Christmas 2017: Were the Three Wise Men Really Kings?

REUTERS/Eloy AlonsoA man dressed as one of the Three Kings greets people during the Epiphany parade in Gijon, Spain January 5, 2017.

While the first Christmas story is never complete without the mention of the Three Wise Men, it is debated whether the last visitors of the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem were really kings or simply philosophers.

The end of the Christmas season is referred to as the Epiphany, which is also known as the feast of The Three Wise Men. While some churches observe the feast on the first Sunday of January, many still observe it on January 6, which is also considered to be the day to take down the Christmas decors. However, despite the familiarity with the names of the Three Wise Men, many are still unsure whether they were really kings as the book of Matthew in the Bible refers to them as Magi.

It is argued that the Magi were considered kings despite being astrologers by practice. However, others opine that it does not make sense to label Magi as kings as Herodotus' accounts of them in history describe them as conniving political figures vying for royal power and were consulted by various kings in the ancient times because of their abilities to interpret omens, signs, and the stars.

However one prefers to collectively call Balthazar, Melchor, and Gaspar-Three Wise men, Three Kings, or Magi- Bible experts opine that it does not really matter. After all, what is important is that Christians should learn from their bravery to defy King Herod so that they could worship Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route," goes Matthew 2:10-12 in the Bible, which tells in part the visit of the Magi to Baby Jesus.