Among the most iconic moments to have ever been accounted for in the gospel books is the visit of the wise men to Jesus. The three wise men brought to Jesus myrrh, incense, and gold. There is always a misconception among bible readers and even scholars of the Bible that wise men went to visit Jesus on the night of his birth. So, how old was Jesus when the wise men came?
The Bible does not specify the exact age Jesus was when wise men came to visit him. The wise men might have visited Jesus after days, months, or even a few years after his birth. Theologians and Bible scholars speculate that Jesus was visited by wise men when he any age between 13 and 24 months old. Those who hold this view based their approximation of the vengeful decree declared by Herod to kill all children who were two years or younger and were male. The timeframe of Herod was after the magi told home about the star leading the wise men to Jesus.
So, how long did the wise men travel to see Jesus? How did the wise men know to follow the star? Does the Bible specify how old Jesus was when the wise men came to visit? Where is there a lack of consensus about Jesus’ age when the wise men came to visit? Continue reading to get the answers to these questions and more.
How long did the wise men travel to see Jesus?
Bible scholars disagree on how long the wise men traveled to see Jesus. The story of the wise men is accounted for in the book of Mathew chapter 2. Mathew 2:1-3 reads, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Note that the term magi refers to the wise me.
Therefore, the Bible does not state how long the wise men traveled to visit Jesus. It is also not so clear from which east they were coming from; hence hard to estimate the time they traveled to see Jesus. However, the timeline the Bible gives is that the magi started looking for Jesus after they heard of the news of his birth, and when they found him and did not report back to Herod, Herod ordered that males under two years be killed.
How did the wise men know to follow the star?
What made the wise men’s visit to Jesus unique was how they got their directions. According to Mathew 2:7:8, the magi followed the stars. “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them when the exact time star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I may go and worship him.”
The book of Mathew says that they stopped where the star stopped, and that is where they found Jesus. It is not clear how the wise men knew how to follow the star, but some theologians prospect that maybe they were told through a vision. This view has no biblical evidence to support it; hence we cannot say with certainty that it is how the wise men knew how to follow the stars.
Bible scholars disagree on how wise men knew how to interpret the directions given by the stars because the Bible does not explain how. However, what is certain and is even mentioned in the Bible is that the star rose at an exact time and was moving towards where the Son of God was. That is why the wise men stopped once it stopped, as they knew they had reached their destination.
Does the Bible specify how old Jesus was when the wise men came to visit?
There is no biblical text that explicitly states how old Jesus was when the wise men went to visit him. The Bible just gives the timing of the events that were happening around the same time the wise men visited Jesus. At the time the wise men were visiting Jesus, King Herod had just heard that a king had been born, and he wanted to eliminate him.
Therefore, he called the wise men to ask them for the star leading them to Jesus. Mathew 2:7-8 reads, “The Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I may go and worship him.”
The events that followed after are what help us approximate the age of Jesus. After the wise men left, Mary and Joseph, together with the baby, escaped to Egypt because the angel of the Lord appeared to them and informed them of Herod’s plans, as recorded in Mathew 2:13.
In Mathew 2:16, Herod discovered he had been played and ordered all boys below two to be killed. If Jesus was below one year, Herod could have ordered any child below one to be killed. Therefore, scholars believe Jesus was anywhere aged 13 to 24 months when the wise men visited. However, there is a possibility that Jesus was even younger than this when the magi visited him, as the Bible does not say his exact age.
Where is there a lack of consensus about Jesus’ age when the wise men came to visit?
There is a lack of consensus on how old Jesus was when the wise men came to visit because the gospels of Mathew and Luke seem to disagree about the circumstances of the birth of Jesus. However, a significant differentiation that makes it clear that the wise men did not visit Jesus at birth is because the gospel of Luke records that the shepherds did. Luke 2:16 says, “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”
However, the gospel of Mathew is more detailed on the wise men’s visit to Jesus than any other gospel book. The book of Mathew tells us that the wise men visited Jesus at a time when King Herod was after killing the Messiah, and he had instructed children below two years old to be killed. That means Jesus was around that age or low. The book of Mathew 2:11 notes that the wise men found Jesus in the house. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, his mother, and fell down and worshipped him.
It is important to note that the Bible recorded Jesus as a baby when the shepherds visited him but as a young child when the wise men paid him a visit.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.