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Was the ministry of Jesus 3 1/2 years or 70 weeks?

"The Gospels record that exactly seventy weeks - four hundred and ninety days - transpired from the day that Yeshua was baptized in water until the day he fulfilled his initial mission by baptizing his Disciples with the Holy Spirit." p2

"It was Eusebius who first proposed a three-and-one-half-year ministry, three hundred years after the resurrection of Yeshua. Every church 'father' and historian for the first three centuries either clearly stated or never contradicted that Yeshua's ministry was "about one year." p3

The two accurate Passovers are recorded in John:

  1. "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover ..." John 2:23 and

  2. "Now before the Feast of Passover ..." John 13:1

The two bogus Passovers are:

  1. "after this there was a feast of the Jews ..." John 5:1 This is The Feast of Weeks (aka Shavuot) not Passover. and
  2. "Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews was near." These words are missing from "Greek Manuscript #472, an 11th century manuscript that was originally housed in Constantinople, may be the last in the manuscripts that maintained the accurate rendering of John 6:3-5." p9

I suggest that " a three-and-one-half-year ministry of Messiah was invented by Eusebius, and an additional three-and-one-half-year period was inserted-by-interpretation from the The Acts to give Eusebian dogmas theological credence." p6

Therefore, I conclude that 70 weeks is the correct answer.

Ref: NKJV, The Chronological Gospels, ISBN-13:978-0-9895281-0-8, p 2-9

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    You will need to provide evidence that two of the Passovers are "bogus", or is the accusation an attempt to give the 70 week theory credence?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 2:16
  • Dottard - first bogus Passover "evidence": "It is unmistakably the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). The healing of the man who was lame for thirty-eight years occurred on the seventh Sabbath of the counting of the omar in the presence of a multitude gathered to celebrate the Feast of Weeks (or Sevens) the following day on the Temple Mount." The Chronological Gospels, p7
    – hank
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 13:24
  • Dottard - 2nd bogus Passover "evidence": "Now we may understand why Dr. Frederick H. A. Scrivener, one of the most respected New Testament Greek scholars in history, heralded manuscript #472 as the most important miniscule text guarded within the fortress walls of Lambeth Palace. We at last can see the same text that the early Christian historians were reading when they stated, without dissent that Yeshua's ministry was "about one year" in duration." The Chronological Gospels, p10
    – hank
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 14:03
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    OK - but many disagree who are more eminent. It is dangerous to base such an idea on a single MSS when so many others say something different. See the fulsome data in UBS5 before making such claims.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 20:27
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    -1 because questions on a site on hermeneutics should not just declare, in passing and without evidence, that certain portions of scripture are "bogus". If you think these verses are not inspired or there are textual issues, then please (respectfully) make this case and have that be your question.
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 5:37

10 Answers 10

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I'll offer a divergent view in hopes of sustaining a well-rounded discussion.

Irenaeus, in the 2nd century, argued for a multi-year ministry of Jesus (see Against Heresies 2.2).

Most exegetes hold that there are at least 3 Passovers referenced in John, and acknowledge John 5:1 as only a possible 4th. The Passover referenced in John 6:4 is in the overwhelming majority of the Greek manuscripts.


For an independent argument for a ministry of somewhere between 3 and 4 years, see my series Chronology in the Life of Jesus. The key data points are:

  1. The first Passover after the beginning of the 15th year of Tiberius (see Luke 3:1) refers to the Spring of AD 29. The reign of Tiberius is always reckoned--in every ancient Roman historian, on every relevant coin--from after the death of Augustus in AD 14.

  2. The threat made by the Sanhedrin to Pilate in John 19:12 would be ineffective during the lifetime of Sejanus, the deeply anti-Semitic head of the Praetorian Guard, suggesting the trial of Jesus was after the death of Sejanus in the Fall of AD 31 (see here).

  3. All 4 Gospels agree Jesus died on a Friday during Passover season--there is debate about whether 14 Nisan or 15 Nisan is indicated. If we cast a wide net and look for all 14 or 15 Nisan that fell on a Friday during the tenure of Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36), there are only 3 years that work: 27, 30, 33.

  4. AD 33 is the only year from #3 that also works with #2.

If Jesus began His ministry approx. AD 29 and died in the Spring of AD 33, His ministry lasted somewhere between 3 and 4 years.

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  • Hold to the Rod - 27 is the year he was baptized (IMHO). The Chronological Gospels p68 has "February 16th 27 CE is the date Yochanan mikveh-ed Yeshua in the Jordan River - beginning his 70 week ministry." "It Is Finished" The cry of triumph and the death of Yesuha was Wednesday, April 28, 28 CE" p254
    – hank
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 13:45
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    @hank I offer a detailed review of the phrase "the 15th year of Tiberius" in this video, if you are interested in why I come to a different conclusion. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:01
  • Hold to the Rod - I watched your video and I stand by my comments on the two bogus Passovers which you include in you analysis. You take out those two Passovers and your back to "about one year."
    – hank
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 17:05
  • @hank thanks for watching! Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 18:20
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    I concur! AD 33 is the only year from #3 that also works with #2. Upvoted +1. Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 12:09
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Ok, here are my calculations:

Beginning of Jesus' ministry

The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was marked by His baptism, which, according to Luke 3:1 occurred in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Unlike the Persian calendar, the Jews in New Testament times used the non-accession year dating, or inclusive reckoning. This means that when a monarch ascended the throne, the first incomplete calendar year (no matter how small) was counted as the first year. Since Tiberius ascended the imperial throne on 19 August 14 AD, his “fifteenth year” would be the twelve months beginning 1 Ethanim (September/October) 27 AD by the non-accession reckoning of the Jews. Since Jesus’ ministry lasted 3½ years according to the Gospel’s record (see below for this date), Jesus’ Baptism occurred about October/November, 27 AD.

Thus, we find the beginning of the final week of the 70 weeks when Messiah would “confirm covenant with many for one week”, namely, 27 AD. This suggests that it was the official transition from the “Old Covenant” to the “New Covenant” as promised in Jer 31:31-34 and fulfilled in Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25 by Jesus.

End of Jesus' ministry, the Crucifixion

The Gospel of John records at least three Passovers (John 2:13, 6:4, 13:1) and almost certainly a fourth in John 5:1.

Jesus’ death in 14th of Nissan, was at Passover. This can be confirmed using the usual dating systems by finding a year in the range 30 AD to 33AD in which the Jewish Passover fell on Friday. Since we do not have definitive and precise information about the Jewish calendar (specifically the occurrence of “leap years” with the second Adar), such methods depend more on what is unknown than known. Even astronomical methods cannot help because they depend upon local meteorological conditions such as cloud obscuring a new moon. However, the overwhelming consensus from such methods, despite their limitations suggests that the crucifixion must have occurred during the Passover in Nisan (March/April), either in March, 30 AD, or, April, 31 AD. The former is too early as already shown (Jesus’ ministry lasted more than 2½ years), but the second accords with the known facts.

Despite the insuperable difficulties in knowing the local calendar of 2000 years ago, there are still a very limited range of possible dates from which to choose. If we accept that Jesus died on the afternoon of Friday, 14th of Nisan, then the first of Nisan must be at sunset on Friday, about 18:00 local time. In the years 30-33, there are only two years that are even possible, namely,

  1. 30 AD when New Moon occurs at 20:07, Wed, Mar 22 local time. Thus, Nisan 1 would begin about 1 day and 22 hours later on Mar 24. This accords with the Babylonian calendar (not used in Jerusalem) but such an event is almost too soon in date and too soon after sunset to be reliably seen.
  2. 31 AD when New Moon occurs at 13:53, Tues, Apr 10 local time. Thus, Nisan 1 would begin about 3 days and 4 hours later on Apr 17. This is more credible.

Thus, Jesus appears to have been crucified in April 31 AD, 3½ after His baptism.

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    I appreciate your chronological detail! However, I don't follow your calculations. I show 14 Nisan AD 31 would have been Tues, March 27th (Julian-calculated). Tiberius wasn't a Jewish official & Luke wasn't writing to a Jewish audience--I contend he wouldn't have used a Jewish reckoning. Well-stated though that all our back-calculations require that the observations of the new moon were done correctly. They spent a lot more time looking at the heavens than we do--I'm comfortable giving the Jewish chronologers the benefit of the doubt. But at most they'd be off by 1 day (29.5 day moon cycle) Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 22:33
  • @HoldToTheRod - I have examined your material and beg to differ. I think we have been here before. I have personally done these calculations based on the phases of the moon as tabulated by NASA - Note that on the first of the month the new moon must be visible and by definition it must occur after the actual new moon. This was usually a few days after.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 22:37
  • we probably have been here before =). You know I admire your scholarship even though we seldom agree. Because I'm a hopeless nerd for chronology I'd actually be very interested in your lunar calculations - if you want to share them drop me a note at [email protected] - I went through moon phases for my chronology series (linked above) as well. Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 22:46
  • @HoldToTheRod - your date of Nisan 14 of March 27 is too early because the new moon of the Nisan 1 had to be after the equinox. That is where we differ.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 2:19
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    @Dottard Yes I see why our calculations differ. I follow Humphreys & Waddington in that Passover had to be after the equinox, but 1 Nisan did not. Unfortunately we do not have records for which years were given an intercalary month during this time. My dates for AD 31 do not insert an intercalary month. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 5:57
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The sign of Jonah is a lot more than being in the grave for three days and three nights.

Jonah 3: 1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Jesus's ministry was 3.5 years. It officially started when Jesus proclaimed the year of jubilee in Nazareth around the time of the Day of Atonement.

The time given to Jerusalem and Judea after Jesus's resurrection was exactly 40 years. The city and the temple were destroyed in 70 AD, so the crucifixion must have taken place in 30 AD.

Jesus hints himself the exact length of his ministry in the parable of the barren fig tree.

Luke 13: 6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

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  • +1, I hadn't made the connection with Jonah. Excellent.
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 5:32
  • F0RTY Interesting parallel. But Forty days does not compute with forty years. The reference to Luke 13:6 is much more probable, and illustrative. Thanks for pointing that out!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 20:27
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I have a few observations to add as food for thought that no one else has brought to this conversation. Have you considered why Jesus cleanses the temple twice? There is continuity in the stories because both occur on or around the day of preparation that would have been the day people were cleansing the leaven out of their homes in preparation for the feast of unleavened bread/Passover. These two temple cleansings are significant because it shows that Christ knew it was his job to rid his Father’s house of sin before the feast of unleavened bread. If his ministry was 3.5 years as assumed based on tradition and John 6:3-5, would he not have done this before that middle Passover as well? Just a question.

John 6:3-5 seems to be a good argument as to the 3+ year timeline. The omitted verse in Greek manuscript #472 & MSS 1634 is not persuading me. Interesting though.

I am not convinced that the chapters in John leading up to John 6:4 that reference the Passover being near & then mention a few generic references to feasts aren’t all talking about a single Passover/feast of unleavened bread (a 7 day time period), but calling it all Passover generically whenever denoting what week it was. The reason I believe this is possible is by how God even lumps these two festivals together while prescribing them in the OT (Leviticus 23, exodus and Deuteronomy 16).

Furthermore, almost all of the gospel accounts and the epistles equate the last supper to being a Passover meal when in fact it was technically unleavened bread. It would have to be if Jesus was crucified on Passover as the lamb was being killed. It seems as though Jews in this timeframe spoke of the feast of unleavened bread and the Passover interchangeably. This elongated feast is how Jesus could have both eaten a Passover meal with his disciples (last supper) and be killed right as the Passover lamb was being killed.

Another question that raises doubts to the timeline of 3+ years of ministry is the considerable gaps in the timeline created by such a long ministry. Someone touched on this above, but for what was supposed to be a public ministry, how is one third of it is missing? Where was he during the gaps? Was he in hiding? Was there a year the disciples were not allowed to record? Why did the Jews not come after him sooner given the considerable amount of anger toward him from the political and religious elites relatively quickly.

The other thing to consider in these questions of astronomic calculations based on new moons is whether the date of Christ’s birth is indeed correct. Scholarly estimates of his birth year include being 2-4 years off (if I recall) so that would also mean the date of his death could vary, which would throw off the calculations as to how old he was when he was killed.

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    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 4:35
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  • The Synoptics place the episode of the cleansing of the Temple at the end of Christ's ministry, close to the crucifixion, whereas John has it at its beginning.
  • The latter Gospel also provides the seemingly random detail concerning the Temple's construction lasting forty-six years.
  • Equally unique to John is the somewhat oblique statement about Jesus being less than fifty years old (8:57).
  • There are many biblical fragments and manuscripts, (far) older than the eleventh century, on which critical, scholarly translations are based.
  • the text that the early Christian historians were reading when they stated, without dissent, that Yeshua's ministry was "about one year" in duration are the Synoptics, which, just like John, start with His baptism (presumably during the tropical rainy season, corresponding to our winter), and end with His death, around Passover, which is usually celebrated in spring; unlike John, however, these texts do not contain any clear mention of intermediate festivals that would easily dispel such a reading.

All in all, 46 + 3 = 49 = 7 x 7 < 50, an allusion to Daniel 9:25.


I agree on John 5:1; the ancients counted inclusively, so there would have been no need for a fourth Passover; see also Matthew 12:40. From the immediately preceding context (John 4:35), it would seem that it was a harvest festival, which Easter certainly is not; Pentecost or Tabernacles are far more likely.

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First Irenius believed that Jesus ministry was 30 years(this fact is not in dispute) So its not an easy answer to say 3 years and thats that. My personal opinion is 70 weeks when you timeline everything the huge gaps you see really cast doubt on a 3+ year ministry. Also the pharasees were all over Jesus right away and it's hard to believe that they let it go that long. People don't realize what 200 years meant back then (they say 2nd or 3rd century like its a not long after Jesus)it's not like the 1800s very few people could read it wasn't a necessary skill that's how things could get lost pretty quickly

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    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 12:02
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Yeshua's ministry was a little over 62 weeks long from His baptism to death. John is not in chronological order and it likely refers to the same Passover multiple times (there were likely only 2 in His ministry).

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    – agarza
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 16:42
  • Locus pie - I agree with ""there were likely only 2 in His ministry."
    – hank
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 14:18
  • @Locustpie-Interesting contribution here. However, it is appropriate to add substantial reasons (scriptural, textual) or proofs to back up your statements! Show why your conclusions about the Passovers are different than most other biblical scholars. Statements without research to back them up are not that meaningful. Keep studying the Bible; it's good for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 20:10
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What Daniel Has To Say Calculating days, regnal years, moons, is quite interesting. Searching comments by Pre-Nicene writers is also a boon to our curiosity. Checking Persian, Egyptian, Roman calendar systems also adds suspense.

But the biblical input is much to be desired! The inspired prophet, Daniel (angelic messenger, really) gave a specific time-frame for the coming Messiah/Ruler (Anointed One). It was 3 and 1/2 years (heptads).

It was in the middle, not only when He would be "cut off" but when He would make the Covenant sure. (Daniel 9) Compare the dialogue of Jesus at the Last Supper:

This is My blood of the new Covenant which is shed for Many. (Mark 14:23)

And we know that Messiah Jesus is the subject here because of the holy cloud of accomplishments listed in Daniel 9:26 that the Anointed One was to perform.

Whatever our attempt at calculations, the over-riding time period must align with the prophetic word, a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed (2 Peter 1:19)

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There appears to be two invisible scriptures in the Bible, Daniel 9 :24 and Math 12:28/35. As I read Daniel it State there was seventy week of a series of incidents that if there not Yeshua’s ministry what are they? Secondly the prophecy of Joanah with days and nights in the grave, is childishly simple.If you can get 3 nights from Friday to Sunday morning you are a better man than I am! It seems nearly the whole Christian community can't read or count if you want to really learn the truth I suggest you study the teaching of Micheal Rood and check out the discoverys of Ron Wyatt certainly opened my eyes

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Interesting topic. I object to nearly all the comments that reference the Roman day of the week Friday. As the last comment inferred, it is impossible to arrive at 3 nights between Friday and Sunday. The whole error is attempting to use any Roman calendar to reckon Jewish dates. Jewish days start at sundown (give or take... please don't nitpick my language and swallow a camel) not midnight for instance. But the very important point to realize is Passover can occur on any day of the Julian or Gregorian calendar week. Consider the American Independence Day, pegged to the 4th of July. What day of the week is the 4th of July? Exactly, any day depending on the solar cycle. It rotates through the week. Passover likewise is pegged to the 14th day of the Hebrew calendar, a lunar calendar. Now what day of the week is the New Moon, any new moon, that is, any 1st day of a lunar month, in the Roman calendars? Exactly, it rotates through the solar-based calendar. Thus Passover may occur on Tuesday, Sunday, Saturday, or any day of our modern calendar. So trying to count days from Friday to Sunday is pure foolishness. It proves nothing.

I would suggest referencing days as the 1st day, 2nd day, 3rd day, and sabbath day to designate reference to lunar calendaring as opposed to a solar calendar. Correlating the two is quite difficult, and even if done for one particular year, will not be accurate for the following year. They're always out of sync, plus the addition of leap years and other human modifications to the calendar over the centuries.

Personal experience: I designed a lunar calendar that places solar dates on it. Not a solar calendar that labels Hebrew dates on it!

Granted, this doesn't directly answer the 70 vs 3½ year question, but I would hope those who have already researched more than I have would step back and check their date and days of week paradigm. There are great points, like Jonah's prophecy, which Yeshua mentioned himself. Daniel speaks of weeks of years, and those years are 360 days as I understand it. But even if I'm wrong, we'll get no closer to the truth if we keep using a homemade meter stick to speak about fathoms. I am already long in my post: I care not to repost everything said already to address each one. Perhaps the authors themselves would update them in light of renewed calendar thinking.

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  • This is a reasonable understanding of the beginning of an answer. You should discuss how this does or does not speak to the question of 70 weeks or 3 1/2 years. Commented Jan 18 at 19:03
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    Commented Jan 19 at 4:19

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