this.
Herod commenced his work on the outer parts of the great Temple of YEHOVAH God on the Sabbatical Year of 23/22 B.C. (cf. War. I.101 and Loeb, vol. VIII, p.184 note c). This was also the exact year he commenced work on building the new city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast (cf. Antiq. XV. 341 and Loeb note d). And later, Herod's son Philip started to build Caesarea Philippi (cf. Schurer, rev II. 169-171) in the Sabbatical Year 2/1 B.C. The city of Tiberias probably had its founding in A.D. 20 the beginning of a Sabbatical Year (cf. Schurer, ibid. p.179).
Also the expansive third wall around the northern parts of Jerusalem which, if finished, Josephus said would have made Jerusalem impregnable was no doubt started by King Agrippa the First in the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 41/42 (cf. War II. 218). And his son Agrippa II also began huge construction projects in similar circumstances. In the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 62/63 Josephus said that "King Agrippa enlarged Caesarea Philippi and renamed it in honor of Nero. He furthermore built, at great expense, a theater for the people of Beirut and presented them with animal spectacles, spending many tens of thousands of drachmas upon this project" (Antiq. XX. 211).
It is because so many Jews had to take different types of jobs in Sabbatical Years that it was common for most of them in the first century to have two trades. Recall that the apostle Paul was a trained tentmaker (Acts 18:3). Most learned these secondary trades during the Sabbatical Years when so many new construction projects were then underway. This is one of the main reasons that the Judean people put up with many of the building endeavors of Herod during the Sabbatical Years.
The Sabbatical Year of the Messiah's Ministry
The sequence of Sabbatical Years is now established with almost certainty by Professor Wacholder and other historical data which I can provide. This information provides a logical chronology for the years of the Messiah's ministry. We can now know that the Messiah gave his information about the "four months to harvest" in John 4:35 (a reference to Pentecost in the Summer -- see our article, PENTECOST -- The Untold Story for more information) in a Sabbatical Year -- and that year has to be the one from the Autumn of A.D. 27 to the Autumn of A.D. 28.
There is another chronological indication in Luke's Gospel that helps substantiate this. Luke said that John the Baptist began his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1). Scholars have recognized several ways of reckoning this fifteenth year, but with our new information identifying Yeshua's first year of teaching as the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 27 to A.D. 28, we are now helped in understanding the regnal years of Tiberius as reckoned by Luke. For a full discussion on the various ways that Tiberius' fifteenth year have been reckoned, see the excellent works of Prof. Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, pp. 259-273, and Prof. Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pp. 29-37.
We can now consider two of the explanations which blend in perfectly well with our new chronological information. If one acknowledges the fifteenth year of Tiberius as being in conformity with the non-accession method based on the official Roman Year (called the Julian), that fifteenth year would be from January 1, A.D. 28 to December 31, A.D. 28. This would dovetail nicely with our new proposal, yet it would mean that John the Baptist began baptizing in January A.D. 28 in the Jordan Valley. This would be acceptable since it was not excessively cold in the Jordan depression even during mid-winter. However, it does press events between January and the next Passover which occurred in late March or early April into a "hurry up" situation. Recall that the Messiah spent 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism. Though this reckoning for the fifteenth year is not improbable, it is not to be preferred over the following determination which fits in much better with all factors. Let's notice it.
Since Luke was a Gentile and writing to a nobleman named Theophilus (traditionally both were from Antioch, Syria), it is possible that Luke was using the non-accession method of reckoning regnal years in Syria from the time of Augustus to Nerva. The fifteenth year of Tiberius was then from Tishri 1, A.D. 27 to Tishri 1, A.D. 28. This would mean that Luke was calculating the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry and consequently that of the Messiah's according to the calendar with which he and Theophilus would have been familiar (Hoehner, pp. 34,35). It also has the advantage of paralleling the Jewish Year which also commenced with Tishri 1. And more than that, this reckoning would also correspond precisely with the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 27 to A.D. 28.
And what a significant symbolic time for John and the Messiah to start their ministries. The Jewish people were keenly aware of the prophetic significance of Sabbatical Years as they related to prominent people of the Old Testament periods, and also to the advent of the Messiah into the world. In literature written not long before Yeshua began to preach, we have these symbolic features emphasized. The Book of Enoch presents an apocalyptic account based on the seven Sabbatical ages, and in 91:12-17 it adds three more -- a total of ten Sabbatical periods. The Book of Jubilees records that at the creation YEHOVAH God partitioned off time periods into Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles (Jub. 1:27-29). The births of significant people such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and other patriarchs were timed to dovetail precisely with Sabbatical eras (Dead Sea Scroll, 4Q181, fragments 1-2). The Dead Sea sectarians recognized future reigns of the Kings of Wickedness and Righteousness relative to a Sabbatical calendar, and believing that the last year of the cycle would be the start of the Messianic age (1QMelch. 3:2).
These early opinions on the symbolic teaching concerning Sabbatical Years were no doubt prompted by the sabbatical periods recorded by the Prophet Daniel. His Seventy Weeks' prophecy was an extension of a Sabbatical Years' theme, and this prophecy was the prime reference point for the advent of the Messianic age that the Judeans were expecting in the first century. "Passover of the Sabbatical Year became the period when the redeemer's coming was expected most" (Wacholder, "Int. Dict. One Vol." supplement, p. 763).
It is thus no surprise that vast crowds of people came out in the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 27 to A.D. 28 to be baptized by John the Baptist and the Messiah. This was not only a time when a great percentage of the people would have been free of agricultural duties and able to travel at leisure following the great teachers around Palestine, but it was also the Sabbatical Year when many of them were expecting many Messianic signs to occur.
It makes perfectly good sense that John the Baptist would have started his ministry in the Autumn, at the beginning of the Sabbatical Year, and that the Messiah would have commenced his own teaching six months later. The Judean people would have seen significance in that year.
This would indicate that John the Baptist inaugurated his teaching ministry at the start of a Sabbatical Year. For what it's worth, Epiphanius said that the Messiah was baptized a little later on November 8. Soon after that Yeshua went into the wilderness for 40 days and then returned to Galilee. The preaching of the Messiah was relatively restricted until the wedding feast in Cana, which took place not long before John's first Passover. Though the Messiah performed a great miracle at the behest of his mother, he still informed her that "mine hour is not yet come" (John 2:4). It appears that he was waiting for the time of Passover A.D. 28 to officially begin his ministry. At Jerusalem, Yeshua found the Temple of YEHOVAH 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 was in the spring of A.D. 28.
At this Passover, the Messiah was asked, "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" (John 2:18). The Messiah answered: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (v. 19). What did the Messiah mean? 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 proof that the Messiah's 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 Chronological Indications of John
Since it looks evident that John the Baptist and Yeshua the Messiah began to teach in the Sabbatical Year from Tishri 1, A.D. 27 to Tishri 1, A.D. 28, it is a simple procedure to follow the apostle John through his other chronological references to the year of the Messiah's crucifixion. Indeed, it is the establishing of the "first year" for the Messiah's ministry that can make the time of his crucifixion understandable.
The first Passover mentioned by John (2:23-25) can now be reckoned to A.D. 28. At the following Pentecost season he was in Galilee -- probably at Nazareth. Following the Passover of A.D. 28, the next festival of John was his "unknown" feast (5:1). This "unknown" festival occurred some time before John's third Passover mentioned in 6:4.
What was this "unknown feast? The combined evidence of the Gospels is that there were FOUR Passover celebrations and that, therefore, the Messiah's ministry lasted three years. However, not one of the individual Gospels mentions four Passovers by name. In fact, Matthew, Mark and Luke do not mention any Passover except the final one at which time the Messiah was put to death. It is therefore necessary -- as in other Biblical matters -- to combine the details provided by all the Gospel (and other) accounts.
John 2:23-25 refers to a Passover at the beginning of the Messiah's ministry. Since he was baptized in the fall of A.D. 27, the Passover of John 2:23-25 must have been in the spring of A.D. 28. John's Gospel also mentions a Passover at John 6:4 and the final one the Messiah attended before he was crucified (John 19:14). But there is good reason to believe that there was yet another Passover -- falling between those mentioned in John 2:23-25 and John 6:4. How so?
After the Passover in A.D. 28, the Messiah taught in Judea for a time and then headed north to Galilee, doing so when there were yet four months until harvest-time (John 4:35). Although John -- in chapter four -- introduces only the start of the Messiah's lengthy Galilean ministry, we read in John 5:1: "After these things there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." What festival was that?
There were only TWO festivals that required the Judahites to go up to Jerusalem for -- Passover and Tabernacles. As an aid in determining which festival this was, we should note that all the Gospels relate the miracles of the Messiah feeding 5,000 persons at Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-15). Both the reference in John 6:4 to an approaching Passover and Mark's mention that the grass was green indicate that this miracle occurred in the springtime. But the accounts by Matthew, Mark and Luke place this miracle deep into the Messiah's Galilean ministry -- on his third tour of the region. The Synoptic Gospels simply relate far too many events for all of them to have occurred in less than a year between the beginning of the Galilean ministry and the Passover of John 6:4.
Historian Harold W. Hoehner observes --
"One problem with the addition of a year between the Passovers of John 2:13 [and 2:23-25 -- same Passover] and 6:4 is that there is no mention of an additional Passover by John. This is an argument from silence and [it is noteworthy that] not all feasts are mentioned in John, for example the Feast of Pentecost. Also, the Synoptic accounts require ANOTHER YEAR between the Passovers of 2:13 [and 2:23-25 -- same Passover] and 6:4" ("Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ." Published in Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 131, April-June 1974, pages 147-162).
However, if the festival mentioned at John 5:1 was itself a Passover, there would have been time for all these events. Furthermore, some New Testament manuscripts at John 5:1 speak of it as "THE festival" which, in all likelihood, means the Passover. And, as we have already stated, the Passover was a festival that all Judahites were required by the Law of YEHOVAH God to go up to Jerusalem for -- as John 5:1 says the Messiah did.
This indicates, then, that the earthly ministry of the Messiah involved not three but FOUR Passovers. Concerning the various theories about the length of the Messiah's ministry, Harold W. Hoehner adds: "The three-year ministry of Jesus from the first Passover to the passion Passover is the most viable option."
Many scholars, including Hoehner, accept the "unknown" feast as Passover. Hoehner places this "unknown" feast not in the first year of the Messiah's ministry but in the second. To do this, a second Passover is found between the Passovers of John 2:23-25 and 6:4 (see John 5:1).
The Importance of A.D. 28 in the Messiah's Ministry
It is not difficult to determine when the Messiah began his ministry if one will pay attention to other chronological data which are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures.
First of all, we are told that Yeshua "began [his ministry] about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). To be "about" thirty means that he was approaching his birthday. As explained in my book The Birth of Christ Recalculated (and in my new book The Star That Astonished the World, he was born on the Day of Trumpets (Tishri One). In the Bible we find that everyone was advanced one year of age on the same day (again, this was the Day of Trumpets). The Spring of A.D. 28 would fit Luke's description ideally because he would become exactly 30 years of age on the Day of Trumpets which began the Hebrew Autumn.
The First Passover of Yeshua's Ministry
Since it appears that the Messiah was approaching 30 years of age when he began his ministry, where and when did that official beginning take place? One thing for certain, Peter, who was an eyewitness to all such affairs, said his ministry began "in Galilee" (Acts 10:37). The first miracle the Messiah performed was turning the water into wine which was in Cana of Galilee, but this was not the time for the official commencement of his ministry because he told his mother that "mine hour is not yet come" (John 2:4). Soon after that event the Messiah went to Jerusalem for the Passover and performed some miracles to the astonishment of the people (John 2:23). Yeshua 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, 28 A.D., he went up to Jerusalem. John records:
"And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem" (John 2:13).
After that first Passover, he returned through Samaria. He then went north to Galilee where he was reared. And in the synagogue at Nazareth, on the Day of the Weeks (Pentecost in A.D. 28), he committed himself officially to the people as the Messiah (Luke 4:16-21). This is what Peter meant when he said the Gospel began in Galilee (Acts 10:37). This proclamation by Yeshua the Messiah occurred a little over two months before the Messiah became 30 on the following Day of Trumpets in A.D. 28.
The Second, Third and Fourth Passovers of Yeshua's Ministry
The second Passover of the Messiah's ministry is mentioned at the beginning of the fifth chapter of John's gospel. By this Passover Feast, the Messiah had already developed a well-established reputation as a doer of miracles and wondrous deeds. The brief account is as follows:
"Seeing this man lying down, and being aware that he had already been [sick] a long time, Jesus said to him: 'Do you want to become sound in health?'  The sick man answered him: 'Sir, I do not have a man to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; but while I am coming another steps down ahead of me.'  Jesus said to him: 'Get up, pick up your cot and walk.'  With that the man immediately became sound in health, and he picked up his cot and began to walk. Now on that day it was a sabbath.  therefore the Jews began to say to the cured man: 'It is Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry the cot'" (John 5:6-10, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures).
It is interesting to note that the word "sabbath" in verse 9 starts with a lower case "s" -- indicating a regular weekly sabbath, while in verse 10 the word "Sabbath" starts with an upper case "S" indicating a special or "high-day" Sabbath. When we understand that the religious establishment of the Messiah's day determined the weekly sabbaths by the moon just like the annual high-day (feast) Sabbaths, the weekly sabbath and Passover (Nisan 15) fell on the same day as it does year in and year out. Therefore, when we put all the evidence together, John 5:1 has to be referring to the Passover season.
This brings us to 29 A.D.
The third Passover of the Messiah's ministry is mentioned several chapters later in the gospel account of John. This would be the Passover of 30 A.D. John declares:
"And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh" (John 6:4).
The final and fourth Passover was the Passover of 31 A.D., at which the Messiah was crucified. This is the Passover which culminated the Messiah'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:
"And the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves" (John 11:55).
"Then Jesus six days before Passover came to Bethany..." (John 12:1). "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end" (John 13:1).
"And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (John 19:14).
The Messiah's ministry began about Passover time, in 28 A.D., and ended, then, at Passover, 31 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 Corinthians 5:7-8).
This evidence proves that the Messiah's 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 the Messiah's ministry was THREE YEARS IN LENGTH! Interestingly, "three" is YEHOVAH God's number of "decision," the number of "finality." It is "YEHOVAH's number." Time and time again, the number "3" appears in Scripture, and is connected with "YEHOVAH" in a very special way.
The number "three" is the number of finality, and of decision. Peter denied the Messiah three times (Luke 22:34, 61). Later Yeshua asked him three times, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17), and told him three times, "Feed my sheep." Paul besought YEHOVAH God three times to heal him of a thorn in the flesh (II Cor.12:8-9). The Messiah was three days in the grave (Matthew 12:40). His ministry lasted three years, and he spent three years "teaching" the disciples. Later, Paul, as an apostle, said he also saw the Messiah and was taught by him: "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (I Corinthians 15:8). He also was taught of the Messiah "three years" -- in the wilderness of Arabia (see Galatians 1:15-18). Thus the number "three" is very significant with YEHOVAH God. It is clearly the correct length of the Messiah's ministry. Yeshua began preaching in spring of 28 A.D. and was crucified in spring of 31 A.D. -- three years later.
When it is realized that the Sabbatical Year of A.D. 27 to A.D. 28 is the first year of the Messiah's ministry, most of the other chronological indications in the Gospels and epistles can make much better sense.
Therefore, when all the evidence is pieced carefully together, we come up with the following picture. Notice!
1). Born -- 3 B.C.
2). Ministry -- began A.D. 28, when about 30 years old
3). Ministry lasted 3 years
4). Crucified -- 31 A.D.
5). Destruction of Temple -- A.D. 70, 40 years later (inclusive Hebrew reckoning).
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
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