“(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)”
King James Version (KJV)
2:2 When Cyrenius was governor of Syria - When Publius Sulpicius Quirinus governed the province of Syria, in which Judea was then included.
Lu 2:2 This taxing was first made, etc. This statement has caused some difficulty. Luke seems to affirm that the enrollment took place the year Jesus was born, but while Cyrenius was governor of Syria. Now Cyrenius was governor of Syria from A.D. 6 to A.D. 11. There are two ways of settling the apparent difficulty: (1) Augustus Caesar, incensed at Herod, ordered an enrollment for taxation of the Jews the year of the birth of Jesus. It was carried out in all probability by Cyrenius. The intercession of Herod's minister, Nicolas, averted the displeasure of Augustus and the taxation did not take place until Cyrenius was governor of Syria, after Archelaus, son of Herod, was deposed. These facts we learn from Josephus, and they remove the apparent discrepancy. But (2) A. W. Zumpt, of Berlin, followed by Alford and Schaff, make it highly probable that Cyrenius was governor of Syria twice, the first time from B.C. 4 to B.C. 1. I have not space for the argument which seems conclusive. But in B.C. 4 Jesus was born. Ancient writers, Christians as well as pagan opposers, state that Jesus was born while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.