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).
– 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.