How long was the ministry of Jesus?

This is a controversial topic producing many opinions.


The start of Jesus' ministry


Let's start by asking "When did the ministry of Jesus start?"

Luke 3:1Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar ...

:23   And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age

Jesus' ministry started in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar.

 

Augustus was the grandson of the sister of Julius Caesar. He had hypocritically seized supreme power by pretending that the Roman senate had approved him. He had terrorized Rome as he rose to power by his extreme cruelty and love of murder. The senate were too scared not to offer him the position of emperor. To act out the farce, he made a law that only the senate could approve the emperor. But they first had to find out from him what he wanted them to approve,  and then they did just as he said. He appointed his adopted son Tiberius as his co-ruler in AD 12. That did not automatically make Tiberius emperor when Augustus died in AD 14. By Roman law the senate first had to approve him and offer him the position.

This was tricky for three reasons.


  1. First, Augustus had been the first ever emperor of Rome, and thus there was no precedent for appointing a successor.
  2. Secondly, Augustus and Tiberius pretended that they were not kings. Only a king can pass his title onto his son. An emperor cannot. The Romans hated kings. Julius Caesar who had adopted Augustus as his son, had been assassinated because people were scared that he would make himself king. He had already made himself dictator for life.
    In Roman law, the son had to be authorized as emperor by the senate after his (adopted) father’s death. That way the emperor, who ruled as a king, played out the farce that he was not a king. So although Tiberius was co-emperor he did not automatically become emperor.
  3. Thirdly, Augustus had a grandson Agrippa Posthumus who had been accused of plotting against him. Augustus imprisoned him on a remote island near Corsica, called Planasia. In AD 13 Augustus visited him and showed warm signs of being reconciled to him. Since Agrippa was a direct descendant of Augustus, and not adopted like Tiberius was, many felt that Agrippa should be the next emperor.

So when Augustus died in AD 14, Agrippa had to be immediately killed to ensure that there was no competitor to take the position of emperor away from Tiberius. Tiberius hushed up the murder and only then revealed to the senate that Augustus was dead. They then went through the farcial role-play of offering to make him emperor but he kept pretending to refuse, for a long time. Eventually he made a pretense of accepting the position reluctantly. So only in AD 14 did the senate confirm Tiberius as emperor.

In the fifteenth year of his reign, that would be 14 + 15  =  29 AD.

This is when John the Baptist came on the scene. His preaching occupied a good portion of AD 29 because when Jesus came to be baptized it was near the end of 29 AD when Jesus was almost 30 years old.

Luke 3:21  Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

:22    And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

:23   And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age

So Jesus got baptized towards the end of AD 29.

We now have a indication of the start date for the ministry of Jesus.

 

The ministry years


The Gospel of John records three Passover feasts. That means there were at least two years between these three annual feasts.

But there was also another in-between feast. That makes the ministry of Jesus three years between these four feasts.

 

30 AD


John 2:13   And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

This is the first Passover which would be in mid March AD 30.

 

Then later on in that year Jesus passes through the city of Sychar in Samaria.

He speaks to the Samaritans and tells them that their natural harvest will occur in four months time.

John 4:5   Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar,

John 4:35    Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?

So when does this happen in the year?

The Jewish year was broken up into six two-month periods. Each period began and ended about the middle of the month.

Seed timeWinterSpringHarvestSummerExtreme heat
Oct, NovDec, JanFeb, MarchApril, MayJune, JulyAug, Sept


Jesus spoke to the Samaritans at Sychar and said that there were four months to the harvest which started in mid April.

Four months before mid April would be mid December. This was when Jesus was in Sychar.

 

31 AD


The Jewish feasts started with Passover and unleavened bread in March.

First fruits of the harvest was  in April and Pentecost, which was 50 days after the March festivals, so that would be early May.

Then the Day of Atonement, the feast of the Trumpets, and the feast of Booths were in September.

So in John Chapter 4, Jesus was in Sychar in December.  In John Chapter 5 He celebrated a feast.  The Passover feast always came first. Then the rest of the feasts would follow between March and September.

John 5:1    After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

This feast, which came after His visit to Sychar, is either the Passover feast or it is one of the other feasts.  If it is another feast then a Passover feast had already been celebrated before that feast. So there had to have been a Passover in that year, just before the feast that He was at.

So John 5:1 is either the Passover feast of 31 AD, or it is one of the other feasts that followed the Passover feast of 31 AD.  Either way, this feast either was the 31 AD Passover, or was some time after the 31 AD Passover.

 

32 AD


Now we come to the next Passover feast which has to be 32 AD.

John 6:4    And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

 

33 AD


Then we come to the last Passover feast of 33 AD.

John 11:55    And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

 

Three and a half years


Thus four Passover feasts must have happened in the Gospel of John: 30 AD, 31 AD, 32 A or 33 AD.

Each Passover was one year apart.  There are three gaps for three years in between the four Passovers.

Thus the ministry of Jesus covered a minimum of three years.

Three days for His burial and forty days from His resurrection to His ascension gives 43 days which is virtually a month and a half. Prophecy deals in 30 day months.

Near the start of His ministry, from 1 January to 14 March of the year 30, gives us two and a half months.

2½   +   1½   =  4 months.

So if Jesus got baptized two months before the end of 29 AD, say late October, then He would have a three and a half year ministry.

 

Futher proof


Are there more Scriptures that prove a three and a half year ministry?

A day in prophecy can represent a year.

Laban speaks to Jacob and tells him that he must work for 7 years if Jacob wants to marry his daughter Rachel.

Genesis 29:27    Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

Daniel 9:27   And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”: Jesus was to have a seven year ministry to the Jews. Then He would have set them up to rule the world from Israel. But they rejected Him at Calvary.

“and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease”: In the middle of the seven year ministry, in other words after 3½ years, He died at Calvary.  God tore up the Temple veil as a sign that the Temple worship had ended. Christ was the sacrifice for sins, and His sacrifice made all the animal sacrifices of the Temple obsolete. Animal sacrifice had no more value. Only the Bood of Christ can atone for sin.

“and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate”: Rome destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70. Then in AD 135 Rome again destroyed the city, leaving it in ruins and making the place desolate by banishing the Jews from Jerusalem. The Romans built a pagan temple to Jupiter Capitolina on the Temple site, which was an abomination of paganism as it stood on the Temple site.

This abomination of desolation would continue on the Temple site, which used to be the Holy Place before Calvary happened. Then in 691 the Dome of the Rock was built by the Muslims on the original Temple Mount, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque was completed by 705 AD. Thus the overspreading of abominations continued.

“even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”: The Muslim buildings will stand till the end. They have now been standing there for about 1300 years.

Meanwhile the Jews have been persecuted, thrown out of their promised land, and have often lived as refugees for close on 2000 years, while their Temple site remains a desolation under false religions. When the Jews returned to Israel in 1948 they immediately had to fight four major wars. Then endless terror attacks came from within and without. The intense hatred of the Arabs and the Palestinians knows no limits. Golda Meir, the Jewish President, accused the Arabs of hating the Jews more than what they loved their own children, whom they encouraged to become suicide bombers. Life is tough for these Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, that saw 6 million Jews perish in the Nazi concentration camps of the second world war.

But from this brutal 2000 years of persecution has emerged a tough and fearsome military machine. Nations attack the Jews at their own peril.

“that determined”: God knows how much hatred and violence will be poured out on Israel. Like the troubles of Job, Satan can only do so much damage and then he has to pull back.

When it is all over, our God will prove stronger than Satan. Somehow Jesus will draw 144 000 Jews back to Himself during the great Tribulation, despite all the desolation that the Jews have suffered.

Daniel 9:27   “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”:

Note that the covenant is not made -- it is confirmed.

So when was it made, and when was it confirmed?

Romans 15:8   Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Christ came to confirm what God promised the Jewish founders.

Galatians 3:17    And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

The Exodus, when Moses got the Law, happened about 1500 BC.  Four hundred years before that takes you to the time of Abraham.

God made a covenant with Abraham whereby God promised the land of Israel to Abraham, who had to sacrifice animals to atone for his sins.  This covenant was confirmed when Christ, as the sacrificial Lamb, paid the supreme price for everyone’s sins at Calvary.

Genesis 15:18    In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Genesis 15:9   And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

:10     And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.

Genesis 17:19   And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

It looked like the covenant was made for the promised land to the Jews, the descendants of Isaac.

But that was temporary.

Galatians 3:16   Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Isaac was a natural seed of Abraham.

Jesus was the faith seed of Abraham. Jesus on Calvary was what Abraham’s covenant with God was all about. Without Calvary, Abraham’s promises could never see fulfillment.

Genesis 15:9   And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

:10     And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.

The birds represent salvation and healing. They cannot be separated. If you can get salvation from Calvary you can also get healing.

The animals were cut in half and the two halves were laid next to each other. This represents the Old Testament and the New Testament. Christ’s ministry came between them in the four Gospels.

Genesis 15:12   And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

Abraham fell asleep. So the covenant had nothing to do with his efforts.

The covenant was for the promised land, but also for something much deeper -- the salvation of the human soul.

A deep sleep symbolized death. The horror of death for us humans is that we end up in hell. That is endless spiritual darkness because there is no God in hell. Hell also has no fire escape. Thus it holds us in terror, and we end up like a baby crying for its mother when there is no mother to respond to its call. The futility of human life is that when it is over, we are worse off in hell, and then hell gets dumped into the Lake of Fire after Judgement day.

Revelation 20:14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

If we are born once, we die twice. First we go into a grave, then into a lake of fire.

This is why we need a Saviour.

Genesis 15:17   And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

The sun went down in the evening when Christ died.

Where there is smoke there is fire. Smoke came from the burning pit of hell which was where He carried our sins down to and dumped them on the Devil.

Smoke represents all the man-made doctrines that are not written in the Bible. Christmas, Trinity, Denomination, a seven year Tribulation, and so on. You cannot see clearly in smoke. All these doctrines do is obscure the truth so that we cannot see what is written in the Bible.

The churches have failed to understand the meaning of Bible symbols. Thus they cannot understand much of the Bible. People now ignore all the Scriptures that they cannot understand. Putting out the Light produces darkness. Christians do not know what original sin was. They do not understand the meaning of the symbol "fruit" in Genesis. They think Eve ate a literal fruit, but cannot explain why all fruit trees were declared good on the third day.

Genesis 1:12   And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

That is why Jesus said we cannot be defiled by what we eat. No literal fruit could defile Eve. Eat some fruit and get punished in childbirth -- that makes no sense. Why did God not tell her to repent? You and I were told to repent, and we did far worse things than eating the wrong fruit.

Jesus hammered this doctrine of eating a fruit as being evidence of ignorance, in other words a lack of understanding.

Mark 7:18   And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

:19   Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

A woman represents a church. The true church is the Bride of Christ. The ten virgins in Matthew Chapter 25 represent saved Christians. But whether they were wise or foolish, they were all fast asleep.

So the church world today is in the same condition as Abraham. The last church, Laodicea, is described as blind, and spewed out of God's Word. The church is becoming Bible illiterate as it gets more and more doctrines wrong. As it was in the days of Lot when he dwelt in Sodom.

But there is one hope, a burning Lamp. The Holy Ghost moving down in hell between the New and the Old Testaments. Jesus carried our sins over the fires of hell to dump them on the Devil, and thus free us from our confessed and repented sins. Satan must now answer for them. This is symbolized by red hot brass that did not melt.

If we had carried our own sins into hell we would have melted and been consumed in the fires.

Indian fire walkers train to walk over burning coals, so that when they die they think that they will be able to carry their own sins over the fires of hell and dump them on the Devil. But the fire that they walk over is child's play compared to the inferno that awaits them. None of these Indians would dare walk into a Californian wild forest fire. Even that is nothing compared to the consuming wrath of God's anger.

Revelation 1:15   And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace;

Only Jesus could survive and win down in hell.

The burning lamp was His Holy Ghost, torn out of his Body by death -- symbolized by each sacrifice cut into two pieces. His Body on the cross paid the price, and His Holy Ghost down in hell won the victory.  A ghost is the spirit of a dead person. Only ghosts can go down into hell, not the spirits of living people. With His dead Body in the grave the Spirit of Christ could now operate as the Holy Ghost down in hell, where He defeated Satan and his demons in the regions of the lost and took the keys of death and hell from the Devil. Satan is now a defeated force rather like a beast with a broken back. Satan can still bite but he is actually doomed. His time is limited. This battle of light versus darkness happened right between the two Testaments. In the four Gospels only Jesus knew what He was doing. The church actually really only got going in the Book of Acts. Then they went on to produce the New Testament which is the ultimate example of a church.

But what about the 3½  years that the Jews never got?

Daniel 9:25   Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

In 459 BC, in the seventh year of king Artaxerxes,  Ezra got a commandment to take treasure back to the Temple or God’s house that had already been built.

Artaxerxes became king in 465 BC. So if 465 was his first year then his seventh year would be 459.

Ezra 6:15  And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

The Temple had been rebuilt by 515 BC, long before Ezra went to Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:27    Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra had a commandment to take treasure back to the Temple which would make it more beautiful.

This was not the rebuilding of the walls and the streets. Where a wall meets a street, you build a gate.

But in 446 BC Nehemiah got a commandment, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes,  by letter which gave him permission to rebuild the broken down walls and to build up all the gates of Jerusalem.

If 465 BC was the first year of the king, then 446 BC would be the twentieth year of the king.

Nehemiah 2:13   And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

Nehemiah 4:17   They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.

:18     For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.

These were dangerous and troublesome times.

So Nehemiah had permission to do exactly what Daniel had prophesied.

Daniel 9:25  “ that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:”

Three time periods are mentioned.

Seven weeks means  7 x 7  =  49 years

446 – 49  =  397 BC    This is the time of Malachi’s prophecy  according to the Bible scholar Scofield. Malachi is a controversial prophet in terms of when he wrote his prophecy. Different people place him at different times. This date is chosen purely because it fits in with the 49 years that Daniel mentioned.

The 49 years has got nothing to do with the building of the Temple because that had been done by 515 BC, long before Nehemiah got his commission.

Then followed a long period of silence of almost 400 years to the birth of Christ and then another 30 years before He began his ministry.

The ministry of Christ starts towards the end of  29 AD when He was about 30.

Daniel 9:26    And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself”: Christ is cut off in the middle of the last week, the last seven years.

His ministry was three and a half years. He did not die for Himself, He died for us.

“and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;”

Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Thus when the final antichrist prince comes, he will come from Rome.

“ and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined”.

Roman Catholicism will have the crowds. They will pour over the world like a flood. There are more than a billion Roman Catholics on earth today. The mother church has taught her denominational man-made doctrines to her daughter churches (Protestants) that separated from Rome. Beliefs are no longer proven by joining together Scriptures. Christians complacently sit in their churches relying on some man’s interpretations and quotes.

Philippians 2:12   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

This verse does not refer to salvation from hell. We get that by grace through faith alone. Salvation here means we need to learn Bible truth to escape from the great Tribulation that is coming. Saved from the Tribulation.

There is a spiritual war, symbolized by the feet of Daniel’s Gentile image. The bits of iron are the nature of the iron legs of pagan Rome, that now operates through the Roman Catholic church, and then on into the daughter Protestant churches.

Believing unscriptural ideas like Christmas, 25 December, Easter eggs and rabbits, Denomination,  a church ruled by a pastor, Trinity, believing that three titles of Father and Son and Holy Ghost is the Name of God, claiming to know the unwritten mysteries like the 7 Thunders, the seventh Seal, and the new Name of Jesus.

But iron is hard. These beliefs are not easily abandoned.

Rome started as a city of seven hills.

Revelation 17:9    And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

The pagan Romans had the centre of the government on the Capitol hill. This is where their laws were passed to run the empire. Then the barbarians with their swords destroyed the Roman emperors, and the Capitol hill received a deadly wound as the emperors lost all their political and church power.

Revelation 13:3   And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

Then the Pope began to rise to power.  By 313 AD the new emperor Constantine built the Lateran church on the Caelian hill (one of the original seven hills) and gave it to the bishop of Rome. It is the official mother church of Roman Catholicism. It is the seat of the Pope’s throne, and there the laws are passed to govern the worldwide Roman Catholic church. As the Roman emperors lost their power to rule the world, so the deadly wound has recovered, and the Pope now has world-wide religious and political power as well as tremendous wealth. Once again, a man sitting on one of the seven hills of Rome, sitting on the seat of saint Peter in the Lateran church on the Caelian hill, dominates the world news with his more than a billion followers.

The biggest collection of world rulers was at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

But the feet of Daniel’s Gentile image also had clay mixed in. Clay can produce life. Plants can grow in clay soil. That is the Bride of Christ, the true church that has come down through 2000 years of church history. Then the church leaves at the end of the seven church ages to join the Lord in the air at His second Coming.

Daniel 2:41   And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.

Miry clay is wet, soft, and easy to mold. God wants His true church molded to only believe what is in the Bible.

Christians prefer to be influenced by the iron-like strong unscriptural ideas of denominational and non-denominational churches.

Then the great Tribulation starts. The foolish virgins, saved Christians who preferred denominational "church-ianity" to the written Bible, go into the Tribulation and die.

But two prophets, Moses and Elijah, will pull 144 000 Jews out of the shambles of the Tribulation, and bring them to Christ during the  3½  years of the Tribulation. That will complete the prophecy of Daniel.

Revelation 11:2   But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

Revelation 11:3   And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

1260 days is 3½ years, which is the same length as 42 months of 30 days each.

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