This past Sunday at The Blue Point Bible Church we had a discussing going on regarding the historical period of the 1st century. I wish I could say the dates are always ready and available in my head (quite the opposite actually – it would seem my mind constantly wants to jumble all the dates and events).
Therefore, as I woke up this morning rethinking our Sunday School discussion, I began to make up a historical list and I figured I would share, as it may be beneficial to some. Namely my goal was to sort of paint the historical scene in my head by following along the dating.
Before I share, allow me to express how appreciative I am of Ed Steven’s book, The Final Decade Before the End (which is pretty much my “go to resource” in these types of matters. I urge you to get a copy and immerse yourself in the historical context. In the Table of Contents alone, Mr. Stevens provides historical details from the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
The dating of the events from the end of the Gospels into the beginning of the “Book of Acts” (namely, the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ – along with Pentecost in Acts chapters 2-3) are argued on all fronts, therefore for simplicity sake I put AD 27-33.
The conversion of the Apostle Paul as he ventured to Damascus in Acts chapter 9 is said to be AD 37. The conversion of Cornelius and his family in Acts chapter 10 is said to have been late AD 38.
Most would place the Apostle Paul’s first missionary years in the years AD 45-48, which is what you read about in Acts chapters 13:13-14:28. The Jerusalem Council which is found in Acts chapter 15 is said to have been in the year AD 49. The second missionary journey that the Apostle Paul went on was AD 51-53, which is recorded in Acts 15:40 to Acts 18:23.
Again, I make mention of Ed Steven’s book, Final Decade Before the End, because most of the dating that I have from the 3rd journey forward poin is accredited to him and his book.
The Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey was from AD 54-58, also during this time penning 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Romans. In AD 58, the Apostle Paul arrived in Jerusalem and met with James and the elders. In Jerusalem, in the Temple, the Apostle Paul was arrested in June AD 58. This is when his trial began which we read about in Acts chapters 24, 26, and 28.
The Apostle Paul’s appeal to Caesar (which at that time would have been Nero) was a big issue because of all the issues in the Kingdom of Rome (“wars and rumors of wars”). The last thing anyone wanted to do was make Caesar doubt their governance.
The Apostle Paul finally arrived in Rome in March AD 61 and his imprisonment lasted for two full years (AD 61-63). It was during this time that the epistle of James was written . It was from AD 60-62 that the Apostle John wrote some his writings – The Gospel of John and 1-3 Epistles of John. The Apostle Luke also penned his Gospel (The Gospel According to Luke) and the Acts of the Apostles AD 61-62.
It was in AD 62 that the Roman authorities in Judea ceased minting the Torah-compliant Jews, and this would have further incited the Zealots, along with various earthquakes and famines happening all throughout the “known world”.
The Apostle John was likely exiled to Patmos in April AD 62. In the fall of AD 62 the Zealot (Sicarii) activity began to increase. Jesus bar-Ananius began to proclaim “Woe, Woe to Jerusalem” all throughout the region. It was during the summer of AD 62 that the Apostle John penned the Revelation of Jesus Christ .
The Apostle Paul was released in March AD 63, a time of relative peace, however many earthquakes throughout the land, also, Nero and Poppaea had a child.
The Apostle Peter began to write his epistles around July AD 63, and by this time, the Christians begin to flee Jerusalem and Judea. In August of AD 63, the Apostle Paul made his final visit to the churches in Asia. Later in the month, the Apostle Paul was arrested and sent to Rome for execution. During his imprisonment he penned his letters to his spiritual son Timothy. In late AD 63 the Apostle Paul was martyred.
Jude wrote his epistle in Jude AD 64. In AD 64, the Apostle Peter was martyed, however this would be before the July 19th, 64 “Great Fire in Rome” and the following persecution of Christians (which began August AD 64). The “birthpangs” of Matthew chapter 24 raged in the years AD 64-66, what is historically referred to as the “Neronic Persecution”. In fall of AD 64, the Apostle John was “killed by the Jews” (most likely in the Neronic persecution) according to the Fragments of Papias.
“The Neronic persecution was a very dark time for the Church, and even though it was short-lived (only two years – AD 64-66), it was extremely intense and killed the majority of remaining Christians. And it was the “eve of destruction” for the Jews. They wanted to wipe out the Church, but instead got wiped out by the Romans. – Ed Stevens, The Final Decade Before The End
In AD 65, Nero caused the death of his wife. And so the tide began to turn against the Jews. Many false messiahs try to lead people out of Jerusalem to “safety”. In AD 65-66, it is said that there were great signs in the sky and off happenings around the Temple. In later AD 66, wars began to increase all around the “known world” as well as in Jerusalem. Roman procurator Gessius Florus is said to have “filled Judea with abundance of miseries”. Christian persecution is on the low (since the Christians
have since flee’d as they were told to by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:16).
“There were no true Christians in Judea after the Neronic persecution broke out, unless a few might have disobeyed the warning to leave and somehow escaped detection during the Neronic persecution…By the time of Cestius Gallus’ attack on Jerusalem (in November AD 66), the Parousia had already begun (in May AD 66)…” – Ed Stevens, The Final Decade Before the End
In the summer of AD 66, all rebellion broke out- rebel priests refuse to do the sacrifice due to the antagonistic efforts of Gessius Florus and his attacks upon the city of Jeruslaem. The rebel priest, Eleazar bar-Ananias also “sounded the shofar” to initiate battle. By the winter of AD 67, factionism was rampant within Jerusalem and things continue to go from bad to worse. Nero died on June 9th AD 68.
And so occurred the Roman-Jewish War, or what is Biblically referred to as the “Coming of the Lord” (the vindication and rewarding of God’s saints and judgment upon their enemies). The term “parousia” or “coming” is understood not to simply mean a momentarily or one-day event, rather an extended visit . For example, Nero’s visit, or “parousia” in Greece as the Greek writers mentioned was from September AD 66 – early AD 68. So to it was with the “Coming of the Lord” in the years AD 66-70, that destroyed the city of Jerusalem and decimated the Herodian Temple in in fulfillment of what Jesus Christ said in Matthew chapters 23-24, most notably Matthew 24:2.
As I go through this study I am humbled by the amount of details that fill in the historical context. There is just so much to study, say, and discuss within the first century “audience relevance” of Scripture. This should cause a real honest examination of things and a true conviction regarding 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Study to show yourself approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth….”.
Here are some links for the details of the “Coming of the Lord” (The Roman-Jewish War):
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano
(Blue Point Bible Church; The Power of Preterism Network)