In these seven matters, you’ll discover some strange realities about Jesus hidden in the pages of the Bible. See if any are news to you.
7 FACTS ABOUT JESUS YOU PROBABLY DID NOT KNOW
1 – JESUS WAS BORN EARLIER THAN WE THOUGHT.
Our current calendar, which supposedly starts from the time Jesus Christ was born (A.D., anno domini, Latin for “in the year of our Lord”), is wrong.
We know from Roman historians that King Herod died about 4 B.C. But Jesus was born when Herod was still alive. In fact, Herod ordered all male children in Bethlehem two years and younger slaughtered, in an attempt to kill the Messiah.
Although the date is debated, the census mentioned in Luke 2:2 probably occurred about 6 B.C. Taking these and other details into account, Jesus was actually born between 6 and 4 B.C.
2 – JESUS PROTECTED THE JEWS DURING THE EXODUS.
The Trinity always works together. When the Jews escaped from Pharaoh, detailed in the book of Exodus, Jesus sustained them in the wilderness. This truth was revealed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:3-4: “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” (NIV)
This was not the only time Jesus took an active role in the Old Testament.
Several other appearances, or theophanies, are documented in the Bible.
3 – JESUS WAS NOT JUST A CARPENTER.
Mark 6:3 calls Jesus a “carpenter,” but it’s very likely he possessed a broad range of construction skills, with the ability to work in wood, stone, and metal. The Greek word translated carpenter is “tekton,” an ancient term going back to the poet Homer, at least 700 B.C.
While tekton originally referred to a worker in wood, it expanded over time to include other materials. Some Bible scholars note that wood was relatively scarce in Jesus’ time and that most houses were made of stone. Apprenticed to his step-father Joseph, Jesus may have traveled throughout Galilee, building synagogues and other structures.
4 – JESUS SPOKE THREE, POSSIBLY FOUR LANGUAGES.
We know from the gospels that Jesus spoke Aramaic, the everyday tongue of ancient Israel, because some of his Aramaic words are recorded in Scripture. As a devout Jew, he also spoke Hebrew, which was used in the prayers in the temple. However, many synagogues used the Septuagint, Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek.
When he talked with Gentiles, Jesus may have conversed in Greek, the commerce language of the Middle East at the time. Although we don’t know for sure, he may have talked with a Roman centurion in Latin (Matthew 8:13).
5 – JESUS WAS PROBABLY NOT HANDSOME.
No physical description of Jesus exists in the Bible, but the prophet Isaiah provides an important clue about him: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2b, NIV)
Because Christianity was persecuted by Rome, the earliest Christian mosaics depicting Jesus date from around 350 A.D. Paintings showing Jesus with long hair were common in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:14 that long hair on men was “disgraceful.”
Jesus stood out because of what he said and did, not for the way he looked.
6 – JESUS COULD BE AMAZED.
On at least two occasions, Jesus showed great surprise at events. He was “amazed” at the people’s lack of faith in him in Nazareth and could do no miracles there. (Mark 6:5-6) The great faith of a Roman centurion, a Gentile, also amazed him, as noted in Luke 7:9.
Christians have long argued over Philippians 2:7. The New American Standard Bible says Christ “emptied” himself, while the later ESV and NIV versions say Jesus “made himself nothing.” The controversy still goes on over what this emptying of divine power or kenosis means, but we can be sure that Jesus was both fully God and fully man in his incarnation.
7 – JESUS WAS NOT A VEGAN.
In the Old Testament, God the Father set up a system of animal sacrifice as a key part of worship. Contrary to the rules of modern vegans who do not eat meat on moral grounds, God placed no such restrictions on his followers. He did, however, give a list of unclean foods that were to be avoided, such as pork, rabbit, water creatures without fins or scales, and certain lizards and insects.
As an obedient Jew, Jesus would have eaten the Passover lamb served on that important holy day. The gospels also tell of Jesus eating fish. Dietary restrictions were later lifted for Christians.
(Sources: Bible Knowledge Commentary, John B. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck; New Bible Commentary, G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, R.T. France, editors; Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor; New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, editor; gotquestions.org.)