Just in Time

The Chronology of Paul’s Writings

Each of Paul’s letters have significant truth that every believer in Christ needs to know and apply. They help us understand God’s plan for the ages, our salvation and many practical ways to daily live out the gospel.

Often Paul’s letters start with an explanation of the gospel and then leads to the application of the truth. Ephesians and Romans are clear examples of this writing style.

I think there is also much to be learned in the order the letters were written as well. The letters seem to have themes that match how Paul and his team established local churches. If you read through Acts 14:19-23 and 18:1-11 you will see the Pauline process of preaching the gospel, establishing believers and raising up leaders.

Paul’s letters to the churches also reflect this cycle. The early letters focus more on the gospel. The middle letters focus on strengthening of believers as they gathered. The latter letters key in on leadership matters.

We can notice the early epistles, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Romans, 1 Corinthian and 2 Corinthians deal a lot with the message of salvation.

The second group of letters, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians and Philemon focus upon strengthening the church. To help us understand how Paul “strengthened” the churches we need to understand these epistles. For more on “strengthen” (epignodzo) see Acts 14:22, 15:32, 15:41 and 18:23.

The last letters of Paul, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy focus on leadership. From this process we can understand better how God used Paul and the other apostles to start, establish, mature and multiply chuches.

We can use this pattern in our own churches, especially in church plants and revitalization works. Initially we must focus on the gospel. As people mature we strengthen them as they work out gospel principles in their lives. As the work grows we identify and train leaders. When the work is more mature we send leaders out to furth the gospel in other areas.

  • 3 B.C-35 A.D. Birth
    • 28-30 – Public Ministry of Jesus
    • 32       April – Attended the martyrdom of Stephen
    • 33       Conversion (Acts 9:1-19)
    • 35       1st Visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30)
  • 36-46 Paul in Cilicia e Syria
    • 42       Paul invited by Barnabas to work in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26)
    • 47       2nd visit to Jerusalem for famine relief (Acts 11:27-30)
  • 47-48 Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus e Galatia (1st missionary journey) (Acts 13:1-15:41)
    • 48       Galatians written
    • 49       Jerusalem Council
  • 49-52 Paul and Silas travel to Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia (2nd missionary journey) (Acts 16:1-18:22)
    • 50-52 Paul in Corinth
    • 50       1st Thessalonians (from Corinth)
    • 50       2nd Thessalonians (from Corinth)
  • 52-57 Paul in Asia (3rd missionary journey) (Acts 18:23-21:15)
    • 53-56 Paul in Ephesus
    •  Original letter to the church of Corinth written (1 Cor. 5:9)
    • 56   1st Corinthians (from Ephesus)
    • 56    2nd Corinthians (travel to Macedonia, written from Philippi?) (2:12, 7:5ff)
    • 57    Romans (from Cenchrea, just outside of Corinth) See Romans 16
  • 57-59 Paul in prison in Cesaraea Maritime and Jerusalem
    • 59       (September) Travel to Rome
    • 60       (February) Paul arrived in Rome
  • 60-62 Paul under house arrest in Rome
    • Ephesians (60), Philippians (60-61), Colossians (60-62) and Philemon (60-62) written.
    •   See 1st Clemente
  • 65       Visit to Iberian Peninsula
  • 65       Letters of 1st Timothy (63-66) and Titus (63-66) written.
  • 67       2nd Timothy written.
  • 67       Death

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