Basic Biblical Timeline (Part 2-NT)

The New Testament came after a period of roughly four hundred years in which there was no word from God. These were very active years, however, historically. The Old Testament ended with the Persians as the dominant power. During the period between the Old and New Testaments the Greeks rose to world-wide dominance. This was the golden age for Greece (think Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great). This Greek dominance affected the New Testament greatly. The books of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek (the common language of the people), and though the apostles/original leaders of the church were former devout Jews, many of the "second-generation believers" were Greeks and Hellenized Jews (Jews by blood, but Greek by lifestyle). Shortly before the beginning of the events of the New Testament the Roman Empire replaced the Greeks as the world power. Thus, Jesus Christ was born into a Roman world.

One other note of importance-incredibly accurate calendars/dating of historical events has not always been a reality. So, though the historical calendar swings on the life of Jesus Christ (BC=Before Christ, AD=Anno Domini (Latin for "year of the Lord"), there have been several adjustments to the calendaring system over the last 2000 years. Thus, according to our current calendar (after the adjustments) Jesus' birth occurred roughly in the year 5 BC.

Having covered those introductory points, let's jump into a timeline of the New Testament. The setting is that after returning to the Promised Land from exile God's people never again engaged in idol worship. They became more and more entrenched in their religion-adding many customs and traditions in addition to the Law given by God. They studied the Old Testament scriptures and longed for the day when the promised Messiah would appear-to  save them and be their King.

(5-1 BC) Jesus-the Earliest Years

The angel, Gabriel, appeared to a young virgin girl, Mary, to tell her that she had been chosen for a great honor. She would give birth to the Messiah, God Incarnate. When Mary questioned how this was possible, since she was a virgin, Gabriel responded that God was going to suspend the laws of nature and miraculously cause her to conceive.

When Joseph, the man to whom Mary was promised, found that Mary was pregnant, he decided to quietly separate from her. However, an angel then appeared to Joseph as well and instructed him to take Mary as his wife and to raise the child as his own. Joseph was instructed to abstain from intimacy with Mary until the child was born, and then he was to name the boy Jesus.

Though Jesus' parents lived in Nazareth, he was born in Bethlehem. His parents were there for a census ordered by Caesar Augustus. Following Jesus' birth the family was visited by the wise men/magi/seers from the east. Later they were warned to flee to Egypt to avoid a jealous king who was seeking to kill Jesus. The family returned to Nazareth several years later, and that is where Jesus grew up.

(8 AD) Jesus in the Temple

After the initial flurry of stories around the time of Jesus' birth, the story of Jesus debating the religious leaders as a twelve-year-old in the Temple is the only other information we have about His childhood.

(8-28 AD) Jesus Works As A Carpenter in Nazareth

(28-29) John The Baptist Begins His Ministry

Jesus had a cousin, John, who was chosen by God to minister before Jesus. His mission was to prepare the people for the ministry of Jesus. John baptized Jesus during this period. God spoke from heaven and officially identified Jesus as His Son.

(28-30 AD) Jesus' Ministry

Jesus begins ministering in Judea and then gradually transitions into the region of Galilee. For three years He teaches, heals, instructs, and prepares for the culmination of His time on earth. Jesus gains many followers, but He also has many enemies. The traditions and customs of the Jewish, religious elite are challenged and decried by Jesus. They hate Him for his wisdom, eloquence, boldness, and power. The leaders of different religious factions-normally at each other's throats-band together to try to get rid of Jesus.

(30 AD) Jesus' Death and Resurrection, Pentecost, the Beginning of the Church

After the trumped-up trial and murder of Jesus, His followers are confused and in disarray. However, after three days Jesus returns from death. He appears to His twelve disciples and to many other of His followers. He remains on earth for forty days and then returns to heaven. Ten days after Jesus returned to heaven, many believers were gathered in one place. The Holy Spirit came from God and empowered the believers. Believers were changed from cowardly, unguided, uneducated peasants into wise, bold, powerful witnesses for Jesus and His kingdom. This is the beginning of the church.

The followers of Jesus were immediately persecuted by the same religious elite who had hated and murdered Jesus. Though the believers were initially massed in Jerusalem, the persecution eventually scattered them all over the known world. The driving force behind this persecution was a young religious zealot named Saul of Tarsus.

(33 AD) Conversion of Saul of Tarsus

After several years of hunting, capturing and killing Christians, Saul was on the road to Damascus to hunt for more believers. The resurrected Jesus appeared to Saul in an overwhelming light, temporarily blinded Saul, and turned his world around. Saul's name was changed to Paul, and he began an amazing ministry on behalf of Jesus from that point until his martyrdom many years later.

(34-40 AD) The Gospel Spreads

Paul, Peter, and the other apostles begin travelling and spreading the good news. Many churches are founded and multitudes believe in Jesus.

(40-45 AD) The Writing of the New Testament Begins

The church continues to grow and expand. James, the brother of Jesus, writes a letter to believing Jews who are scattered all over.

(45-50 AD) Jerusalem Council, Paul's Missionary Journeys Begin

The apostles and other church leaders meet in Jerusalem to discuss how to regulate believing Jews and Gentiles. Did the Gentiles who professed faith in Christ need to follow Jewish rituals? The decision was that believers were no longer under the law-Gentiles needn't follow the traditions of the Law.

Paul, Barnabas, and others began extensive missionary forays into unreached regions. Paul writes Galatians.

(51-55 AD) Missionary  Journeys Continue, More Scripture Written

Paul and his travelling companions visit many cities and start many churches. They spend extended periods of time in Corinth and Ephesus.

Paul writes 1 & 2 Thessalonians,

(56-60 AD) Churches Growing, More Scripture Written

During this time, as the gospel continued to advance, doctrine and lifestyle issues began to spring up in the churches that had been planted. God inspired the apostles to write letters (books of the Bible) to instruct the believers.

John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas and close friend of Peter, was known at first for deserting Paul on a missionary journey. He later redeemed himself and was forgiven by Paul. During this period he wrote the Gospel of Mark (likely with the help of Peter). Paul wrote the epistles 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Romans.

(60-70 AD) Persecution Begins in Earnest, Many Martyrs

Though persecution was initially carried out primarily by the Jewish Temple authorities and localized in Israel, the growing church during this time began to be persecuted more severely and to a wider extent-across the entire Roman Empire! Many believers, to include leaders, were martyred. James, the brother of Jesus, was killed. The most well-known of the apostles, Peter and Paul, were likely martyred in this decade. Before they die, however, Peter and Paul were used greatly as preachers and writers in this period. Peter wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Early in the decade Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Luke, a physician, historian, and companion of Paul, wrote his Gospel of Luke and then continued with the Acts of the Apostles. The apostle Matthew, a tax collector-turned-disciple, wrote his Gospel of Matthew. Later in the decade (right before his death) Paul wrote 2 Timothy. Later still in the decade an unknown author (possibly Apollos) wrote the book of Hebrews.

(70-95 AD) The Church Begins to Mature and Organize

By this point the church had begun to formalize its practices and beliefs and to develop some traditions. Many of the "first generation" of believers and church leaders had died of natural causes or been martyred. Jude, the brother of Jesus, writes his short letter, Jude, in the late 70s. John would remain as the final living apostle. He pastored in Ephesus for many years. While in Ephesus John wrote his three epistles, 1-3 John (probably in the late 80s). He then wrote the Gospel of John between 88-93 AD. John was eventually exiled by the Emperor Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. It is from here (in 95-96AD) that he wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This would be the final book of Scripture.  

[I relied on on several sources for this compilation. I consulted the NASB MacArthur Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible by Crossway, Carson, Moo, and Morris' An Introduction To The New Testament, and my seminary notes.]

 

 

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