Approximate dates for key events in the Early Church
To estimate exact dates for the key events in the first 30 years of the church is very difficult. A fixed date is the death of Herod Agrippa in AD 44, mentioned in Acts 12:23. A less certain date is the prophecy of Agabus that refers to the reign of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:27-28), who became Emperor in AD 41. Two dates are generally proposed for the Cross, namely AD 30 and 33. To determine dates for other events chronographers mostly analyze the text, trying to estimate the time between events. Below is a table of estimated dates for significant events in the history of the early church, according to various internet sources:
|Christian history||Christian Apologetics & Research||Anno Mundi||Christian History Institute||Bible Hub||Amazing Bible Timeline||Bible CA||Genera-tion Word|
|Jesus Born||10 TO 3 BC||4 BC||3 BC||4 BC||4-6 BC|
|Tiberius reigns||AD 14|
|Jesus’ ministry||AD 29|
|Pentecost (Acts 2)||AD 30 OR 33||AD 33||AD 30||AD 30||AD 33||AD 30||AD 30|
|Stephen (Acts 7)||30 – 32||AD 35||AD 31||AD 34|
|Persecution (Acts 8)||AD 31|
|Paul (Acts 9)||AD 35||AD 32||AD 35||AD 34||AD 35|
|Gentiles (Acts 10)||AD 37||AD 40||AD 40||39/40|
|Herod dies (Acts 12)||AD 44||AD 44||AD 44||AD 45||AD 44|
|First journey (Acts 13)||AD 48||AD 45||AD 45|
|Council (Acts 15)||AD 41||49/50||AD48||AD 50||AD 50||AD 48|
|Gallio (Acts 18)||51 or 52|
|Jerusalem (Acts 18)||AD 52|
|Jerusalem (Acts 21)||AD 59||AD 57|
|Paul executed||64-67||AD 65|
|Jerusalem destroyed||AD 70|
Other internet sources with respect to the year in which Stephen was stoned include:
Merrill C. Tenney, in his book “New Testament Times” (Inter-Varsity Press, 1967, chapter 7), gives 30 AD as the most probable year for the crucifixion and 32/33 as the most probable date for Stephen’s death and the conversion of Paul.
DATE FOR PAUL’S CONVERSION
Paul mentioned that he visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion (Gal 1:16-18). Then he continued, “fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also” (Gal 2:1). It is assumed that, because his conversion was the key event in his life, he is counting 14 years after his conversion, not 14 years after his previous visit. It is furthermore assumed that this second visit to Jerusalem does not refer to the Jerusalem Council of AD 49/50, because after the visit in Gal 2:1 Peter was still vacillating over the question of circumcision of the Gentiles (Gal 2:7-14), while at the Jerusalem Council everybody—Including Peter—agreed that circumcision of the Gentiles was unnecessary (Acts 15:7-11). The Jerusalem visit in Gal 2:1, therefore, occurred before the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council. It could have been the earlier visit in AD 46 when he went with relief for those stricken by the famine. Subtracting 14 years from AD 46 we get AD 32 as the date for Paul’s conversion. This is a very early date, only two years after the first possible date for Pentecost when the church was founded.
ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES
1. Jerusalem Phase – the church consisted of Jews only.
2. Judea and Samaria Phase – all Christians still observed the Law of Moses.
3. Gentile Dispute Phase starts when a dispute arose whether Gentile Christians must observe the Law of Moses.
4. The Separation Phase started when the Jerusalem Council decided that Gentile Christians do not have to observe the Law of Moses.
5. This history has theological implications for the New Testament letters.
6. Estimated dates for significant events in the history of the early church.
See Early Church Table of Contents for a more complete description of these articles.