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This Week’s Fast Facts

Fast Facts on the Magi of the Nativity Story

  • Have you ever wondered about the Magi who are written about in the Nativity story (Matthew 2:1-12)? Who were they? Why were they looking for the Christ-child? How’d they know when and where to look for him?
  • The Magi, or wise men, were a priestly caste in the ancient world that often served as advisors to kings and emperors. They were sought out for their knowledge of astronomy and astrology, as well as their supposed ability to foretell the future and discern the meaning of dreams and visions.
  • The Magi of the Nativity story were possibly from Babylon; and if so, they were likely influenced by the teachings of the biblical prophet Daniel, who a few hundred years earlier was the chief of the wise men of the Babylonian empire (Daniel 2:47-48).
  • Through the influence of Daniel the Magi would have been familiar with the Old Testament and its 300+ prophecies pointing to the coming of the Messiah; and from the text of Matthew 2 it’s apparent that these Magi believed the promises of God’s word and intended to worship the coming King of the Jews.
  • The Magi were likely watching the heavens looking for a sign of the Messiah’s arrival as a result of exposure to Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”
  • The Magi would have even known the general timeframe of the Messiah’s arrival as a result of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:25, that the Messiah would appear 483 years after the decree to allow the Jews to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
  • While we can’t say for sure who the Magi were, the above possibilities are likely based on the clues we’re given in Scripture. What we can say for sure is these Magi truly were “wise men” in recognizing and worshipping the God who took on flesh to become the Savior of the world.

For more information on the biblical prophecies of the Messiah, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Bible: Is it the Word of God? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

Follow CMI on Twitter at @jasoncarlsoncmi.

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Past-Fast-Facts

This Week’s Fast Facts

Fast Facts on Advent Apologetics – December 25th as the Date of Christmas

  • There is no historical evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. However, while this date is improbable it is not impossible. A springtime date, though, better fits the gospel accounts of the birth of Christ. So, where does the December 25th date for Christmas come from?
  • Historical evidence shows Christians observing December 25th as the date of Christ’s birth as early as the 200’s A.D. However, the first official Christmas celebration occurred on December 25, 336 A.D. after Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.
  • The most likely reason the early Church chose December 25th as the date to celebrate Christ’s birth was simply because of the metaphorical significance of the winter solstice to the arrival of the Messiah (i.e. the idea of light, new life, etc.).
  • It is also possible the Church chose December 25th as a rival to certain pagan religious practices in the Roman Empire that were centered on the winter solstice and the “birth” of their sun gods (Saturnalia, Mithra, Sol Invictus, etc.).
  • Some Christians become concerned when considering the possibility that our December 25th celebration of Christmas might have any association with pagan religious practices, even if as a rival.
  • However, while it is right to be concerned as Christians about syncretism with non-Christian religious practices, we must also remember that the Church has historically viewed the reshaping of culture as a positive endeavor.
  • When it comes to our celebration of Christmas on December 25th, like Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), we can affirm that, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”

Give the gift of apologetics this Christmas! We’ve got some great resources, like the book, Apologetics For A New Generation, available in our online store.

Follow CMI on Twitter at @jasoncarlsoncmi.

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