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§ 23. Chronology of the Apostolic Age.
See the works quoted in § 20 p. 193, 194, especially Wieseler. Comp. also, Hackett on Acts, pp. 22 to 30 (third ed.).
The chronology of the apostolic age is partly certain, at least within a few years, partly conjectural: certain as to the principal events from a.d. 30 to 70, conjectural as to intervening points and the last thirty years of the first century. The sources are the New Testament (especially the Acts and the Pauline Epistles), Josephus, and the Roman historians. Josephus ( b. 37, d. 103) is especially valuable here, as he wrote the Jewish history down to the destruction of Jerusalem.
The following dates are more or less certain and accepted by most historians:
1. The founding of the Christian Church on the feast of Pentecost in May a.d. 30. This is on the assumption that Christ was born b.c. 4 or 5, and was crucified in April a.d. 30, at an age of thirty-three.
3. The Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, a.d. 50 (Acts 15:1 sqq.; Gal. 2:1–10). This date is ascertained by reckoning backwards to Paul’s conversion, and forward to the Caesarean captivity. Paul was probably converted in 37, and "fourteen years" elapsed from that event to the Council. But chronologists differ on the year of Paul’s conversion, between 31 and 40.246246 See Hist. Apost. Ch. § 63, p. 235, and § 67, p. 265. The allusion to the governorship of Aretas in Damascus, 2 Cor. 11:32, 33, furnishes no certain date, owing to the defects of our knowledge of that period; but other indications combined lead to the year 37. Wieseler puts Paul’s conversion in the year 40, but this follows from his erroneous view of the journey mentioned in Gal. 2:1, which he identifies with Paul’s fourth journey to Jerusalem in 54, instead of his third journey to the Council four years earlier.
4. The dates of the Epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans, between 56 and 58. The date of the Epistle to the Romans can be fixed almost to the month from its own indications combined with the statements of the Acts. It was written before the apostle had been in Rome, but when he was on the point of departure for Jerusalem and Rome on the way to Spain,247247 Rom. 1:13, 15, 22; 15:23-28; comp. Acts 19:21; 20:16; 23:11; 1 Cor. 16:3. after having finished his collections in Macedonia and Achaia for the poor brethren in Judaea;248248 Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8 and 9; Acts 24:17. and he sent the epistle through Phebe, a deaconess of the congregation in the eastern port of Corinth, where he was at that time.249249 Rom. 16:1, 23; comp. Acts 19:22; 2 Tim. 4:20; 1 Cor. 1:14. These indications point clearly to the spring of the year 58, for in that year he was taken prisoner in Jerusalem and carried to Caesarea.
5. Paul’s captivity in Caesarea, a.d. 58 to 60, during the procuratorship of Felix and Festus, who changed places in 60 or 61, probably in 60. This important date we can ascertain by combination from several passages in Josephus, and Tacitus.250250 See Wieseler, l. c., pp. 67 sqq. It enables us at the same time, by reckoning backward, to fix some preceding events in the life of the apostle.
6. Paul’s first captivity in Rome, a.d. 61 to 63. This follows from the former date in connection with the statement in Acts 28:30.
7. The Epistles of the Roman captivity, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, a.d. 61–63.
8. The Neronian persecution, a.d. 64 (the tenth year of Nero, according to Tacitus). The martyrdom of Paul and Peter occurred either then, or (according to tradition) a few years later. The question depends on the second Roman captivity of Paul.
9. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a.d. 70 (according to Josephus and Tacitus).
10. The death of John after the accession of Trajan, a.d. 98 (according to general ecclesiastical tradition).
The dates of the Synoptical Gospels, the Acts, the Pastoral Epistles, the Hebrews, and the Epistles of Peter, James, and Jude cannot be accurately ascertained except that they were composed before the destruction of Jerusalem, mostly between 60 and 70. The writings of John were written after that date and towards the close of the first century, except the Apocalypse, which some of the best scholars, from internal indications assign to the year 68 or 69, between the death of Nero and the destruction of Jerusalem.
The details are given in the following table:
Chronological Table of the Apostolic Age.
Events In Palestine
Events In The Roman Empire
b.c. 5 or 4
Birth of Christ
Death of Herod I. or the Great (a.u. 750, or b.c. 4).
Augustus Emperor of Rome, B. C. 27-a.d. 14.
His visit to the Temple at twelve years of age
Cyrenius (Quirinius), Governor of Syria (for the second time). The registration, or "taxing." Acts 5:37. Revolt of "Judas of Galilee." Coponius Procurator of Judaea. Marcus Ambivius Procurator.
Tiberius colleague of Augustus
Annius Rufus Procurator (about)
Valerius Gratus Procurator
Augustus dies. Tiberius sole emperor (14–37)
Pontius Pilate Procurator from a.d. 26
Caiaphas high priest from a.d. 26
His three years’ ministry.
His Crucifixion, Resurrection (April), and Ascension (May).
Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Birthday of the Church (May). Acts, ch. 2.
Marcellus Procurator. Pilate sent to Rome by the Prefect of Syria.
Maryllus appointed Hipparch.
Herod Agrippa I King of Judea and Samaria
Caligula Emperor (37–41)
Philo at Rome
Claudius Emperor (41-54).
Persecution of the Church in Jerusalem. James the Elder, the son of Zebedee, beheaded. Peter imprisoned and delivered. He leaves Palestine. Acts 12:2–23. Paul's second visit to Jerusalem, with alms from the church at Antioch. Acts 11:30.
Herod Agrippa I dies at Caesarea
Conquest of Britain, 43-51.
Paul is set apart as an apostle. Acts 13:2.
Cuspius Fadus Procurator of Judea. Tiberius Alexander Procurator
Ventidius Cumanus Procurator
Paul's first missionary journey with Barnabas and Mark, Cyprus, Pisidia, Lystra, Derbe. Return to Antioch. Acts chs. 13 and 14. The Epistle of James (variously dated from 44 to 62). The apostolic council of Jerusalem. Conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christianity. Paul's third visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. Peaceful adjustment of the quesiton of circumcision. Acts, ch. 15 and Gal. 2:1-10. Temporary collision with Peter and Barnabas at Antioch. Gal. 2:11-14.
Paul sets out on his second missionary journey from Antioch to Asia Minor (Cilicia, Lycaonia, Galatia, Troas) and Greece (Philippi, Thessalonica, Beraea, Athens, Corinth). The Christianization of Europe. Acts, 15:36 to 18:22.
Antonius Felix Procurator
Paul at Corinth a year and a half. Writes First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians from Corinth.
The Tetrarchy of Trachonitis given to Herod Agrippa II (the last of the Herodian family).
Decree of Claudius banishing Jews from Rome.
Paul’s, fourth visit to Jerusalem (spring). Short stay at Antioch. Enters (autumn, 54) on his third missionary journey, occupying about four years. Paul at Ephesus, 54 to 57. Acts, ch. 19.
Nero Emperor (54-68).
Revolt of the Sicarii, headed by an Egyptian (Acts, 21:38).
Paul writes to the Galatians (?) from Ephesus, or from some part of Greece on his journey to Corinth (57). Acts, ch. 20.
Paul writes First Epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus; starts for Macedonia and writes Second Epistle to the Corinthians from Macedonia.
Epistle to the Romans from Corinth, where he spent three months. He visits (the fifth time) Jerusalem; is apprehended, brought before Felix, and imprisoned at Caesarea for two years. Acts, 21:37 to 26:31.
Paul appears before Festus, appeals to Caesar, is sent to Italy (in autumn). Shipwreck at Malta. Acts, chs. 27 and 28.
Porcius Festus Procurator
Arrives a prisoner at Rome (in spring).
Embassy from Jerusalem to Rome respecting the wall.
War with Boadicea in Britian
Paul writes to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, from his prison in Rome.
Apollonius of Tyana at the Olympic games
Martyrdom of James, the Lord’s brother, at Jerusalem (according to Josephus, or 69 according to Hegesippus).
Josephus at Rome
Paul is supposed to have been released. Acts, 28:30
Epistle to the Hebrews, written from Italy after the release of Timothy (ch. 13:23).
Gessius Florus Procurator
Great fire at Rome (in July); first imperial persecution of the Christians (martyrdom of Peter and Paul)
First Epistle of Peter. Epistle of Jude (?). Second Epistle of Peter.
The Synoptical Gospels and Acts.
Seneca and Lucan put to death by Nero
Beginning of the great war between the Romans and the Jews
Paul visits Crete and Macedonia, and writes First Epistle to Timothy, and Epistle to Titus (?).251251 Those who deny a second imprisonment of Paul assign these Epistles to the period of Paul’s residence in Ephesus, A.D. 54-57, and 2 Timothy to A.D. 63 or 64. Paul writes Second Epistle to Timothy (?).
Vespasian General in Palestine
Paul’s and Peter’s martyrdom in Rome (?).
The Revelation of John (?).
Otho and Vitellius Emperors
Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus
Destruction of Pompeii and Heraculaneum
John writes his Gospel and Epistles (?).
John writes the Revelation (?).
Persecution of Christians
Death of Apollonius
Death of John.
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