So here’s the question: how old was Jesus when He died? How many times have you heard that Jesus was 33 years old when He died on the cross? I’ve heard that preached many times over the years. The problem is that we really don’t know how old He was.
How Old Was Jesus When He Died – The Traditional View
The traditional idea seems quite plausible that if Jesus “began his ministry” when he “was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23) and engaged in a three-year ministry (John mentions three Passovers, and there might have been a fourth one), then he was 33 years old at the time of his death. But Luke only said that Jesus was “about” or “approximately” thirty years of age. Luke was not being precise.
There are some historical facts that cast doubt on the traditional view of Jesus’ age. Andreas J. Köstenberger states,
Jesus was born before Herod the Great issued the decree to execute “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matt. 2:16) and before Herod died in the spring of 4 B.C. If Jesus was born in the fall of 5 or 6 B.C., and if we remember that we don’t count the “0″ between B.C. and A.D., then Jesus would have been 37 or 38 years old when he died in the spring of A.D. 33. Even if Jesus died in the year A.D. 30 (the only serious alternative date held by Bible scholars), he would have been 34 or 35, not 33 years old.
But don’t get all upset over the possibility of not definitively knowing the age of Jesus when He died. No major doctrine is affected by this common misconception nor is the inerrancy and accuracy of Scripture being questioned. The Bible simply doesn’t tell us the age of Jesus when he died.