The New Testament: Authors and Dates

Barry Setterfield, May 2019


The Point of the New Testament
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
1&2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians & Galatians
2 Corinthians & Romans
The Gospel of Luke
Acts (of the Apostles)
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
1 Peter
1 Timothy & Titus
2 Peter
2 Timothy
The Gospel of John
1, 2, &3 John
Maps of Paul's Journeys


The Point of the New Testament

At the close of His 3-year ministry, Jesus and His disciples in Luke 19:11 were walking up from Jericho to Jerusalem. Because of prophecies in a number of places in their Scriptures, the disciples thought that Jesus, as the Messiah, would begin His Kingdom on earth very quickly.   To understand why, we need to appreciate what was meant by the Kingdom from the Jewish Scriptures (the Tanakh or our Old Testament). Elements of the Kingdom idea appear in Psalm 89:3-4, 28-30, 34-37; Isaiah 9:7; 11:1, 4, 6-9; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 4:1-8; Zechariah 14:5 & 9 after God’s initial promise to David by Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. Mary was given these same Messianic promises about Jesus by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:31-33. In the Kingdom, Messiah was to rule over the whole world from Jerusalem in a reign characterized by peace, fruitfulness, and the blessings of the Eternal.  For 3 years, Jesus had performed a number of Messianic deeds and given Spirit-filled messages, and was now heading towards Jerusalem where the disciples and many of the people expected the Kingdom to immediately appear. For this to be so, Jesus would have to defeat the Romans. But Jesus then told a parable that revealed that this was not going to happen. Instead, He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey – a symbol of peace, not conquest - in fulfillment of the Messianic prediction of Zechariah 9:9. The crowds shouted “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord.”

That was a unique day. It was the only day that Jesus offered Himself as King and accepted the adulation of the crowd proclaiming this. Throughout His ministry He had dampened down that expression; but not on this day. Why? Years before, in 539 BC, the prophet Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel who gave him a prophecy recorded for us in Daniel 9. In summary the prophecy stated that from the command to restore and build Jerusalem and its Wall (it had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC) unto the coming of Messiah, the Prince, will be a period of 69 ‘weeks’ of years (that is 69 periods of 7 years). This equaled 483 years, and they were Babylonian years of 360 days, which gave a total of 173,880 days. Many years after Daniel died, that command was indeed given in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes of Persia on the 1st Nisan according to Nehemiah 2:1, 5-6. That was 5th March 444 BC. When we add 173,880 days we come to 10th Nisan 33 AD which was Sunday 30th March. That was Palm Sunday when Jesus rode in on the donkey. The prophecy was fulfilled to the very day. But Jesus did not instigate an uprising against the Romans and so did not live up to popular preconceptions. A few days later, He had fallen into complete disfavor with the crowd.

The 10th Nisan, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, was the same day that the Lambs were taken into the houses 4 days before Passover was celebrated on 14th Nisan. Since the month began a few hours after the New Moon, the 14th of Nisan was a few hours after full moon. In 33 AD there was a total eclipse of the moon the night before Passover which started the following day at sunset.  It is only when the moon is fully eclipsed that it can appear red, and thus is called a “blood moon.” The night of the eclipse, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. He was arrested and tried before a religious court which broke all its own rules in condemning Him. The religious hierarchy then handed Him to the Roman governor for a trial at which the crowd had been incited to scream for His blood. The Governor, Pontius Plate, sentenced Him to death by crucifixion. During that event, a strange darkness covered the land for 3 hours as prophesied by Amos 8:9-10. Early on the following Sunday morning, as the Feast of Firstfruits was about to be celebrated, Messiah rose from the dead. During the next 40 days, He was seen by over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) before He ascended into Heaven in the Shekinah glory cloud (Acts 1:9-11). As He left, He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell His disciples. In Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, the Jewish Feast of Weeks, the Spirit came in a way which attracted much public attention and gave evidence of the divine nature of the event (Acts 2). The disciple Peter spoke to the gathered crowd and pointed out the origin of the present event, and the prophetic nature of the sun going dark and the moon turning to blood just before the Crucifixion, along with the other events were all signs that Jesus was the Messiah.

The book of Daniel (9:26) says that “after 69 weeks, Messiah will be cut off (killed) but not for Himself, and the people of the coming ruler will destroy the city and the Temple”. The Temple destruction occurred in 70 AD, and is a sign that Messiah had come before that event. In the meantime, it became apparent to those who had studied the Tanakh that before Messiah would come to rule as King over the earth from Jerusalem, He had to die to deal with the sin problem, as Isaiah 53 so clearly puts it. In so doing, He would shed His blood to blot out our sins, and then on the 3rd Day rise from the dead as proof of His Messiahship. These events were written in over 300 prophecies in the Tanakh. More especially, on the day of his crucifixion over 15 specific prophecies about Messiah were literally fulfilled in Jesus. That is, one chance in 537 million-million. Those mathematical odds are astounding, and so is the timing of that set of events as given in Daniel 9. The Tanakh has over 1200 prophecies relating to Messiah’s 2nd coming to rule the whole world for that period of peace and fruitfulness, often called the Kingdom Age.


We tend to think of the early groups of believers in Jesus as the Messiah as the beginnings of the Christian Church. In hindsight they were, but that is not how it developed historically. And unless you understand what happened historically, you will mis-read the book of Acts. The word translated “church” is the Greek word “Ekklesia” – literally “called-out ones”. It did not originally have the significance we place on it today. Indeed, throughout the entire book of Acts, the concept of God’s “called-out ones” forming a ‘Christian Church’ as we know it today was never in view. Acts gives us the response as the apostles obeyed the Great Commission of the Messiah in Acts 1:8. That record shows the increasing rejection of Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek) by Jewish groups progressively around the Roman Empire from Jerusalem to Rome, and the contrasting general acceptance by many Gentiles.

Since these groups were entirely Jewish to begin with, there was no thought of the Ekklesia as anything other than the fulfillment of Judaism & Scriptures: they were “completed Jews.” The Gentiles that came in later were viewed in a Jewish context …  until the Council of Jerusalem in 49 or 50 AD which decided that many Jewish Laws (like circumcision) were not applicable to the Gentile converts as all had been saved by Grace through Faith (Acts 15:11, 19-20, 23-29).

The Bible makes it quite clear that the Mystery of the Church, as we have it today, was revealed to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:1-13 about 62 AD. This was in the second year of his house arrest in Rome and at least 18 months after the Jewish hierarchy had given their final rejection of the message in Rome. At that rejection, the Holy Spirit through Paul said in Acts 28:28 that the salvation of God would now be sent to the Gentiles who would accept it, while the Hebrew nation would be set aside for a season.
It was only after Acts 28:28 that the concept of the Christian Church, as a separate entity from Judaism, actually developed. Until then, the emphasis was on acceptance of Jesus as Messiah by the Jews around the Roman Empire, and if they did so, Jesus would return in their generation and set up the Millennium, or the Kingdom, or ‘the times of refreshing” and rule from David’s Throne in Jerusalem (Acts 2:39, 3:19-21).

The increasing official Jewish rejection around the Empire, put that program on hold and introduced the “Times of the Gentiles”, the Church Age. Events ensured Temple worship was eliminated in 70 AD & the Jews were dispersed around the Roman Empire. Jesus said in Luke 21 that the generation which saw the Jews return to Israel (May 14th 1948) would see His Coming. The Sign that ‘Times of the Gentiles’, the Church Age, was closing was the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish control (which happened in the 6-day war in June 1967). 

So Acts covers a crisis period when some unusual things were happening to convince the Jews the offer of the Kingdom was genuine. In effect, the Jews were being given a choice to accept or reject Messiah nationally as well as personally. The nation and its religious leaders in fact rejected, but a number of individuals accepted as the book of Acts outlines. Paul puts it this way in Romans 11:25-26 “For I do not desire, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And then all Israel will be saved…” The fact that Jerusalem is again under Israeli control is a sign that the fullness of the Gentiles is just about complete, and events show God is again taking up His dealings with Israel as a nation.

We thus find in the later letters of Paul, that the Ekklesia – Jews & Gentiles - are “fellow-heirs” of blessings & fullness in Christ (Ephesians 3:6). This concept was different to Old Testament precepts. These developments are traced systematically in time and content through the dates the New Testament books were written, the events around their writing, and their content.

The Gospel of Matthew

The writer of this gospel was Levi the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). However, he was a tax-collector, and in 1st Century Jewish society, a tax-gatherer for the hated Romans was a very dishonorable occupation, so he used the name Matthew. For that same reason, he does not promote himself in his account, except through subtle hints (see Dr. Sidlow Baxter in “Explore the Book.”). There is an additional reason why he does not want the attention. His aim is to glorify the Jewish Messiah whose disciple he had become. As a tax collector & publican, he was used to interacting with people and keeping meticulous records. It was easy for him to transfer these skills to recording his experiences with Jesus and what he learned from other witnesses with whom he had contact.

Matthew appears to be writing to a primarily Jewish audience, which had a good knowledge of the Scriptures. His main purpose was to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy and so must be the Messiah. Sixteen times he writes “that it might be fulfilled” (Mat. 1:22, 2:17,23, etc.), and then quotes the Old Testament prophecy. From this fact alone, it is apparent that his anticipated audience was Jewish with very few, if any Gentiles (or non-Jews). The second fact supports this: Matthew never tries to explain the Jewish customs that are mentioned, so his audience must have been familiar with them all. Those two facts were relevant only in the very early phases of the spread of the Gospel. We know that the first Gentiles were converted through Peter’s ministry around 41 AD, and that many Gentiles started to accept the message during Saul’s (Paul) 1st missionary journey with Barnabas and Mark. This journey dates roughly 48-49 AD, so Matthew had to be written well before that and probably before 41 AD.

There is also strong evidence from earliest Christian sources and the Church Fathers that Matthew wrote from Caesarea. This was the Roman capital of the province of Judaea from 6 AD on. Indeed, Jerome mentioned in his writings that he had seen the original of Matthew’s gospel in the library at Caesarea, and that it was written there specifically for the Jews who were believing (“those of the circumcision” as he phrased it). It would seem logical, then, for Matthew to write an account for the Jews who were converting to The Way so that they may know the events, and the historical and Scriptural bases for their beliefs.

There has been a persistent early tradition that Matthew wrote this gospel between 35 and 37 AD. The necessity of having informed believers, and his expertise in making records for the Romans for tax purposes in a timely manner, might have impelled Matthew to write soon after the events he had recorded. However, ongoing events may have provided an additional incentive for him. The stoning of Stephen occurred in late 34 or early 35 AD, and the persecution which followed caused the dispersion of believers to begin then. Soon after, Peter and Philip preached in Samaria in 35 AD and Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was converted to the Way in 36. He preached Christ in Damascus in 36/37 AD. These key events must have supplied the impetus for Matthew to write his Gospel in the period 35 to 37 AD. In this way, dispersing believers had documented facts from an eyewitness that they could share as the basis of their faith. This tends to support the 36 AD traditional date from the early Church Fathers.

At this point a comment is needed about the recent tendency to late-date the Gospels until after 70 AD.   The argument is that the destruction of Jerusalem is hinted at in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 so these gospels must have been written after that. However, when these passages are examined, it is seen that Jesus is telling of the yet future destruction of Jerusalem. He is not saying that it was already destroyed or hinting that it was. Indeed, if it really had been destroyed earlier, the writers of the Gospels would have used that fulfillment of prophecy as a key point in their favor. So all Gospels were written prior to 70 AD.

There is a parallel situation in the Old Testament. Around 540 BC the Hebrew captive Daniel in Babylon said that “Messiah will be cut off, but not for Himself,” and after that “the city (Jerusalem) and the Sanctuary (the Temple) will be destroyed” (Daniel 9:26). There are a number of so-called Bible scholars who claim this prophecy was inserted into Daniel after 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed.  However, seeing that this prophecy was translated from paleo-Hebrew into Greek around 280 BC, it is impossible to late-date Daniel to post-70 AD. Yet that is the same technique that these scholars are using regarding Jesus’ words concerning Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.

The Gospel of Mark

Mark is called John Mark in Acts 12:12, 25, and 15:37. From Acts 12:12, it is apparent that the house in Jerusalem that the disciples were meeting in was Mark’s home belonging to his mother. It is probably the same place mentioned in Acts 1:13-14 and therefore the Upper Room of the Last Supper was part of that also. Mark accompanied Paul (Saul) on his 1st mission along with Barnabas (Acts 13), and later helped Paul in Rome (Philemon 24), where Colossians 4:10 points out that Mark and Barnabas were cousins.

Interestingly, the name John Mark also tells us something. John is a Jewish name, but Mark is Roman. It might therefore be that his mother was Jewish, while his father (who is never mentioned) was of Roman origin. Some elements of this come out in his Gospel. Mark uses Latin loan-words in his Greek account; that is, he is translating Latin words into Greek. For example, the Latin ‘legio’ becomes ‘legion’ in Greek (Mark 5:9, 15); the Latin ‘denarius’ becomes ‘denarion’ in Greek (Mark 6:37) and ‘centurio’ becomes ‘kenturion’ (Mark 15:39) and so on. In many cases, the Greeks had their own words for these objects, but Mark did not use those Greek forms. One commentator suggested that Mark actually thought in Latin.

However, it is obvious that while Mark spoke Hebrew and Greek, as well as Latin, his gospel certainly has a distinctly Roman flavor to it. For this reason, many commentators feel that Mark was written for a Roman audience rather than a Greek or Jewish one. Mark understands the daily time constraints on the large numbers of Roman military spread around the Empire. In consideration of this, Mark’s gospel paints a series of brief, vivid word-pictures of what Jesus did, and shows how Jesus accomplished His tasks swiftly and efficiently. His key word, used 42 times, is ‘eutheos’ which is variously translated as “straightway,” “immediately,” or “forthwith”. In Matthew and Luke combined, that word is only used 8 times. To a Roman military audience, this description emphasizes, prompt, tireless, expeditious service, just as they themselves were expected to perform. Jesus was an example for these Romans to follow.

That Mark was proficient in writing is also apparent from Acts 13:5 where it is mentioned that he was the “assistant” to Paul and Barnabas on the 1st missionary journey. Such assistants were often responsible for keeping notes and records and writing up reports. It is in that context that Papius, writing immediately after the passing of the apostle John, stated that “John also said this: ‘Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrote with great accuracy, but not however the order in which it was spoken or done by our Lord’. ” It is for this reason we have details that only an eyewitness like Peter could give, as in Mark 4:35-39 with the “other little boats,” the “waves beating into the boat,” and Jesus “in the stern, asleep on a pillow,” and other such examples. These details are not in Matthew 8:23-26, or Luke 8:22-24 which give the parallel accounts. Presumably, Mark was not with them on that occasion, but Peter certainly was, and it is logical that the fisherman would keep those details in either his mind or his diary, or both, and share them with “Mark, my son” (1 Peter 5:13).

On the other hand, there are touches of detail that only Mark could have known. It has already been mentioned that the Upper Room was probably in his house in Jerusalem. Thus, when Jesus left on that fateful night, it seems that the “young man,” Mark, followed the disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane and then escaped certain arrest as recorded in Mark 14:51-52. It has also been suggested that the “young man” at the tomb in Mark 16:5-7 may also have been Mark himself, as the comment he gave was exactly what Jesus had said a few nights earlier when Mark followed them into the Garden and overheard the comment (Mark 14:28).

Mark’s gospel shows he was not writing primarily for the Jews. If he had Jews as his expected audience, he would not have to explain that  the “Preparation” was the “day before the Sabbath” (Mark 15:42), nor that the Pharisees “used to fast” (Mark 2:18), and he would not need to explain that the Mount of Olives was “over against the Temple” (Mark 13:3). If a Jewish audience was not the primary target, then it must have been a Gentile one and the indication, from the above considerations, is that it must have been Roman, not Greek. It is for this reason that many feel it was written in Rome. But the Gospel of Mark assumes an audience having some familiarity with the Holy Land and Jerusalem, which would not be the case for the populace in Rome. And, indeed, there was just such an audience. Consider Acts chapter 10, the so-called ‘Gentile Pentecost’ when Peter preached the message to Cornelius the centurion and his associates with astounding results. There were many such Romans in the Holy Land with their troops and assistants. After Peter told Mark about these results, both would see the immediate necessity for a historical record of the events on which the new faith rests for this Gentile, yet specifically Roman audience. Thus, the Gospel of Mark was probably written in the Holy Land at a time close to the conversion of Cornelius and all his associates and their families. That places it about 41-43 AD. Interestingly, a fragment of this gospel has been found in one of the Qumran caves that was sealed in 68 AD, so it dates well before that.


There has been some confusion about which James wrote the epistle of this name. There appear to be three possibilities. First, there is James the brother of John, both being Apostles and sons of Zebedee (Mat.4:21). But Herod Agrippa I killed that James in Acts 12:2. The Apostle Peter was then arrested, but miraculously escaped shortly after. Herod died very soon afterwards, and that date is historically fixed as 44 AD, which must also mark the time of death of James the son of Zebedee, as he was killed just shortly before Herod died.

Second, there was James the son of Alphaeus (Mat. 10:3, Mk. 3:18, Lu. 6:15, Acts 1:13). Alphaeus is also called Cleopas and his wife -- another Mary (Lu. 24:18, John 19:25). Because of a confused reading of the passage in John 19:25, some conclude that this Mary was the sister or sister-in-law of Mary the mother of Jesus. This would have made this James a cousin of Jesus. However, a careful reading indicates that there are 3 different Marys there, as well as an un-named sister of Jesus’ mother. As it stands, then, James the son of Alphaeus was probably not related to Jesus, but was definitely an Apostle, one of the twelve (Mk. 3:18). It seems as if he is always defined as “James the son of Alphaeus” rather than just “James”. Since Levi (Matthew) was also the son of Alphaeus, the strong possibility exists that Matthew was a brother to this James.

Finally, there was James the Less (in stature – Mark 15:40), the brother of Jesus (Mat. 13:55, Galatians 1:19, Jude 1, etc.). A comparison of the parallel verses in Mark 15:40, John 19:25 and Mat.27:56 with Jesus family in Mat. 13:55 and Mark 6:3 tends to confirm this conclusion. This James was the head of the church in Jerusalem in 44 AD  (Acts 12:17) when Herod died. As such, it was his responsibility to instruct Jews of the Dispersion as to what the Jerusalem church was thinking. For this reason, the Epistle of James to the dispersed Jews was written with the emphasis that true faith must express itself in practical goodness, as in Isaiah 1:17, and cannot be a mere mental assent or intellectual perception of the truth. This epistle illustrates these concepts in action. (Later, Paul said we are saved by grace via faith unto works Eph. 2:8-10, which does not contradict James at all).

As to the actual time of writing, Paul, Barnabas and Mark went on their first missionary journey. On this journey, a number of Gentiles accepted the message.  Paul and Barnabas reported back to the Church at Antioch in 49 AD. Around 49 to 50 AD the Council of Jerusalem was held to discuss what was to be done about the Gentile converts in Acts 15. James was the leader of that meeting. After discussion, it was decided that the Gentiles did not need to keep all the Law of Moses, and James wrote letters to the Churches to that effect. However, the precepts in Acts 15 and the later Christian focus are not found in the book of James. So, it appears that James wrote prior to 50 AD, and thus sometime between the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 and the decision on the Gentiles in Acts 15. He is thus writing before the Jews around the Empire had rejected the message of Messiah. In addition, the epistle of James was meant to be read in synagogue services (James 2:2 – this word is wrongly translated ‘assembly’ in many of our texts). This contrasts with the epistles of Paul to the early church (literally ‘called out ones’) of both Jews and Gentiles. Thus, James must have been written about 48 AD before Paul’s 1st missionary Journey brought in a number of Gentiles, as well as before all of Paul’s letters. This is why it has a different emphasis. James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, was martyred by stoning in 62 AD in Jerusalem, according to the historian Josephus. This date also accords with the record from Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, suggesting it is accurate.

1 & 2 Thessalonians

These two letters of Paul’s give us a sample of early Apostolic teaching. From them, it is apparent that the second coming of Christ was an important part of their message. This also emerges from Acts 2:39 and 3:19-21 where the promise of His coming to institute the ‘times of refreshing’ was preached by Peter. The two letters to the Thessalonians were written by the Apostle Paul to clarify details about this topic during his 2nd missionary journey. He embarked on that journey soon after the Council at Jerusalem in 49-50 AD. Just before that journey began, the Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews living in Rome because they were rioting about “Chrestos” (Christ). Forty-five thousand Jews left Rome.  These included Aquila and Priscilla who went to Corinth and met Paul there at the close of his 2nd mission. Historically, the date of Claudius’ decree is 49 AD, which must have been about the time that Paul started the journey, as he returned to Antioch in 51 AD. Paul established the church in Thessalonica after being in Philippi, and the questions that the Thessalonians asked Paul must have been answered fairly soon after. The post-script to the 1st epistle indicates it was written from Athens, where Paul waited for Silas and Timothy to come to him (Acts 17:15). The 2nd epistle to the Thessalonians may also have been written from there or shortly after from Corinth where Paul met Aquila and Priscilla. The date on these letters must then be after 49-50 AD and close to 51 AD when he returned.

1 Corinthians & Galatians

Paul’s 3rd missionary journey went to Galatia, Phrygia, Ephesus, Macedonia, Greece, Troas and Miletus, as outlined in Acts 18:23-21:17. Paul began this tour around 52 AD and returned about 57 AD, having spent two of those years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). According to Clement of Rome, Paul wrote both 1 Corinthians & Galatians from Ephesus. This gives the date of writing as about 55 AD. Some suggest Galatians was written a little later from Corinth (Greece) in 56 or 57 AD.

1 Corinthians: Paul originally came to Corinth from Athens on his 2nd mission. He stayed in Corinth for 18 months (Acts 18:1-11) and founded the church there. Some 5 or 6 years later, while in Ephesus on his 3rd mission, Paul had heard disturbing reports: the Corinthian church had developed deep divisions within it, with different segments following different teachers and ideas. Morals had been compromised by many, there were wrong views about the resurrection, and irregularities in public worship. (Even after partaking of the Lord’s Supper, some then went out and ate meat offered to idols.) Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was designed to correct these defects & answer questions.

Galatians: On his 2nd mission, Paul was only planning to pass through Galatia on his way to Troas. However, illness prevented that and he had to stay in Galatia.  He was well received by the Galatians. Indeed, they would have given him their own eyes if it were possible to overcome Paul’s infirmity and pain that way (Galatians 4:13-15). Between this time and his 3rd Mission, legalistic Jews had taught the Galatians that it was only by keeping the requirements of the Mosaic Law that one could truly enter the Christian Way. Paul pointed out that this was a perversion of the Gospel (Galatians 1:7) and summarized by saying that “if righteousness came by the Law (of Moses), then is Christ dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21). He further pointed out that Abraham was righteous before God because he believed by faith, hundreds of years before the law of Moses ever came into effect. He stated Christians are also heirs by faith in the same promise (Galatians 3).

2 Corinthians & Romans

While on his 3rd missionary journey, after leaving Ephesus, Paul went to Macedonia where he met Titus, who was returning from Corinth. Titus informed Paul that the first letter to the Corinthian church had been well received. In response Paul cleared up remaining matters in his 2nd letter to them while he was in Macedonia, and promised he himself would be with them very soon (2 Corinthians 13:1-2). This accords with the postscript to that 2nd letter, which must have been written in 55-56 AD, as Paul states he was writing from Philippi in Macedonia.

While on the same mission, he also wrote Romans. Romans, written to both Jews and Gentiles, is a systematic exposition of the Gospel starting from basic principles and using a logical approach to show how the Gospel saves fallen mankind. During the middle part of the discussion he points out how God deals with both Jews and Gentiles as groups, as well as with individual believers. He begins the concluding, practical, section by urging Christians, both Jew and Gentile, to present their whole being to God for Him to use for His glory rather than being conformed to the ways of the world (Romans 12:1-2).  Paul finalizes by giving examples as to how this can be achieved. The postscript to this epistle states it was written when Paul had finally arrived in Corinth (Greece). He stayed there for 3 months (Acts 20:2-3). This would mean that Romans was written late 56 or early in 57 AD near the close of the 3rd mission.

There are additional reasons why that date is likely. The Emperor Claudius (who expelled Jews from Rome in 49 AD) had died in 54 AD and Nero, at age 16, took the throne. Nero allowed the return of the Jews to Rome which started soon after, about 55 AD. Since Paul always went to the Jews first, his letter could only be sent to the Jewish contacts in Rome after they had returned. So the earliest he could have written them was 55 AD. If this letter was indeed written as he left Corinth in 57 AD, that would be the latest he could do so because his imprisonment in Caesarea occurred later that year or by mid-58 AD. Thus Romans was written sometime from 55 to 57 AD. As a side note, it might be mentioned that Paul’s policy was never to build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20). Indeed, there is evidence that James and all the brethren were still in the Jerusalem region even as late as Acts 21:18 (about 57 AD). Even Clement of Rome did not mention Peter as being there. So the evidence is that Peter had not ministered in nor had visited Rome by 57 AD, leaving the way open for Paul to write.

The Gospel of Luke

Paul returned from his 3rd mission and visited Jerusalem. His testimony regarding the Lord sending him to the Gentiles caused a riot there and he was arrested by the Roman authorities. Soon after there was a threat to Paul’s life, and the Roman authorities transferred Paul to the facility at Caesarea.  While Paul was there,  he gave testimony before Festus and Agrippa II. Paul was in prison in Caesarea for two years from 57 to 59 AD. Throughout that time Luke was with him, having joined Paul’s group of travelers as their physician on the 2nd mission at Troas (Acts 16). It was during the 2-year period Paul was in Caesarea that Luke had the opportunity to interview eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life and ministry. As an educated man, Luke was able to access records and make notes. Therefore, it would have been during Paul’s time at Caesarea that the Gospel of Luke was written. Thus the Gospel of Luke was written about 58-59 AD. (In Acts, Luke refers to having already written the Gospel, so Acts would have been started about this time, but probably as a series of notes as time went on.)

In his Gospel, Luke groups his details “in order.” This order is four-fold, starting with Christ’s nativity, boyhood and manhood (Luke 1:5-4:13). Then there is the record of all Christ’s ministries in Galilee (Luke 4:14-9:50), followed by the journey to Jerusalem and His interaction with the religious hierarchy there (Luke 9:51-19:44). It concludes with the tragedy of Passion Week, and the triumph of His resurrection and ascension as recorded from the eye-witness accounts (Luke 19:45-24:53). This gospel is thus less chronological than Mark or John. As a medical professional who is interested in people, there are many details that Luke alone has specifically noted. He is thereby uniquely qualified to bring out for a Gentile audience the humanity, tender compassion and loving understanding of Christ. In summary, Luke shows how God as Man lived His life among us.

Acts (of the Apostles)

The book of Acts is actually titled “Acts of the Apostles” and was written by Luke.  Luke was with Paul on many of his journeys and got the information from the Apostles regarding the rest of what he wrote.  As stated above, Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem and after a threat to his life, been transferred to Caesarea.  There he appealed to Caesar, as he was a Roman citizen, and then had to be transferred to Rome.  Paul and his entourage, accompanied by Roman guards on a hazardous voyage, finally reached Rome in 61 AD. There, from 61 to 63 AD, Paul ministered while under house arrest, waiting for his appeal to be presented to Caesar. Because of this appeal, Paul had to be under Caesar’s direct care, and so Paul was housed in facilities reserved for the guards and servants associated with the Administration (Philippians 4:22). One of the first things Paul did was to call the Jewish Elders and present to them the evidence that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. They did not receive the message with any enthusiasm. As a result, Paul stated that the Lord was setting them aside and going to the Gentiles who would accept the message. By this time, Jewish hierarchy around the Empire had officially rejected Jesus as the Messiah. It was at this point in time that the Times of the Gentiles, the Church Age moved into focus (Acts 28:17-31). Luke had personally accompanied Paul since his arrival in Troas at the beginning of the 2nd mission, and had Paul’s input for the rest. When this is coupled with his own interviews while in Caesarea, it can be seen that Luke has given us an accurate account of the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem around the Roman Empire until it reached Rome. The Book of Acts was thereby completed towards the close of that 2-year period (Acts 28:30-31) or about 63 AD.

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon

Paul wrote these four so-called “prison letters” during the two years under house arrest in Caesar’s facilities.  During this time he was chained to a succession of soldiers, with whom he shared the Gospel (Philippians 4:22). However, he was free to receive visitors, friends and associates. Following the rejection of Messiah by Jewish leaders in Rome, Paul had a revelation from the Lord about the Church, His Bride, composed of Jews and Gentiles as fellow-heirs in Messiah (Ephesians 3 etc.). Despite the fact that God had told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him, the Jews considered the Messiah to be for Jews only.  So the idea that the Gentile were actually involved in God’s plan was an unfamiliar concept.  (It was the idea that the Gentile would actually be involved that had caused the riot in Jerusalem). In hindsight, the little congregations or assemblies which were springing up around the Empire were forming the nucleus of this new entity, which is now called the Church. Paul wrote about this to various groups following this revelation. Additional details are given in Colossians 1:26-27, revealing that Christ actually indwells each believer through the Holy Spirit. This 2-year period, with its ‘prison letters’ penned about 62 AD, is therefore vital to an understanding of God’s program for, and what He wants to achieve with, the church.

Ephesians: At the close of his 2nd mission, Paul had spent a brief time in Ephesus. However, on his 3rd Journey he spent two years in the region. This letter contains no salutations as it was designed to be a circular letter to groups in that entire region. It has been suggested that this was the circular letter to the Laodiceans that Paul mentioned in Colossians 4:16. This epistle is basically in two parts with the first speaking of our amazing wealth or riches in Christ (Ephesians 1:3 – 3:21), and the second dealing with the practical outcome of that in various aspects of our moment by moment walk with the Lord (Eph. 4:1 – 6:24).

Philippians: Philippi was the first city in Europe to have heard the Gospel as a result of Paul’s Macedonian call during his 2nd mission. This church treated Paul kindly sending assistance to him while he was in Thessalonica, as well as when he was in prison in Rome (Philippians 4:16-18). Epaphroditus, who brought the church’s gift to Paul, carried Paul’s letter of response – this epistle --  back to them. The epistle has a four-fold emphasis, one for each chapter, & each chapter having a verse focusing its emphasis. For chapter 1 – Christ our life (1:21); chapter 2 – Christ our mind (2:5); chapter 3 – Christ our goal (3:10); Chapter 4 – Christ our strength (4:13). It really is the letter extolling the all-sufficient Christ with the resulting ‘Joy’ mentioned 15 times.

Colossians: Paul never actually visited Colossae, but his disciple and assistant Epaphras was a citizen of Colossae and may have brought the Gospel to them as a result of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. In this way, Paul could send a letter to the Colossians without building on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20). This epistle is basically explaining that Christ is the life of the believer (Col.3:4), and that Christ in each one is all the empowering the Christian needs (Col. 1:27). Paul is very clear that in Christ is all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9-10). Paul points out that when one appropriates this incredible Resource, there is no need of intercession by any lesser beings, such as angels. Paul also makes a point that legal niceties, such as special holidays or food, have nothing to do with the faith of a Christian.  (Colossians 2). 

Philemon: This letter is different. When Paul’s letter to the Colossians was taken from Rome by the hand of Tychicus, Onesimus, an escaped slave, accompanied him (Col. 4:7-9). They also carried this private letter from Paul to Philemon, Onesimus’ previous owner, a member of the Colossian church (Phile.1-2), who had become a Christian through Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Onesimus had stolen money and escaped to Rome, where he met Paul and became a Christian. Paul asks Philemon in verse 16 to receive back this slave-thief, “not as a slave, but as a beloved brother” to both Paul and Philemon. Indeed, the Apostle asks that Philemon would receive him even as he would receive Paul himself (verse 17). Furthermore, Paul, as his father in the Faith, said he personally would repay any debt that Onesimus had incurred (verses 18-19). This letter gives a practical illustration of Galatians 3:28 “there is neither slave nor free…all are one in Christ Jesus.” In contrast, according to Roman law, escaped slaves could be killed. Paul’s letter would run directly against the practice of slavery among those calling themselves Christians for millennia to come.

1 Peter

Historical evidence indicates the apostle Peter wrote the epistle labelled as 1 Peter. The church fathers like Clement of Rome (c. 95 AD), Polycarp (disciple of apostle John), Irenaeus (c. 150 AD), Tertullian (c. 175) and Clement of Alexandria (c. 200 AD) all accepted that Peter was indeed responsible for this epistle. This is apparent from the comment in the letter itself in 5:1 that the author was a witness to the sufferings of Christ. This eliminates many possible alternative authors. However, Peter’s comment in 5:12 indicates that Peter was employing Silvanus (that is, Silas of the book of Acts) to actually write the letter. It is very possible, then, that is was actually Silas/Silvanus who wrote up the Jerusalem Council decisions in Acts 15:22-29,  which Luke included in Acts 15.  This Epistle is written in polished Greek, again indicating Peter was using someone else to write.  Peter, as a trader in the fishing industry, could undoubtedly speak Greek, as that was the language of trade of the day, but the style seems to be more eloquent.   
As to the time of writing, James the head of the Jerusalem assembly had just been stoned to death by the Jewish hierarchy in 62 AD, the same year that Paul’s prison epistles were circulated. It is evident that Peter had read these prison letters of Paul as there are echoes of them in his epistle. Thus, there are similarities between Peter’s greeting in 1:1-3 and Paul’s in Ephesians 1:1-3; between Peter’s comments about servants and masters in 2:18 with Paul in Colossians 3:22, and Peter in 3:1-6 about husbands and wives, with Paul in Ephesians 5:22-24. This gives the time of Peter’s writing sometime soon after Paul’s prison letters were released and soon after the martyrdom of James -- in other words, sometime soon after 62 AD.

As to the latest possible date, the great fire of Rome was in 64 AD.  This was the time in which the Neronian persecution of Christians came to a new peak. The reason this is relevant is that in 4:12-16 Peter asserts that a fiery trial, affliction or persecution is about to come upon them. This comment may be seen in a context of a rise in general hatred of Jews and Christians. Both were regarded as disloyal to the emperor (because of their allegiance to God), as well as being rebellious (the Jews had a long series of clashes with Roman authority), and both groups were thereby unpopular. This rising discontent made it easy for Nero to blame the Christians for the fire which burned so much of Rome.  That increasing discontent had become obvious to Peter a year or so before the fire. This therefore limits the dating of this epistle to between 62 and 64 AD, with 63 AD being the most likely.

At that time, Peter, with Mark, was personally encouraging the dispersed Jews in Babylon (1 Pet. 5:13, Acts 12:12 ). Babylon was in the area then called Parthia, and Parthian Jews were in Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Although some critics have claimed there were no towns in that area at that time, during the first century, there was a town at the location of Babylon on the Euphrates. Peter and Mark were thus ministering to the Jews from that region who had heard the message of Messiah and responded.

Arguments have been made that Babylon in this letter refers to Rome. However, the only place in the Bible where Babylon refers to some other city is in Revelation, which had not been written at that time. Some want Babylon to refer to Rome on the basis of the Roman Catholic tradition that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. However, that in itself is problematical as Peter emphasizes that he is merely an “elder” among a number of other elders (5:1). He is not even Bishop of Jerusalem. In addition, Clement of Rome never mentions Peter as being there, and neither does Paul.

In this letter Peter talks about the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, the resurrection, the sanctification of the Spirit and the salvation of our souls. These developments were far beyond what James had written to the dispersed Jews much earlier, and so points to a later time when Christian doctrine had developed more fully. Peter may have taken the above events as an opportunity to encourage and warn the dispersed Jews to remain steadfast in the face of increasingly difficult times.

1 Timothy & Titus

In the spring of 63 AD, after waiting two years in Rome for his appeal to be heard, Paul was finally acquitted at his trial before Nero. He was released, and sailed from Rome with Titus to meet with Timothy south of Ephesus. The first port of call recorded for the ship on the way from Rome was the island of Crete. Several years earlier, Paul’s ship had stopped there on the way to Rome, intending to spend the winter there (Acts 27:12-13). But good weather had encouraged the ship to continue its trip (Acts 27:13). There were many Jews on Crete, some of whom had been in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11). It is thought by some that those Jews returned to Crete and founded a Messianic community there. Some initial contacts may well have been made by Paul when he first traveled to Rome. This time, coming back from Rome after the trial, we do not know how long Paul stayed in Crete, but we do know that he left Titus there to minister to the needs of that group. Paul himself continued on to the port of Miletus to meet Timothy, who had come the 50 miles or so south from Ephesus to meet him. Paul asked Timothy to stay in Ephesus and continue his ministry there rather than travel with Paul (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul assured him he would visit him in Ephesus again (1 Timothy 4:13). Paul then went from Miletus to Macedonia, ending up in Nicopolis. While there,  Paul wrote to Titus, back on Crete, with instructions for that church. He also wrote to Timothy to guide the church at Ephesus. Paul later sent Artemas and/or Tychicus to Crete to temporarily replace Titus so that Titus could assist Paul in Nicopolis for the coming winter of 63-64 AD (Titus 3:12). The writings of Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch agree that both the epistles 1 Timothy and Titus were written by Paul from Nicopolis in Macedonia (Titus 1:5, 3:12). This then places their composition sometime just before winter of 63 or 64 AD.

There is a hint that Paul might have gone to Spain after his time in Macedonia, just as he had hoped to do so many years before when he wrote Romans 15:24, 28. He actually affirmed it would be after he had gone to Macedonia to thank them for their support (Rom. 15:26). Though many have doubts if Paul ever did get to Spain, the early church historian, Clement of Rome, writing about 95 AD, just 30 years after Paul’s martyrdom, said that he did. In fact he states that Paul went to the “furthest limits to the West” to preach righteousness (1 Clement 5:5-7). To the Romans, while that description could mean Britain, it always included Spain. It is unlikely that Clement is unreliable, particularly since Clement was alive when Paul went and returned. Thus, if Paul really did go to Spain, it would have been for about a year or 18 months from the Spring of 64 AD to mid or late 65 AD. We know this because he was martyred in 67 AD or early 68 AD. We will consider more on his journeys when discussing 2 Timothy.


This letter is written to a community that knew their Old Testament well; in other words, a Jewish audience. Thus, the writer mentions the Exodus (verse 5); Satan’s rebellion (verse 6); Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7); Moses death (verse 9); Cain, Balaam and Korah (verse 11); Enoch (verses 14 & 15) and Adam (verse 14). These illustrations emphasize the message was to a mainly Jewish audience and that true faith & obedience should be maintained against error.

The writer of this epistle identifies himself as Jude, the brother of James (verse 1) who is thus implied as being either still alive or has just died and everyone knows about it. This letter is written long after the Apostle James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) in 44 BC, so it can only refer to James who was the leader of the Jerusalem assembly in Acts 15:13 and a very prominent leader. From the above discussion on the epistle of James, it was concluded that James was the half-brother of Jesus. This means that Jude may also have been the half-brother of Christ. Matthew 13:55 lists the brothers of Jesus as James and Judas (Jude), and two others. Acts 1:14 states that Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers (plural) were there in the upper room praying just before Pentecost. From the record of the rest of the New Testament, these brothers were certainly James and Jude (Judas). It is important to realize that Paul mentions that the Apostles, as well as the brothers (plural) of the Lord, and Peter, go abroad spreading the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:5). Again, this can only be referring to James and Jude, as Jesus’ other two brothers are never otherwise mentioned. Paul also spoke with James, the Lord’s brother, as a person holding a key position along with the apostles, when he went to Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19). For these reasons, it seems that this epistle was written by Jude the brother of James, both of whom were half-brothers of the Lord Jesus.

While James the Apostle had been killed by Herod in 44 AD, James the brother of Jude, and half-brother to Jesus, remained alive as the leader of the Jerusalem assembly until he was stoned to death in 62 AD, as noted by the Jewish historian Josephus. (James had been stoned due to his insistence that Jesus was the Messiah, arousing tremendous Jewish anger.) As we will see, Jude wrote shortly after that.

Jude had two purposes in writing his letter. First, false teachers had penetrated the fellowship and their errors had to be corrected. Second, the true believers had to be encouraged to make a stand for the truth and be built up in the faith. They were to do this by “praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping themselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (verses 20-21). In this there is a clear statement of the Trinity, as in Paul’s writings. The errors listed are very similar to those in 1Tim. 4 & 6 and 2 Tim. 2 & 3, which indicates that Jude was written in a similar time-frame, say 63 to 65 AD.

There is one other aspect to Jude that helps determine the latest it could have been written. Jude is mentioning the easy life and the sensuality that appeared to be pervading even the believing community. Persecution is not mentioned. The persecution ramped up very significantly when the great fire of Rome occurred in mid-64 AD. The Christians were blamed and persecuted intensely then. So the latest that Jude could write was early 64. He was dealing with similar doctrinal and behavioral problems that Paul was facing in the church in 63 AD.  In addition, his brother had just been stoned to death in Jerusalem and this may well have sparked that letter.  The best date we can estimate is thus 63-64 AD.

2 Peter

This epistle was written to the Jewish assemblies in order to rescue them from false teachers who were bringing in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). Peter actually states that this is the second letter he is writing to this group in 2 Peter 3:1. Several factors tend to indicate a late date for this epistle. First, the epistle to Jude had been written as it is effectively quoted in 2 Peter 2. This suggests a date after 64 AD. Second, the errors and dangers he mentions are very similar to those in the Pastoral epistles of Paul (1 Timothy 4:1,2; 6:5 & 20-21 and 2 Timothy 2:18 and 3:1-7). This suggests a similar timing in the period from 63 to 66 AD at the latest, since Peter was crucified in 67. Similarly, Paul’s epistles were known to the readers (2 Peter 3:15, 16) and it is inferred that Paul was still alive when Peter wrote. This means it was before 67 AD as Peter and Paul were both martyred that same year, and Peter had been warned by the Lord of the imminence of his death (2 Peter 1:14). There is also the hint that it was at an advanced time during the Apostolic age, as well as in the life of the writer, because he asks his readers several times to “put in remembrance” those things in which they had been instructed (2 Peter 1:12, 13, 15 and 3:1-2).

There has been some doubt thrown on Peter’s authorship of this letter. Critics point out the difference in style of writing compared with 1 Peter. The reason is readily apparent. 1 Peter 5:12 indicates it was written for Peter by Silvanus (Silas) who was a polished writer. However, the rougher style of 2 Peter is different. It suggests that Peter himself wrote this epistle, as he had good knowledge of Greek from his earlier trading activities. This is reinforced by the predictive parts of 2 Peter that seem to bear an echo of the Olivet Discourse of our Lord, and at the same time suggest the writer was there when the Discourse was given. Finally, it also indicates that Jerusalem had not yet fallen as it would have been referred to as an outstanding example of the veracity of the Lord’s prediction. Thus 2 Peter had to have been written before 69-70 AD, but soon after the fire of Rome in 64 AD as persecution and the “fiery trial” was beginning. When all these data are put together, a date around 65 AD seems the most likely.

2 Timothy

From the epistle of 2 Timothy we gain information of where Paul went after possibly returning from Spain before being arrested and imprisoned a second time in Rome.  The route he followed went from Ephesus, where he met Timothy and had an encounter with Alexander the coppersmith (1 Tim. 1:20, 2 Timothy 4:14), then on to Asia and Colossae to encourage Philemon and had an encounter with Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15-16). He then went on to Troas where he left his cloak, books and parchments with Carpus (2 Timothy 4:13). We might assume it was coming on summer or else Paul would not have left his cloak there. Finally, he caught a ship from Troas to Miletus (where he left Trophimus sick 2 Tim. 4:20) and then went on to Corinth, where Paul left Erastus (2 Timothy 4:20). We might assume that it was at Corinth or Nicopolis that Paul was arrested and taken to Rome as part of the huge persecution of Christians following the great fire. The information we have from church historians is that Paul was incarcerated in the Mamertine Prison where prisoners sentenced to death were held. Historians refer to it as cold, dark, dirty and smelly.  However, while there, Onesiphorus sought Paul out and was a source of blessing to him. Luke stayed with him to the end (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus to minister while Timothy and Mark come to him (2 Timothy 4:12).

Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written after Paul had appeared before Nero to defend himself the first time. When Paul wrote “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (2 Tim. 4:17),  he was probably referring to Nero, although he might have been referring to the fact that many condemned Christians were thrown to the lions.  However, on his second appearance before Nero, we have on record from Tertullian, Eusebius, Lactantius, Jerome and Chrysostom that the Emperor had Paul beheaded on the Ostian Way 3 miles outside Rome. Since that was late 67 AD or early 68 AD, then 2 Timothy must have been written in 66 or 67 AD. We can assume that Timothy and Mark eventually arrived in Rome, but we do not know for sure if they got to Paul before his martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:11-13). What we do know is that Timothy was imprisoned soon after that and then released late 69 or early 70 AD (Hebrews 13:23). Paul had asked Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome (2 Timothy 4:11). The church historian, Papias, indicates that Mark was martyred late in 68 AD. Other records from the church Fathers indicate Timothy was killed in Ephesus in 96 or 97 AD.

The Gospel of John

There is a different ‘atmosphere’ to this gospel from the other three. One thing the other gospels only hint at is the deep animosity that the religious hierarchy had to Jesus and His followers. In this gospel, there are details of eight intense interactions between Messiah and those religious leaders which form a black backdrop to the whole story. In the foreground are eight individuals whose interactions with Jesus’ led them to accept His Messianic claim. This gospel also lists eight miracles to support that Messianic claim. These interactions lead to an opening up of Jesus’ divinity, which the other gospels have not revealed nearly so eloquently.  It is very clear that the author of this gospel had to be present at these interactions and miracles to present the ebb and flow of the arguments and events.

In order to keep the focus on Jesus, John does not name himself.  Instead, he calls himself “another disciple” or, “the disciple that Jesus loved” or something similar eight times. In John 1:14 he asserts that he along with the other apostles were eyewitnesses, which limits who the author of this gospel could be. However, the statement in John 1:14 goes much further than that, because he is claiming to have actually seen Messiah’s glory. There were only three apostles who saw that glory on the mount of transfiguration: Peter, James and John. That particular James was killed by Herod in 44 AD, and this gospel does not bear the characteristics of Peter’s writings and was written with a very different emphasis. That only leaves John. Indeed, Clement of Rome, Irenaeus and Jerome all asserted that this gospel was written by the Apostle John. Papias, who lived near the end of John’s life, made a curious statement which nonetheless supports those opinions. Papias said the gospel was written by the apostle John “while he was still in the body,” presumably indicating that John was becoming aged when he wrote. We therefore accept here that the Gospel of John was written by the apostle John, one of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 10:2-4).

That this was written by John somewhat later in his life is also apparent from four other considerations. First, the other gospel writers did not seem to know about John’s gospel; it does not seem to have been written when they wrote. Second, John wrote as if his readers already knew many of the basic details which appear in those other gospel accounts. Third, one of the events that John presents as helping to precipitate the demand for Messiah’s crucifixion was the raising of Lazarus. Because of his testimony about Jesus’ miracle and about the hereafter, both of which conflicted with the thinking of the times, Lazarus’ life was threatened. For that reason, none of the other gospel writers thought it wise to mention this event. However, John did. Why? Possibly because Lazarus had finally died. This implies some time had passed since those events before John wrote. Fourth, there is the two-fold aspect relating to Peter. In the other gospels, it is mentioned that the ear of the High Priest’s servant was cut off. The other three writers never say who it was that did it. It was a highly illegal act of rebellion and arrest and imprisonment would inevitably follow. But John 18:10 labels the culprit as Simon Peter. This would jeopardize Peter’s ministry unless Peter had already died and was therefore beyond the reach of the Law. That Peter had indeed died shortly before the gospel of John was written is also implied by the comments in John 21:18-24. Because of Peter’s death, the legend which was now appearing about John had to be corrected. Under all these circumstances, it would appear that, since Peter was martyred in 67 AD, then John was writing some time soon after that.

As to the latest that John was writing, we note that John does not record the Olivet Discourse with its prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. If Jerusalem had been destroyed, that would have been a strong point of emphasis. Instead, John 5:2 says: “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which in Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches.” The actual tense of the verb is without doubt in this case. The Greek word "estin", translated “is”, is a present tense verb, not a past tense. So, John is saying that the pool and its surroundings still currently exist at the time of his writing. If they did not, it would be obvious that John did not know what he was writing about. One commentator drew an analogy: if someone wrote today that there is a nice restaurant on the top of the World Trade Center, Tower 2, then it would be an embarrassment to all New Yorkers as that restaurant and all its surroundings were totally destroyed September 11, 2001. In other words, John wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. If he wrote after, as some Christians did, it would have been mentioned in the same way it was in the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas 16:3-4. The conclusion from these facts is that John, son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John sometime between 67 & 69 AD.          


The time of the writing of Hebrews is clearly later than most of the other letters in the New Testament.  This is because there is no longer any question about which is supreme:  law or grace. The actual change to the new Way all started in 41 AD with Peter’s vision from the Lord where three times the Lord insisted, despite Peter’s objection to the offered non-kosher food, that “What God has cleansed, you must not call common or unclean” (Acts 10:11-17). This ultimately resulted in calling the Council of Jerusalem in 49 AD to discuss the Gentiles coming into the ‘ekklesia.’ In 56 AD, Paul wrote to the Galatians that “if righteousness came by the Law, then Christ was dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). In 57 AD, Paul had written in Romans 10:4 that “Christ is the end (expiration, conclusion) of the (Mosaic) Law of righteousness for everyone who believes.” So, the entirety of the sacrificial system and its priesthood under the Mosaic Law in had been completed, and changed to a new order under one Man, the Messiah, forever. Because Hebrews adheres so closely to Paul's teachings on these matters, it is apparent that it was written later than the letters referenced. 

Hebrews itself gives other clues as to the time of writing. The concluding statement in Hebrews is that Timothy had just been released from prison. Timothy became important from Acts 16:1 on Paul’s 2nd mission about 50 to 51 AD, but there is no hint of imprisonment in the intervening decade until 63 AD when the Ephesian epistle was written. In that year, Paul was acquitted by Nero and set sail to Crete and then to Miletus where he urged Timothy to continue his ministry in Ephesus. Three years later, Timothy was still in Ephesus when Paul was arrested for the second time and sent to the Mamertine prison in Rome in 66 or 67 AD. Paul then urged Timothy to bring Mark with him from Ephesus to visit him in that prison in Rome (2 Timothy 4:9 ff). Paul was beheaded very soon afterwards in 67 AD, so that is the latest date when Timothy was still free. He may well have been arrested when he enquired about or saw Paul for the last time in 67 AD. If this is true it means that Hebrews was probably written at least as late as 68 AD or more likely 69 AD when Timothy’s appeal was processed with his resulting release. Furthermore, these events also confirm that Hebrews was written from Italy, as Timothy would have been put in prison in or near Rome after enquiring about Paul.

There is one final set of observations, that come from the epistle itself, which give a possible upper limit to the date of writing. First, the city of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the epistle, only the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22, 11:16) which is an eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15). Indeed, it is emphasized that here we have NO continuing city, so we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). So, the existence of Jerusalem might be a problem. Second, the Temple is never mentioned, only the Tabernacle in the wilderness. If some say that the details given also apply to the Temple, there is a problem because the author states that “we cannot now speak particularly” about these details (Hebrews 9:5). Either way, this might imply that the Temple and all its equipment is no longer operational.

There is also a fascinating comment in Hebrews 8:13. It reads that God has made the Old Covenant “obsolete. Now that which has become obsolete and is growing old is ready to vanish away.” All the symbolism of the Old Covenant with its Mosaic Law and Levitical priesthood was focused in the Temple and its rituals. The statement implies that the Temple was ready to vanish away. If this interpretation of the verse is anywhere near correct, it seems to indicate that the siege of Jerusalem in 69 and 70 AD could have been in progress when Hebrews was written. Indeed, a literal Greek translation of Hebrews 8:13 reads that the old order “is being throttled to disappear.” The word ‘throttled’ is ‘eggus’ in Greek and is an apt description of the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem in the siege which occurred just before the city’s destruction. So, these three passages may be referring to that crucial event, and might also imply that Hebrews was written during that period, from 69 to 70 AD. This accords with Timothy’s release time as discussed above. If so, then Hebrews may have been written to plead with the Jews to turn to the Messiah in view of the forthcoming demise of Jerusalem and, along with it, the Temple worship system. This letter may represent a last reasoned appeal to accept Messiah’s offer that was first presented to them 37 years earlier at Pentecost.

The final matter concerns the author of Hebrews. The author appears to be Jewish in talking about the “fathers” in Hebrews 1:1-2. However, the author is not an apostle as Hebrews 2:3-4 state that the word “spoken by the Lord was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” This implies that the writer did not hear the words of the Lord Himself, but only the words spoken by those who had heard Him. In addition, the writer says that the gospel was “preached to us” as well as to others(Hebrews 4:2), so the author himself came under the preaching of someone who heard the Lord. Thus, the writer cannot be the apostle Paul (or any of the apostles) as Paul both heard the Lord and saw Him.

Another point of potential interest, which may bear further examination, is the fact that the writer slips easily from the use of “we” and “us” into “I” on a number of occasions. This may imply dual authorship or at least close consultation with a colleague. Then there is the fact that the writer is closely associated with Timothy as the final comment (Hebrews 13:23) was about his release and his traveling with the author to see the recipients of the epistle. This is reinforced by the postscript which actually states that Timothy was the scribe for the author’s dictation or ideas.

Then the final clue is that the author comes from Italy as well as being Jewish and perhaps a member of a twosome from the “we” and “us”. As we search the Biblical record, we find that Timothy and two others worked together in Corinth and ministered to Paul.  Timothy and the same two others also worked together in Ephesus. Therefore, these two were partners with Timothy in ministry and all came under Paul’s teaching. Finally, these two came from Italy and fled from Rome as a result of Claudius’ decree and originally met Paul and Timothy in Corinth. The two are, of course, Priscilla and Aquilla. The history of Rome shows that they established a Christian congregation there. But we leave further exploration of this possibility to others.

1, 2, &3 John

The structure of the Greek language and sentencing in these epistles is very similar to that in the Gospel of John. Therefore, despite various arguments, it has been widely accepted that John is the author of all three letters as well as his gospel. This view is reinforced by the contrasts which appear in both John’s 1st Epistle and John’s gospel, such as light and darkness, life and death, truth and falsehood, as well as love and hate. The similarities between these two continue with some 10 passages which bear a close resemblance to each other. If we list the 1 John passage first and the Gospel of John passage second, then a list something like this can be made: 1:1 cf 1:1,14; 1:4 cf 16:24; 1:6-7 cf  3:19-21; 2:7 cf 13:34-35; 3:8 cf 8:44; 3:14 cf 5:24; 4:6 cf 8:47; 4:9 cf 1:14, 18, 3:16; 5:9 cf 5:32, 37; 5:12 cf 3:36. The discussions in each one of these listed pairs are all closely related. If the development of some themes is included, other examples occur, such as John 20:31 showing the Divine life revealed in Christ which expands out to show the way of life is in the incarnate Son himself. The parallel theme in 1 John is in chapter 5:13 where the Divine life is revealed in Christians and the nature of that life is shown to be possessed by the children of God.

These parallels and resemblances strongly suggest that the writer of 1 John and the Gospel of John is indeed the same person.  Very similar comments in 1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John verse 7 also indicate the author in this case is also the same. There is another consideration. If the writer is indeed the apostle John, he would be in his later years. This is the implication also gained from these letters. First, he calls his audience “little children,” (1 John 2:1, 18, 28). Second, the opening greeting to both 2 John and 3 John are similar, with the writer calling himself “The Elder” as we have it in our translations. Actually, the word we have dignified as “Elder” is “presbuteros” in Greek which literally means “elderly,” “older,” “senior,” or just plain “old man” or “aged man,” although it may also refer to the position of Elder in a church.  It is therefore possible that John was affectionally known this way. So, the implication is that, at the time of writing, the author is becoming aged, just as John would be. These facts tend to confirm that the author of both the Gospel and the three letters is probably the same person. This is affirmed by some early church fathers like Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, as well as Polycarp who, as a young man, was taught by the apostle John. None of the early church fathers offered any other author as an alternative for the Gospel of John or the three letters attributed to John, and they were in a position where they would know.

This conclusion is enhanced by comments in the epistle itself. Thus 1 John 1:1-3 and 1 John 4:14 are key segments. There the author claims that he and the other apostles have seen and heard and handled the One who intrinsically is Life and that this Life was manifested to the apostles so that they could bear witness and declare it to others. Consequently, it is unlikely to be any other apostle than John because of the many corresponding passages between the gospel of John and this epistle. This is especially true when John 1:14 is considered in this context since it is claimed that the author saw Messiah in his Glory on the mount of transfiguration. Only Peter, James and John saw that, and both these other apostles had been martyred by the time John wrote. This leaves John alone to be the writer of both the Gospel and these letters which bear his name.

As to the first intended audience, the only clue that we have is from 3 John verse 7 which indicates that the recipients of this particular letter were Hebrews or from a Jewish base and were not Gentiles. The other clue comes from early tradition or statements by the church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria. Clement and others indicated that John had oversight of all the churches and their pastors in the Roman province of Asia, including Ephesus with its pastor Timothy. This tradition is supported from the fact that Revelation mentions 7 such churches in that area. It may have been because of John’s oversight of this region that he was given the letters to these 7 regional churches by the Lord. Thus 1 John is more like a circular letter to the region while 2 and 3 John are to specific congregations addressing specific problems that emerged locally in relation to that more general circular epistle.

The only dissenting voice to this comes from much later with Augustine’s commentary. There, 2 John bears a title “To the Parthians,” and that comment then appeared in the Latin Vulgate. While it is true that a strong Jewish community existed in Parthia, this title, “the Letter to the Parthians,” emerged very late, about 400 AD. The key point here is that nothing was stated about this by any of the church Fathers who were familiar with John or the circumstances of writing these epistles. Furthermore, some in the early Catholic church have suggested that instead of reading “To the Parthians” it actually may have read “Parthenos” or “To the Virgin.” Some then claim that this has become “To the elect lady” in today’s versions. However, 2 John 5 and 6 goes against that where John pleads with the “lady” to accept the ‘commandment’ that she had heard from the beginning. Furthermore, as it stands in the Greek, the word “lady” can actually be the proper name “Kyria” and has nothing to do with ‘virgin’ as verse 4 talks about her children. So John is responding to the reactions of a specific group of people. One concluding point here is that, whoever the ‘lady,’ or Kyria was, John was shortly going to travel and see her face to face to discuss these things more fully as he mentions this in 2 John 12.

Finally, the actual time of writing these epistles is a little more difficult to determine. From what has been written above, it is generally concluded that the timing may be somewhat late in the 1st century AD. Just how late is another matter. Since persecution is not mentioned in these letters, several options exist. First, they were not written during the Neronian persecution which went from the great fire in 64 AD until Nero’s suicide in 68 AD. Since the Gospel of John appears to have been written soon after Peter was martyred in 67 AD, and the other epistles of John date after that, then they cannot have been written before 68 AD. The next persecution started under Domitian. In 85 AD, Domitian gave orders to accord himself divine honors, but both the Jews and Christians objected to that and were persecuted as a result. That persecution began about 85 or 86 AD and continued for a decade until Domitian’s death in September of 96 AD. We may thus conclude that the letters were not written in that decade. This only leaves the period from 68 AD to 85 AD for these three epistles to be composed and be relevant. Let us see if we can be more specific.

It is here that we may need to understand what Jewish Christians in particular and John might be thinking, due to current events and their knowledge of Scripture. Since 66 AD, the Romans were involved in the so-called Jewish War in the Holy Land. Nero had died in 68 AD and, after some political instability, Vespasian finally emerged as Emperor in 69 AD. He appointed his eldest son, Titus, to lead the legions against Jerusalem. As the legions advanced, John and Jewish believers remembered both the Daniel 9 prophecy and Jesus’ Olivet discourse. The order of events from these two prophecies was that 1). Messiah would come and be killed. 2). The city of Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. 3) Antichrist would then appear and deceive many. 4). Messiah would finally return and set up His kingdom on earth that would never be destroyed.

For believers who were “watching and waiting,” item 1 had been fulfilled and item 2 was very close to being fulfilled. Thus, the appearance of the Antichrist was next on the list and evidence of his appearing was probably being watched for. What these believers were missing was Jesus statement in Luke 21:24 that, following the destruction of Jerusalem, that city “would be trampled down by the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles (the Church age) was fulfilled.” That interim period ended in June 1967 when Jerusalem was again back under Israeli control for the first time in 2000 years. However, these believers were apparently discussing the next possible event, as 1 John 2:18 says “you have heard it said that the Antichrist is coming.” So John picked this topic up and drew attention to it several times in 1 John 2:18-22 and 4:2-3, as well as in 2 John verse 7. Furthermore, if Antichrist was at the point of appearing, the return of Christ must also be close as item 4 on the list shows. So John hints at the Lord’s return as well in 1 John 2:28; 3:2-3 and 2 John 7. He also makes an interesting comment in the Greek where in 1 John 4:2-3 he says that “every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ having come in the flesh” is of God. This looked back to the first coming. However, in 2 John 7 he states that those who “do not confess Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh is a deceiver and Antichrist,” which looks on to His return. To the people under John’s shepherding, Jesus statement to John that he would linger until Jesus came for him might be taken to mean he would live until Christ came to rule. Since John was getting old, it might have been thought that items 3 and 4 were close to fulfillment if John was going to be alive when they happened. There was thus a reason to ignore Jesus statement in Luke 21 about the intervening period between items 3 and 4, even though that reason was not valid.

The outcome is that, at the time of writing 1 John, Jerusalem was very close to falling. As a result, it was also assumed that Antichrist was at the point of appearing, with Christ coming very soon after that. It is therefore quite possible that this letter was written at the time of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem around 70 AD. The other two letters were written very soon after, in order to answer the additional questions that had been raised.


The book of Revelation is a fascinating study. Its key verse, 1:19, allows its message to be divided in time. It reads, “Write the things which you have seen [the glorified Christ in Heaven in charge of events on earth – chapter 1], the things which are [the churches making up the Church Age or Times of the Gentiles – chapters 2 & 3], and the things which will take place after this [that is after the Church Age – chapters 4-21].” Chapters 4 to 21 tie in with both Old and New Testament prophetic statements to complete the overall picture and give some important details. For example, many times in the Jewish Scriptures it says that Messiah would reign over a united earth from David’s Throne in Jerusalem, and that it will be a time of peace and fruitfulness. In announcing to the virgin Mary that she would have a son, Jesus, the Angel Gabriel promised that Jesus would fulfil that promise (Luke 1:31-33).  This hearkened back to passages like Psalm 89: 3, 28-29, 34-37; 72; Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:6-7; Amos 9:11-15, etc. But it is only in Revelation 20:1-7 that it is revealed that this period of peace and blessing will last for 1000 years, or a Millennium, before a New Heaven and New Earth are created (Revelation 21).

The main part of Revelation (chapters 4-19) deal with conditions very closely following the Church Age and immediately prior to that time of Millennial blessing. Throughout the Bible it is mentioned a number of times that just before the Lord comes to reign over the earth for the Millennium, there would be a time of worldwide upheaval including astronomical and geological disasters (Isaiah 24). This is variously called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), or “the Indignation” (Isaiah 26:20; 30:30; Daniel 8:19), or “the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3), or “the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), or “the Tribulation, the great one” (Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14)  etc. Details of some events during this period are given in those passages as well as in Daniel 11:21-45. However, much more detail is given in Revelation chapters 6 to 19. Jesus said that the Great Tribulation will be worse than anything the earth and mankind has experienced since Creation (Mark 13:19; Matthew 24:21-22). In Daniel 9:27 we have the information that this time of Tribulation will last 7 years, during which a person, who is popularly called the Antichrist, will be in power. At the beginning of that 7 years he signs a Covenant which allows Israel to build their Temple, but after 3 ½ years he sets himself up in the Temple and causes all to worship him as God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Daniel 7:25, 8:13-14, Revelation 13:5 etc.). This period of wars and chaos ends with Christ returning to rule at the close of the so-called battle of Armageddon. That battle focusses on Jerusalem (Daniel 11:40-45; Zechariah 12:1-3, 14:1-20; Revelation 16:16-21, 19:11-21).

The foregoing summation leads on to a discussion of the time of writing of Revelation. There are basically two camps on this issue. First there are those who see all the events from the beginning of Chapter 2 to the end of Chapter 19 as having been fulfilled in the traumatic situation associated with the wipe-out of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This meant that the book had to be written just before or around the time of those events. The earliest date to be associated with Neronian persecution is 64 AD following the great fire. Then in 65 and 66 AD the Jewish War was about to commence. So 65 AD is about the earliest reasonable date on this approach, and that leads on to several related theologies for the whole book.                                                                                                                                                                           
Then there are those who see everything from Chapter 4 onwards as being truly in the future. In fact, even though Chapters 2 & 3 had an immediate application to churches at the time of writing, they are considered by some to be a pre-view of the whole period of the Church Age. As such they pre-figure the characteristics of different churches outlined there. So even in that sense, those chapters can be taken as having prophetic implications. As a result, Revelation is taken as having been written about 95 or 96 AD and these future events also give rise to a different group of theological approaches to the book.

So which option and interpretation of the book depends heavily on the likely date of writing, whether ‘early’ (65 or 66 AD) or ‘late’ (95 or 96 AD). If it was ‘early’, then the Caesar at the time of writing Revelation was Nero. If it was ‘late’, then the Emperor was Domitian. Both Nero and Domitian were responsible for a period of persecution which was taking place when Revelation was being written. According to the ‘early’ group of interpretations, it is often suggested that Nero must be the Antichrist. Against this suggestion is the fact that one of the church Fathers, Irenaeus, discussed a number of options for deciphering the 666 conundrum from Revelation 13:18, but Nero was not one of them. Indeed, no-one in the early church even considered that option, and it was not until 1831 that the critic Theodor Zahn first made the suggestion. Since then, quite a few people have tried to obtain the number 666 from the numerical value of the letters making up the name Nero. But to do so, you have to add the title ‘Caesar’ to his name in Hebrew and then change that into Greek instead of going into Greek directly. Even then a Hebrew letter must be missed out. So, while Nero definitely was an unsavory character, it is doubtful if he really was the Antichrist. This tends to lessen the impact of the ‘early’ group of interpretations.

There are a number of points which emerge from a study of the various churches listed in Revelation 2 & 3. The first of these is Ephesus. It was founded by the apostle Paul in 61 AD and he wrote the letter to them in 63 AD. There, in Ephesians 1:15, Paul commends them for their faith and love. However, Revelation 2:4 points out that the Ephesian church has lost these qualities. In 68 AD Nero committed suicide, and if he was the Antichrist the message to the church at Ephesus had to be written before that. So if the ‘early’ approach is held to be valid, then in a matter of only 5 years the Ephesians had lost all those desirable attributes. This may be problematical.

The last church is Laodicea, which is mentioned in Revelation 3:17 as having great wealth. But in 60 AD a great earthquake almost destroyed the city and economy entirely. The siphon and aqueduct into the city were badly damaged and had to be repaired. Part of the old aqueduct was still standing, but was tilted badly and abandoned and a new section built. For the city to come back from that disaster to be thriving and prosperous again would take more than just the 7 years or so before Revelation was written according to the ‘early’ approach. But a total recovery time of 35 years seems more reasonable on the ‘late’ time of writing.

There is also a doctrinal problem mentioned in the section on the churches, namely the influence of the Nicolaitans in 2:6 & 15. This is a fully-fledged sect at the time Revelation was written. Yet in 64 and 66 AD, when the epistles of Jude and 2 Peter were written, this sect and their doctrine was merely hinted at. If we take the ‘early’ date for the writing of Revelation, the Nicolaitans had grown exponentially in less than 5 years. However, if we take a ‘late’ date around 95 AD, the problem is entirely resolved, as 30 years would have passed since the origin of this sect.

Another point that emerges from the text is the interpretation of Revelation 11 starting at verse 1. Those who accept the ‘early’ dating see this segment on the Temple as evidence that the Temple is still standing, which it had to be if the ‘early’ date is valid. If that was so, there was no need to measure the Temple as its dimensions were well known. One key point in Revelation 11 is that the court outside the Temple is not to be measured as it will be under Gentile control. This is an entirely different situation to that existing in either the 1st or 2nd Temples. There, that court was within the boundaries of the Temple. It implies that a different Temple had yet to be built with the outer court entirely missing instead of being within the Temple walls. When that (different) Temple exists, two witnesses are empowered to prophesy for 1260 days and they cause no rain to fall during that time. After that, the Gentile nations will tread Jerusalem under foot for an additional 42 months, making a total of 7 years of the time for this Temple’s existence. Nothing like this happened before, during or after the 70 AD Temple destruction. So, the implication is that these events in Jerusalem are yet future when the Temple is rebuilt and Antichrist then sets himself up in the Holy of Holies and causes all to worship him as God (Daniel 8:11-14, 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-5; Revelation 13). When these other Biblical passages on the same issue are included in the discussion about Revelation 11, it appears that the ‘late’ date is the more viable option that meshes with other passages. This is particularly the case when Jesus’ comment that the 7-year Tribulation will be worse than anything the earth and mankind has experienced since Creation (Mark 13:19) is taken into account. Though the destruction of Jerusalem and all its attendant horrors around 70 AD were bad, they were nothing worse than the siege and destruction of a number of other cities down through the ages. In that sense, if Jesus is taken at His word, the 70 AD event, though prophesied, is not the period of the Great Tribulation. So the ‘late’ option fits better.

As far as the author is concerned, the book states it was John, who was their companion in tribulation (NOT ‘the Tribulation, the Great One’). As part of this lesser tribulation, suffering and persecution, he was in exile on the island of Patmos. This in itself was typical of the type of persecution and punishment that Domitian used rather than Nero. If Nero had been persecuting him, his typical method was to have the person killed as he did for Peter and Paul. The author states that this exile on Patmos occurred because of his proclamation of the Scriptures and his testimony about Jesus the Messiah (Revelation 1:9). This can only be the Apostle John since his was an eyewitness testimony. Against this, it is claimed that the style of writing in Revelation is quite different from the Gospel of John and his three epistles. The conclusion is that, on this basis it was not the Apostle John, but someone else.  However, several commentators have pointed out that John was writing while under the direction of the Holy Spirit who was filling his mind with unusual ideas, pictures and concepts in quick succession (Revelation 1:10). We also find that John was writing and recording this experience while it was happening (Revelation 2:1 etc; 10:4; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5). Therefore, he was not following his usual more leisurely or carefully considered forms of writing. So, the different form of writing in itself is evidence of his unusual experience, not of a different author.

The final word on the dating comes from two sources. First, the Syriac Peshitta, in some initial comments on Revelation, claims it was the persecution under Nero that the churches were suffering at the time. Initially this might be thought to favor the ‘early’ date. However, this version of Revelation only appeared in the 4th century AD and there was no similar comment earlier. In fact, Irenaeus and Jerome both claim the persecution was that of Domitian. Since they were both closer in time to the actual writing of Revelation, it must be assumed that they had a better knowledge of the situation. This is all the more pertinent since Irenaeus heard Polycarp, (who was trained by John) actually speak of these matters. Thus, the evidence favors the persecution to be that of Domitian.

The ultimate conclusion from all this is that John was writing before the death of Domitian in 97 AD, when John was released. Domitian’s death also allowed local deities to once again be worshipped, as that had been denied when the Emperor demanded divine honors. Indirectly, this led to the death of Timothy in Ephesus. A procession venerating ‘Diana of the Ephesians’ took place to celebrate the Ephesian release from Domitian’s restrictions. Timothy, as pastor at Ephesus, halted the procession and proclaimed Christ, whereupon he was martyred by stoning. With the demise of Timothy, John took up residence in Ephesus and guided the churches in that region until his death, soon after 100 AD, aged about 94.


Timeline for Acts and Epistles   [Dates marked * are Historically fixed; (p) in letter postscript in KJV]

Palm Sunday Crucifixion, Resurrection, Christ's Ascension 40 days later Acts 2: 1-13
Promise of the Spirit fulfilled at Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) Acts 2: 1-13
Gospel preached in Judea; Jerusalem church established Acts 2:40-47
Persecution of The Way begins; Stephen stoned to death, disperson starts Acts 4:1-22; 5:21-42; 7:1-60
Matthew's Gospel (to Jews). Oldest tradition -- written in Caesarea Gospel of Matthew
Gospel preached in Samaria and to the Ethiopian Eunuch Acts 8:1-40
Saul (Paul) converts to the Way; preaches in Damascus; escapes in a basket Acts 9:1-25
Saul meets with disciples in Jerusalem Acts 9:26-30
First Gentiles (Roman soldiers) convert to the Way via Peter's ministry Acts 10:1-48
Gospel of Mark written with Peter's help for Roman audience Gospel of Mark
Church established at Antioch -- first called "Christians" there Acts 11:19-30
James killed by Herod Agrippa I; Peter arrested & escapes; Herod dies Acts 12:1-25
Barnabas & Saul chosen; James writes letter (48/49) Acts 13:1-3; Book of James
Paul's 1st mission (Saul becomes Paul). Cyprus, Antioch, Iconium Lystra. Acts 13:4 - 14:26
Paul & Barnabas report back to church at Antioch -- many Gentiles accept Acts 14:27-28
Council at Jerusalem to decide if Gentile Christians should keep law Acts 15:6-35
Claudius expels Jews from Rome -- rioting about "Chrestos" -- 45,000 leave Aquila/Priscilla go to Corinth
2nd Mission -- Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth. Tim & Luke join Acts 15:36-18:22
Paul writes 1&2 Thessalonians, probably from Athen (p) &/or Corinth 1&2 Thessalonians
3rd Mission -- Galatia, Phrygia, Ephesus, Macedonia, Greece, Troas, Miletus Acts 18:23-21:17
Claudius dies -- Jews can return to homes in Rome. Nero emperor at 16 history
Paul writes Galatians and 1 Corinthians from Ephesus Clement of Rome;Galatians, 1 Corinthians
Paul writes 2 Corinthians from Macedonia (p) and Romans from Corinth ("Greece") Acts 20:2-3 (p); 2 Corinthians, Romans
Paul goes from Tyre, Ptolemais, Casearea to Jerusalem and is arrested Acts 21:7-22:29
Paul in prison at Caesarea. Gives his testimony to Festus and Agrippa II Acts 23:23 - 26:32
Luke writes Gospel while Paul in Caesarea prison. Interviews eyewitnesses Gospel of Luke
4th Mission -- Paul's long voyage to Rome; stops at Crete; shipwreck at Malta Acts 27:1, 12-13 - 28:1-10
Paul reaches Romes Acts 28:11-16
Paul ministers in Rome while under house arrest. Luke finalizes Acts Acts 28:17-31
Paul writes "prison letters" (p) Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
James stoned to death Josephus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius)
Peter's fist letter about now. Book of Acts complete. 1 Peter, Acts
Spring, Paul acquitted and released. Sails from Rome to meet Titus in Crete Titus 1:5
Paul leves Titus and sails to Nicopolis (Macedonia) -- 5th Mission Titus 1:5 and 3:12
Paul writes 1 Timothy and Titus at Nicropolis. Goes to Spain? (Romans 15:24,28) 1 Timothy, Titus
Latest date for Jude Jude
Great fire in Rome-- Nero blames Christians; persecution starts history
Peter's second lettr about now (he quotes Jude) 2 Peter
Paul writes 2 Timothy during final imprisonment in Rome 2 Timothy
Nero crucifies Peter; beheads Paul Tertullian, Eusebius, Lactantius, Jerome, and Chrysostom
John writes Gospel ( implies Peter now dead but Jerusalem still there) Gospel of John
June 9 -- Nero suicide. Political instability Galba, Otho, Vitellus
Vespasian emerges as Emperor after 4 leaders in one year history
Hebrews written in Italy; Jerusalem besieged Hebrews
John's three letters 1, 2, &3 John
Jerusalem sacked; Temple destroyed, disperson of Jews around Empire history
John on Patmos writes Revelation; Domitian dies; Timothy killed Revelation; Polycarp