Early Dates for the New Testament Writings (Before 70 AD)

Matthew – 34-36 AD
- This Gospel was certainly written before the Gospel of Luke in which Luke referred to previously written narratives by “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” of which must include Matthew (Luke 1:1-3, cf. 1 John 1:1-4). Matthew noted that Caiaphas was the High Priest in the present tense and Caiaphas was removed in 36 AD (Matt. 26:3). Matthew must have been written some time after the empty tomb (Matt. 28:13-15).

Mark – 35-44 AD
- Mark was in the company of Peter earlier in Acts (Acts 12:6-25). Mark’s Gospel would also be one of the previously written Gospels that is mentioned in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:1-3). Mark may have been written before Caiaphas was removed in 36 AD because Mark wrote without noting the current High Priest’s name.

James – 48-50 AD
- James’ epistle was most likely written when James was a visible leader in Jerusalem, and yet before the controversies of Christians keeping the Law of Moses (Acts 15:13ff). In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Paul also noted that James was an Apostle and the brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19).

Galatians – 50-52 AD
- The Apostle Paul dealt with believers following Moses’ Law over the Gospel of Christ in his letter to the Galatians. These circumstances clearly developed after Paul’s first missionary journey throughout Galatia, and after Paul and Barnabas brought this same controversy from Antioch to Jerusalem (Acts 14:23-28, 15, 16:4).

1 & 2 Thessalonians – 53 AD
- According to 1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote this first letter when Timothy was reunited with Paul from Macedonia as described in Acts (1 Thess. 3:1-6, Acts 17:15, 18:5-8). His 2nd letter to the Thessalonians was soon after.

1 & 2 Corinthians – 55, 56-57 AD
- Paul noted that he wrote this letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus in which he stayed there for some time (1 Cor. 16:8, Acts 19:21-22). His 2nd epistle came soon after.

Romans – 57 AD
- Paul wrote to the Romans at his second visit to Corinth (Acts 20:1-3, cf. 18:5-8).

Luke – 58-59 AD
- Luke wrote his Gospel obviously supplementing previously written Gospels (Luke 1:1-3). Luke wrote this Gospel when he was in the company of eyewitnesses of Jesus, who were his sources (Luke 1:1-3). With the extent of time that Luke spent with Paul in Judea, this must have been written when Luke wrote his Gospel (Acts 21-26).

John – 50-61 AD
- John wrote this Gospel as a witness (John 19:35, 21:24), and before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (John 5:1-3). John clearly supplements the other Gospels without the same details (ex. Jesus’ baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and baptism in Jesus’ name), but John does mention these institutions by alluding to them. John’s Gospel was written earlier than John’s epistles, because John and Peter both mention writing at about the same time (1 John 1:1-4, 2 Pet. 1:16-21).

Acts – 58-63 AD
- Luke clearly wrote Acts after Luke’s Gospel and finished Acts with Paul under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:30-31). Because of the account of the beginning of the Church in Judea, Luke would have started this writing with those same Judean witnesses that he used for His Gospel.

1 Peter – 58-65AD
- Peter wrote from Rome and his first epistle must have been before John could note the writings of the Apostles in 1 John (1 Pet. 5:12-13, 1 John 1:1-4, 2 Pet. 1:16-21).

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, & Hebrews - 60-63 AD
- These letters were written during Paul’s first imprisonment as indicated by the Apostle Paul in His writings (Acts 28:30-31, Eph. 3:1, 4:1, 6:20, Phil. 1:7, 13-16, Col. 4:10, Phile. 1:1, 9-10, 13, 23, Heb. 10:36).

1-3 John – 61-66 AD
- In 1 John, John said that “we”, the Apostles, were writing, which included Peter’s epistles and Paul’s as later noted in Peter’s second epistle (1 John 1:1-4, 2 Pet. 1:16-21).

2 Timothy – 65-67 AD
- Paul’s final epistle was written just before his death while in prison in Rome (2 Tim. 1:8, 4:6-8). This writing is dated according to historical accounts of the time of Paul’s death.

2 Peter – 67-68 AD
- Peter’s second letter was written just before his death (2 Pet. 1:13-15, 2 Pet. 3:2, 15-16). This writing is also dated according to the historical time of Peter’s death.

Jude – 65-69 AD
- Jude’s epistle was written in fulfillment of 2 Peter (2 Pet. 2).

Revelation – 69 AD
- Revelation was written as its was revealed (Rev. 10:4, 14:13, 19:9, 21:5). This revelation came to John before Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD (Rev. 11:1-2) and during the 6th Emperor of Rome (Rev. 17:9-10).

*Also see my article on the 1st century formation of the New Testament collection to understand the affirmation of these writings and their chronology as a whole.

About Scott Shifferd Jr.

Minister, Dean Road church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of three. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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2 Responses to Early Dates for the New Testament Writings (Before 70 AD)

  1. Scott. I favor an early dating of Matthew. But it appears Matt 26:3 is not in the present tense. Both KJV and NIV use past tense – “was” — 3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas.
    Do you have any source that confirms a present tense was involved?

    • Excellent question. The phrase is misinterpreted “the high priest, who was called Caiaphas”, but in Greek for “was called” is legomenou, which is a participle in the present tense and should be “the high priest, who is called Caiaphas”. You can use Robinson’s Morphological Analysis Code for Matthew 26:3. There are no variants that I found for this translation.

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