A Man Substituted for a Mortal
Apostle Mark opens his account of the public life of Yeshua, thus, “The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua Messiah, the son of Elohim.” Yeshua began his ministry with the immersion in the waters of the Yarden. But when was Yeshua reckoned as the son of Elohim?
The traditional reading and interpretation of Chapter 3 in the Gospel of Luke holds the view that Yeshua was baptized in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar at the age of about thirty, as we read “He was about thirty years of age”. In other words, Yeshua was baptized and began his ministry at the age about thirty, but being younger than thirty.
Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea from 26AD until 36AD establishing the date of Yeshua’s death prior to 36AD. Scholars generally agree that Yeshua died between 30-36AD as 33AD being the most often quoted year of his death, and the duration his ministry is assumed to have lasted three and half years, and his lifespan of thirty-three.
However, Tiberius was appointed co-regent with Augustus Caesar in late 11AD. Luke recorded that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea (Luk 3:1-22), Yochanan began his ministry of immersion in water for forgiveness of sins. Soon after he baptized Yeshua. Fifteen years counted from 11AD places Yeshua’s baptism in 26AD.
Yeshua was born in 3BC, on the first day of Sukkot of the fifteenth day of the seventh Biblical month (Astronomical Evidence of Yeshua’s Birth – Time of Reckoning Ministry). In 26AD when Yeshua began his ministry, he would have been twenty-eight years old.
In chapters Astronomical Evidence of Messiah’s Crucifixion and Messiah’s Crucifixion in April 28 AD – Time of Reckoning Ministry, from the book The Reckoning of Time, we explained that Yeshua was crucified in April 28AD providing astronomical evidence to support it. Because he was born in 3BC, Yeshua was twenty-nine years and a half at the crucifixion.
Luke recorded in Luk 3:23 that Yeshua was about thirty years old, which is generally accepted as the age of his baptism when he began his ministry. We read thus,
And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Yoseph …
But does that make any sense?
In Chapter Duration of Yeshua’s Ministry from the aforesaid book, we also explained that there were two Passovers in the timeframe of his ministry, which sets its duration of more than a year: a year and a half to be exact.
This is the contradiction: if Yeshua was crucified in 28AD being twenty-nine years and a half, how come he was almost thirty at the beginning of his ministry.
Can we rethink this?
In the following, we will explain what one needs to know about the controversy of “about thirty years of age” in Luk 3:23.
“About thirty years”
The verse in question, Luk 3:23, reads thus,
And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Yoseph …
A plain meaning of the text will convince even the doubter that this sentence is incomplete: “And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty” Such a partial statement is begging an action after it: Yeshua began to be about thirty, and then what?
Then we are told that he was supposed to be the son of Yoseph. He began to be about 30 in order to be reckoned as a son of Yoseph? Something is missing here.
The word Greek word ὡσεί osei “about” in Luk 3:23 is generally assumed and accepted to mean “almost” or “approaching 30”. If that is the case then “about thirty” should mean close to but less than thirty years old. But “about” can also mean “around”, “more or less”, “nearly”, and “or so”.
The whole statement in verse 23 implies that he was about thirty years old at a certain time and or for a certain purpose. But for what reason should we be told that the Messiah was less 30 years old?
The commencement of Yochanan’s ministry
We have the reason to believe that there is a lapse between to verse 22 and verse 23.
Prior to verse, 23 Luke’s account begins that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herodes district ruler of Galil, Yochanan the son Zecharyah was immersing in the Yarden River for repentance and forgiveness of sins. In this account Luke included Yeshua’s immersion.
After verse 23, Luke’s continues to Yeshua’s genealogy: from Yoseph, the husband of Miryam, to Adam.
What is Luke saying here is this: Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, he was reckoned by law as a son of Yoseph, for Yoseph adopted him, and then Luke has listed the genealogy of Yeshua from Yoseph to Adam.
If we want to understand what Luke meant to say, we need to know what took place at that time and pay close attention to the events described by him. We read,
And in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herodes district ruler of Galil, and his brother Philip district ruler of Yetur and the country of Trachonitis, and Lusanias district ruler of Avilene, Chanan and Kayapha being high priests, the word of Elohim came to Yochanan the son of Zecharyah in the wilderness. And he went into all the neighbourhood of the Yarden, proclaiming an immersion of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, (Luk 3:1-3)
In the very beginning of the chapter, Luke started his narrative thus: in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herodes was a district ruler of Galil. Hence, we learn the historical time-frame of the following events.
We also learn that Chanan and Kayapha were high priests when the word of Elohim came to Yochanan to start his ministry of immersion in water.
Then, we learn that people from different social background were coming to Yochanan for immersion for forgiveness of their sins: ordinary people, tax collectors, soldiers, etc.
At this point of the narrative, Yochanan made the prophetic statement that he was indeed immersing in water, but one mightier than him was about to come who would immerse them in the Set-apart Ruach of Elohim and fire (v.16). And urging with many other words, he was bringing the Good News to the people (v.18).
About the baptism in the Ruach of Elohim and fire, refer to the article Baptism through Water and Fire – Time of Reckoning Ministry.
Then Luke interrupted the narrative to say that Herodes the district ruler, being accused by Yochanan of adultery, confined him in prison (v. 19-20).
The Messiah’s immersion in water
In verse 21, we read thus,
And it came to be, when all the people were immersed, Yeshua also being immersed, and praying, the heaven was opened, … (Luk 3:21)
Then the Ruach of Elohim descended upon Yeshua and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are My son, the beloved, in you I did delight”.
Then, we read in Luk 3:23: And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Yoseph, …
We should not err and conclude from the phrases “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” and “Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age” that they are time related and much less that they refer to the same thing.
As we already explained, the account “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” pinpoints the commencement of Yochanan’s ministry, not of Yeshua’s. The additional information that Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herodes was a district ruler of Galil, that Chanan and Kayapha were high priests at that time, serves only to confirm the main event, namely, that at a certain time the word of Elohim came to Yochanan to begin his ministry, not to link in any way the genealogy of Yeshua in verses 23 through 38 with the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.
We should note that only Matthew and Yochanan were contemporaries of Yeshua; Mark and Luke were not. Yet Matthew, who also recorded Yeshua’s genealogy, did not consider linking the fifteenth year of Tiberius with Yeshua’s genealogy as if it would have had any significance in it.
And if Matthew did not refer to the fifteenth year of Tiberius, why should Luke?
If Luke meant to link somehow and for whatever reason the fifteenth year of Tiberius to the age of Yeshua being about thirty years old and wanted to be consistent in his account, he should have written verse 23 thus: “And it came to be, when Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, he was baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened.” But he did not.
With that being said, we are coming closer to the correct interpretation of verse 23. Let us read Chapters 3 and 4 in their proper context, but first we need note here that the division of the Scripture into chapters and verses was later invention in the middle ages of the Christianity. For the reader the Scripture was a continues script wherein only the context should tell where passages begin and end.
And it came to be, when all the people were immersed, Yeshua also being immersed, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Set-apart Ruach descended in bodily form like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are My son, the beloved, in you I did delight”. (Luk 3:21-22) And Yeshua , being filled with the Set-apart Ruach, returned from the Yarden and was led by the Ruach into the wilderness, being tried for forty days by the devil. … (Luk 4:1-2)
Thus read we understand that Yeshua was also baptized with the people at the Yarden, when the heaven was opened, and the Ruach of Elohim descended upon him. Then he returned from the Yarden and was led by the Ruach into the wilderness, where he was tried for forty days by the devil. Now, the narrative makes more sense.
With that being said, it seems that the genealogy of Yeshua in Luk 3:23-38 is interpolated between in Luk 3:21-22, and Luk 4:1-2, as a separate block of writing.
We have to admit that that was an unusual approach by Luke neither to describe why Yeshua had to turn thirty, nor to list his genealogy from Yoseph back to Adam.
So, why was this whole line of words, “and Yeshua himself began to be about thirty”, necessary? He began to be about thirty in order to do something, or reaching certain age qualified him in any way?
The hidden message in the Messiah’s genealogy
In the first book of the Scripture, Genesis, we find the first ten generations from Adam to Noach. When the names of the first righteous men after Adam are read with their meanings in Hebrew, a prophetic picture of the Redemption Plan of YHVH and that of the Messiah comes into light:
Mahalalel Shining of Elohim
Methushelah Death spears
Or, after the decoding of the names of the first ten men, we receive this hidden message:
“A man substituted for a mortal, the dwelling and shining of Elohim, shall descend dedicated and His despairing death shall bring a rest.”
The prophet Mosheh bade Israel to await indeed came!
But still, why did Luke have to refer to the age of the Messiah in his genealogy being about thirty years old?
To find the answer, whether complete or partial, to this question, we need to consider the entire context, which we will do in conclusion.
Yeshua was immersed in water at the age of twenty-eight. As we explained in a foresaid chapter that occurred on Yom Kippur, the tenth day of the seventh Biblical month (26AD).
He was crucified on Passover, the fourteenth day of the first month (28AD) at the age of twenty-nine and a half.
He was placed in tomb and stayed in the belly of the earth from the fourteenth (Wednesday sunset) until seventeenth of the month (Saturday sunset) to fulfill his own words that the son of man would be in the earth for complete three days and three night.
And on the first day of the week (Saturday evening) Father raised him from the dead on His appointed time the First fruits to become the first fruit of the resurrection.
From the First fruit Yeshua was with his people for forty days, when he ascended to heaven to be with the Father.
From Yeshua’s birth on Sukkot, the fifteenth day of the seventh month (3BC), until his ascension (28AD) are twenty-nine years and about eight months. At his ascension Yeshua was in his thirtieth year, or about thirty years old.
Perhaps this is what Apostle Luke meant when he recorded,
And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being the son of Yoseph, … of Adam, of Elohim.
Yeshua himself began to be of Elohim. Yeshua was reckoned to be the son of Elohim when he ascended to heaven being about thirty years of age.
… concerning His son, who came of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was designated son of Elohim with power, according to the set-apart Ruach, by the resurrection from the dead: Yeshua Messiah, the master of us, (Rom 1:1-4)
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.