Question of the Week: How old do you think Jesus was when he died on the cross? I hear many say he was 33. Is that accurate?
My Answer: No one has an accurate date for Jesus’s age when he died on the cross. However, an approximate age can be discerned from Old and New Testament texts.
Jesus submitted himself to the Old Testament law, which states that one cannot serve in the temple, and by implication cannot serve as a teaching rabbi, until one has lived thirty years. See, for example, Numbers 4:3. In the New Testament Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus was “about thirty years old” when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). Many Bible scholars interpret the four Gospels as implying that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years. However, several scholars have pointed out that an easier way to make all four Gospels consistent in their chronology is to presume that the ministry of Jesus lasted four years.1 Therefore, Jesus would have been at least 33 years of age when he was crucified, likely 34, but not older than 36.
- Johnston M. Cheney, The Life of Christ in Stereo: The Four Gospels Combined As One (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 1984).