Alleged Evidence for Astrology in the Bible
Astrologers claim this is proof of astrology in the Bible,
but a careful examination of this passage reveals:
1) The star actually moved because it preceded the Magi.
2) In some unknown manner the star was able to indicate the
exact place Jesus and His parents were staying.
3) The star apparently was lost from sight for a period of
time, and then became visible again.
4) The star seems to have been visible only for the Magi,
as apparently no one else noticed it including Herod and the religious leaders in
The evidence shows this was not a normal star but a miracle
from God to guide and direct the Magi to Jesus. This was a temporary phenomenon and seems
to have had no other purpose than stated. Certainly it had no astrological meaning.
Astrologers have claimed the Magi were astrologers, but
their conclusion is not substantiated by many scholars. The fact that these men are
mentioned favorably and that God deals with them especially in relationship to His Son
indicates it is more certain that they were not astrologers. The term
"magi" originally referred to a group of Medes who were Zoroastrian priests for
the Persians. (James Bjornstad and Shildes Johnson, Stars, Signs and Salvation in the
Age of Aquarius (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1971), p. 59) Zoroastrianism,
originally a monotheistic religion, possibly had Judaistic influences.
The term "magi" primarily means "wise
men" and astrology was part of the practice and interest of some "wise
men." Examples of such men who did use astrology include the "magicians" in
Pharaoh's court (Ex. 7:11) and the wise men in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.
2:2ff). In these instances, the Bible accurately records that some people who did not know
or follow God did practice astrology.
But the Bible also is clear that not all "wise
men" were astrologers. A clear example is Daniel, a godly man promoted to the inner
circle of the counselors to the king. The Scriptures indicate, "In every matter of
wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them [Daniel and
his friends] ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole
kingdom" (Dan. 1:20).
Like Daniel, it is possible that the Magi who followed the
star to Bethlehem were themselves Jews who had remained in Babylon after the captivity,
and they, as seekers after truth, had attained a high station. As Jews, they would not
only have been acquainted with the biblical prohibitions against astrology, but also with
the biblical messianic prophecies concerning the coming "King of the Jews."
Their scripturally based faith in God would thus have provided them a "context"
for the miraculous phenomena which they followed to the place where Jesus was.
But it is also possible that the Magi were Gentiles. Even
as Gentiles, the Magi could have learned about the coming Jewish Messiah through the
influence of Daniel, who lived in Babylon in the sixth century B.C. Daniel's influence was
so great that King Nebuchadnezzar sent out at least two proclamations to the entire known
world, commanding that all men honor Daniel's God. The king even declared that Daniel's
God was the supreme God (Dan. 3:28-4:3, 34-37).
Because of Daniel's influence, many people, perhaps
thousands, probably believed in the God of Daniel and in the Jewish Scriptures. The Magi
of Christ's time may have been descendants of such peoples, or may have been following a
tradition kept alive from the time of Daniel. What is clear is that these men are not
condemned as astrologers or as pagan unbelievers. In fact, the Scriptures relate that they
worshipped Jesus when they found Him. Nothing in this passage in Matthew condones or
approves the practice of astrology.
For further information, see our resource catalog
concerning programs on "Astrology" and
our "The Facts on Astrology."