The Real Millennium

January 1st 2000 is a unique date in the world’s most widely used calendar. It is the beginning of a new millennium.

Let’s ask some questions about it.

When and why did January the 1st become the first day of the year?

It’s nothing to do with Jesus being born near that time of the year. It’s because 44 years earlier (in 45 BC!), Julius Caesar inaugurated a new calendar. He wanted to change from a Lunar (moon-based) calendar to a solar (sun-based) calendar. He chose to start the year on January 1st because that was the first new moon (or start of month) that year after the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest, darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and days then start to get longer and lighter again. It seemed a good time to start a new year. The name January comes from the Latin janua meaning door.

2000 years from when?

Until the 6th century AD, years in the Roman world were counted from the founding of the city of Rome which took place in the year which we now call 754 BC. The church authorities decided they should count time from the birth of Jesus instead. A monk named Dionysius Exiguus calculated that Jesus was born in the year 753 in the Roman calendar. This then became the new starting point which we now call 1 BC. (There was no year 0 AD or BC.)

When was Jesus actually born?

Nobody agrees! The usual approach, based on Roman emperors and governors named in the gospels, gives dates between 4 and 8 BC.

The Bible’s internal chronological structure gives the birth of Jesus as 29th October in 1 BC. 2000 solar years from that date will take us to October 27th 2000 (we are 2 days out from the ancient calendar). (This is based on the work of Arthur Ware and Frank Paine who were called by God to devote their lives to the study of Bible chronology. Frank Paine’s book Miracle of Time is now available as a website.)

We see from the above that by any reckoning Jan 1st, 2000 has very little relationship to the birth of Jesus. It is very like Christmas day. The world associates it with the birth of Jesus, and makes it an occasion for celebrations of various kinds, but the date and most of the celebrations have little or nothing to do with him.

The Real Millennium

So the month is wrong and the year is questionable, but now we come to a much more serious error. The great pivotal point of time and beginning of the world’s greatest new age was not the birth of Jesus, wonderful though that was. It was his death and resurrection. That was the great "before and after" date of all history. Dionysius Exiguus went for a totally wrong starting point! The church got this wrong as well! The real BC is Before the Cross. The real AD is After the Death and resurrection of Jesus. That was the great transition from an old age to a new one. That was the great fresh beginning, when “old things passed away and all things became new”.

Besides all this, God’s measurements of time are different from man’s. The Bible’s main measurements of time are in jubilee cycles of 49 lunar years. The most significant millennial date in current times - the real new millennium - occurred in June 1933. (For details see Bible Chronology and Miracle of Time.) That I believe was the end of the church age and the beginning of the new age of God’s kingdom.

On January 1st 2000 we may reasonably expect some computer chaos - I don’t think anyone knows how much or how little. Otherwise it may be much like January 1st 1000. Rather less happened than was expected.

So I cannot wish my readers a happy new millennium, based as it is on a mass of ecclesiastical errors. Rather I wish and pray for them an ongoing celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and a rich and true experience of the kingdom of God.