Early Dates for the New Testament Books

These early dates based upon three historical dates including: Nero’s persecution in AD 64, the Judean war with Rome in AD 66–70, and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70. None of the New Testament books indicate the destruction of Jerusalem, and so some scholars date all the New Testament before AD 70. This article considers possible dates before AD 70.

Matthew – AD 34–58

– The author of Mathew wrote before the Gospel of Luke in which Luke referred to previously written narratives by “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” of which most likely include Matthew and Mark (Luke 1:1–3; cf. 1 John 1:1–4). Matthew noted that Caiaphas was the High Priest in the present tense, and yet, Caiaphas was removed in AD 36 (Matt 26:3).

Mark – AD 35–58
– John Mark was in the company of Peter earlier in Acts (Acts 12:6–25). According to early church history, Mark wrote the teachings of Peter. Luke’s Gospel may include the Gospel of Mark among the previously written texts (Luke 1:1–3). Mark may have also written his text before Caiaphas was removed in AD 36, because Mark wrote without noting the current High Priest’s name. However, Mark most likely wrote around AD 64 when was in the company of Peter in Rome.

James – AD 48–50
– James’s 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 – AD 48–52
– The Apostle Paul dealt with believers following Moses’s 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 – AD 53
– 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; cf. Acts 17:15; 18:5–8). His second letter to the Thessalonians was soon after.

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

Romans – AD 57
– Paul wrote to the Romans at his second visit to Corinth as indicated by Paul’s reference to Erastus the treasurer of Corinth and sending Phoebe from Cenchreae (Romans 16; cf. Acts 18:5–8; 20:1–3).

Luke – AD 58–59
– 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 – AD 50–61
– John wrote this Gospel as a witness (John 19:35; 21:24), and before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (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 (2 Pet 1:16–21; 1 John 1:1–4).

Acts – AD 58–60
– 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 – AD 58–63
– 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; cf. 2 Pet 1:16–21; 1 John 1:1–4).

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, & Hebrews – AD 60–63
– These letters were written during Paul’s first imprisonment as indicated by the apostle Paul in His writings (Acts 28:30–31; cf. 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 – AD 61–66
– 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 (2 Pet 1:16–21; 1 John 1:1–4).

2 Timothy – AD 64
– 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 – AD 63–67
– Peter’s second letter was written just before his death (2 Pet 1:13–15; 3:2, 15–16). This writing is also dated according to the historical time of Peter’s death.

Jude – AD 64–69
– Jude’s epistle was written in fulfillment of 2 Peter (2 Pet 2).

Revelation – AD 69–79
– 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 AD AD (Rev 11:1–2) and during the sixth Emperor of Rome (Rev 17:9–10).

All of these writings are quoted by early church writers. In 180, Irenaeus, who knew John’s disciple Polycarp, quoted from every New Testament book while also excluding and opposing Gnostic writings. Origen listed the 27 books in his commentary on John.

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

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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8 Responses to Early Dates for the New Testament Books

  1. messiah gate says:

    The accurate dating of Revelation is critical to our understanding of eschatology — whether one is Dispensational or Amillennial. 70 AD is clearly the demarcation as the early dating invalidates what is taught by so many Dispensational pastors today such as the prophetic frenzy with regards to blood moons and such.


    • I don’t see how it is critical, but it does make sense.


      • messiah gate says:

        It is critical in the sense that a whole lot of mainstream churches are preaching a false theology regarding end times prophesy.

        Popular teachers are fixated on Blood Moons and ancient harbingers. They exegete the Bible from this morning’s newspaper — especially those that relate to the Middle East.

        Even 9/11 is prophetically connected to the Shemitah judgements against ancient Israel.

        We are admonished to beware the false prophets for they will lead astray many such as those who ardently believed Harold Camping’s prediction that Christ would return on May 21, 2011.

        Dispensationalists date Revelation in the 90’s AD well after the climatic destruction of Jerusalem. In so doing they can defend their premillennial interpretation of John’s vision.

        Amillennials understand that the OT books of Daniel and Ezekiel are apocalyptic and parallel to the NT Apocalypse (Revelation). This can only be true if the book was written prior to the destruction of the Temple otherwise it would make no sense to the churches to whom it was sent.

        While the church, today, engages in fanciful discussions about the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:18) it is fairly certain that John’s readers understood his cryptic reference.


        • Amen. I agree. However, I know many amillennialists who believe that John wrote Revelation in about 96 AD. If you have any more insight on this, I am eager to read your observations. God bless.


          • messiah gate says:

            R.C. Sproul said that the dating of Revelation has specific relevance to our understanding of the Millennium. If we believe that the Apocalypse was significant to 70 AD then the Amillennial view is the more defensible position. If, however, we hold a futurist view — tribulation, antichrist and rapture — then the premillennial view is more agreeable.

            I believe that the prophesy of Christ (as recorded in Matthew 24) was fulfilled “in that generation” — that is, 70 AD. With regards to the rapture, Christ says He will raise us up on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). Four times Christ says there is a “last day” which I believe is a reference to the Second Coming. Peter calls it the “day of the Lord” when the heavens are burned up (2 Peter 3:10). And Christ says that the hour is coming when all will hear his voice and be resurrected either to life or judgement. (John 5:28-29).

            This Amillennial view of the “last day” does not allow for “left behind” scenarios of mid-trib rapture where planes fall out of the sky because the crew has been mysteriously “caught up”. That makes for thrilling movies , but it is not Biblical.

            I am curious about Amillennials who accept a late-date because the apologetic presuppositions of Amillennialism can only be supported if we believe that Revelation was written as a warning to the church pre-AD 70.

            Was it the Great Tribulation? Over one million Jews were killed, and many thousands taken captive. There was mass starvation such that mothers ate their own children. The brutal horror unleashed by Rome was merciless. Josephus wrote that no city in the history of the world suffered the death and destruction that Rome inflicted upon Jerusalem.

            Sounds eerily similar to the words of Christ:

            “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, and never will be.” (Matthew 24:21)

            In context, Jesus is prophetically speaking of Jerusalem since we would agree (whether Amillennial or Premillennial) that the Jewish people have suffered terrible evil; but the destruction of the Temple was the end of all that Judaism rested upon.

            Scott, thank you for being so gracious. I miss the Church of Christ.


            • Thank you. You present the truth well. It is very smooth and easy to accept. While I deduce that John wrote Revelation in 69 AD, I have not thoroughly relied upon this conclusion. I have some things to reconsider when I speak about Revelation in October.


  2. 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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