Je'sus, the proper, as Christ is the official, name of our Lord. To distinguish him from others so called, he is spoken of as "Jesus of Nazareth" ( John 18:7 ), and "Jesus the son of Joseph" ( John 6:42 ).
This is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which was originally Hoshea ( Numbers 13:8 Numbers 13:16 ), but changed by Moses into Jehoshua ( Numbers 13:16 ; 1 Chronicles 7:27 ), or Joshua. After the Exile it assumed the form Jeshua, whence the Greek form Jesus. It was given to our Lord to denote the object of his mission, to save ( Matthew 1:21 ).
The life of Jesus on earth may be divided into two great periods, (1) that of his private life, till he was about thirty years of age; and (2) that of his public life, which lasted about three years.
In the "fulness of time" he was born at Bethlehem, in the reign of the emperor Augustus, of Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter ( Matthew 1:1 ; Luke 3:23 ; Compare John 7:42 ). His birth was announced to the shepherds ( Luke 2:8-20 ). Wise men from the east came to Bethlehem to see him who was born "King of the Jews," bringing gifts with them ( Matthew 2:1-12 ). Herod's cruel jealousy led to Joseph's flight into Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus, where they tarried till the death of this king ( Matthew 2:13-23 ), when they returned and settled in Nazareth, in Lower Galilee ( 2:23 ; Compare Luke 4:16 ; John 1:46 , etc.). At the age of twelve years he went up to Jerusalem to the Passover with his parents. There, in the temple, "in the midst of the doctors," all that heard him were "astonished at his understanding and answers" ( Luke 2:41 , etc.).
Eighteen years pass, of which we have no record beyond this, that he returned to Nazareth and "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" ( Luke 2:52 ).
He entered on his public ministry when he was about thirty years of age. It is generally reckoned to have extended to about three years. "Each of these years had peculiar features of its own.
The only reliable sources of information regarding the life of Christ on earth are the Gospels, which present in historical detail the words and the work of Christ in so many different aspects. (See CHIRST .)