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According to Jewish tradition a person must be 30 years of age to enter ministry.
Luke 3:23 states that Jesus was about thirty years of age when He began His ministry. Granted, the words “His ministry” are added but they fit the context. According to Numbers 4:23, thirty was the age when those of the Levitical family began serving in the work of the tabernacle. Thirty years represents the age of full maturity, physically and mentally, thus suitable for the responsibility of public ministry. This was the case of Joseph, Genesis 41:46, and David, II Samuel 5:4. Jewish traditions required one to be thirty years to be a Rabbi. Jesus had to be 30 to be regarded by Jewish authorities as an authentic teacher. The Greek word for “about” is “hos,” or “hosi,” and Luke used it a few times in connection with time or someone’s age in these verses: Luke 1:56 – “about 3 months” Luke 2:37 – “about 84 years” Luke 3:23 – “about 30 years” Luke 8:42 – “about 12 years” Luke 9:28 – “about 8 days” Oftentimes, the word “about” suggests some guesswork or approximation, but when Luke used it, it was always in a narrow sense and quite exact. In an unpublished paper, “The Chronology of Jesus: ‘About 30 Years of Age’ (Luke 3:23),” Leslie McFall, having researched hundreds of Egyptian papyri of legal documents that had the “about” phrase, noted a person’s age was always given without fractions of a year or mention of additional months, but always ages rounded off to the nearest year. Luke does the same thing. As an example, in Luke 2:37, Luke states the prophetess Anna was a widow of “about 84 years,” which is a very specific number. In Luke 8:42, Luke wrote the age of the girl that Jesus raised from the dead as “about 12,” also a specific number. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for “about 3 months,” Luke 1:56. It was give or take a few days or weeks, but it definitely was not 2 or 4 months. Concerning Jesus, it has been supposed that Luke gave an approximate age with the possibility of plus or minus several years to make all the chronology of Christ fit. However, Leslie McFall noted that it is not just a nice round number. It is as specific as the other ages that Luke gave. Jesus was about 30 years of age, not 29 or 31. Jesus was six months younger than John the Baptist, Luke 1:36, who began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, Luke 3:1, which was AD 27. If it is assumed that John began his ministry at 30 years of age, then Jesus was baptized about 6 months later. This meant Jesus began His ministry in AD 27. He ministered for a little over two years and died in AD 30. Thirty years is the Biblical and Jewish traditional age of maturity to be priest, prophet, teacher, or anyone ministering unto the Lord. This was God’s timing for Jesus the Messiah to be baptized, John 1:31-33, and begin His ministry, Daniel 9:24.
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