Luke 3:23

ESV Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,
NIV Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,
NASB When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years old, being, as was commonly held, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,
CSB As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, son of Heli,
NLT Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli.
KJV And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

What does Luke 3:23 mean?

This passage divides the early part of Luke's gospel from the rest. Chapters 1, 2, and most of chapter 3 cover the birth and public baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:21–22). Chapter 4 will explain Christ's temptation by Satan, followed by the beginning of His public ministry. In between, Luke offers Jesus' genealogy: His ancestry back all the way to Adam.

Scripture never gives an explicit indication of Jesus' age, nor enough information to perfectly fix the date of His birth. Even the names and dates Luke used earlier (Luke 3:1–2) offer a few years of leeway. Likewise, Luke mentions here that Jesus is "about thirty." This is as close as Scripture gets to establishing such details for Jesus' life.

Original biblical writings contained neither lower-case letters nor punctuation. Adding paragraph and sentence breaks, as well as commas and parentheses, are part of translating into a modern language. In this case, Luke clearly states that Jesus' relationship to Joseph was not natural fatherhood. Where disagreements arise is how to handle this "footnote" added by Luke. Some translators block off the phrase "as was supposed." This would emphasize that Joseph's fatherhood of Jesus was merely assumed by others.

Other translators suggest Luke's aside should include the entire phrase "being the son as was supposed of Joseph." This would make the main statement that Jesus, "…about thirty years of age, [was] the son of Heli." On that interpretation, Heli would have been Mary's father, and the male "before" Jesus in the genealogical line.

Much has been written about the exact meaning of Luke's genealogy, as well as that of Matthew. Among all the options, no inexplicable contradictions have been found. At worst, the two descriptions are accurate records of a process that—even today—can be complicated and subject to interpretation.
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