Historical Overview of the New Testament

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The purpose of this page is to quickly place the books of the New Testament within the historical context of the apostolic church, not to explore the details of that history. A more complete discussion of the setting for a particular book may be included on the main page for that book.

The period before Jesus's ministry[edit]

Jesus's ministry, 30-33[edit]

A more detailed treatment of Jesus's ministry and a harmony of the four gospel accounts is found at Gospels harmony and history.

Beginning of the apostolic ministry, 33-34[edit]

In terms of characters, this historical overview will follow only some of the New Testament authors: Peter, James, John, James the Just, Paul, John Mark, and Luke.

Christ visited with the Apostles following his death and resurrection in April 33 AD (Acts 1:1-3).

The apostles chose Matthias to replace Judas in May 33 (Acts 1:15-26).[1]

Peter's speech on the day of Pentecost in late May 33 (Acts 2).[2]

Peter and John healed a beggar and the next day were brought before the Sanhedrin, most likely about late 33 or 34 (resolve) (Acts 3-4).[3]

Barnabas, a native of Cyprus, sold some land and brought the money to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37).

Ananias and Sapphira die in early-mid 34 (Acts 5:1-11).[4]

The Apostles again before the Sanhedrin in mid-late 34, and were going to be killed, but Gamaliel defends them (Acts 5:17-42).[5]

The seven were appointed to assist the Twelve in late 34 or early 35 (Acts 6:1-8).[6]

The Seven and Paul's early ministry 35-39[edit]

Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect of Judea during 26-36. In late winter 36 he was dismissed by the Roman legate in Syria and ordered to appear before the emperor Tiberius for mishandling a situation in Samaria. Tiberius died before Pilate arrived in Rome.[7]

Stephen appeared before the Sanhedrin, and they ordered him stoned (Acts 6:9-7:60). Sanhedrin most likely able to do this in early 36 AD after Pilate dismissed as Roman governor but before his replacement arrived.[8]

In early 36 Saul persecuted the church, including consenting to Stephen's death - EXPLAIN (Acts 8:1-3; Gal 1:11-14).[9]

Paul’s background[edit]

Paul was born between 1-5 AD (Acts 7:58; 26:10).[10] Paul was born a free Roman citizen and the son of a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin (Acts 16:37; Acts 22:28; Acts 23:6; Philem 3:5). Paul appears too have been a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3). Paul's family sent him to study in Jerusalem, and so was probably in comfortable circumstances.[11]

Paul was raised in Tarsus. A body of Jews settled there in 171 BC when promised citizenship. Tarsus was the capital of Cilicia, its port was busy, and the surrounding countryside was fertile. Tarsus was also one of the three greatest centers of learning in the Roman world. Its natives reputedly surpassed all others in academic zeal and achievement. Paul was raised as a strict Pharisee, however, and pagan schools and customs were thus anathema; he picked up some jargon, poetry, and history by living in Tarsus, but in Sperry’s opinion was not deeply versed in Greek learning. Paul's education would instead have emphasized mastery of the Scriptures, Hebrew history, and Jewish customs. Paul was fluent in both Hebrew (or Aramaic) and Greek.[12]

Paul went to Jerusalem around age 15 to study with Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated Jewish teachers of the age. Sperry emphasizes Paul’s unusual skill with dialectics and knowledge of Scripture. As a Pharisee, and probably also a later member of the Sanhedrin, the customary age for Paul to have married was about 16 to 18.[13]

Paul apparently left Jerusalem before Christ began his ministry since he gives no hint that he knew either the Savior or his Apostles during Jesus’ ministry. We do not know why Paul suddenly arrived on the scene in Jerusalem; his help may have been requested by acquaintances from his earlier stay in Jerusalem, or he may have come to Jerusalem for the Passover and heard Christians preaching in the synagogue (Acts 6:9). Paul was present at Stephen’s stoning, probably as the Sanhedrin’s representative to see that the sentence was properly carried out. The witnesses who cast the first stones left their outer garments with Paul in order to identify themselves to him (Acts 7:58). Paul describes himself on this occasion as a young man (30+), yet he already occupies a position of responsibility under the Sanhedrin (Acts 26:10). Sperry describes Paul’s activities as "shut men up in prison without fair trial, vote to put some of them [illegally] to death, punish others in their synagogues and compel them to blaspheme, be injurious, and become in turn a blasphemer."[14]

Paul did so well in Jerusalem that he turned his attention to the Christian congregations elsewhere. Paul requested letters of authority addressed to the synagogues in Damascus and set out. Under Roman law, all Jews were subject in religious matters to the Sanhedrin and could be forcibly brought to Jerusalem. The Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, was ineffectual and the Sanhedrin illegally imposed the death penalty numerous times.[15]

Paul was converted on the road to Damascus in mid 36 AD (Gal 1:15-16). Following his conversion Paul went to Arabia for over a year (Gal 1:16-17).[16]

Philip went on a mission to Samaria and Judea.[17]

In late 37 AD Paul returned from Arabia to Damascus (Gal 1:16-17).[18]

Saul's escape from Damascus most likely in 38 AD(Acts 9:223-25; 2 Cor 11:32-33).[19]

Three years after his conversion in 36 AD, Paul's first visit to Jerusalem occurred in 38 AD (Acts 9:26-30; Gal 1:18-19).[20] Barnabas introduced Paul to Peter and John.

James the Just was the brother of Jesus and the bishop of Jerusalem. He came to be known as James the Just because of his character. After Peter fled Jerusalem not later than 44 AD, James the Just is generally believed to have been the chief Christian leader remaining at Jerusalem until his martyrdom in 61.[21]

Paul then arrived in Tarsus still in 38 AD, same year as escaping from Damascus.[22]

While on the road to Damascus, Paul saw his famous vision of Christ (Acts 26:12-18; 1 Cor 9:1).[23] Paul spent three years with the saints in Damascus and became so effective that the Jews there openly plotted to kill him (Acts 9:23; Galatians 1:18).[24]

Paul escaped over the city wall and went to Jerusalem, but except for Barnabas the Christians there all feared him (Gal 1:18). Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus, wealthy, a Hellenist, distinguished in appearance, with a winsome personality (Acts 4:36-37; Acts 14:12). Barnabas introduced Paul to the two Apostles then in Jerusalem, Peter and James the Just. James the Just was the brother of Jesus and Bishop of Jerusalem who wrote the Epistle of James, not one of the original Twelve Apostles. Paul spent two weeks in Peter’s home (1:18-19). Paul preached to the Christians in Jerusalem, then to the Jews. While in the Temple he saw a vision warning him to flee the city, so he left for his hometown of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia (Acts 9:30; Acts 22:17-21).[25]

First gentile conversions, 39-45[edit]

In 39 AD Peter's Judean ministry and conversion of Cornelius. (Acts 10). In late 39 AD Peter is back in Jerusalem reporting to the Twelve on the conversion of gentile Cornelius.[26]

Also in 39 the Apostles, hearing of great missionary successes at Antioch in Syria, sent Barnabas there to regulate the Church.[27] Antioch had previously been the capitol of the Seleucid empire and was the third largest city in the Roman empire after only Rome itself and Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt. In 40 Barnabas brought Saul to join him in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).[28] In late 40 AD at Antioch, Agabus prophesied a famine at Jerusalem.[29]

Persecution of Christians at Jerusalem by Agrippa I ("Herod") during 41-43 AD (Acts 12).[30] In late 42 or early 43 Agrippa I executed the apostle James (Acts 12:2). In April 43 Agrippa I put Peter in prison.[31] Agrippa I then died in September-October 43.[32]

It is possible that also in 43 AD Peter traveled to Rome.[33]

Also in 43 Barnabus and Saul took aid to Jerusalem in connection with the famine prophesied by Agabus. This was Saul's second visit to Jerusalem since his conversion. (Acts 11:29-30; 12:25; ; Col 4:10).[34] In October-November 43 Barnabus and Paul returned from Jerusalem to Antioch, accompanied by Barnabas' nephew John Mark.[35]

Paul's "first" missionary journey, 45-48[edit]

Church leaders in Antioch were inspired to call Barnabas and Saul on a mission. Though Paul had been preaching for years, this mission is known as his "first missionary journey" since it is the first of three missions described in detail in the book of Acts. Barnabas and Paul, accompanied by John Mark, sailed to Cyprus in mid to late 45 (Acts 13:1-5).[36] They preached from Salamis at the east end of the island to the capitol Paphos at the west end. Word of the missionaries preceded them, and the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus sent to hear them himself. The proconsul’s Jewish wizard Elymas withstood their preaching, Paul struck the wizard blind, and the proconsul was converted (Acts 13:4-12). From this point on Luke refers to "Paul" rather than "Saul" and increasingly refers to Paul before Barnabas rather than to Barnabas first.[37] After preaching across the length of Cyprus, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia (map) in the spring of 46. From Perga, John Mark returned home to Jerusalem, which Paul later characterized as abandoning the ministry (Acts 13:13; ____).

Paul and Barnabas traveled north and arrived at Pisidian Antioch in the spring of 46.[38] Here Paul preached in the synagogue, delivering the sermon recorded at length in Acts 13:14-43. The following week the Jews rejected the missionaries' message, and Paul and Barnabas announced for the first time that, having been rejected by the Jews of that place, they would turn instead to the gentiles of that place. The Jews then succeeded in having Paul and Barnabas expelled from Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:44-52).

In mid to late 46 Paul and Barnabas arrived in Iconium and stayed until early 47, when they fled under threat of stoning (Acts 14:1-5).[39] They went next to Lystra, where Paul healed a lame man. The people consequently acclaimed Barnabas as the Greek-Roman god Jupiter, and Paul as Mercury, and the two missionaries barely prevented pagan sacrifices in their honor (Acts 14:8-18). Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium then came and stirred up the people of Lystra against the missionaries. Paul was stoned and left for dead but revived and left with Barnabas the next day, still in the year 47, for Derbe.[40] In mid 48 Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps from Derbe to Perga, stopping to appoint elders in the cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch where they had previously preached.[41] From Perga they sailed back to Antioch in Syria in late 48 (Acts 14:19-28).[42]

The Council of Jerusalem, 49[edit]

In about October-November 48 some church members from Judea arrived in Antioch and began teaching that Christians, in order to be saved, had to follow circumcision as did Moses. They apparently insisted as a test case that Paul’s Greek companion Titus be circumcised. Members of the apostolic church who advocated for continuing to observe the Law of Moses are now called Judaizers. This Judaizer doctrine raised sufficient contention in Antioch that Paul, Barnabas, and others were selected to travel to Jerusalem, lay the matter before the Twelve Apostles, and obtain resolution. They traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, arriving at Jerusalem in about December 48. This was Paul's third visit to Jerusalem since his conversion (Acts 15:1-3; Gal 2:3).[43]

The important conference known as The Council of Jerusalem was held in January 49.[44] During this conference Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and James the Just all spoke against the need to continue observing the Law of Moses, and so it was decided (Acts 15:6-21). The conference appointed Judas Barsabas and Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with an official letter so stating. The letter did, however, place four requirements upon church members to: (1) avoid fornication, (2) avoid eating meat that had been offered to idols, (3) avoid eating meat that had been killed by strangling, and (4) avoid eating blood or meat in its blood. Many of Paul’s subsequent letters would emphasize these points. Judas Barsabas returned to Jerusalem, while Silas remained in Antioch (Acts 15:22-35; Gal 2:1-10).

Peter himself, the chief apostle, arrived in Antioch by February 49. In March or April, Paul publicly rebuked Peter for eating with gentile converts in Antioch only when there were no Jewish converts around to see (Gal 2:11-14).[45]

Also during the year 49, the Roman emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome per Suetonius.[46] At this time Rome did not yet distinguish between Jews and Christians, so the expulsion order applied to Christians as well.(CITE)

Paul's "second" missionary journey, 49-51[edit]

About three years after Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from their first missionary journey, they decided to revisit the cities where they had established branches of the Church. Barnabas insisted that John Mark accompany them, and Paul insisted that he not because he had deserted them partway through their previous mission. In the end, Barnabas returned to his native Cyprus with John Mark, and Paul returned to Asia Minor accompanied by Silas. Silas, or Silvanus, was trusted by the Council of Jerusalem to carry the letter to Antioch, is referred to by Luke as a prophet, and like Paul was a Roman citizen. (Acts 15:32-39; Acts 16:37).[47]

In April-May 49 Barnabas and John Mark departed for Cyprus, while Paul and Silas (Silvanus) depart for Cilicia.[48]

During May-July 49 Paul and Silas traveled through Syria, Cilicia and Galatia until they arrived at Troas (Troy).[49]

Paul and Silas visited Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch (about 51 AD). In Lystra, young Timothy joined them as an assistant much as John Mark had earlier done. Paul was forbidden by the Spirit to preach northward in Asia (Minor), so he ended up due west in Troas, near ancient Troy and the Bosporus. Luke probably joined Paul between Pisidian Antioch and Troas since "we" first appears in Acts 16:10. In Troas Paul had his vision of a man in Macedonia calling to him, so the group took passage to Neapolis, the port of Philippi (Acts 16:2-11).[50]

In August 49 Paul was in Philippi.[51] Soon after arriving in Philippi, Paul & co converted Lydia who was very wealthy and with whom they then stayed. Paul cast a spirit out of a girl who had been following them around. Paul and Silas were summarily beaten and jailed as a result, but miraculously freed at night while praying for deliverance. In the morning Paul & Silas insisted on being treated as Roman citizens before agreeing to leave town (Acts 16:20-39).

In September 49 Paul was in Thessalonica.[52] He preached in the synagogue there for three Sabbaths with great success. The Jews then started a riot which overran Jason’s house where Paul & Silas had been staying. Jason was placed under bail. A second riot could have cost Jason all he possessed, so Paul & co felt obliged to leave (Acts 17:1-10).

In October-November 49 Paul was in Berea and Athens.[53] Paul & co had great success in Beroea until the Thessalonican Jews came and caused a riot there, too. Paul left the city, under an escort of friends for his safety, for Athens. Silas and Timothy soon joined him there, but he sent them back to Philippi and Thessalonica, respectively, to finish establishing the Churches there (Acts 17:10-16; 1 Thes 3:1-2; Philip 4:15).[54] In Athens the Council desired to hear Paul as a novelty. Paul’s audience thought the concept of the resurrection was hilarious and the meeting broke up when Paul reached that concept. (Acts 17:19-21, 31-34).

In December 49 Paul arrived in Corinth. Eighteen months later, still in Corinth, he was attacked and brought before the Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (define), in June 51 AD (Acts 18:2, 12).[55]

Corinth was the political and commercial capital of Achaia or southern Greece, possibly the wealthiest city in Greece, and known throughout the Empire for its loose sexual habits. While there, Paul lived and worked during the week with Aquila and Priscilla who were also tentmakers. When the Jews became abusive, the Christians (including Crispus, the chief of the synagogue) held meetings next door in the house of Justus. Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul from Philippi and Thessalonica, at which point he wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians to the young congregation. When the references to the nearness or not of the Second Coming were apparently misinterpreted, he followed up with his Second Epistle to the Thesalonians which was clearer on this point. When Gallio became the new Achaian Proconsul, the Jews took Paul before him, but he immediately dismissed the case and the Jews instead beat their ringleader in his presence. Paul spent a year and a half to two years in Corinth. Silas is never mentioned again after Paul leaves Corinth. Add references.

Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians in 50 or 51 AD while in Corinth.[56]

In early August 51 Paul left Corinth for Syria.[57]

Paul set sail with Aquila and Priscilla (Fall of about 53 AD) for Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem. Neither Timothy nor Silas is mentioned. While the ship changed cargo at Ephesus, Paul preached in the synagogue and was even asked to stay. Paul promised to return. Paul continued on to Jerusalem (Fourth Visit) and then to Antioch. Paul had been gone for 2-1/2 to 3 years and spent probably at least 6 months back in Antioch (Acts to 18:23).[58]

Paul arrived in Caesarea in mid September 51.[59]

Paul's fourth visit to Jerusalem occurred in ____ AD (Acts 18:22).[60] Paul greets the church at Jerusalem.

Paul's "third" missionary journey, 52-55[edit]

Paul was in Galatia and Phrygia in January-March 52.[61]

In early 52 Appollos was in Ephesus.[62]

In March 52 Appollos went to Corinth.[63]

In April 52 Paul arrived behind Apollos in Ephesus.[64]

In April-June 52 Paul taught at the synagogue in Ephesus.[65]

At some point in 52 Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians.[66]

For two years from July 52 to June 54 Paul taught in the hall of Tyrannus.[67]

Paul may have written Galatians in 53.[68]

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in April-May 54.[69]

In June 54 Paul decides to travel to Jerusalem via Macedonia and Achaia, decides to go to Rome, and sends Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia.[70]

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians in July 54.[71]

In August 54 Paul left Ephesus.[72]

In September-November 54 Paul followed to Macedonia.[73]

Paul remained in Greece during December 54 - March 55.[74]

Paul wrote Romans in early 55.[75]

Peter may have arrived at Rome in 55.[76]

In early May 55 Paul left Philippi. In mid May he was in Troas for seven days. In late May he met with the Ephesian elders in Miletus. In mid-late June 55 Paul arrived in Jerusalem.[77]

Following his stay at Antioch, Paul again went through Galatia and Phrygia before returning to Ephesus as promised from the north (Summer of about 54 AD) (Acts 18:23-19:1).[78]. Ephesus was the main transfer point between Rome and the East, the seat of the Proconsul for the province of Asia, the most prosperous and influential city in Asia Minor, and its Temple of Diana/Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the world.[79] Apollos was a brilliant, powerful and learned Alexandrian Jew who preceded Paul to Ephesus. He preached the baptism of John until Aquila and Priscilla taught him about Christ. Appollos then continued on to Corinth (Acts 18:24-19:2).[80]

Paul also met a dozen of those who had been “baptized . . . unto the baptism of John” and converted them (Acts 19:1-7). Paul rented a hall in the afternoons from Tyrannus and disputed daily there for two years after being rejected in the synagogue? (Acts 19:8-11). Paul’s renown for healings was such that people sent him handkerchiefs to be healed (Acts 19:11-12). The sons of Sceva attempted to cast out an evil spirit by “Jesus whom Paul preaches,” and as a result many people burned their books of magic (Acts 19:13-19). Paul’s teaching finally cut into the tourist business associated with the festival of Diana. Demetrius the souvenirmaker-silversmith raised a riot and filled the 25,000-seat theater with people yelling "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" for two hours (19:24-41).[81]

Paul had intended to visit Macedonia via Corinth on both the way there and on the way back before returning to Jerusalem, but instead went via Troas with Timothy and Gaius when driven out of Ephesus ahead of schedule (2 Corinthians 1:1; Acts 20:4). Early on in his three year stay at Ephesus, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians. This was then followed by what we call the First (Second) Epistle to the Corinthians (2 Cor 12:7-13, 18).[82]. Then Paul apparently made a quick trip in person to Corinth, maybe after two years in Ephesus.[83] Then apparently a third letter sent with Titus (2 Cor 8:6, 18, 23). Paul hoped to intercept Titus in Troas on his return, but arrived ahead of Titus’ schedule as a result of his early departure from Ephesus (2 Cor 2:12-13). So Paul hurried on into Macedonia. Paul set to work while waiting for Titus to bring word of how the Corinthians had responded to his letter by building up the churches in the area and preparing the collection for the Jerusalem poor. (Pay more attention to where the one or more collections fit into all this). We now hear from Luke again after six years of silence. in Philippi? (Acts 20:2; 2 Cor 7:5; 8:1-5).[84] Titus reported that the Corinthians were reconciled to Paul, whereupon Paul dispatched his Second (Fourth) Epistle to the Corinthians with Titus and two companions (Luke?) in the late summer or early fall of 57 AD (2 Cor 8:18, 22). Redo par.

Paul remained in Macedonia for a while longer, and this may be when he visited Illyricum to the northwest of Macedonia. (Acts 20:1-2; Rom 15:19-20). Paul & co then went to Greece and stayed for three months, most of which was likely spent in Corinth with Gaius? on his third visit there (Dec 57-Feb 58?). (2 Cor 12:14; 13:1; Romans 16:23).

Paul's epistles to the Romans and Galatians were also both written about this time, likely in Corinth, and bear strong resemblance to Second Corinthians in thought and language [85] Hebrews, Romans and Galatians are his anti-Judaizer epistles. Paul had been dealing with this theme for years, and much of Gal 2:15-5:13 and Romans 9-11 may have already existed as integral units that were incorporated into these epistles as appropriate [86] The Judaizers threatened Paul's authority, the doctrine of justification by faith rather than works, and the prospect of future Gentile conversions.[87]

The church at Rome was already well established and influential by the time of Paul’s first contact with it. Paul had long desired to preach in Spain which was being rapidly developed by the emperors, and Rome would make a logical base of operations. To carry out his project thus, Paul would need the cooperation and assistance of the church at Rome. The Epistle to the Romans was written in preparation for Paul’s visit in order to introduce himself and his doctrine to the church there and to gain its acceptance. Paul’s other epistles, in contrast, were written in response to particular crises which needed to be resolved in churches that Paul had founded, and his discussion of broad doctrinal issues was done as a means of resolving the particular issue at hand. Romans, in contrast, was not written to correct any particular pressing problems other than possible misperceptions of who he might be, especially any bad reputation at the hands of Judaizers. Romans is a calm, unimpassioned exposition of his theology. In Romans he also dwells on the doctrine of justification by faith, a doctrine in contrast to that of the Judaizers.[88] See Sperry 196 on Rom 15-16.

It is unclear whether Galatians was written to the southern Galatians of Derbe, etc or to those in the north, and there is much academic dispute as to when Galatians was in fact written, but 57 AD seems likely. MORE.

Paul left Corinth after three months (about Feb 58), and left by land for Phillipi to avoid a Jewish plot on his life. Paul had wanted to go straight to Jerusalem by sea so as to arrive in time for the Passover, but was delayed in finding a ship at Phillipi. On the Sabbath before sailing from nearby Troas, Paul preached so long that a boy fell out of the window and died, but Paul raised him up (Acts 20:7-12). When his ship stopped at Miletus, 30 miles from Ephesus, the Ephesian saints came and Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesian saints. They all knelt and prayed with him before he boarded the ship (Acts 20:15-37). The ship stopped for a week at Tyre, and while there the saints warned Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, but he was determined to do so. They also knelt and prayed with him before he boarded the ship (Acts 21:1-7). At Caesarea, Agabus bound Paul’s hands and feet with his own girdle as a prophecy that Paul would be likewise bound, but Paul was still determined to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-14).[89]

Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea, 55-57[edit]

Paul's fifth visit to Jerusalem since his conversion began with his arrival at Jerusalem in mid-late June 55 (Acts 21:15-17).[90] At end of third missionary journey.

Paul arrived at Jerusalem under a Nazarite vow, and while there went through seven days of purification, at the end of which he was obliged to cross the Temple courtyards. The Jews falsely accused him of bringing Gentiles into the Temple grounds and “the whole city” was moved against him. A Roman garrison rescued him from the mob. Paul was allowed to address them from the steps of the Roman barracks, but at the mention of his commission to preach to the Gentiles the mob was again incensed. The next day the tribune brought Paul before the Sanhedrin to learn what might be the cause of all the uproar. Paul recognized a kangaroo court, set the competing Jewish factions against each other, and again had to be saved from violence by the Roman soldiers. The Jews plotted to have him again brought before the Sanhedrin and to kill him there, so the tribune sent him to the Procurator Felix at Caesarea (Acts 21:18-23:22).[91]

In early July Paul was put in prison at Caesarea and defended himself before Felix.[92]

Five days later Ananias and the Jews pressed their case before Felix. After Paul’s short defense, Felix adjourned the trial but held Paul until he could verify the treason charge with the tribune. Felix and his wife Drusilla, a Jewess, interviewed Paul about Christianity, but became uncomfortable and adjourned this interview. Felix was recalled after two years and left Paul still in prison (about July 60 AD).

In late summer 55 Paul stood trial for the second time before Felix and Drusilla.[93]

In early July 57 Paul's case was discussed by Festus and the chief priests of Jerusalem.[94]

In mid July 57 Paul appealed to Caesar during third trial hearing before Festus.[95]

The Jews promptly appeared before Festus, the new governor, to press their case against Paul. Festus asked Paul if he would be willing to stand trial before the Sanhedrin with himself sitting in, but Paul felt an ambush coming from the Jews and appealed to Caesar. King Agrippa II then visited Festus from Galilee and, being quite knowledgeable in Jewish affairs and descended from the Maccabees, Festus asked Agrippa’s opinion of Paul’s case before forwarding his opinion to Rome. Agrippa agreed that Paul had done no wrong and could be set free had he not appealed to Rome (Acts 25:1-26:32).[96]

In August 57 Paul's makes defense before Agrippa and Bernice.[97]

Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome, 57-62[edit]

In September 57 Paul left Caesarea.[98]

In early October 57 Paul arrived at Fair Havens on Crete.[99]

In early November 57 Paul was shipwrecked on Malta.[100]

In early February 58 Paul left Malta.[101]

Paul finally arrived in Rome in March 58.[102]

Paul’s boat made slow progress from mid August to early October, at which point navigation in the eastern Mediterranean usually became dangerous. Paul warned the centurion to stay put at Fair Havens on Crete, but the centurion decided to try for a more congenial port to winter in. The ship was soon driven back and eventually wrecked on the island of Malta. The natives warmed the wreck’s victims by the fire, and Paul was bitten by a poisonous viper but with no ill effect. Paul then cured the father of the governor of the island of dysentery, and all the sick people on the island came to Paul and were healed. After three months, Paul & co gained passage on another ship to Puteoli on the Bay of Naples. Making their way to Rome along the Appian Road, Paul was met by groups of saints at the Appii Forum and at Tres Tabernae. Ariving in Rome, Paul was accorded the privilege of living in a private residence outside the military barracks (Acts 27:1-28:16).[103]

After three days in Rome, Paul asked the leading Jews in Rome to meet with him to overcome any prejudice, but they had heard nothing of him or his case. He later took an entire day preaching to them with the usual result that some believed and some did not (Acts 28:17-31).[104]

Paul was released from custody at Rome and left for Spain in sprig 60.[105]

In spring 60 Paul released from prison at Rome and left for Spain.[106]

In 62 James the Just, the brother of Jesus, was martyred.[107]

The traditional view is that James was written by James the Just, the brother of Jesus and bishop of Jerusalem. Alternatives have been proposed, but none has achieved won a majority view.[108] 1 Cor 15:7; Acts 1:14, 22; also Acts 12:17; 15:12-29; 21:18-25; Jude - are all of the references to him. Killed per Josephus Antiquities after death of Festus and before arrival of his replacement Albinus in 62, that the new high priest Ananus II had the Sanhedrin convict and kill him. stoned.Hiebert 336.

Peter and Paul again at Rome, the synoptic gospels, 63-70[edit]

Despite being expelled a decade earlier in 49 (and before that in 139 BC and 19 BC), by the 60's there were probably 30,000 - 40,000 Jews in Rome. - find a more reliable source [109]

Peter to Rome in about AD 63? - Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 92. Also 1 Pet 5:13 (Babylon means Rome; Mark 15:21; Rom 16:13 - so Mark in Rome with Peter so identify in his gospel members known to be at Rome.

Meanwhile, at some point during the year between spring 64 and spring 65 Paul was in Crete, where he left Titus.[110]

During the spring-summer 65 Paul was in Ephesus, where he left Timothy.[111]

During the summer-fall 65 Paul was in Macedonia.[112]

During winter 65-66 Paul was in Nicopolis. Demas to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.[113]

During spring to fall 66 Paul was in Ephesus.[114]

During winter 66-67 Paul was in Troas.[115]

In spring 67 Paul was arrested and sent to Rome.[116]

Colossians and Philemon in 62 AD at Rome?

Ephesians in 62 AD at Rome?

Philippians in 63 AD at Rome?

1 Timothy in 63 AD at Macedonia?

Titus in 63 Ad at Corinth?

Hebrews in 64 AD?

2 Timothy in 66 AD at Rome?

Paul wrote the Epistles to the Colossians, Phileman, the Ephesians and the Philippians while in prison; it is generally presumed that this means in Rome. The first three were almost certainly written as a group, and Philippians at about the same time. Colossae was a small town of faded importance about ten miles from Laodicea and Hierapolis. We do not know that Paul ever visited the city, but Epaphras and Philemon were natives of the city and good friends of Paul. Philemon and Onesimus. Ephesians not to them because no personal salutations, but similar. Philippians to his old friends. These were to more mature congregations, and Judaism, asceticism and gnosticism are all three addressed. MORE.

In late 67 or early 68 Peter and Paul were both martyred at Rome.[117] This per Clement in about 95. Under Nero.

The consensus view among those who accept Peter's authorship of the epistles that bear his name is that he wrote them during the last years of his life while at Rome during the early to mid 60's, 1 Peter probably before Nero began persecuting Christians in __, and 2 Peter at some point before his death in 67-68 AD.[118]

Jude is generally believed to be Jude, the brother of James the Just, and thus also the brother of Christ. The similarities between Jude and 2 Peter 2 are clear. The order of composition is less clear, but the majority view among scholars is that Peter borrowed from Jude. This would put Jude prior to 67 AD.[119]

The gospel of Mark was written by John Mark. The traditional and consensus view is that Mark wrote his gospel at Rome for gentile readers, and for gentile readers at Rome in particular, based upon information obtained while serving with Peter.[120] This would place it during Peter's stay there, or peraps completed soon afterward.[121]

Pappias wrote that: "Mark, having become Peter's interpreter, wrote accurately as many things as he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things spoken and done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor did he follow him, but afterwards ... he followed Peter, who used to give his teachings according to the needs [of the situation], but not as though he were making a connected account of the Lord's sayings. So then Mark did no wrong in writing down single things just as he recalled them. For he had one purpose only: to omit nothing of what he had heard, and to state nothing falsely." - Get from Studies in Scripture.

The virtual consensus is that the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by Luke as two halves of a single book. Much of Acts is written in the first person "I" or "we", and it is generally thought that these portions are based upon Luke's personal experience as a missionary companion of Paul (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-5; 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). Luke was a Greek-speaking physician.[122] As for the material in Luke and the early chapters of Acts in which neither Luke nor Paul was personally involved, it is generally thought that Luke obtained this material while Paul was imprisoned at Jerusalem during ___-___ by interviewing people who had been involved in or at least very close to those events. CITE. Where Mark used Latinisms, Luke used Greekisms. Hiebert 130-31. Luke and Mark knew each other at Rome while Peter and Paul were there (Col 4:10-14). Most likely that Luke after Mark, but could have been very soon after; so most likely after 65 Ad, but coul dbe either before or after 70 AD.

The gospel of Matthew was written by the apostle Matthew based upon his personal experience with Christ during Christ's ministry. It was most likely written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 (see 24:15-17; 27:8; 28:15). But there is general scholarly consensus that it followed and drew from Mark, so between 66-68 AD. It is obviously directed to those with Jewish backgrounds.[123]

The Book of Acts ends at this point, but there are traditions that were widespread at a very early date concerning the rest of Paul’s ministry.[124] Paul was probably released from prison two years later in 63 AD (Acts 28:30). It is likely that he spent the remainder of that year visiting the Philippians, Colossians, and others around the Aegean. (Philip 1:26; 2:24; Philem 22). It is widely believed that he then spent two years in Spain.

Paul left Ephesus for Nicopolis in Epirus (winter of about 67-68). Paul was arrested there and sent to Rome. Conditions had changed and this time he was poorly treated. Rome had burned in 64 AD, and Nero had blamed the Christians to deflect anger from himself. Moreover, Nero had been in Greece during Paul’s first imprisonment but was now in Rome. Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy during this second imprisonment. Jerome says Paul was executed between October 67 and June 68.[125]

The authorship of the three Pastoral Epistles was never questioned until 1801. The current questions are based on differences on style and content. I believe the content is different because the times had changed and more particularly because he was writing to his fellow laborers rather than wayward congregations. I cannot judge differences in style and have not been convinced one way or the other by the commentators.[126]

When Paul wrote the first of these epistles, he had been a Christian for almost twenty years, and the epistles span only about another ten years. In the earlier letters Paul contrasts the Gospel with Judaism, but in the later letters he is more concerned with the threat from within, Gnosticism and Gentile speculation. But the ideas themselves do not change.[127]

Paul knew that his letters would be read aloud to the congregation, and even directs in Col 4:16 that the Colossians and the Laodiceans exchange epistles and read them aloud as well.[128] Paul's letters, however, always address real, pressing, specific problems encountered in the particular congregation to whichg he was writing. Paul does not write sermons disguised as letters, but rather his immediate object is always to deal with a particular question. Paul's epistles deal with large principles, but always in light of concrete situations. Thus, none of the epistles can be properly understood until we first understand the object for which each letter was written as well as the circumstances and character of the intended audience. What Paul does is address a specific question in terms of overall doctrinal background, an effective means of putting the question in perspective and making his answer self-evident, as well as teaching later readers about that larger doctrinal background[129]

In Thess he does not introduce himself as an apostle - because he was not yet or because that had not been challenged yet?

Paul often introduces important subjects with “I would not have you be ignorant, brethren ...”

He writes to Philemon as Paul the aged (1:9).

For Gal 2:1-10,11-14 see Sperry (52-)63-65

John's writing at Ephesus, 70-100[edit]

There was a strong tradition among the early church fathers that John was at Ephesus for much of 70-98 AD.[130] There is little to indicate when John wrote his three epistles, how much time elapsed between each, or even the order in which they were written. But based on the little that scholars have to go on, the consensus guess is that the Epistles of John were most likely written while he was at Ephesus during about 80-100 AD, the same environment described in the seven letters in John's Revelation.[131]

Ditto for his gospel.[132] The gospel of John was written by the apostle John based upon his personal experience with Christ during Christ's ministry. It is written so that "ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31). Not prove, but explain, and shows Christ as more distinctively the son of God - think the Prologue.

The apostle John was exiled from Ephesus to the nearby island of Patmos by the emperor Domitian from about __ until Domitian's death in 96. While on Patmos, John received a revelation, which he wrote down as the book of Revelation, or The Apocalypse of John. The consensus view is that Revelation was written during the last years of Domitian's reign, or about 95 AD. This would make it the last book written of the New Testament.[133]

The tradition is that John left Ephesus at the reign of Trajan, beginning in 98 AD. (Nerva 96-98).


This section is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link to the right to add a resource. →

  • Akin, Daniel L. The New American Commentary, Vol. 38: 1-3 John. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001. (ISBN 0805401385). BS2805.53 .A45 2001.
  • Anderson, Richard Lloyd. Understanding Paul. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983. (ISBN 0877479844).
  • Davids, Peter H. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. Grand Rapdis, Michigan: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 2006 (ISBN 1844741519 or 1844741516). BS2795.53 .D38 2006.
  • Hiebert, D. Edmond. The Epistle of James. Chicago: Moody Press, 1978. (ISBN 0802423531). BS2785.3 .H53 1978.
  • Hiebert, D. Edmond. An Introduction to the New Testament, Vol. 1: The Gospels and Acts. Chicago: Moody Press, 1975. (ISBN 080441475). BS 2555.2 .H48 1975.
  • Patterson, Paige. The New American Commentary, Vol. 39: Revelation. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2012. (ISBN 0805401394). BS2825.53 .P38 2012.
  • Schreiner, Thomas R. The New American Commentary, Vol. 37: 1-2 Peter, Jude. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2012. (ISBN 0805401377). BS2795.3 .S34 2003.
  • Scott, ____.
  • Sperry, Sidney B. Paul's Life & Letters. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955.
  • Steinmann. Andrew E. From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. (ISBN 0758627998). BS637.3 .S74 2011.
  • Yarbrough, Robert W. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1-3 John. (ISBN 0801026874). BS2803.53 .Y37 2008.


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.

  1. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  2. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  3. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 300, 342.
  4. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  5. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  6. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  7. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 301.
  8. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 301, 342.
  9. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342.
  10. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 3-4.
  11. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 1-2.
  12. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 4-6.
  13. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 7-8.
  14. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 9-14.
  15. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 15-16.
  16. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 342-43.
  17. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  18. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  19. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 301-02, 343.
  20. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 308.
  21. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, 9-10.
  22. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  23. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 17-18.
  24. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 23-26.
  25. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 27-29.
  26. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  27. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  28. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  29. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  30. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 303-04.
  31. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  32. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  33. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  34. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 306, 343.
  35. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  36. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  37. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 35, 38-41.
  38. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  39. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  40. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  41. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  42. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  43. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 306, 343.
  44. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 306, 343.
  45. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 343.
  46. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 305.
  47. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 67-68.
  48. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  49. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  50. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 69-74.
  51. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  52. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  53. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  54. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 83-87.
  55. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 304-05, 344, noting that the date of Paul's stay in Corinth provides the benchmark from which it is possible to calculate the dates of other events beginning with the end of Paul's first missionary journey and extending to the end of the book of Acts.
  56. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  57. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  58. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, __-108.
  59. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  60. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 306.
  61. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  62. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  63. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  64. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  65. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  66. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  67. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  68. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  69. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  70. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  71. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  72. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  73. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  74. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  75. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 344.
  76. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  77. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  78. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 110.
  79. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 111-12.
  80. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 110-11.
  81. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 1122-15, 138-40.
  82. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 116; Scott, ____.
  83. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 115-16.
  84. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 138-43.
  85. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 158; Bligh, ____.
  86. Bligh, ____.
  87. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 161-62.
  88. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 179-82.
  89. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 201-06.
  90. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 306, 345.
  91. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 207-13.
  92. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  93. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  94. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  95. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  96. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 217-20.
  97. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  98. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  99. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  100. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  101. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  102. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  103. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 222-28.
  104. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 229-32.
  105. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  106. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  107. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  108. Hiebert, The Epistle of James, 25
  109. Griffith-Jones, The Four Witnesses, 49-50.
  110. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  111. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  112. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  113. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  114. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  115. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  116. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  117. Steinmann, From Abraham to Paul, 345.
  118. Schreiner, 1-2 Peter, Jude, 36-37.
  119. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, 141-43.
  120. Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 81-94.
  121. see, e.g., Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 92-94.
  122. Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 114-24.
  123. Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 61-66.
  124. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 267-268.
  125. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 296-303.
  126. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, 286-87.
  127. Scott, ____, 112.
  128. Scott, ____, 109.
  129. Scott, ____, 110-11.
  130. Yarbrough, 1-3 John, 16-17, quoting Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.23.1-2 which in turn quotes Irenaues, Against Heresies, 2.22.5; 3.3.4 and Clement, Salvation of the Rich, 42.
  131. Yarbrough, 1-3 John, 16-17; Akin, 1-3 John, 27-28.
  132. Hiebert, The Gospels and Acts, 221-23.
  133. Patterson, Revelation, 21-23.

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