To conclude, the hidden life of Jesus extending through thirty years is far different from what one should have expected in the case of a Person Who is adored by His followers as their God and revered as their Saviour; this is an indirect proof for the credibility of the Gospel story.
The public life of Jesus: its duration
The chronology of the public life offers a number of problems to the interpreter; we shall touch upon only two, the duration of the public life, and the successive journeys it contains.
There are two extreme views as to the length of the ministry of Jesus: St. Irenæus (Against Heresies II.22.3-6) appears to suggest a period of fifteen years; the prophetic phrases, “the year of recompenses”, “the year of my redemption” (Isaiah 34:8; 63:4), appear to have induced Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Philastrius, Hilarion, and two or three other patristic writers to allow only one year for the public life. This latter opinion has found advocates among certain recent students: von Soden, for instance, defends it in Cheyne’s “Encyclopaedia Biblica”. But the text of the Gospels demands a more extensive duration. St. John’s Gospel distinctly mentions three distinct paschs in the history of Christ’s ministry (2:13; 6:4; 11:55). The first of the three occurs shortly after the baptism of Jesus, the last coincides with His Passion, so that at least two years must have intervened between the two events to give us the necessary room for the passover mentioned in 6:4. Westcott and Hort omit the expression “the pasch” in 6:4 to compress the ministry of Jesus within the space of one year; but all the manuscripts, the versions, and nearly all the Fathers testify for the reading “En de eggysto pascha heeorteton Ioudaion”: “Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand”. Thus far then everything tends to favour the view of those writers and more recent commentators who extend the period of Christ’s ministry a little over two years.