Mark Goodacre has a podcast that should make the believer think – where did we get that magical number that the ministry of Christ was 3.5 years. (Find it here)
Jason Staples picks up the theme and answers a few questions here. He notes,
From Origen and Eusebius, it’s clear that the notion of a 3 1/2 year ministry stems from an early Christological interpretation of Daniel 9:26–27, which talks about an “anointed one” being cut off “after the sixty two sevens” (the 62 sevens follow seven earlier sevens, making it after the 69th seven overall; these “sevens” seem to have been identified as groups of seven years, though it’s not clear whether Jubilee years are factored in as well) and putting an end to sacrifice and offering “in the middle of the final seven.” This “being cut off” and putting the end of sacrifice and offering were identified as the crucifixion, which would have happened in the middle of the final (70th) “seven,” or three and a half years after an “anointed one” shows up at the end of the 69th seven. Thus, reasoned Origen and Eusebius, Jesus’ ministry must have commenced at the beginning of the 70th “seven,” and the crucifixion must have been 3.5 years into that ministry.
If you stand with Wesley, among others, then you will see the passage as relating to Christ, while in modern theology, as Jason notes too, it has taken on a much different role.
Listen, then read Jason’s post.
What do you think? Do you think that the ministry of Christ was 3.5 years, and if so, what is your reasoning? And does it matter?
Irenaeus, by the way, believed that Christ was much older than 30 years.