1. How did the date of the birth of Christ become a controversy?
Ans: The date became an issue because the churches stated in answer to questions 50 and 51 of The Explanatory Catechism of Christian Doctrine, (1971 edition), that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day, (which is December 25). By reason of this publication, many believers hold it as an article of faith that Christ was born on Christmas day whereas they have no proof for such a bold assertion. If the churches had been sincere enough by telling their adherents that they do not know the date, that they had chosen a convenient time of the year to mark his birth there would have been no problem. Since it is clear that December 25 was not the date Christ was born, the noble step to take is to correct the error as contained in The Explanatory Catechism of Christian Doctrine so that people will not be misled. The Bible says "no lie is of the truth". - I John 2:21
2. How does the GKS come to the conclusion that Christ was born in October?
Ans: There is no place in the Bible where the date of Christ's birth is stated in black and white. But from Bible chronology, the sequence of events leading up to his birth, we can correctly arrive at the month he was born. This begins from the order of officiation of the priests as organized during the reign of King David. (1 Chronicles 24:1-19) From there we know the time Zacharias the priest officiated, that it was the course of Abijah. From there we know when his wife Elizabeth conceived, the month she gave birth to John, when Christ was conceived and the month he was born. – Luke 1:5-57.
3. Who was the Priest Abijah?
Ans: He was among the twenty four Priests who were appointed during the time of David the King to officiate in turns in the temple service, two in a month. His lineage is from Eleazer one of the sons of Aaron. - 1 Chronicles 24:1-3,10
4. When did Abijah the Priest officiate in the temple?
Ans: His officiation fell on the eight course. Since two priests officiated in a month, the eight course fell on the fourth month known in the Jewish calendar as Tamuz and which corresponds to our latter June to early July. Since Abijah was the first priest that officiated in that course the course or order was named after him.
5. When did Zacharias the priest officiate in the temple?
Ans: After the Priest Abijah lived and died, other priests succeeded him in that course. One of them was Zacharias. (Luke 1:5,8,23) Since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, the Greek equivalent of Abijah which is Abia, is used in King James Version and other translations. - Luke 1:5
6. What is significant about Zacharias' officiation?
Ans: According to Luke's account, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias while he was officiating in the temple with the message that his wife Elizabeth will conceive and bear a son whose name would be called John. Because he and his wife were old, Zacharias doubted the words of the angel and consequently became dumb. - Luke 1:5-13.
7. How did the words of the Angel in regard to the conception and birth of John the Baptist fulfill?
Ans: At the end of his officiation in early July, Zacharias returned to his house. His wife Elizabeth conceived that same month, July, and hid herself five months, that is, from July to November. - Luke 1:23-24.
8. What of Mary's conception?
Ans: In the sixth month of Elizabeth's conception, which is our December, the Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary a virgin already espoused to a man called Joseph – a devout man and a carpenter by trade. The angel told Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the holy spirit, and that he would be called Jesus and he shall save his people from their sins. The angel went on to disclose to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived in her old age and that the pregnancy was already six months old. (Luke 1:26-31, 36,37)
9. What was Mary's reaction to the information from the angel?
Ans: Mary was excited and full of joy. She dashed to see her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country. She stayed with her for three months that is from January to March, before returning to her own house. - Luke 1:56.
10. When was John the Baptist born?
Ans: The span of foetal life under normal conditions is 280 days or forty weeks or nine months. Since the angel appeared to Mary when Elizabeth's pregnancy was six months old, and Mary stayed with Elizabeth for an additional three months, it follows that Elizabeth's pregnancy was nine months old in the month of March when Mary returned to her own house. Thus, any time in the tenth month, the child by God's grace would be born, and this fell in April. This was the month when "Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." - Luke 1:57
11. When did the conception of Jesus Christ take place? When did Mary become pregnant?
Ans: We should recall that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the sixth month of Elizabeth's conception which is at December. For the fact that after staying with Elizabeth for three additional months, January to March, Elizabeth was due for delivery, it goes without saying that it was in January that Mary visited Elizabeth.
The Bible record shows that when Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth not only blessed the fruit of her womb but also called Mary "the mother of her Lord" (Luke 1:40-44) This pronouncement by Elizabeth shows that Mary was already pregnant by that January when she visited her. We could therefore safely date Mary's conception from January, meaning that her pregnancy will be nine months by September and anytime in the tenth month which is October, Jesus Christ was born.
12. How does the conception and the birth of John the Baptist lead us to when our Savior was born?
Ans: The fact that the pregnancy of John the Baptist was older than that of Jesus Christ by six months and that John the Baptist was born in April means that to get when our Saviour was born, we just have to add six months to April – which are may, June, July, August, September, October when Christ was born.
13. How can we be sure that Elizabeth and Mary carried their pregnancies to term?
Ans: The Bible does not leave us in doubt regarding the fact that the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary came to or were carried to term. Luke 1:57 states positively "Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." While the account in Luke 2:6 states: "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered."
14. What other proof is there to show that Christ was born in October?
Ans: The fact that the churches celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in April buttresses the argument that he was born in October. Since, as it is generally agreed, Jesus Christ lived for thirty three and half years (33½), his thirty third birth anniversary will fall in October then six months later will fall in November, December, January, February, March, April.
15. Do geographical features of Palestine support the teaching that Christ was born in October?
Ans: The physical features of Palestine in regard to the climate lend support to the view that Christ was not born in December. According to the Gospel story, there were shepherds attending their flocks in the open fields by night when Christ was born. (Luke 2:8-14) This could not have been possible in December, because all accredited authorities agree that December, which corresponds with the Jewish ninth month, Chisleu, was usually a time of winter in Palestine when the people could not stay outside in the night owing to the intense cold. (Jeremiah 36:22; Ezra 10:9,13) But October is the Jewish seventh month called Tisri or Ethanim. It was a time of normal weather that permitted of outdoor or outside activities. It was on the 15th day of the seventh month that God Almighty commanded that the Jews should observe the Feast of Tabernacles. – 1 Kings 8: 2; Leviticus 23:33-43.
16. What other issues are there against the observance of Christmas?
Ans: All accredited authorities agree that December 25 is a notorious date for a number of pagan celebrations. These include: the celebration of the birth day of Nimrod, a representative of satan the devil in those days. (Genesis 10:8-10) It was also a day the gentiles mark the birth of the Sun god. The acts if lawlessness and hooliganism as characterized by Christmas are proofs that it is an unchristian affair. The Bible says: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." - 2 Corinthians 6:17,18
17. Is it necessary to mark the birth of Christ?
Ans: Yes, because nobody would have died to save man from sin and death except Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:6-8, 15-20; Hebrews 2:9-14; John 3:16) We note that angels showed an example when Christ was born as they heralded his birth with songs of praise to God Almighty saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Also, the Bible gives allowance for people of God to do whatever is good in the course of righteousness: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." - Philippians 4:8.
We therefore appeal to you dear reader, to join the GKS in celebrating the Freedom Day in October for your own blessing and salvation in the end. The Bible states: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32