Must there be a year 0 between 1 BC and 1 AD?

Churches believe that Jesus was born in 4 BC. That means Jesus was born 4 years before Jesus was born. Utter nonsense.

First published on the 23rd of December 2017 — Last updated on the 21st of August 2021

Humans are scared to admit that there was a year 0 AD

To prove that Jesus was born in the year 0.

Correctly this should be written as 0 AD as it was the zeroth year of our Lord.

Zeroth year? What is that? We will get there later.

LUKE 3:1   Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,

:2 ... the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

:3   And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

The longest living and most famous Roman emperor was the first emperor, Augustus. He died in AD 14.

So his date is very accurately known as dates were reckoned in terms of events n the emperor's life.

Augustus adopted Tiberius as a co-emperor in AD 12.

But a man only officially became emperor when the Roman senate appointed him as emperor. This happened after Augustus died.

So Tiberius was recognized as emperor in AD 14 by the Roman senate.

His fifteenth year would be 14 + 15 = AD 29 if Jesus was born in the year zero.

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,

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

Shepherds are out with their sheep at night which meant it was not midwinter with its freezing cold and rain.

LUKE 2:7   And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

:8   And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

If John began preaching in Spring (March-April) of the year 29 AD and if he had a brief ministry of about six months, then Jesus would have been baptized around September-October of the year 29 AD.

So that was close to the month of the birthday of Jesus as he was almost 30 years old.

So near the end of AD 29 was the time when Jesus was about 30.

That is only possible if Jesus was born in the year zero.

Jesus died at the age of 33 years on the Spring Passover of AD 33 which is March-April.

That gives Him a ministry of three and a half years.

This was prophesied by Daniel.

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,

This prophecy is not about making a covenant.

This prophecy is about confirming a covenant that has already been made.

A week can mean seven years in Scripture.

Laban said to Jacob.

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.

Jesus came to confirm the covenant that God made with Abraham.

His ministry should have been for 7 years but the Jews cut Him off, after three and a half years, in the middle of this "week of 7 years". His death replaced the Temple sacrifice of the Passover lamb.

The Temple was destroyed about 37 years later by the Romans so those Temple sacrifices and oblations ended forever.

A covenant is a promise that is made.

God made a covenant with Abraham by promising him a land for his seed to dwell in.

At first, this looked like being the land of Israel for Isaac, the son of Abraham, and the many Jews who are the seeds of Abraham.

But at Calvary God confirmed this covenant in the death of Christ, the spiritual Seed of Abraham, which enabled Christ to win the new earth and the new heaven as the final dwelling place for Jew and Gentile and Samaritan (partly Jew, partly Gentile).
GALATIANS 3:15   Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

: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.

:17   And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ,

So Jesus, born in the year zero, fits into all these Scriptures.

2019 is in the twenty first century which is confusing

But the year zero is a tricky problem area whose cause is partly psychological.

We humans have a strange bias. We will write a zero in front of a day or a month but we refuse to write a double zero in front of a year to represent the century.

For example, we will write the first of January 2018 as  01-01-2018.

But the year when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple is always written  AD 70  and never  0070, which is the correct date.

To show our strange bias, we are quite happy to describe midnight on our digital watches as 00.

Then one minute past midnight is 01. That is okay.

That is even fine for hours on a 24 hour digital clock. Midnight is 00.  When we wake up in the morning at six o’clock we are happy to see 06 (the sixth hour of the clock. The apostrophe indicates the time is belonging to the clock that measured 6 hours).

But our bias kicks in when we measure in time spans of a century.

Take the first of January for the years 1945,  945 AD,  and  45 AD.

We write     01-01-1945      and        01-01-945     and      01-01-45.

We call these the 20th   century and the   10th century and the  1st century.

Immediately there is a confusing mismatch. I have to keep reminding myself that the 17th century is actually events that occurred between 1600 and 1699.

But let us rewrite the dates as they should be. Each year should have four numbers.

01-01-1945     and    01-01-0945      and    01-01-0045.

Then the first two numbers of the year give us the proper century.

But can we say that from 0 to 99 were the "zeroth" century?

We humans have an aversion for describing something as zero.

But time is a tricky dimension to work with.

When describing time we easily get out of our intellectual depth. We can see objects in space. We cannot see time. Time is invisible and we have no idea what the “substance “ of time is.

What is time? We do not know.  Can we measure time? No.

We measure the movement of a pointer across a watch face, but we do not measure time itself. So when dealing with time, we easily make contradictions.

The first year of a baby's life is year zero

There is a moment in time which can be any arbitrary number, depending on which moment we chose as the starting point, which we usually call zero, as that is the most convenient starting point.

Example, you get married and start measuring your new life from that moment and call your wedding date “year zero”.

Three years later your child is born. That obviously becomes “year zero” for your baby.

Each of the COMPLETED time spans in the baby's life is a year.

The top scale is your married life. The bottom scale is the baby's life.



The numbers that are written down reflect the number of completed years, starting from time zero.

The “zero number” that we started from means that initially there was not a complete year when we started measuring.

Seven years after getting married your baby is four years old. But the baby thinks the world began four years ago, and for the baby that is time zero. That’s when life started.

When it comes to baby ages we measure in completed years. This is ingrained into our human way of thinking. A time span must be completed in order to qualify as a time span.

But the number of time spans allocated to age depends on the number of completed time spans.

For example, when a baby is born, the baby is zero completed years old for its first year.

But no mother says that.

She says that “My baby is three (completed) months old”.

Note the evasion of having to say year zero. The first year is disqualified from being "zero completed years" by changing the units of “time spans” from uncompleted years to completed months.

Or even, “My baby is seven (completed) days old” which sounds much better than zero completed months old.

No “time span” can have zero length. Then it is nothing.

A time span has a length, say "a completed month" or "a completed year".

When we start measuring years (or centuries) then there are zero complete years or centuries at the beginning.

So the number of completed time spans has to be zero when we start measuring.

We just do not like saying that a time span of one completed year is the “zeroth” time span before the year has actually been completed and can thus qualify as a time span. This is purely psychological. But it seems to be ingrained in our human thinking just because everyone else says so.

Rather like believing that the wise men went to the stable to see the baby Jesus. Why do we say that? Just because everyone else says so. The wise men met Jesus in a house when He was a young child, not a baby. Joseph is not even mentioned.

MATTHEW 2:11   And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:

When a baby is one year and one month old, no mother will call it 2 years old. It is now one year old because it has completed one full year of life.

A child celebrates her fourth birthday only when four years have been completed, since birth.

Each century is 100 years long.  But the hundred years must be complete to qualify as a century.

You cannot call 70 years a century.

So we cannot fool the actual dates. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 0070 or AD 70. This, as we can see from the proper date, was the zeroth century.

The zeroth century means that there was not yet 100 years of history that could be called a century, since the birth of Christ.

You cannot call AD 70 the first century because you cannot have a century at all until the first 100 years have passed.

The number of completed centuries is given by the first two numbers in the date.

The first century, to qualify as a century, can only happen after a hundred years have been completed. Only after 100 years have passed can we claim to have a century.

A baby is only called one year old after it has completed a full year of life.

(We wrongly call AD 70  the first century. Simply because we refuse to write in the first two zeros as 0070. We also forget that 100 years must be completed before the time span can be called a century. Non-mathematicians, like historians, struggle with certain aspects of numbers).

AD means Anno Domini or year of our Lord.

We add in the AD because somehow 70 does not seem complete. There should be 4 numbers in a date.  All dates before the birth of Christ are BC. So we do not actually need the AD. If there is no BC attached, then the 70 must be AD. If we wrote 0070 we would not need the AD.

You never see 2018 AD written because a date, measured in centuries has to have four numbers. So 2018 is quite acceptable.

A baby is one year old after the first complete year

30. Does this date look funny? It looks better when we add in the AD. So we usually write AD 30. We feel a need to add something like AD to the year 30 but we refuse to write 0030.

Yet we have no excuse because 0030 is the time you would see on your alarm clock if you went to sleep at 30 minutes after midnight. So why do we refuse to write centuries this way?

There is no real reason. Just bias and prejudice.

Einstein said that prejudice is simply all the wrong ideas that we have picked up before we are 18 years old. We pick up the errors of the older generation and then pass them on to our children.

The Roman emperor Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem again after the Bar Kochba revolt in 0135. That was AD 135.

From the 0135 date, it is obviously in the first century. The first two numbers (01) of the date tell you what century it is. “First-century” refers to events that occur once a hundred years have passed. Only once a century has been completed can we claim to be living in the first century. But historians insist on calling this the second century which confuses many people.

A baby is not called two years old until it has survived two complete years.

The Nicaean Council was held by the emperor Constantine in 0325 or AD 325.

0325 looks funny, but it is the accurate date, as a year is described by four numbers. This was actually the third century (03). Three complete centuries had passed before this event happened. Historians insist that it was the fourth century, which is why we are doomed to be a historically muddled bunch. Henry Ford (a very accurate calculator) burst out in frustration that, “History is bunk” partly because of the way historians mess up the centuries. William the Conqueror came in 1066 and at last our dates were written in an honest and accurate way with four numbers. But it took a thousand years to get there.

But not the centuries. No one had the courage to defy that powerful psychological spirit, and we still call 1066 the eleventh century despite the 10 in front of the 66.

1066 remains the fictional 11th century. This simply makes history more difficult to understand. It actually occurred after the 10th completed century. There are only ten centuries present in this date so it should be called the tenth century.

We have to overcome a powerful “zero phobia” that we humans inherit from birth.

Time is a tricky beast to work with

“Time” is a tricky beast. It is invisible and we simply do not know what time is.

There are two aspects to time. An instant or moment in time, say 2 o’clock.

Then there is a time interval, the amount of time between two moments in time.

For example, there is a time interval of three hours between the instants 2 o’clock and 5 o’clock.

Let us represent time on a line of dates, starting from the end of world war II.

1945 -- 1946 -- 1947 -- 1948 -- 1949 -- 1950

We decided that 1948 was an important year in Bible prophecy because Israel became a nation for the first time in almost 2000 years since it was destroyed by Rome.

If we measure the time instants by taking moments that are a year apart, say 1 minute past midnight on 1st January for each year. Then we see that going from instant 01-01-1947 to instant 01-01-1949 is obviously a gap or time interval of 2 years.

We could say that  1949 - 1947  =  2 years.

A measuring scale usually starts at zero, because this is the easiest number to start with.

So let us choose 1948 as the promised rebirth of Israel according to Ezekiel’s prophecy in Chapter 37 that the dead Jewish bones would live again.

The starting point is always chosen as zero, for convenience.

Now our yearly timeline would look like:


What is equally obvious is that the time interval from ‒1 to plus 1 is a 2 year gap.

We could say that    1 ‒ (‒1)  =  2 years.

“Minus” just means turn around before moving.   “Minus minus” means turn around twice. Then you are facing in the same direction as you were originally moving. So you add to your original movement.

This same rule would apply at the birth of Christ.

If Jesus was born in the year zero, which makes sense because measuring should start from zero, then our calendar should read

1 BC01 AD

But churches prefer to write

1 BC1 AD

So why is the zero left out?

Reason 1 for rejecting year 0 was human bias

Remember that historians are not good at maths. They do not investigate the difference  between a “zero century” which does not exist and the “zeroth century” which is the time elapsed before the first century actually comes into existence after 100 years has elapsed.

The "zeroth"  century represents a century that has not yet come into existence.

It takes a hundred years for a century to come into existence.

Before that, you simply do not have a century.

You can only speak of a century after a hundred years has happened.

But, unfortunately, with their limited maths historians insist on writing history.

So we end up confused by them insisting that 1066 is the 11th century. (But only 10 centuries have been completed. There are not 11 complete centuries in this date).

They also often get facts wrong. They glibly speak of the Holy Roman Empire. It was not holy. Charlemagne beheaded 4500 Saxons at one time for not converting to his Trinity God. I am sure that arguably our greatest evangelist, Billy Graham, would not have approved of those methods. Mercifully the dynamic and charismatic Billy used far more effective but gentler techniques.

The Holy Roman Empire was not Roman. They were basically German. It was also not an Empire. It was a squabbling bunch of states whose inhabitants got hammered and killed (is that holy ?) in order to subject them to Charlemagne’s rule.

Oh yes, back to historical numbers. Historians tell us about the 100 years war between England and France from 1337 to 1453. To the rest of us this rather looks like 116 years.

Reason 2 for rejecting year 0 was not knowing about 0

Human ignorance. The idea of zero had not yet been invented. Such is our bias against zero that we Westeners never ever thought about it. Imagine being a Roman and multiplying 4 by 17.  Thanks to the invention of zero, you and I can do this easily.

If you were a Roman schoolchild your homework problem would be to multiply  IV by XVII. Good luck to you.

The Roman empire collapsed around AD 0476.

The Roman Catholic church rose up from the ruins of the Roman empire.

The Hindus were mathematically far more advanced. They invented the zero a few hundred years later, but that invention only reached the West just before the year AD 1000. Pope Sylvester II liked the idea of zero. But the common people in the west were introduced to zero around 1200 by Fibonacci (Leonardo of Pisa) who wrote the first arithmetic book.

The birth of Christ was written into history as the starting date of our calendar by a Roman Catholic monk, around 0500 (AD  500), called Dionysius Exiguus. Sounds impressive. But it just means Dennis the Short.

But he made a few mistakes.

Zero had not yet been invented so he obviously left that out.

That is why historians and Christians still work with his timeline of ‒1  to  +1 and leave out the year zero in between. Then obviously they claim that there is just a one-year interval between those two-time instants. Dennis had an excuse to be zero-illiterate, and we forgive him. But we have no such excuse.

Dennis the Short chose 25 December as Christ's birthday.  But it was a pagan holiday introduced in AD 274 by the Roman emperor Aurelian to celebrate the birthday of the sun god, Sol Invictus (the unconquerable sun). Being mid-winter, there were no shepherds out in the fields by night. They and their sheep would freeze to death.

A cruel irony is that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome, Julius 1 who died in AD 352, adopted this date as the birthday of the Son of God around AD 350. This was despite the fact that Aurelian had been a particularly vicious persecutor who had killed Felix 1, the Bishop of Rome. To copy a pagan festival was bad enough, but to copy a pagan festival invented by a particularly brutal Christian killer was really pushing the envelope. Official documents described Aurelian as master and god. Thus he was not someone who is worth following.

Roman Catholics invented the mass. So the celebration became the mass of Christ’s birth. This soon became Christ’s mass which was shortened to Christmas.

Dennis the Short also chose 4 BC as the birth of Jesus Christ. This is an automatic oxymoron, enjoyed by non-Christians. Christians, who believe what Dennis guessed, now claim that Jesus was born four years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Try digging yourself out of that hole.

So it seems that none of these mistakes have ever been corrected.

The time span between birthday 1 and birthday 2 is when a baby is one year old.

What was the time span from birthday 0 to birthday 1?   The baby is not yet 1 year old.

How many completed years has it lived?  Zero.

That is the time when it is zero years old. You have to live one year before you can claim to be a year old.

But our brains are hard-wired in their bias against zero. We never have a zero birthday celebration when a baby is born. We will always call it something else. We just call it the birthday. If we baked a birthday cake, it would have no candles on it. A year later we have a cake with one candle for the first birthday.

Then we compensate by making a big fuss over the baby's first birthday which comes at the end of its first complete year. Only then is the baby one year old.


“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” — 1 Corinthians 16:23