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What is the basic timeline of the New Testament?

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The New Testament timeline covers only about seventy years. Although the Gospels and the book of Acts give us a fairly good idea of the sequence of events, we do not have the exact years in which things happened. We do not even know for certain in which years Jesus was born and crucified.

The Ministry of Jesus
Jesus born: 6-4 B.C. (Luke 2)
King Herod dies: 4 B.C. (Matthew 2:19)
The Young Jesus in the Temple: 8 A.D. (Luke 2:41-52)
Beginning of John the Baptist's Ministry: 26 A.D. (Matthew 3)
Chronology of Jesus' Public Ministry
- Jesus baptized (Mark 1:9-11)
- 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11)
- Gathers first disciples (John 1:35-51)
- Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)
- Nicodemus (John 2:23-3:21)
- Chooses twelve disciples (Luke 6:12-16)
- Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
- Raises widow's son (Luke 7:11-17)
- John the Baptist killed (Matthew 14:1-12)
- Feeds 5000 (Mark 6:30-44)
- Refuses to be king (John 6:14-59)
- Feeds 4000 (Matthew 15:30-38)
- Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)
- Stoning attempt (John 8:21-59)
- Sends out the seventy (Luke 10:1-24)
- Raises Lazarus: (John 11:1-44)
Jesus crucified and raised: 30 A.D. (John 18-20)
Jesus' Ascension: 30 A.D. (Acts 1:1-11)

The years in the New Testament timeline are approximate because, contrary to what logic would tell us, Jesus was not born at the fulcrum of B.C./A.D. It has been established that Herod died in 4 B.C., so Jesus must have been born before. The year of the beginning of His ministry is taken from Luke 3:1-2, which describes John the Baptist's debut in relation to current political leaders, and Luke 3:23, which says Jesus was "about thirty."

The Early Church
Pentecost: 30 A.D. (Acts 2)
First Persecutions: 35 A.D. (Acts 3-4)
Paul on the Road to Damascus: 36 A.D. (Acts 9)
Writing of the Book of Matthew: 43 A.D.
Execution of James (brother of John): 44-45 A.D. (Acts 12:2)
Execution of Philip: 54 A.D.
Nero Emperor of Rome: 54 A.D. – 68 A.D.
Writing of Book of Romans: 58 A.D.
Execution of Matthew: 60 A.D.
Writing of Book of James: 62 A.D.
Writing of 1 Peter: 63 A.D.
Writing of Acts: 63 A.D.
Writing of Book of Mark: 64 A.D.
Writing of 2 Peter: 65 A.D.
Execution of Peter: 64-67 A.D.
Jerusalem falls to Rome: 70 A.D.
Execution of Thomas, possibly in India: 72 A.D.
Writing of Jude: 75 A.D.
Writing of John's Gospel: 85 A.D.
Writing of John's Letters: 90 A.D.
John on Patmos: 96 A.D.
Writing of Book of Revelation: 97 A.D.
Apostle John Dies: 100 A.D.

Unfortunately, the New Testament does not give a precise timeline for these significant events—apparently God doesn't think we need them. The dates regarding the writings of the Gospels, especially, may be off by as much as 15 years. The dates of the deaths of the apostles are through church tradition, as the only death mentioned in the Bible is that of James the brother of the Apostle John in Acts 12:2.

The Ministry of Paul
Paul on the Road to Damascus: 36 A.D. (Acts 9)
First Missionary Trip Begins: 48 A.D. (Acts 13-14)
Second Missionary Trip Begins: 51 A.D. (Acts 15:36-18:22)
Writing of 1 & 2 Thessalonians: 52-53 A.D.
Third Missionary Trip Begins: 54 A.D. (Acts 18-21)
Writing of 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans: 57-58 A.D.
Arrested in Jerusalem: 58 A.D. (Acts 21:26-22:29)
Travels to Rome: 60-61 A.D. (Acts 27:1-28:16)
First Roman Imprisonment: 62-63 A.D. (Acts 28:16-31)
Writing of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon: 62 A.D.
Writing of Hebrews, 1 Timothy, Titus: 63 A.D.
Second Roman Imprisonment: 65-66 A.D.
Writing of 2 Timothy: 66 A.D.
Execution of Paul: 66 A.D.

Since Paul's journeys are chronicled in the book of Acts, and his dense ministry lasted only about twenty years, the New Testament gives us a few more clues as to the timeline of Paul. It's important to note that Paul's first imprisonment in Rome was a kind of house arrest, but his second was a brutal stay in a Roman prison. Ignatius (who served as the third Bishop of Antioch and likely knew Paul) recorded around 110 A.D. that Paul was killed by Nero in the mid-60s. Since he was a Roman citizen, he was not crucified (as tradition says Peter was), but beheaded.

Related Truth:

What were the key events in the life of Jesus?

What is the basic timeline of the Old Testament?

Why should we read the Old Testament?

Why does God seem different in the Old Testament and the New Testament?

Why did some people's name change in the Bible?

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