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Was Jesus Born on Christmas Day?

In the days of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth (Luke 1:5)

Every piece of information in the Bible was written for a purpose: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

Solomon declared: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

Every word that God said was true; we just have to trust His words. Every word was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and every word is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction. The words were written down so that we can be perfect, complete, and mature in the knowledge of God.

The omnipresent God knew long ago, even before men would come up with a Christmas festival to celebrate the birth of His only begotten Son Jesus, to put shreds of evidence in His word to counter this foolishness of men.

The gospel of Luke provides THREE evidences surrounding the date of the Messiah’s birth.

1. The Course of Abijah (Abija, KJV): There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth” (Luke 1:5).

2. The Period of Six Months: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth” (Luke 1:26).

3. Shepherds in The Field:And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).

1.  The Course Of Abijah (Abia, KJV)

What is meant by Zacharias being “of the course of Abijah” (Luke 1:5)?

In First Chronicles 24:1-19, King David divided the priests into twenty-four working shifts or courses. Each course worked in the temple for 1 week from noon Sabbath to noon following Sabbath. The 24 courses took turns, always in the same order, to return to Jerusalem once about every 6 months to serve as priests for one week (the departing course performed the morning sacrifices from 9 AM to noon, and the arriving course performed the afternoon sacrifices from noon to 3 PM). After the 24th course was completed, the cycle of courses would repeat so that each group of priests would serve in the temple twice a year during their course.

However, ALL courses worked during the 3 major holy feasts. They were the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach/Passover), the Feast of Weeks (Shavout/Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Sukkoth/Tabernacles). This brought the total time of service to five times a year. It means the schedule would be suspended until the following week when the next course would serve.

Zacharias worked in the eighth course of Abijah. While he was serving in his course, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him he would have a son named John (Luke 1:5-17).

In between this period from the 1st to 8th course, there were the Feast of Unleavened Bread (3rd  week) and the Feast of Pentecost (9th Week, Pentecost falling seven weeks after the Passover Sabbath). Abijah was the 8th course. Since all the priests must perform the temple service during the 2 major feasts in between, it means Zacharias commenced his course on the 10th week of the Jewish year.  

Since Passover falls in April or late March in our Gregorian calendar, and Pentecost falls seven weeks thereafter, the two non-feast weeks of priestly duty for the division of Abijah were in June/July and 25 weeks later (24 weeks + Feast of Tabernacles) in December/January. This information is important in timing the birth of Jesus.

Nisan (or Nissan), is the first month on the Jewish calendar and it coincides with March-April on the Gregorian calendar. The month marks the beginning of the spring months. God told Moses: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).

Nisan is a month of 30 days. The month Nisan commences between 12 March to 11 April and ends between 10 April to 10 May in our calendar. In the year 2024, 1 Nisan will occur on 9 April.

When we add 10 weeks to mid-March and mid-April, we find Zacharias performed his course somewhere between the 3rd week of May and to 3rd week of June. His next duty would fall 25 weeks later (24 weeks + Feast of Tabernacles) in December/January.

How Soon Was John The Baptist Conceived?

Zacharias had to finish his duty before he returned home, and “after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived” (Luke 1:23-24). It is not explicitly stated how soon after Zacharias’ service that John the Baptist was conceived. Assuming it was soon after, then John the Baptist would have been conceived either in June/July or December/January.

2. The Period Of Six Months

Six months later, the angel Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26). He told her that her cousin Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her pregnancy (Luke 1:36). Six months after John’s conception, Mary would have conceived Jesus either in December/January or June/July. When we add nine months to it, Jesus would have been born either in September/October or March/April.


1. Zacharias, a priest, performed his duties during the course of Abijah.

2. After he returned home from Jerusalem, Elizabeth conceived.

3. Mary conceived in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy.

3. Shepherds In The Field.

The shepherds were still in the fields keeping watch over their flocks when the angels announced the birth of Christ (Luke 2:8). This places the birth of Jesus sometime between the spring and fall. It was not a common practice in Israel for shepherds to stay in the fields with the sheep during the winter months.

This means that it was unlikely for Jesus to have been born in December.


1. Elizabeth conceived upon her husband Zacharias' return from Jerusalem, where he had performed his duties of “priesthood” in the “sanctuary of the Lord” (Luke 1:23-24).

2. Mary conceived 6 months after Elizabeth conceived, and in either June/July or December/January (see Division of Abijah).

3. Had Elizabeth conceived in December/January, Mary would have conceived 6 months thereafter in June/July and given birth 9 months later in March/April. Had Elizabeth conceived in June/July, Mary conceived 6 months thereafter in December/January and gave birth 9 months later in September/October, which coincides with the Feast of Tabernacles.

4. Since Mary gave birth after “the days were accomplished for her to give birth” (Luke 2:6). It means she gave birth at full term.

5. Since there were shepherds in the field, Jesus could not have been born in the winter month of December.

Disclaimer: Despite the evidences above, no one can really know for sure when Jesus was born. However, to put a specific date on 25th December is to be guilty of a presumptuous sin.


If Christians do not celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25, what should Christians share on December 25? As with all other days, we should be sharing the gospel of Jesus, regarding His death, burial, and resurrection! (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).


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