How Old Was Jesus When He Returned from Egypt?

The Early Days of Jesus

There is no known age of Jesus after His Return from Egypt, but there are supporting facts that give hints.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, gives a biblical summary of Christ’s early infancy and childhood. This passage identifies the place of Christ’s birth as being Bethlehem of Judea and the time of His birth was in the days of Herod the King. Herod the King was known as “Herod the Great,” and was made King by the Romans in the year 43 BC Historians tell us that his death occurred approximately 4 BC According to Matthew Henry’s commentary on the book of Matthew, page 10, Christ was born in the 35th year of Herod the Great’s reign. According to Albert Barnes’ commentary on the book of Matthew, King Herod the Great died in his 37th year of reign. The best chronologers have supposed that Herod died somewhere between two and four years after the birth of Christ, but the particular time cannot now be determined; nor can it be ascertained at what age Jesus was taken into Egypt. It seems probable that He was between one and two years old–based upon the account of Herod’s order to kill all the children two years and under.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men (Matthew 2:16).

The Bible describes how an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph giving him instructions to take Mary and the young child into Egypt (Matthew 2:13). The flight to Egypt by Jesus’ family is related by Matthew to the statement in Hosea 11:1 which refers historically to the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. Since the Old Testament statement is not a direct reference to Christ, it is apparent that the writer, Matthew, saw this prophecy as a type of Christ (Liberty Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, p.8).

Alfred Plummer, in his exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew, notes that, “We know neither how old the child Christ was when He was taken into Egypt nor how long he remained there. Herod died 4 BC, five days after he had put his son, Antipeter, to death and a little before the Passover. The flight into Egypt probably took place two or three years before that – the stay in Egypt must have lasted some years.” We do know that following the death of King Herod the Great, the angel of the Lord appeared once again to Joseph instructing him to go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child’s life (Matthew 2:20b). Scripture tells of Joseph returning to Nazareth, avoiding any further residence in Judea. 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 (Matthew 2:23).

In the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2, verses 39 and 40, it is recorded that Jesus grew up in the area known as Galilee, in the city of Nazareth, and that Christ had a normal childhood growth, however, he waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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