Matthew 2 is wrong about birth of Jesus Christ

The birth of Jesus Christ mentioned in the two gospel accounts specifies two different historical references which helps us to pin-point the exact year of His birth. But there is one big problem because both account don’t harmonize. In this blog, we will look into the gospel accounts to understand and investigate more.

Matthew’s Account – (23 BC to 6 BC)

Matt 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 

Matt 2:14-16 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

Matt 2:19-20 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Herod reigned from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC. He killed all children under 2 years. Based on this historical reference, Christ must have born anytime from 37 BC to 6 BC. Also, there were no historical records for any sightings of stars in heaven which is of significance during this period.

John 2:20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

John gives us a historical detail about the temple being built for 46 years. We know based on historical records, Herod’s temple began it’s works in the 18th year of his reign which is (20-19 BC). Adding 46 years means, Jesus must have began his ministry after 26-27 AD. We were also told in the Luke gospel that Jesus is around 30 years of age when He began His ministry. But, because we are comparing the two gospel accounts – Matthew and Luke, we don’t want to use the details in each other’s account.

John 8:57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

The book of John also gives another detail that His age is less than 50 years old. When Jesus began his ministry which is after 27 AD, His age must be less than 50. Hence, He must be born after 23 BC.
Therefore, Jesus Christ’s approximate birth date based on Matthew is 23 BC – 6 BC.

Luke’s Account – (6 AD)

Luke 2:1-2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

Unlike Matthew, Luke is very specific. He gave a historical reference which is on 6 BC. He didn’t stop there.

Luke 3:1-2 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. … (23) Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli

Luke gives an exact information regarding the age of Jesus Christ which is around 30 years when He began His ministry. Tiberius Caesar reigned from 14 AD – 37 AD. Hence, his 15th year of his reign is 29 AD was when John the Baptist began his ministry. This means, according to Luke’s account, Jesus began His ministry in 35 AD (30th year of His life).
The above detail of 6 AD agrees both with Pontius Pilate, who ruled from 26 AD to 36 AD and with Herod the tetrarch who was exiled in 39 AD. 
Therefore, Jesus Christ’s approximate birth date based on Luke is 6 AD.

Harmonizing Problem

Now the problem is, Matthew’s time period for Christ’s birth does not overlap with Luke’s time period. It is impossible for both accounts to be happening at the same time. Most Christians take 4 BC while some take 6 AD as the date for the birth of Jesus Christ. But it can never be harmonized. One must simply be wrong and the other correct.
Ignoring the historic reference of census of Quirinius, let us see one by one how we can harmonize the two accounts. Jesus must have died within reign of Pontius Pilate when he was a prefect of Judaea (26 AD to 36 AD). We also found Jesus must have begun his ministry after 27 AD. Hence, subtracting his age when He was crucified (from 27 – 36 AD), should give (23 BC to 6 BC).  In other words, His age can vary from 50 – 33 years.
Because Luke mentioned that Christ’s age was 30 when He began His ministry, His age when He died was generally accepted as 33 years. It is important to note His ministry on earth was exactly 1 year.
It is important to understand Matthew by itself or Luke by itself does fit all the historical references they provide and do not contradict themselves in anyway. If census of Quirinius is not rejected, then the account of Jesus Birth mentioned by Matthew must be rejected. Hence, census of Quirinius was rejected for the sake of harmonizing Matthew and Luke.

Which account is correct? Matthew’s account is wrong!

The solution for any Biblical problem is searching the Scriptures carefully and thoroughly.

Error in Hos 11:1-2:

Matt 2:14-15 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.

There is a major problem with the above old testament quote.

Hos 11:1-2 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.  As they called them, So they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, And burned incense to carved images. (Masoretic text). 

Hos 11:1-2 Early in the morning were they cast off, the king of Israel has been cast off: for Israel is a child, and I loved him, and out of Egypt have I called his children. As I called them, so they departed from my presence: they sacrificed to Baalim, and burnt incense to graven images. (LXX).

As you can see, Hos 11:1 is not a prophecy about Christ nor will He ever fulfill it. This reference was never used by any of the other New Testament authors.

Error in Jer 31:15-16

Similarly, there is another problem later in the same chapter:

Matt 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.” 

Ramah is an inheritance of Benjamin as per Josh 18:25 and the prophecy mentioned above is Rachel weeping because Benjamin is her son.

Jer 31:15-16 Thus says the LORD: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.” Thus says the LORD: “Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy

The above prophecy is not about dead children but captured by the enemy who will return. Further, the narration of Matthew mentions the fulfillment of the prophecy in Bethlehem and it’s districts which is an inheritance of Judah by pointing out the prophecy in Ramah, an inheritance of Benjamin. This reference was also not used by any of the other New Testament authors.

No Prophecy about Christ being a Nazarene

Further problem quoting a non-existing prophecy.

Matt 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

No prophecy in Old Testament exists for Christ to be called a Nazarene. No other New Testament authors mentioned such a prophecy.

Star Direction Problem

Matt 2:1-2,9 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” … When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

If the wise men are from the east, and the star was seen in the east and if they followed the star, they would never reach Judea but rather go in opposite direction. Hence, many had put forth that this should be a comet. Irrespective of whether it is a star or a comet, any significant sign in the sky for Christ’s birth was never mentioned by any of the other New Testament authors.

Conclusion & Consequence

Based on the study regarding the birth of Jesus Christ, the account mentioned in Matthew chapter 2 is fully of mistakes and completely wrong. I personally cannot accept Matthew chapter 2 as inspired since it does not agree with a single Old Testament verse and full of prophecy problems, acceptance of astrologers and stargazers (God strictly forbids, refer Prophets of God from Persia) and referring to non-existent prophecies. 
Hence, Matthew chapter 2 is wrong about the birth of Jesus and did not happen while the Luke account is correct. Hence, Jesus Christ was born on 6 AD.