Jesus’ baptism is a pivotal event that marks the beginning of His public ministry. In Christian theology, baptism is considered a public declaration of faith and a spiritual rebirth. It also aligns Christians with the transformative journey of Jesus from death to life. So, at what age was Jesus baptized?
The Bible does not give us the age at which he was Baptized. Accounts of his Baptism in the Gospels only focus on the event but do not disclose the age. However, we know from Jewish customs and literature that Jesus was Baptized at around 30 years old.
Biblical historians tell us that Jesus was 30 years old when He started His ministry and that he celebrated three Passover feasts (Luke 3:23; John 2:1-13, John 3:4, and John 11:55). That would make Jesus 33 years old when he was crucified. Going by this, his baptism would have to be between the ages of 30 and 33.
Scholars also mark the beginning of John’s ministry between 27-29 AD and Jesus birth between 6-4 B.C. Since Jesus was Baptized by John, it makes sense to infer that his baptism was also around 27-29 AD. By considering the date of his birth and the time of John’s ministry, we can confirm that Jesus’ baptism was better between the ages of 30 and 33.
That means Jesus would have baptized Jesus by 29 AD. When you add 29-33 years that takes into account the time Jesus would have been baptized and completed his ministry, His year of baptism falls at 29AD. Jesus would have been approximately 32 years old at the time of baptism.
Some scholars have embraced the Irenaeus account which postulates that the disciples of John, the son of Zebedee, told him that Jesus ministered until His death when He was 40-50 years old. However, this is not likely because almost all other historical documents estimate that Jesus died at around 33 years. Additionally, we know from the account of the Apostle John that Jesus was not yet 50 years old at the time of his ministry.
You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” John 8:57
In addition, Concerning the Star explains that Jesus was born ten years before Herod the Great died and was crucified 29-33 AD during Pilate’s reign. If this is true, then it would mean Jesus would have lived until the age of 40-43 years and would have been baptized before that age to start His ministry and complete it.
But perhaps the most important proof that Jesus was baptized at 30 years is the Mosaic Law. According to the law, the priests would enter into God’s service once they turned 30 years old.
From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. Numbers 4:3
We know that Jesus already knew what God had sent him to do as early as 12 years old. We also know that the Bible is silent about what he was doing between that time and the time he started his ministry. It would be safe to infer that he was waiting to turn 30 years as required by Moses before he began ministry. We know this because, in his own words, he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).
We also know from the baptism account that John the Baptist was hesitant to baptize him. John clearly knew that Jesus was the promised messiah and he considered himself unworthy of the task. However, Jesus told him this;
“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. Mathew 3:15
Jesus was referring to the legalistic righteousness prescribed under the law and the prophets. First, John was the “voice in the wilderness” that the prophet Isiah had talked about. Secondly, the baptism would confirm him as the Messiah. Lastly, the baptism would officially usher him into the ministry now that he had achieved the minimum age required for ministry as we have already seen in Numbers 4:3.
Which Type of Baptisms Did Jesus Have?
John the Baptist baptized Jesus so that He could begin His ministry. This type is called the baptism of repentance. For Christians to accept the gift of salvation they have a spiritual baptism through the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:3).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit started after the death of Jesus. In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus acknowledges that He was baptized by John, but He also points out that the disciples would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist also pointed out that Jesus will baptize disciples with the Holy Spirit (John 1:29-34, Luke 3:16).
Additionally, after the death and ascension of Jesus, the Jews who were listening to Peter were moved by the preaching and asked what they could do. The answer they received was that they had to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36-38). Peter’s answer shows the importance of baptism as an admission to Christianity.
Why Was Jesus Baptized?
When Jesus went to John to be baptized, John was against it. In fact, he was baptizing people in the river Jordan when Jesus approached him. One of the main reasons why John hesitated was because he knew Jesus was the Son of God; therefore, He was sinless, yet baptism was a way to show repentance. So, if he was sinless, why did Jesus get baptized?
- To Obey God’s Will
Jesus’ baptism was an act of obedience to God’s plan. It also marked the beginning of His public ministry. His obedience to be baptized demonstrated submission to God’s will and signaled a path that would lead to the cross and redemption of Christians.
- To Set an Example to All His Followers
Though Jesus was sinless, His baptism symbolized solidarity with people and that He identified with the sinful nature of human beings.
- To Show Commencement of His Ministry
Jesus’ baptism served as a public inauguration of His ministry. It was a significant moment when the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove. God then put His stamp of approval on it when He declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
- To Show the Initiation of a New Covenant
Jesus’ baptism can be seen as an initiation of the new covenant. While traditional Jewish rituals involved cleansing, Jesus’ baptism signaled a transition to a new era where Christians would be cleansed through faith. His baptism set the stage for the transformative power of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins.
Romans 6:3-4 paints baptism as a form of death, resurrection, and burial. When a believer is placed underwater, they identify with Jesus’s death. The submerged process also signifies a spiritual death and burial of the old self or sinful nature. On the other hand, emerging from the water symbolizes a new life and mirrors the resurrection of Jesus.
The Bible does not give us the age at which Jesus was baptized. However, we can infer from context and from Jewish customs that Jesus was probably baptized when he turned 30 years old. Scholars do not agree on the exact age but at least, most agree that the Baptism must have occurred between the ages of 30-33 years.