Can you give me a basic timeline of the Bible?
Question: "Can you give me a basic timeline of the Bible?"
Answer: In the most basic sense, the Bible timeline is endless and eternal, as it chronicles creation (date unknown; Genesis 1:1–31) through the end of ages (Matthew 28:20). From a more practical viewpoint, the Bible timeline on which most scholars agree begins with the calling of Abram, renamed “Abraham” by God (Genesis 17:4–6) in the year 2166 BC, and ends with the writing of the book of Revelation in approximately AD 95. Prior to Abraham’s birth, the Bible timeline beginning in Genesis contains a rich history of creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall of Man, extensive genealogies, stories of human travails leading up to Noah and the Great Flood (date also unknown), and much more.
Within the period between Abraham’s birth and the apostle John’s writing of the book of Revelation, history helps to place many of the events of the Old and New Testaments on the Bible timeline. For example, Moses is estimated to have been born in 1526 BC and Joshua to have entered the Promised Land approximately 1406 BC. The period of Israel’s ten judges ended about 1052 BC, the onset of King Saul’s reign, when most scholars agree that concrete, historically verifiable dating is possible.
The Bible timeline includes King Saul, the famous King David—from whose family Jesus Christ would be born—and David’s son, the wise King Solomon, presided over a united kingdom of Israel. In 931 BC, after King Solomon’s reign, Israel was divided into a northern and a southern kingdom. Various kings ruled the north (Israel) and the south (Judah) until the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 BC and the fall of Jerusalem (capital of the southern kingdom) in 586 BC.
The exile of Judah lasted until about 538 BC when Persian King Cyrus directed Ezra to return to Israel and build a temple for God at Jerusalem (Ezra 1). The Jews restored Israel between this time and approximately 432 BC, when the last book of the Old Testament (Malachi) was written. What follows on the Bible timeline is the intertestamental period, lasting approximately 430 years.
The Bible timeline continues in the New Testament. In approximately 5 BC, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, was born in Bethlehem. After the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Jesus and His parents returned to Nazareth in Galilee (Matthew 2:19–23). Nothing is recorded of Jesus’ life for the next decade or so, until we see a twelve-year-old Jesus astounding the teachers in the temple (Luke 2:40–52). Jesus began His public ministry in circa AD 26, beginning with His baptism (Matthew 3:13–17). Jesus’ ministry lasted about three and a half years.
In the period AD 29–30, Jesus spent most of His time in Judea, preaching, teaching, performing miracles—including the raising of Lazarus from the dead—and further equipping the disciples to continue on after His death. Then come the most significant events in the Bible timeline: early in the year 30, Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem. During the last week of His life, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His friends, where He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14–20) and gave His farewell discourse. Finally, He was betrayed, arrested, tried, crucified, and resurrected (Matthew 26:36–28:8). The risen Christ completed a forty-day ministry, which ended with His ascension to heaven (Acts 1:3–11; 1 Corinthians 15:6–7).
The Bible timeline continues through the first century AD as the apostles begin to fulfill the Great Commission. Shortly after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, His apostles and followers wrote the New Testament. The first book of the New Testament to be written (either Galatians or James) could have been written as early as AD 49, or within two decades of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This means that the original texts were written by eyewitnesses providing firsthand accounts of what took place. The final book of the New Testament, Revelation, was written by John in approximately AD 95.
Below is a list of major events in the Bible timeline, with the date for each. Note: All dates are approximate. Also, the dates for early human history (prior to Abraham) reflect the viewpoint of young earth creationism.
4000 BC (?)— Creation of the world
2344 BC (?)— Noah and the ark
2166 BC — The call of Abram
2141 BC — The birth of Isaac
1526 BC — The birth of Moses
1446 BC — Israel’s exodus from Egypt
1406 BC — Israel’s entrance to the Promised Land
1383 BC — The death of Joshua
1052 BC — The coronation of King Saul
1011–971 BC — The reign of King David
959 BC — Solomon’s temple completed
931 BC — The dividing of the kingdom
875–797 BC — The ministries of Elijah and Elisha in Israel
739–686 BC — The ministry of Isaiah in Judah
722 BC — The fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria
586 BC — The fall of the southern kingdom to Babylon
538–445 BC — The Jews’ return to Jerusalem after exile
515 BC — The second temple finished
5 BC — The birth of Jesus Christ
AD 26–30 — Christ’s ministry, ending in His death and resurrection
AD 34 — The conversion of Saul of Tarsus
AD 44–47 — Paul’s first missionary journey
AD 49 — The Jerusalem Council
AD 60 — The imprisonment of Paul in Rome
AD 95 — John’s vision on Patmos and the writing of Revelation
Recommended Resources: Chronological Bibles and Logos Bible Software.
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