It is not uncommon for Bible readers to get confused over the Biblical time-line. How close in time were certain events? Were these personalities contemporary? How long before Christ was that?
The Bible can be outlined in fifteen periods of history. If one can memorize these periods, one will have a very valuable tool for Bible study. Note: I claim no originality for these 15 periods. Other men have taught such including: Roy Deaver, Don Simpson and Andy Kiser.
1. Antediluvian (Before Flood) Period
|From – creation||Gen. 1:1-8:12||From – 4005 B.C.|
|To – flood||To – 2349 B.C. / 1656 A.M.|
*Note: B.C. = Before Christ, A.M. = Anno Mundi (The year of the World)
2. Postdiluvian (After Flood) Period
|From – flood||Gen. 8:13-11:26||From – 2349 B.C.|
|To – call of Abram||To – 1921 B.C. / 2084 A.M.|
3. Patriarchal (Abram, Isaac, Jacob) Period
|From – call of Abram||Gen. 11:26-46:7||From – 1921 B.C.|
|To – descent into Egypt||The book of Job||To – 1706 B.C. / 2299 A.M.|
4. Egyptian Period
|From – descent into Egypt||Gen. 46:8-Ex. 14:31||From –1706 B.C.|
|To – crossing of Red Sea||To – 1491 B.C. / 2514 A.M.|
Note: Many believe that the children of Israel were in Egypt 430 years. However, the 430 years seems to refer to the entire sojourn in Canaan and Egypt (Galatians 3:16-17). It was 215 years from Haran to Egypt (Genesis 12:4 cf. 21:5 cf 25:26 cf. 47:8-9). The 215 year period in Egypt agrees with Josephus (Ant. 2:318). He stated that the Israelites left Egypt “430 years after the coming of our forefather Abraham to Canaan, Jacob’s migration to Egypt having taken place 215 years later.”
5. Wilderness Wandering Period
|From – crossing of Red Sea||Ex. 15:1-Josh. 3:17||From – 1491 B.C.|
|To – 1450 B.C. / 2555 A.M.|
6. Conquest Period
|From- crossing of Jordan River||Joshua 4:1- Judges 3:9||From- 1450 B.C.|
|To: appointment of Othneil (first of the judges)||To- 1430 B.C. / 2575 A.M.|
Note: The actual conquest itself seems to have taken seven years (Joshua 11:23; 14:7, 10 cf. Deuteronomy 2:14).
7. Judges (deliverers) Period
|From- appointment of Othneil||Judges 3:10- 1 Samuel 10:17 (includes the book of Ruth)||From- 1430 B.C.|
|To- appointment of Saul (first of the Kings)||To- 1095 B.C. / 2910 A.M.|
Note: Some think the period of Judges lasted 450 years based on Acts 13:20 (KJV). However, this seems to be a mistake. It was 480 years “after the children of Israel came out of Egypt” that one arrives at “the fourth year of Solomon” (1 Kings 6:1). This means that Saul became King 356/357 years after either the Exodus’ start or the Exodus’ completion (crossing of Jordan River). See 1 Kings 6:1 cf. Acts 13:21; cf. 2 Samuel 5:4-5; cf. 1 Kings 2:11; cf. 1 Kings 11:42; 2 Chronicles 9 :30.
How should one understand Acts 13:20? (1) Some manuscripts read in such a way that Acts 13:20 includes the events of Acts 13:17-19. That is: From Isaac through the conquest. This position is reflected in the ASV, NIV, NASB, and ESV. (2) There is a linguistic consideration. The phrase “450 years” is in the dative case, while “40 years,” used twice (v. 18, 21), is in the accusative. “The dative implies point of time, not duration… It indicates that at this point in the narrative, 450 years had elapsed” [Kyle Butt, “The Period of the Judges” (www.apologeticspress.org). Also recommended James Jordan “Puzzling the Era of the Judges” (www.reformed-theology.org)].
Note: A good outline of the reoccurring cycle which appears in the book of Judges is –
Sin or relapse
Servitude or retribution
Supplication or resolve
Salvation or rescue
Silence or rest
8. United Kingdom (Saul, David, Solomon’s) Period
|From- appointment of Saul||1 Samuel 11:1- 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Chron. 1:1- 2 Chron. 9:31;||From- 1095 B.C.|
|To- division under Jeroboam||Also includes most of the books of Psalms and Proverbs, and the entire book of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon||To- 975 B.C. / 3030 A.M.|
9. Divided Kingdom
|From- division of Kingdom into Judah (South) and Israel (North)||1 Kings 12:1-2 Kings 17:41; 2 Chron. 10:1-28: 27||From- 975 B.C.|
|To- fall of Samaria (capital of Israel)||Also includes the books of Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah||To- 721 B.C. / 3284A.M.|
Note: This period also includes the books of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, and Micah. These prophets can be viewed this way:
- To Israel: Hosea, Amos
- To Judah: Isaiah, Joel, Micah
- To Others: Jonah
Note: Judah consisted of:
Much of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21; 2 Chronicles 11:1-ff, 23). Some of the tribe of Benjamin became a part of Israel e.g. Bethel is within Benjamin (cf. 1 Kings 12:25-33)
Judah, and no doubt Simeon since Simeon was in the territory, was within the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9).
Most of the Priests/ Levites (2 Chronicles 11:13-14)
Certain faithful ones from various tribes joined themselves to Judah (2 Chron. 11:13-17 cf. 15:9-10).
Note: Israel had 9 dynasties and a total of 19 kings, not one was good.
Note: Israel was invaded 4 times by Assyria leading up to its fall.
2 Kings 15:16-20 ?
2 Kings 15:27-29 734/733 B.C.
1 Chron. 5:6. 23-26 ?
2 Kings 17:3-ff 722/721 B.C.
10. Judah Alone Period.
|From – Fall of Israel(Northern Kingdom)||2 Kings 18:1–25:30; 2 Chr. 29:1–36:31||From – 721 B.C.|
|To – Fall of Jerusalem(capital of Judah)||Also includes the books of Jeremiah, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.||To – 586 B.C. / 3419 A.M.|
Note: The prophets can be viewed this way:
- To Judah: Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.
- To Others: Obadiah, Nahum
Note: Judah had 1 dynasty and a total of 19 kings in its history [counting from Rehoboam, and not counting Athaliah’s usurpation (2 Kings 11:1-ff; 2 Chronicles 22:10-ff)].
*4 kings were good.
- The 3rd: Asa (1 Kings 5:8-14; 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14).
- The 4th: Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:41-50; 2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37).
- The 12th: Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-20:21; 2 Chronicles 29:1-32:33; Isaiah 36:1–39:8).
- The 15th: Josiah (2 Kings 22:1-23:30; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27).
*4 kings were okay or of mixed review.
- The 7th: Jehoash/Joash (2 Kings 11:1-12:21; 2 Chr. 23:16-24:27).
- The 8th: Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1-20; 2 Chr. 25:1-28).
- The 9th: Azariah (2 Kings 15:1-7; 2 Chr. 26:1-23).
- The 10th: Jotham (1 Kings 15:32-38; 2 Chr. 27:1-9).
*The rest were not good.
Note: Medo-Babylon replaced Assyria as the world power, conquering Assyria in 612 B.C.
Note: The Babylonians invaded Judah 3 times leading up to the fall of Jerusalem.
(1) 606 B.C. 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:5-7; Daniel 1:1-4
*This is when Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken among the spoils (Daniel 1:1-ff).
*The temple vessels were looted and taken to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:7; Daniel 1:2).
(2) 597/596 B.C. 2 Kings 24:10; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10; Ezekiel 1:12; cf. 8:1; 20:1; 24:1;
26:1; 29:1; 29:17; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1; 33:21; 40:1
*Jehoiachin/Coniah/Jeconiah was taken captive (2 Kings 24:14-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10).
*More vessels of the temple are located (2 Chronicles 36:10).
*This was also the time Ezekiel was carried away (Ezekiel 1:1-3; cf. 33:21; 40:1).
*Also Esther’s relatives (Esther 2:5-6).
(3) 586 B.C. 2 Kings 24:17-25:30; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; Jeremiah 39:1-40:6
*Jerusalem falls, the temple is looted (2 Chronicles 36:18),
and destroyed (2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chronicles 36:19).
*All but the poor are carried away (Jeremiah 39:10; 40:7; 52:16; 2 Kings 24:14; 25:12).
11. Captivity Period.
|From – Fall of Judah(Southern Kingdom)||2 Chr. 36:22 – Ezra 1:4||From – 586 B.C.|
|To – Return home by decree of Cyrus||Also includes the books of Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.||To – 536 B.C. / 3469 A.M.|
Note: Medo-Persia replaced Babylon as the world power, conquering Babylon in 539 B.C.
Note: When Babylon fell, Belshazzar was throwing a drunken feast using the vessels out of the Jerusalem temple (Daniel 1:2; cf. 5:1-4).
12. Restoration Period.
|From – First wave of returnees||Ezra 1:1 – Nehemiah 13:31||From – 536 B.C.|
|To – Completion of Nehemiah’s restoration and end of O.T. canon||Also includes: Esther (483-474 B.C.) which occurs in a 58 year gap between Ezra 6 (516 B.C.) and Ezra 7 (458 B.C.) Additionally, includes the books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.||To – 432 B.C. / 3573 A.M.|
Note: There were 3 returns.
(1) Zerubbabel led about 50,000 Israelites home in 536 B.C.
(Ezra 1:1-6:22; Also included Haggai and Zachariah; see also Nehemiah 7:6-ff; 12:1-26).
*This return occurred 70 years after the first carrying away cf. Jeremiah 29:1-10.
*Restoration and rebuilding of houses and the temple occurred during this time.
*The temple was completed and dedicated in 516 B.C. which is 70 years after
the temple’s destruction cf. 2 Chronicles 36:17-23.
Note: Some chose not to return, but to continue to reside in Persia (Esther 2:18-23; Daniel 2:46-49; cf. 6:1-ff; cf. 10:1-ff; Nehemiah 2:1). Some who remained, financially supported those returning in the restoration effort (Ezra 1:4-7).
Note: Cyrus returned the temple vessels that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:2; cf. 5:1-4; cf. Ezra 1:7-ff; 5:14).
(2) Ezra the priest led about 7,000 Israelites home in 458/457 B.C. (Ezra 7:1-10:44).
Note: Ezra’s work was spiritual and religious restoration.
(3) Nehemiah returned in 445/444 B.C. (Nehemiah 1:1-13:31; Also includes Malachi).
Note: He led an effort to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-6:19).
Note: Nehemiah served as governor of the land, subject to Persia, for 12 years
Note: During this time, Ezra continued to do his work (Neh. 8:1-10:39). The people during this time had the following spiritual difficulties – (a) lethargy, materialism, and selfishness (the book of Malachi); (b) unauthorized marriages (Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 13; Malachi 2:10-f)
13. Prophetic Silence Period.
|From – Completion of O.T. canon||1. Prophetically addressed in Daniel 2, 7, 8, 11||From – 432 B.C.|
|To – Angel of Lord appearing to Zacharias foretelling the birth of John||2. Extra Biblical source – 1 + 2 + 3 Maccabee; Josephus||To – 5 B.C. / 4000 A.M.|
Note: Some have referred to this period as the “Inter-Testament Period”. This could be misleading. Israelites were still under the old covenant at this time.
Note: This period can be sub-divided:
(1) Persian rule: 539-332 B.C.
*The Jews had some difficulty in this period, as is recorded in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. However, overall this seems to have been a relatively peaceful time.
(2) Macedonian/Grecian rule: 332-167 B.C.
(a) Alexander: 332-323 B.C. *Relative peace.
(b) Ptolemy (Egypt): 323-204 B.C. *Relative peace.
*It was during this time that the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek translation of the
Hebrew Bible) was produced.
(c) Seleucid (Syria): 204-167 B.C.
*These were extremely difficult times. These were the days of Antiochus IV.
(3) Maccabees’ revolt: 167-63 B.C.
*During this time the Jews revolted against Seleucid rule. They purified the temple which had been desecrated by Antiochus IV. They gained independence.
*It was during this time that the religious/political parties of Israel developed.
(1) The Sadducees were liberal Israelites that had been corrupted by Greek influence.
(a) They were the aristocracy of the Jews.
(b) They were deists, denying the supernatural.
(c) They were materialists, denying the resurrection (cf. Acts 23:6-10).
(2) The Pharisees were the reactionary party against liberalism. However, they bound upon people “a great many observations … which are not written in the laws of Moses” (Josephus, Ant. 13.10.6 quoted by Wayne Jackson in Background Bible Study).
(4) Roman rule: 63 B.C. –ff.
*Early under the Romans the Jews enjoyed peace. Jewish rebellion brought Jerusalem’s destruction, and the destruction of the nation in 70 A.D.
*The Herods rose to political power during this time: (a) Antipater became governor of Judea in 47 B.C. (b) His son, Herod the Great, was declared by Rome “King of the Jews” in 40/39 B.C.
Note: Historical dates –
(1) Macedonia/Greece became the world power, defeating the Persians in battles between 333-331 B.C.
(2) Rome became the world power by defeating the last of the Greek rulers, Cleopatra (a Ptolemy), in 31 B.C. However, Rome’s rule over Israel began in 63 B.C.
14. The Coming of Immanuel.
|From – The angel of the Lord appearing to Zacharias||Matthew; Mark; Luke; John||From – 5 B.C.|
|To – The establishment of the church on the Day of Pentecost||Also includes: Acts 1; Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 11:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:1-7||To – 29/30 A.D. / 4034 A.M.|
Note: Concerning the dates:
(1) A.D. = Anno Domini meaning “the year of our Lord”.
(2) Our calculations assume a 3 or 4-year adjustment in the Dionysius Exiguus time-line.
(3) There is not a year zero counted. We have calculated having 1 A.D. follow 1 B.C.
Note: Jesus’ life can be divided this way:
(1) Pre-birth to age 12, Mt. 1:1-2:23; Lk. 1:1-2:52; Jn. 1:1-1:14
(2) Preparation, Age 12-30, Mt. 3:1-4:11; Mk. 1:1-1:13; Lk. 3:1-4:13; Jn. 1:15-1:34
(3) Early Galilean Period, Jn. 1:35-2:12
(4) Early Judean Period, Mt. 4:12; Mk. 1:14; Lk. 4:14; Jn. 2:13-4:42
(5) Great Galilean Period, Mt. 4:13-18:35; Mk. 1:15-9:50; Lk. 4:15-9:50; Jn. 4:43-7:9
(6) Late Judean/Perean Period, Mt. 19:1-20:34; Mk. 10:1-10:52; Lk. 9:51-19:27; Jn. 7:10-12:11
(7) Final Days, Mt. 21:1-27:66; Mk. 11:1-15:47; Lk. 19:28-23:56; Jn. 12:12-19:37; 1 Cor.
(8) Resurrection to Ascension, Mt. 28:1-28:20; Mk. 16:1-16:20; Lk. 24:1-24:53; Jn. 20:1-21:25; Acts 1:4-1:11; 1 Cor. 15:3-15:7
Note: Jesus’ ministry is thought to be about 3 ½ years.
- first Passover (John 2:13)
- second Passover (John 4:35 cf. 5:1)?
- third Passover ( John 6:4)
- fourth Passover (John 11:55)
15. The Church Period.
|From – The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost||Acts 2:1 – Revelation 22:21||From – 29/30 A.D.|
|To – Christ’s return (and on into eternity)||To – ?|
Note: The historical record of Acts can be outlined this way (Acts 1:8):
- Jerusalem/Judea (Acts 1:1-8:3).
- Samaria (Acts 8:4-11:18).
- Beyond (Acts 11:19-28:31).
Note: Paul’s life in Acts.
(1) Preconversion – Acts 7:54-8:3; 22:3-5; 26:4-5; 26:10-11; Also – Philippians 3:4-8; Galatians 1:14
(2) Conversion – Acts 9:1-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-18
(3) Early Work – Acts 9:20-30; 11:19-30; 12:25; Also – Galatians 1:15-24
(4) First Missionary Journey – Acts 13:1-14:28
(5) Second Missionary Journey – Acts 15:40-18:22
*During this time the books of Galatians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians were written (Galatians may have been written even earlier).
(6) Third Missionary Journey – Acts 18:23-21:17
*During this time, the books of Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians were written.
(7) Arrested/Imprisoned – Acts 21:18-28:31
*During this time the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon
(8) Paul seems to have been released from roman imprisonment.
*During this time 1 Timothy and Titus were written.
(9) Paul then was later rearrested.
*During this time 2 Timothy was written.
Note: Paul’s visits to Jerusalem
- Acts 9:26-30; Galatians 1:17-21
- Acts 11:29-30; 12:25
- Acts 15:2-ff; Galatians 2:1-ff
- Acts 18:21-22
- Acts 21:15-23:30
Note: Information on epistles of Paul.
*Written about 48-50 A.D., perhaps from Antioch.
*Concerns Judaizing teachers/Paul defends his work and apostleship/Gentiles and O.T.
(2) 1 + 2 Thessalonians. *Written about 52 A.D. from Corinth.
*Concerns misunderstandings regarding Christ’s second coming/need for growth/the need for church discipline.
(3) 1 + 2 Corinthians.
*Written about 55-56 A.D. from Ephesus and Macedonia.
*Concerns a multitude of church problems/answers questions/use of spiritual gifts/need for love/addresses Judaizing teachers/need for discipline in church/Paul defends his work/ O.T. and N.T. compared.
(4) Romans. *Written about 56 A.D. from Corinth.
*Concerns the fact that the gospel is God’s power to save both Jew and Gentile/addresses Jew and Gentile relationship within the one body.
*Written about 60-62 A.D. from Rome.
*Concerns God’s eternal purpose in Christ and the church/the supremacy of Christ over all/an appeal for unity and joy in Christ/Jew and Gentile relations within the one body/roles in life: husband-wife, parent-child, employer-employee, government-citizen/Christian relationship to O.T./Gnostic error.
(6) Philemon. *Written about 60-61 A.D. from Rome.
*Concerns an appeal for mercy on a run away slave whom Paul sent back.
(7) 1 + 2 Timothy/Titus.
*Written between 62-67 A.D. from Macedonia, Rome, and Macedonia.
*Concerns instructions to preachers/organization of the church/need for endurance/Paul’s farewell.
Note: Information on other N.T. books –
(1) James. *Thought to have been written in the 40’s A.D., likely from Jerusalem.
*Concerns practical Christian living/showing faith by works/the trials of life/the use of the tongue/how tempted.
(2) Hebrews. *Thought to have been written in the 60’s A.D.
*Concerns the superiority of Christ and the N.T./comparison of O.T. and N.T./the need for endurance and great faith.
(3) 1 + 2 Peter.
*Thought to have been written in the 60’s A.D., from Babylon, possibly Rome.
*Concerns practical Christian living/Christian influence/the need for growth/enduring suffering/warning about false teachers.
*Thought to have been written in the late 60’s A.D.
*Concerns the need to contend for the faith/warning about false teachers.
(5) 1 + 2 + 3 John.
*The exact date of the writing is unclear. Some say that these were written prior to 70 A.D. (as it is claimed all of the books of the N.T. were; cf. Micah 7:15). Others claim that these books were written in the 90’s A.D./they were probably written from Ephesus.
*Concerns Gnostic error/warnings against false teachers/the need for love/follow good men not church bullies.
*Those who hold to a late date say that this was written about 96 A.D. However, there is an argument that can be made (and such seems correct to me) that this book was written about 68/69 A.D. (See: Revelation 17:10-12)/it was written from Isle of Patmos.
*Concerns the need for endurance and faithfulness/pictures Christ’s victory over His enemies/give man a glimpse into judgment and the hereafter.