The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Dan. 9:24 identified the start of the public ministry of Jesus with his baptism. According to the chronological constraints of the prophecy, the final “week” of the Seventy Weeks, during which his baptism took place, was located between the Day of Pentecost in the year 27 CE and the Day of Pentecost in 28 CE.
Does the Bible show that Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist took place in that time period? Yes, it does and that can be verified from the biblical text. The age at which Jesus began his ministry, an event that happened immediately after his baptism, is given in Luke 3:23: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.“ Since Jesus was born sometime before the death of Herod the Great, who died in March of 4 BCE, it can be easily confirmed by simple calculation that Jesus would have been “about thirty years of age” in the time period between the Pentecost in 27 CE and the Pentecost in the year 28 CE that brought the Seventy Weeks prophecy to completion.
Another Scripture reference shows that Jesus began his ministry in 28 CE. That year can be verified from a statement about the construction of Herod’s Temple made at the start of Jesus’ public ministry. According to Josephus, construction on the Temple began in the year that Augustus Caesar visited Syria, an event for which the exact year has been identified from a work by the Roman historian Cassius Dio that lists the consuls in office during that year. It is without question that Augustus Caesar’s visit took place in the springtime of 20 BCE. Josephus also records that the Temple itself took one year and six months to complete, but that construction on the Temple complex with its porticos and courtyards continued for many decades.
The B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) contains a reference to an event that occurred in the beginning of the ministry of Jesus during the week of Passover, which was observed about fifty days or so after his baptism by John the Baptist. That event can be cross-referenced to the chronology of the Temple construction recorded by Josephus as follows: At the start of his public ministry, Jesus taught in the Temple during Passover week. It was on that occasion that he first drove out the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice. The crowd challenged Jesus to give them a sign that he had the authority to do so: “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 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 2:18-20)
Notice that the crowd replied to Jesus that the Temple had been under construction for forty-six years. Construction on the Temple began after Passover in the year 20 BCE. Counting forward forty-six Passovers takes the timeline to Passover Week in 28 CE. That calculation provides a second verification that both the baptism of Jesus and the start of his public ministry took place between Pentecost in 27 CE and Pentecost in 28 CE, most likely in the spring of 28 CE.
Notice that all of the above chronological references and calculations indirectly indicate that the birth of Jesus occurred in the year 4 BCE, although the phrase “about 30 years of age” in Luke allows for the speculation by some that the birth could have happened as early as 6 BCE based on the fact that Herod had all infants two-year-old and under in Bethlehem killed. The chronological details of the year of Jesus’ birth will be covered in another article. You can also download a harmony of the ministry of Jesus here.