“Bishop Hippolytus of Rome ( c. 170 AD – c. 235 AD) wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel sometime around 202 AD in which he claimed:
‘The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the Kalends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus…This puts the birth of Christ at December 25th, 2 B.C.’
Julius Sextus Africanus claimed the same date in his Chronographiai, which was written around the same time as Hippolytus.” — Joshua Gibbs, teacher of classical literature at Veritas School in Richmond, Virginia
If Professor Gibbs and other scholars are correct, our Gregorian calendar is off by a couple of years. Meanwhile, some want to replace A.D. (Anno Domini, “year of our Lord”) with C.E. (“common era”). And other calendars exist.
Despite these quibbles, the first advent of Jesus Christ has become the historical anchor by which we reckon our common journey into the future…it is “common era” to the whole world because of Him!
Why will it not be 12 A.M. New Year’s day 246 that shortly sweeps through the globe’s time zones, counting the signing of the American Declaration of Independence as year 1? Why isn’t year 807 about to begin, setting as year 1 the drafting of the Magna Carta, so foundational to the blossoming of the enjoyment of freedom by many? Why will Friday January 1 be the first day of 2021, and not 1021 or 3021?
It is because of the birth of the Potentate of Time, as one hymn writer praised Him. It is because of the recently observed nativity of the Son of God Who brings true and everlasting freedom (cf. John 8:36). That transcendent, miraculous event utterly eclipses all other historical events, just as His eternal kingdom already has spread to every corner of the Earth, and inexorably continues to grow!
Enjoy your inescapably Christo-centric holiday on Friday, and may the whole 2,021st year of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be the year which brings His richest blessings of grace to you.