Who were the three wise men?
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem…” Matthew 2:1
They’ve been called magi, kings, and wise men. But who were they, really? They were most likely the King’s personal advisors. Their responsibilities included reading the stars, and a host of wisdom-seeking work. Some early church traditions say there were twelve. Today, we choose to honor three, because three very significant gifts were offered. Over time, church traditions have assigned them names: Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar.
What does “Magi” mean?
Kings were in the habit of gathering the best and brightest into an advisory body of wise men, stargazers, and dreamers. Magi are consulted in the Book of Daniel, and by Pharoah in the time of Joseph. The Greek word magi indicates these men were astrologers and interpreters of omens—following a star and dreaming dreams.
Truth is, our faith allows a holy place for mysteries to persist. But if you’d like a bit more clarification of the myths surrounding these mystery men, here are some insights from author Dwight Longenecker:
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