è1-2 Thessalonians written late 50/early 51 (cf. 1 Thess. 2:17–3:7).1
Paul was in Ephesus Spring 53 to Spring 56 (cf. Acts 19:1, 8, 10, 22; 20:31; 1 Cor. 16:8).
èGalatians written 53-54?2
èLetter to Corinth written 53-54 (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9), no longer extant.3
è1 Corinthians written early 56 (cf. 1 Cor. 4:19; 16:8).
Paul was in Macedonia Summer-Autumn 56 (cf. Acts 20:1-2).
è2 Corinthians written mid-late 56 (cf. 2 Cor. 9:2-4).
Paul was in Corinth Winter 56-57 (cf. 1 Cor. 4:18-19; 16:2-7; Acts 20:3).
èRomans written late 56/early 57 (cf. Rom. 15:26; 16:23).
Paul was in Rome Spring 60 to at least Spring 62 (cf. Acts 28:16, 30).
èLetter to the Laodiceans written 60-62? (cf. Col. 4:16), no longer extant.
èColossians written early 62 (cf. Col. 4:18).
èPhilemon written early 62 (cf. Phlm. 1, 9-10).
èPhilippians written early 62 (cf. Phil. 1:12-14; 4:22).4
èEphesians written early 62 (cf. Eph. 3:1; 4:1).
Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment ca. 62-63 (cf. Phil. 1:19, 25; 2:24; Phlm. 22; 2 Tim. 4:16-17) and traveled to Macedonia, Ephesus, Crete, Nicopolis (1 Tim. 1:3; 3:14; Tit. 1:5; 3:12).
è1 Timothy written ca. 63-64 (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3; 3:14).
èTitus written ca. 63-64 (cf. Tit. 1:5; 3:12).
Paul’s second Roman imprisonment as early as 64 and no later than 68.
è2 Timothy written ca. 64-65 (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16).5
--Kevin L. Moore
1 First Thessalonians was penned not long after the three-man missionary team had departed from Thessalonica (2:17). Although later copyists seem to have amended the text, what many consider to be the better manuscripts of 1 Thess. 1:1 have the abbreviated greeting, “grace to you and peace” (cf. N/ASV), while all other Pauline letters have the added phrase “from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” This may suggest that the stereotypical Pauline greeting developed after the earliest letter (1 Thessalonians) had been written. Further, in the opening of 1 and 2 Thessalonians Paul is mentioned only by name with no reference to his apostleship or any other appendage, while in every subsequent correspondence a descriptive designation is added. See The Thessalonian Letters.
2 This immediately follows a visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23) where Paul would have gained first-hand knowledge of the problems he needed to address in the letter. Moreover, a logical sequence is evident in Paul’s correspondence concerning the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, beginning with his agreement to organize it (Gal. 2:10), followed by more specific instructions and comments (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8–9; Rom. 15:25-28). There is also a literary affinity between Galatians, on one hand, and 1-2 Corinthians and Romans, on the other (see esp. J. B. Lightfoot, Galatians 40-56; also C. Kruse, 2 Corinthians 45-48), suggesting a comparable time frame. Since the setting of Galatians fits well into the rise of Jewish nationalism during Nero’s reign (cf. B. Reicke, Re-examining Paul’s Letters 13-15), a later date (i.e. 54 or beyond) is possible. A number of scholars, however, date Galatians earlier (cf. M. C. Tenney, New Testament Survey 267-73).
3 It is possible that the “severe” or “tearful” letter alluded to in 2 Cor. 2:3-9; 7:8-12 is another non-extant Pauline letter, but many equate it with 1 Corinthians while others propose that it comprises 2 Cor. 10–13. See The Missing Letters of Paul.
4 When Philippians was written Paul seems to have been expecting release from imprisonment (Phil. 1:19, 25; 2:24). Timothy is named in Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon but not in Ephesians, which may suggest that Ephesians was written after Timothy had been sent away (Phil. 2:19-23). See Paul's Prison Epistles.
5 When 2 Timothy was written Paul appears to have been anticipating death (2 Tim. 4:6-8). According to tradition he was executed during the reign of Nero, who instigated the persecution of Christians in 64 and died in 68.
Related Posts: First Missionary Journey
Image credit: http://julianfreeman.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Apostle-Paul-writing-in-prison.jpg