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Doctrine of Pauls Chronology of his Life

July 23, 2010

Phase One – Pre-Christian Saul
A.D. 5-10 – Saul is born in Tarsus in Cilicia of orthodox Pharisaic Jews who are Roman citizens.
A.D. 10 + – Saul’s family moves to Jerusalem while he is still quite young (Acts 26:4).
A.D. 15-20 – Saul begins his studies in Jerusalem with Rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of Rabbi     Gamaliel the elder.
A.D. 30 – Jesus is crucified by Pontius Pilate.
A.D. 31?-34-Saul persecutes the church in Jerusalem/Judea, Samaria); Stephen is stoned (Acts     6-7, ca. 32-33).

Phase Two – Conversion and “Hidden Years”
A.D. 33 (or 34) – Saul is converted on the Damascus road and then travels on to Damascus     (Ananias episode).
A.D. 34-37 – Saul in Arabia, the Nabatean region of Syria east of Damascus and in the     Transjordan (cf. Gal 1:17).  Saul returns to Damascus and narrowly escapes the     authorities under King Aretas IV, who may have controlled the city beginning in 37 once     Gaius Caligula became Emperor (cf. 2 Cor 11:32/Acts 9:23-25).
A.D. 37 – Saul’s first visit to Jerusalem, a private meeting with Peter and James (Gal 1:18-20).     Saul preaches to the Hellenists, and escapes to his home region of Syria and Cilicia by     way of boat from Caesarea Maritima (Acts 9:29-30).
A.D. 37-46 – Saul preaches in home region; results unknown or inconsequential (possible great     persecutions, cf. 2 Cor 11:23-29).
A.D. 41-42 – Saul has a visionary experience; receives “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:1-10), a     physical malady possibly involving his eyes (Gal 4:13-16).
A.D. 47 – Saul is found by Barnabas in Tarsus and brought to Antioch; preaches there for a year     (Acts 11:25-26).
A.D. 48 – Second visit to Jerusalem (the famine visit) with Barnabas and Titus (Acts 11:27-    30/Gal 2:1-10).  Private agreement between Saul and the church leaders that he and     Barnabas would go to Gentiles, Peter and others to Jews, and circumcision not be     imposed.  Issues of food and fellowship between Jewish and Gentile Christians     unresolved (cf. Gal 2:11-14).

Phase Three – Paul Begins His Endorsed Missionary Travels and Efforts
A.D. 48 – First missionary journey with Barnabas and Mark; commissioned by Antioch church     after basic endorsement from Jerusalem (Acts 13-14). Saul uses his Greco-Roman name     Paul (Paulos).
A.D. 48 – Return to Antioch.  Antioch incident with Peter and Barnabas withdrawing from     fellowship meals with Gentiles due to pressure from Judaizers from Jerusalem (Pharisaic     Jewish Christians, Gal. 2:11-14).
A.D. 49 (early) – Paul discovers the Judaizers had moved on to Asia Minor and were upsetting     some of his converts made during the first missionary journey in south Galatia (Pisidian     Antioch, Iconium, etc.).  He writes his letter to the Galatians shortly before going up to     Jerusalem for the third time.
A.D. 49 (later) – Apostolic council in Jerusalem. Public agreement that Gentiles not be required     to become Jews in order to become Christians.  Apostolic decree mandates that Gentiles     must forsake idolatry and immorality, in particular, dining in pagan temples where such     things transpire (i.e., no eating of meat offered to and partaken of in the presence of idols,     Acts 15).
A.D. 50-52 – Second missionary journey of Paul with Silas (Silvanus) instead of Barnabas and     Mark. This is important, for Silas is the apostolic delegate who was to explain the decree     to the churches, and he had independent authority from Jerusalem, not from Paul (Acts     15:22).  Paul travels to Philippi and Thessalonica, and eventually he stays a considerable     time in Corinth before going to Ephesus and then Jerusalem, returning afterward to     Antioch (Acts 15:40-18:23).  On this journey he picks up Timothy in Lystra (Acts 16:1)     and Luke in Troas (l6:l0ff.).
A.D. 51-52 – During his stay in Corinth, Paul writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians, with the help of     Silvanus.
A.D. 51 or 52 – The Gallio incident (Acts 18:12-18) and increasing troubles from Jews in     Corinth eventually precipitate Paul leaving Corinth after staying between eighteen and     twenty-four months.
A.D. 52 – Second missionary period concludes apparently with a report to the Jerusalem church     (Acts 18:22), and a return to Antioch.

Later Pauline Chronology
A.D. 53-57(58) – Third missionary journey. After an eighteen-month stay in Corinth (Acts 18:     11), Paul sails for Syria, probably in the spring of 52, stopping briefly in the port of     Ephesus and leaving Aquila and Priscilla to lay the groundwork for future missionary     work (cf. below).  After preaching once in the synagogue and promising to return     (18:19), he goes to Caesarea Maritima, visits briefly in Jerusalem, and returns to Syrian     Antioch.  After a stay there, Paul sets out on his last major missionary period as a free     man, passing     through the Galatian region and strengthening the congregation there, but     pressing on to     Ephesus where he stays for at least two and     perhaps three years.
A.D. 54 (55) – Paul writes 1 Corinthians from Ephesus.  Not the first letter he had written them,     but the first one still extant (cf. l Cor 5:9-10).  This letter addresses the many questions     and problems raised by the Corinthians both orally and in writing in their communication     with Paul since he had left there.  First Corinthians failed to solve the problems in     Corinth, however, as 2 Corinthians makes evident.  News, perhaps from Timothy, comes     to Paul of real trouble in Corinth after writing 1 Corinthians.
A.D. 55 – The painful visit to Corinth (2 Cor 2:1, not mentioned in Acts).
This visit is a disaster, as opposition comes to a head. Paul’s authority is questioned and     he leaves, feeling humiliated.  As a result, Paul writes a stinging, forceful letter (the so-    called severe letter), a fragment of which may be found in 2 Corinthians 10-13.  Titus is     the bearer of this severe letter.  Paul begins to regret this letter, and after some missionary     work in Troas he crosses over into Macedonia anxious to hear Titus’s report on the     results of the severe letter (this journey corresponds to the journey from Troas to     Macedonia found in Acts 20:1-16).
Fall A.D. 55 or 56 – After hearing some good news from Titus, Paul writes 2 Corinthians (at     least chapters 1-9) with some relief, though he realizes there are still problems to be     overcome. Shortly after, he journeys to Corinth, where he stays for three months, then     returns to Philippi in Macedonia at Passover.
Late A.D. 56 or early 57 – Paul writes Romans from Corinth (cf. Rom 16:1), shortly before     setting out for Jerusalem for the last time (Rom 15:25).
A.D. 57 – Paul travels byway of boat from Philippi to Troas (where the famous Eutychus     incident happens, Acts 20:7-12), and then to Miletus, where he makes his famous     farewell speech (Acts 20:18ff.), and finally hastens on to be in Jerusalem in time for     Pentecost in May 57.  Landing at Tyre, he strengthens Christians there and is warned not     to go to Jerusalem, but he continues southward, stopping at Caesarea Maritima to visit     with Philip the evangelist and his prophesying daughters (Acts 21:8-9).  Here he     encounters Agabus, who prophesies his being taken captive and handed over to the     Gentiles (note that Luke was with Paul on this journey and later chronicled these events).
A.D. 57-59 – After an incident in the temple courts which leads to Paul being taken into custody     by a Roman tribune, Paul asks to speak to his people and recount his conversion and     mission (Acts 22) in Aramaic).  A near riot breaks out, and Paul is taken to the Roman     ruler’s Palestinian headquarters in Caesarea Maritima so that Governor Felix can deal     with Paul.  He is allowed to languish in some kind of prison or house arrest situation for     two years until Festus becomes governor (probably in 59 or at the latest, 60).  Some     scholars believe Paul wrote the Captivity Epistles (Philemon, Philippians, Colossians,     and Ephesians) from Caesarea before departure for Rome by boat.
A.D. 59-60 – Seasonal data suggest the journey to Rome took place in late 59, during the risky     time for sea travel, and that Paul probably arrived in Rome at least by February of 60 (cf.     Acts 27-28).
A.D. 60-62 – Paul is under house arrest in Rome, during which time he is traditionally thought to     have written the Captivity Epistles, with Philippians probably being the last of these (in     62, shortly before the resolution of Paul’s trial).
Note that all data beyond this point is largely inferential and conjectural since Acts ends with Paul in Rome, and the pastoral epistles do not tell us a great deal about Paul’s movements.

A.D. 62 – The conclusion of Acts shows that Luke knows that Paul was under house arrest for      only two years, and it is to be pointed out that at no point in his many interviews or trials     is Paul ever found guilty of any crime at the hands of the Romans (cf. especially Acts 24-    26).  Furthermore, if Paul’s case was resolved in 62, this was before the time of the fire in     Rome (July 64), which also means it was before the time Nero descended into tyranny     and was looking for scapegoats, and before Christianity really had come under close     imperial scrutiny.  Note, too, that the Pastorals do not suggest a situation of house arrest     but rather imprisonment by Roman authorities; in other words, a situation that Paul was     not in during the period from 60 to 62, so far as we know.  The following scenario is     possible if Paul was released in 62.
A.D. 62-64 or later – Paul travels back east in response to problems. This includes a possible     summer in Asia Minor (Ephesus?) and a summer and winter in Crete and Greece.
Sometime after July 64, Paul is arrested in Asia Minor and taken overland to Rome.
A.D. 64 (late) to 68 – The years of the Neronian tyranny and paranoia.  If the Pastorals are by     Paul, then they were likely written during this time when Paul appears to have been in     Mamertine prison, or a similar facility in Rome. Under such circumstances, it is likely     that Paul would have had to rely heavily on a trusted amanuensis (secretary) to write the     Pastoral Epistles for him. The most likely conjecture is that Luke provided this service,     which explains why these letters often reflect Lukan style, diction, and even some ideas.
A.D. 65-68. Paul is executed as a Roman citizen by beheading.