How old was Jesus when He died on the cross?

by Matt Slick

No one knows exactly how old Jesus was when He died on the cross, but He was probably 33 years of age. This is drawn from two main things. First, Jesus was baptized to enter into the Melchizedek priesthood. In Matthew 3:13-15 it says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.'" Jesus got baptized to fulfill all righteousness. This fulfillment was most probably in reference to the Old Testament requirements for being a priest, which had a minimum age requirement of 30. Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

  • Hebrews 5:4–6, "And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”"
  • Hebrews 6:20, "where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

So, Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek.  Since Jesus said he had to "fulfill all righteousness," it makes sense to say he was fulfilling the Old Testament Law (Matt. 5:17).  In the Old Testament, the minimum age requirement for entering into the priesthood was 30.  "from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting," (Num. 4:3). This is fulfilled in the Scriptures at Luke 3:23, "And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli..."

Second, the vast majority of Christian scholars agree that Jesus' ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. So, 30 years of age plus 3 1/2 years of ministry, equals the age of 33.  Therefore, Jesus was most probably 33 years old when He died on the cross.




About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.