Most historians believe that Jesus was a real person who was born between 2 B.C. and 7 B.C. Much of what scholars know about Jesus comes from the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
According to the text, Jesus was born to a young Jewish virgin named Mary in the town of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem in modern-day Palestine. Christians believe the conception was a supernatural event, with God impregnating Mary via the Holy Spirit.
Very little is known about Jesus’s childhood. Scriptures reveal that he grew up in Nazareth, he and his family fled persecution from King Herod and moved to Egypt, and his “earthly” father, Joseph, was a carpenter.
Jesus was raised Jewish, and according to most scholars, he aimed to reform Judaism—not create a new religion.
When he was around 30 years old, Jesus started his public ministry after being baptized in the Jordan River by the prophet known as John the Baptist.
For about three years, Jesus traveled with 12 appointed disciples (also known as the 12 apostles), teaching large groups of people and performing what witnesses described as miracles. Some of the most well-known miraculous events included raising a dead man named Lazarus from the grave, walking on water and curing the blind.
Jesus used parables—short stories with hidden messages—in his teachings.
Some of the main themes that Jesus taught, which Christians later embraced, include:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Forgive others who have wronged you.
Love your enemies.
Ask God for forgiveness of your sins.
Jesus is the Messiah and was given the authority to forgive others.
Repentance of sins is essential.
Don’t be hypocritical.
Don’t judge others.
The Kingdom of God is near. It’s not the rich and powerful—but the weak and poor—who will inherit this kingdom.
In one of Jesus’s most famous speeches, which became known as the Sermon on the Mount, he summarized many of his moral instructions for his followers.
Jesus’s Death and Resurrection
Many scholars believe Jesus died between 30 A.D. and 33 A.D., although the exact date is debated among theologians.
According to the Bible, Jesus was arrested, tried and condemned to death. Roman governor Pontius Pilate issued the order to kill Jesus after being pressured by Jewish leaders who alleged that Jesus was guilty of a variety of crimes, including blasphemy.
Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem, and his body was laid in a tomb. According to scripture, three days after his crucifixion, Jesus’s body was missing.
In the days after Jesus’s death, some people reported sightings and encounters with him. Authors in the Bible say the resurrected Jesus ascended into Heaven.