There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
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The Bible does not tell us exactly when Jesus Christ was born. The closest hint, found in this verse, seems to point to Christ’s birth in the fall of the year.
What’s the connection? Verse 36 shows that Jesus Christ was born about six months after John the Baptist was born. And John the Baptist would have been conceived nine months earlier (15 months before Christ’s birth), shortly after his father Zacharias had received a message from an angel while serving at the temple.
When did Zacharias serve at the temple? One source says he probably served one-week stints around mid-May and mid-November. (E.W. Bullinger uses the dates June 13-19.) King David had divided the priests into 24 courses, of which the division of Abijah was the eighth (1 Chronicles 24:10). These divisions each served a week at a time, so that each division served two weeks at the temple each year according to the sacred calendar, in addition to the festivals.
A number of commentators lean toward a May or June date for Zacharias’ meeting with Gabriel. Adding 15 months to that would put Jesus Christ’s birth in perhaps August or September. (If Zacharias met Gabriel around November or December, Christ’s birth would have been in perhaps February or March.)
Either way would not support a Dec. 25 birth date.
For more about why Jesus Christ’s birth could not have been Dec. 25 and how it came to be celebrated that day, see our article “Christmas: Should Christians Celebrate It?”