REDATING THE NEW TESTAMENT. by J. A.T. Robinson SCM Press Ltd London.  First published 1976 by SCM Press Ltd 58 Bloomsbury Street, London Second impression 1977 © J. A. T. Robinson 1976. - Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2006.

III. The Pauline Epistles

Home | contents | chronology | Gallio: <--|--> | Paul - Acts | P Festus | an outline | 1Th | 2Th | 1Cor | 2Cor | Rm | Gal | Phil | Col-Philem-Eph | Pastorals | 2Tm | Titus | 1Tm | 58CE | summing up | >

'on the subject of the chronology of St Paul's life originality is out of the question.' So Lightfoot began his lectures at Cambridge in 1863. [J. B. Lightfoot, 'The Chronology of St Paul's Life and Epistles', Biblical Essays, 1893, 215-33. It is remarkable that of the more than 700 pages of Harnack's Chronologie only 7 (233-9) are devoted to the life and letters of Paul, most of which are spent in trying (unsuccessfully I believe) to fix the date of Festus' accession. Other surveys include: Zahn, WTIll, 450-80; C. H. Turner, 'Chronology of the New Testament: II. The Apostolic Age', HDB I, 415-25; M. Goguel, 'Essai sur la chronologic Paulinienne', RHR 65, 1912, 285-359; D. Plooij, De chronologie van het leven van Paulus, Leiden 1918; K. Lake, 'The Chronology of Acts' in F. J. Foakes Jackson and K. Lake (edd.), The Beginnings of Christianity, 1920-33 (hereafter Beginnings), V, 445-74; G. B. Caird, 'The Chronology of the New Testament: B. The Apostolic Age', IDB I, 603-7; G. Ogg, The Chronology of the Life of Paul, 1968 (with a bibliography to date); J. J. Gunther, Paul: Messenger and Exile: A Study in the Chronology of his Life and Letters, Valley Forge, Pa., 1972.] It might seem a discouraging start to any re-examination. In fact it is not strictly true.
Gallio's Inscription.
The Delphi, or Gallio Inscription:
More about this inscription HERE.
Since then there has been at least one find of major importance for fixing the chronology of St Paul, the discovery of an inscription at Delphi, published in 1905, which enables us to date fairly accurately Gallio's proconsulship of Achaia (Acts 18.12). It has had the effect of shifting Lightfoot's dates a couple of years or so earlier. Moreover, there has been at least one highly original reconstruction of the sequence of events, John Knox's Chapters in a Life of Paul - which, ironically, brushes aside the new piece of evidence. [John Knox, Chapters in a Life of Paul, New York 1950. Knox's work has been followed up byJ. C. Hurd, 'Pauline Chronology and Pauline Theology' in W. R. Farmer, C. F. D. Moule, R. R. Niebuhr (edd.), Christian History and Interpretation: Studies Presented to John Knox, Cambridge 1967, 225-48; and C. Buck and G. Taylor, St Paul: A Study of the Development of his Thought, New York 1969.]
[Or rather he locates it in Paul's last visit to Corinth, not (as Acts says) his first.  Buck and Taylor do the same.]

Yet the relative fixity of the Pauline datings remains. If we ignore eccentric solutions and the penumbra of disputed epistles, one can say that there is a very general consensus on the dating of the central section of St Paul's ministry and literary career, with a margin of difference of scarcely more than two years either way. This is nowhere near the case with any other part of the New Testament - the gospels, the Acts, the other epistles, the Apocalypse. The Pauline epistles constitute therefore an important fixed point and yardstick, not only of absolute chronology but of relative span, against which to measure other developments.

Having said this, however, it is important to remember Lightfoot's other preliminary warning: 'It may be as well to premise at the outset that as regards the exact dates in St Paul's life absolute certainty is unattainable.' [Ibid.]

There is not only a margin of disagreement but a margin of error to be allowed for. I shall be giving a number of fairly precise-sounding dates, which on balance seem to me the most probable. But the reader should be warned that they are always more specific than the evidence warrants. A shift of a year or two in either direction – and sometimes more - is entirely possible, without the over-all position being affected.
Mention may be made in advance of a number of factors which cause uncertainty and allow room for genuine difference of judgment even when (as is rarely the case) the evidence itself is fairly hard.
[For further discussion of these factors, which of course affect much more than this chapter, cf. Finegan, HBC.]

1. The sources, Roman, Jewish and Christian, are largely unco-ordinated and share no common canon of chronology such as is presupposed by any modern historian. The evidence, for instance, from Tacitus, Josephus and Acts has to be set together from different systems of time measurement and then reduced to our (quite arbitrary) bc and ad.

2. The actual calendar years begin at a bewilderingly different number of points - e.g. (ignoring internal changes with periods and places) the Jewish in the spring, the Macedonian (which was spread to the Greek-speaking world by the conquests of Alexander the Great) in the autumn, the Julian (the official calendar of the Roman empire and still ours today) in midwinter. (The same applies to the time the day was reckoned to begin, but this is not so relevant to the epistles as to the gospels.)

3. Dates are designated not by the calendar but by the year of office of some king or official. This does not, of course, usually commence neatly with the calendar year. There is the additional uncertainty whether the 'first' year of, say a particular emperor is the residue of that year from the day of his accession (assuming, too, that that follows immediately on the demise of his predecessor) or whether it is counted from the next new year's day. For instance, is what we call ad 55 the second or the first year of Nero, who was proclaimed emperor on 13 October 54?

4. When we are dealing with intervals, there is the uncertainty whether the reckoning is inclusive (with parts of the day or year being counted as wholes) or exclusive. For instance, 'on the third day' (Matt.16.21; Luke 9.22; I Cor.15.4) in all probability means the same as 'after three days' (Mark 8.31), whereas we should say it was 'after two days'. The question arises which usage a particular New Testament writer (e.g. Paul or Luke) is following.

With such latitude it is obviously possible, by taking all the doubtful decisions one way, to interpret the same piece of evidence to yield a rather different date from that which would be obtained by taking them all the other way. And when the evidence itself is doubtful or patient of more than one meaning, the divergence can be still greater. Thus it is fairly easy to expand or contract intervals to suit the requirements of a particular theory. Ultimately dating is almost always a matter of assessing the balance of probabilities.

There is one further methodological decision which is of great importance in this area, namely, the credence to be given to the evidence of Acts in relation to that of Paul. There can be no dispute that Paul writing in his own name is the primary witness, and the author of Acts, whom for convenience we shall call Luke (the date and authorship of Acts will occupy us in the next chapter), a secondary witness. When they conflict we are bound to prefer Paul. But most of the time they do not conflict. Indeed Kummel, who does not think Acts could have been written by a companion of Paul  [INT, 184.],
says nevertheless that

the sequence of Paul's missionary activities that can be inferred from his letters is so remarkably compatible with the information from Acts that we have good grounds for deriving the relative chronology of Paul's activity from a critical combination of the information from Paul's letters with the account in Acts.
[WT, 254, supporting what he calls the convincing proof of T. H. Campbell, 'Paul's "Missionary Journeys" as reflected in his Letters', JBL 74, 1955,80-7.]

So we shall follow the procedure of trusting Acts until proved otherwise and allow this procedure to be tested by the results it yields. [For the general relation of Acts to history, cf., among others, W. M. Ramsay, St Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 1920; H. J. Cadbury, The Book of Acts in History, New York 1955; E. Trocme, Le 'livre des Actes' et I'histoire, Paris 1957; R. R. Williams, 'Church History in Acts: Is it reliable?' in D. E. Nineham (ed.), Historicity and Chronology in the New Testament, 1965, 145-60; R. P. C. Hanson, Acts (New Clarendon Bible), Oxford 1967, 2-21; W. W. Gasque, 'The Historical Value of the Book of Acts: An Essay in the History of New Testament Criticism', EQ 41, 1969,68-88; E. Haenchen, Acts, ET Oxford 1971,90-103. For a classical historian's assessment, cf. A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, Oxford 1963, 189: 'For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Yet Acts is, in simple terms and judged externally, no less of a propaganda narrative than the Gospels, liable to similar distortions. But any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.']

We must however recognize that Acts itself is very uneven in the chronological details it supplies - and it is not of course primarily interested in being a chronicle but an account of the Spirit in action. Thus there are some stages of Paul's life that are treated very summarily. The longest stay of his career in one place, in Ephesus, which Acts itself says lasted three years (20.31), occupies but a single chapter (19.2-20.1), whereas the period from Paul's final arrival in Jerusalem to the end of his first court-hearing, which lasted just over a fortnight and where the passage of time is detailed very precisely,
[Acts 21.18 ('next day'); 21.26 ('next day'); 21.27 ('before the period of seven days was up'); 22.30 ('the following day'); 23.11 ('the following night'); 23.12 ('when day broke'); 23.32 ('next day'); 24.1 ('five days later').]
occupies three and a half chapters (21.17-24.23). We should have no idea from Acts that Paul visited Corinth three times (II Cor.13.1), the second visit having to be fitted somewhere into the thinly covered Ephesian period. This must make arguments from the silence of Acts very precarious, particularly since Acts never mentions Paul writing a single letter and omits all reference to Titus, one of his most constant emissaries. Furthermore, Luke intersperses detailed datings with vague statements such as 'in those days', 'about that period', 'after some (or many) days' or 'for a time'.
[The vague and untranslatable ἱκανός is one of his favourite words.]
At least when he generalizes we know it and may treat the indications of time freely; when he does not we may have the more confidence in him.
If he discriminates, so can we.

With these preliminary observations, let us first try to get an outline framework of Paul's life into which we can then fit his letters -
though naturally the letters also provide primary evidence for the framework.

The most reliable fixed point from which we can work both backwards and forwards is supplied by the inscription to which I have already referred. This enables us to date the proconsulship of Gallio in Achaia, before whom, according to Acts 18.12-17, Paul was summoned towards the end of his first visit to Corinth. With increasing certainty we may say that Gallio entered upon his office in the early summer of 51 [For the text of the inscription, which reproduces a letter from Claudius to the city of Delphi mentioning Gallio, cf. E. M. Smallwood, Documents illustrating the Principates of Gains, Claudius and Nero (no. 376), Cambridge 1967, 105; or briefly C.K. Barrett, The New Testament Background: Selected Documents, 1956, 48f. For the dating, cf. A. Deissmann, Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History, ET 1926, 261-86; Lake, Beginnings V, 460-4; Finegan, HBC, 316-19; Ogg, op. cit., 104-11; and, for the most recent discussion, A. Plessart, Fouilles de Delphes (Ecole Francaise d'Athenes) III. 4 (nos. 276-350), Paris 1970, 26-32 (especially 31); B. Schwank, 'Der sogenannte Brief an Gallic und die Datierung des I Thess.', BZ. n.f. 15, 1971, 265f.]
and that Paul appeared before him soon afterwards, probably in May or June.
[That the Jews 'tried their luck' (Deissmann, op. cit., 264) with the new proconsul by bringing Paul before him when Gallio had but recently arrived is, however, only a presumption.]
By that time Paul had been in Corinth for at least eighteen months (Acts 18.11) and probably longer - for this period appears to be reckoned from the time of Paul's full-time preaching (18.5) and his residence with Titus Justus (18.7). Prior to that he had lodged and earned a living with Aquila and Priscilla (18.1-4). So his arrival in Corinth is probably to be dated in the autumn of 49. This would fit well with the statement of 18.2 that Aquila 'had recently arrived from Italy because Claudius had issued an edict that all Jews should leave Rome', which is usually dated in 49. [On the authority of Orosius, Hist. adv. pagan. 7.6.15. For the evidence, which is not as firm as one could wish, cf. Lake, Beginnings V, 459f.; Finegan, HBC, 319; Ogg, op. cit., 99-103; Bruce, 'Christianity under Claudius', BJRL 44, 1961-2, 313-18.] To allow for the visits of Acts 15.36-17.34, Paul and Barnabas must have set out from Antioch at least in the early spring of 49. This in turn probably puts the Council of Jerusalem late in 48, allowing for the vaguely defined but apparently quite extensive interval of 15.30-6.

Working backwards from this we find the chronology of Acts, as we might expect, increasingly uncertain. The incidents of 11.27-12.25, introduced by such nebulous time-references as 'during this period' (11.27) and 'about this time' (12.1), appear to be arranged topically rather than chronologically. The famine of 11.27-30 seems to correspond with that recorded by Josephus [Ant. 20.101.] as coming to its climax in 46 (or perhaps a year earlier or later), [Cf. K. S. Gapp, 'The Universal Famine under Claudius', HTR 28, 1935, 258-65; Lake, Beginnings V, 454f.; Ogg, op. cit., 49-55; Gunther, op. cit., 36-40. K. F. Nickle, The Collection: A Study of Paul's Strategy (SBT 48), 1966, 29-32, puts it as late as 48.]
whereas the death of Herod Agrippa I, which Luke relates after it (though he does not make Barnabas and Paul retuin to Antioch till after Herod's death), occurred in 44. [Josephus, Ant. i9.35of. We shall have occasion later (p. 113 below) to suggest that Luke may also have run together the arrest of Peter and the death of Herod, the former occurring perhaps two years earlier in 42.]
If then the famine-relief visit of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem in Acts 11.30-12.25 is to be dated c. 46, then the first missionary journey described in Acts 13-14 would occupy 47-8, [Ogg, op. cit., 58-71, estimates this as lasting c. 18 months; but the estimates vary - and are in the last resort only calculated guesses.]
with the controversy and council-meeting of Acts 15 coming later in 48. So far there are no serious problems.

It is when we come to tie up the Acts story with Paul's own statements in Gal. 1-2 that the difficulties begin. There Paul relates two visits to Jerusalem - and two only - to make contact with the apostles. At this point we must give absolute priority to Paul's own account, not merely because he is writing in the first person, whereas Luke is at this stage clearly dependent on sources (and can be shown to be chronologically unreliable), but because Paul is speaking on oath (Gal. 1.20) and any slip or dissimulation on his part would have played into the hands of his opponents. Indeed we may say that the statements of Gal. 1-2 are the most trustworthy historical statements in the entire New Testament.

After first describing his conversion, Paul goes on:

When that happened, without consulting any human being, without going up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, I went off at once to Arabia, and afterwards returned to Damascus.
Three years later (ἒπειτα μετὰ τρία ἒτη) I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas. I stayed with him a fortnight, without seeing any of the other apostles, except James the Lord's brother. What I write is plain truth; before God I am not lying.
Next (ἒπειτα) I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and remained unknown by sight to Christ's congregations in Judaea. ...
Next, fourteen years later
(ἒπειτα διὰ δεκατεσσάρων ἐτῶν), I went again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus with us (Gal. 1.17-2.1).

The first question is whether the fourteen years are to be counted from the first visit or from his conversion. There is no way of being certain, but the natural presumption is that Paul is detailing a sequence (ἒπειτα ... ἒπειτα ... ἒπειτα – exactly as in I Cor.15.5 – 8) and that the two intervals of three years and fourteen years are intended to follow on each other. [So Zahn, WTlll, 452, strongly.] Moreover, the 'again' of 2.1, if part of the true text (as it surely is), would naturally refer the reader back to the former visit, not to the conversion. No one, I believe, would begin by supposing otherwise, though once the other way of taking it is suggested there is no way of disproving it.

The second question is whether the reckoning is to be regarded as inclusive or exclusive. Again we cannot be sure, but Jewish usage would indicate the former. 'After eight days' in John 20.26 is evidently intended to refer to the following Sunday (not Monday), and is rightly rendered in the neb 'a week later'. When Paul says he stayed with Peter for fifteen days (Gal.1.18) the neb is again surely correct in rendering it 'a fortnight'. So we may begin by assuming that 'after three years' means in the third year following, or what we would call after two years. Similarly, 'with the lapse of (διά, cf. Acts 24.17) fourteen years' probably means thirteen years later.

The third question (and much the most difficult) is which visit of Acts it is to which the visit of Gal. 2.1 corresponds. If it is the second (that of Acts 11), then it must have occurred c. 46; if it is the third (that of Acts 15), then it would on our calculation have been in 48. On the assumption that the two intervals are sequential and the reckoning is inclusive, then 13+2 from 46 would bring us back to 31 for Paul's conversion; if from 48, then to 33. Though we cannot be absolutely certain, it looks as if the most likely date for the crucifixion is 30 - the only serious alternative astronomically and calendrically being 33. [The case is argued in detail and I believe convincingly by A. Strobel, 'Der Termin des Todes Jesu', ZNW 51, 1960, 69-101; and independently by Finegan, HBC, 285-301. Gunther, op. cit., 19-24, comes to the same conclusion.] Even on the former dating, 31 would be almost impossibly early for Paul's conversion if all the developments of Acts 1-8 are to be accounted for. [Despite Gunther, op. cit., 168f., who however provides no solid grounds for it.] If then the equation of Gal. 2.1 with Acts 11.30 is preferred, the two intervals have to be run concurrently, bringing the date for the conversion to 33. This is the same date as is reached by equating the visits of Gal. 2.1 and Acts 15 if the intervals are non-concurrent. (Of course if the time-reckoning is not inclusive, or the famine was really before the death of Herod in 44, or the crucifixion was in 33, then the equation with the earlier visit is out of the question.) The initial chronological probability must therefore favour identifying the visit of Gal. 2 with the subsequent council visit of Acts 15.

However, before examining the points for and against this, we may pause to look at the equation of the first visits of all recorded in Gal.1.18-24 and Acts 9.26-30. There is no serious dispute that these must refer to the same occasion, yet it is worth bearing in mind how divergent the accounts are. Luke suggests that Paul went to Jerusalem direct from Damascus after no great interval (Acts 9.20-6), and indeed from Paul's subsequent account of the matter in Acts 22.17 we could gather that he returned to Jerusalem at once. There is no hint of his going off to Arabia or of a two- to three-year gap. Moreover in Gal.1 he is insistent that he saw only Peter and James and remained unknown by sight to the congregations in Judaea. In Acts 9 he is introduced by Barnabas (who is not mentioned in Gal.1) to the apostles, moves freely about Jerusalem, debating 'openly' with the Greek-speaking Jews; while in 26.20 he says that he turned 'first to the inhabitants of Damascus, and then to Jerusalem and all the country of Judaea' (though Paul himself agrees in Rom. 15.19 that he started his preaching 'from Jerusalem'). Subsequently, according to Acts 9.30 he went to Caesarea and thence direct to Tarsus. According to Gal.1.21 he went to 'the regions of Syria' - presumably including Antioch – 'and Cilicia'. [According to Knox, Chapters, 85, he also visited Galatia, Macedonia, Greece and Asia (and possibly elsewhere) before going up to Jerusalem - but somehow omitted to mention them!] Acts however says that it was much later (11.25f.) - we should gather a year before the famine visit in 46 - that he was fetched by Barnabas from Tarsus to Antioch. None of these discrepancies is fatal or sufficient ground for not identifying the first visit of Galatians with the first of Acts. [P. Parker, 'Once More, Acts and Galatians', JBL 86, 1967, 179-82, equates the first visit of Galatians with the second of Acts, and D. R. de Lacey, 'Paul in Jerusalem', NTS 20, 1973-4, 82-6, the second visit of Galatians with the first of Acts. But neither is convincing.] As Kirsopp Lake, who holds no particular brief for the reliability of Acts, remarks, 'Their disagreement in descriptions is not really any proof that they do not refer to the same things.' [K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St Paul, 1911, 273.] But it is a warning against expecting too much coincidence in the accounts of the later visits or dismissing their equation if we do not find it.

Comparing then the details of Gal. 2 with Acts 11 and 15, what do we find? With Acts 11 the correspondences are not in fact great. [For presentations of this case, cf. Ramsay, St Paul, 48-60; Lake, Earlier Epistles, 274-97; A. W. F. Blunt, Galatians, Oxford 1925, 77-84; Bruce, 'Galatian Problems: i. Autobiographical Data', BJRL 51, 1969, 302-7; Gunther, op. cit., 30-6. For a conspectus of the debate, cf. C. S. C. Williams, Acts (Black's NTC), '957, 24-30; D. Guthrie, Galatians (NCB), 1969, 29-37. C. H. Talbert, 'Again: Paul's Visits to Jerusalem', NovTest 9, 1967, 26, tabulates seven different possible positions. Though I have come down firmly for one in the text, I am aware of the strength of other alternatives.]
There Paul and Barnabas go up from Antioch to Jerusalem, but they are alone, they meet none of the apostles, only the elders (Acts 11.30; contrast the repeated 'apostles and elders' of 15.2, 4, 6, 22f), and they are not recorded as having conversations or debate with anyone. Other possible points of convergence are (a) that Paul describes himself as having gone up by 'revelation' (Gal.2.2) and, on the assumption that this means by an inspired utterance (as in I Cor.14.6, 26), it could be a reference to the prophecy of Agabus (Acts 11.28) which gave rise to the visit; and (b) that Gal.2.10 could refer to the famine relief that occasioned it, if Paul's comment on the charge 'remember the poor' is interpreted to mean 'which was the very thing I had made, or was making, it my business to do'. But neither is the obvious translation of the aorist ἐστούδασα which would naturally refer to a resolve from that moment on.
[E. de W. Burton, Galatians (ICC), Edinburgh 1921, 115, argues that it positively excludes this interpretation; but cf. to the contrary D. R. Hall, 'St Paul and Famine Relief: A Study in Galatians 2.10', Exp T82, 1970-71,309-11.] Moreover, the only other reference to 'the poor' at Jerusalem in Paul's epistles is to the collection towards the close of his ministry (Rom.15.26). Since we know he wrote to the Galatians about that (I Cor.16.1), it is natural to take the reference to point forward to it.

With Acts 15 on the other hand, as Lightfoot observed in his extended note on the subject, the correspondences are considerable. [J. B. Lightfoot, Galatians, 1865; 41874, 122-7; cf. H. Schlier, Galater (KEKNT 7), Gottingen 111951, 66-78; Ogg, op. cit., 72-8; Parker, JBL 86, 175-9.]
There is the same tension between Judaizing Christians and the church at Antioch over the same issue (the requirement of circumcision), with the same persons (Paul, Barnabas, and Titus in Galatians; Paul, Barnabas and 'some others' in Acts) going up from Antioch to Jerusalem, and back, to meet the same people (James, Peter and John in Galatians; [As we have seen, for whatever reason, Titus is never mentioned by name in Acts.]
James, Peter with the apostles and elders in Acts) with the same essential result (recognition of the non-necessity of circumcision, with corollaries for mutual respect and support). The actual meetings described are indeed different; the one is a private consultation, the other a public council, and no attempt should be made to identify the two. Indeed, as Lightfoot pointed out, Paul's own form of expression in Gal.2.2, 'I laid it before them (αὐτοῖς), but privately to the men of repute', 'implies something beside the private conference'. It is simply that the occasion provided by the gathering of so many church leaders gives the opportunity for confirming previous missionary policy toward Gentiles and planning future division of labour. [One of the difficulties in equating Acts 11.30 with Gal.2.2 is that Paul is not recorded as having begun his preaching to Gentiles until Acts 13. But this could be put down to the silence of Acts; and a combination of 11.20 and 25f. might suggest such activity earlier.]
The differences of emphasis between the two accounts, from inside and outside, are certainly no greater than the divergences between Paul's and Luke's accounts of the first, post-conversion visit, which have not prevented the vast majority of scholars from equating them. Indeed, as Knox, who is certainly not biased towards harmonizing Acts and the epistles, points out, there can be 'little doubt' that Acts 15 and Gal. 2 describe the same occasion, and 'it seems fair to say that no one would have thought of the possible identification' of the visit of Gal. 2 with that of Acts 11 were it not for other difficulties. [Op. cit., 63.]

For Knox these other difficulties are with 'the usual Pauline chronology' - such as we are following. I am not in fact persuaded of them; but the greatest difficulty for Knox, and therefore the strongest argument for resorting to his reconstruction, turns on another point (the date of Festus' accession) to which we shall come later. Meanwhile there are, of course, very real difficulties for those who (unlike Knox but like myself) wish to fit the visits of Gal.1-2 into the framework of Acts.

The first is why Paul passes over in apparently damaging silence the second visit described by Acts 11.30-12.25. This has led many to excise this visit as unhistorical or as a doublet in Luke's sources of the visit of Acts 15. But this is an arbitrary way of cutting the knot, for which there is no evidence nor indeed other probability (the two visits are, as we have seen, very different in purpose and detail). The most likely reason for Paul's silence is surely that there was no occasion for him to mention this visit. As Lightfoot succinctly stated it years ago,

His object is not to enumerate his journeys to Jerusalem, but to define his relations with the Twelve; and on these relations it had no bearing.

Secondly, it is said, Why does not Galatians refer to the decrees of Acts 15.28f.? One of the corollaries of equating Gal.2 with Acts 11 is that it is possible to date Galatians before the council-visit of 48 and therefore to explain Paul's lack of reference to it. Yet this is not a necessary corollary, and the date of Galatians must be determined, in due course, on its own merits. Indeed, Caird goes so far as to say, 'This rider has done more to discredit than to commend the theory to which it has been attached.'
[idB I,606.] For Paul had no reason to quote the decrees. The decrees presupposed in what they did not say (cf. Acts 15.19: 'no irksome restrictions ... but') the non-necessity of circumcision, on which Paul affirms the concurrence of the Jerusalem apostles (Gal.2.3). What the decrees did say was that when Gentiles and Jews eat together the former must be prepared to make certain concessions to the conscience of the latter. But this is not at issue in Galatians. As Lightfoot put it again,

The object of the decree was to relieve the Gentile Christians from the burden of Jewish observances. It said, 'Concede so much and we will protect you from any further exactions.' The Galatians sought no such protection. They were willing recipients of Judaic rights; and St Paul's object was to show them, not that they need not submit to these burdens against their will, but that they were wrong and sinful in submitting to them.

More explanation indeed is needed for why he does not mention the decrees in I Corinthians and Romans, where he not merely passes them over in silence but actually sets aside the prohibition of eating meat offered to idols (I Cor.10.25-29; Rom.14). The answer of course is that the decrees were devised for a local, predominantly Jewish-Christian church situation 'in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia' (Acts 15.23) - not even for Galatia. In a cosmopolitan city like Corinth or Rome, where the conditions in the markets were very different, they were simply no longer practicable. In Galatians the only reference to meals is not to conditions to be observed when Jews and Gentiles eat together, but to their refusal to do so (Gal.2.11-14). And that for Paul was a matter not of concession but of principle, to which the decrees were irrelevant - quite apart from the fact that, as Lightfoot says again,

by appealing to a decree of a Council held at Jerusalem for sanction on a point on which his own decision as an Apostle was final, he would have made the very concession which his enemies insisted upon.

To sum up, whatever the differences in the accounts - and there is no need to deny or minimize them - I find the case for equating the visits of Gal. 2 and Acts 15 more compelling than any alternative. It also enables us to take the two intervals, 'after three years' and 'after fourteen years', in sequence rather than concurrently. For 33 is certainly a possible date for Paul's conversion - though we are still free to run the intervals together and to put the date later if we wish. [The upper limit is c. 37, if the incident in Acts 9.25 of Paul's escaping from Damascus in a basket is equated, as it must be, with his description of the same thing in II Cor.11.32f. under 'the commissioner of king Aretas' and if this occurred just before his going to Jerusalem two (or three) years after his conversion. For Aretas' reign ended in 39 or 40. But the incident could have come earlier.]

We have now sketched what is at least a credible and coherent chronology of Paul's life up to the time of his appearance before Gallio in 51. After that point it is impossible to tell how long a period Luke intended by the 'some (or many) days' (Acts 18.18) that Paul stayed on in Corinth. But there seems no good reason to stretch it to months. [With Ramsay, op. cit., xxi-iv, and F. F. Bruce, Acts, 1954, 377; New Testament History, 1969, 301, They make Paul winter in Corinth. But the addition in the Western and Antiochene texts of Acts 18.21 ('I must at all costs keep the approaching feast in Jerusalem'), which makes Paul wish to hasten back in time for Passover (?), is almost certainly secondary.]
It looks likely that he was back in Antioch by winter, before setting out once more for Asia Minor - after an unspecified delay (18.23) - when travelling again became possible in the spring.

At this point the Acts narrative enters a thin patch. As we have seen, it is not much help for filling in the three years in Ephesus that it itself requires, quite apart from placing the mass of experiences which Paul relates as having occurred to him by the time of writing II Cor. 11.23-27 (though these of course are not to be placed exclusively in the Ephesus period):

Are they servants of Christ? I am mad to speak like this, but I can outdo them. More overworked than they, scourged more severely, more often imprisoned, many a time face to face with death. Five times the Jews have given me the thirty-nine strokes; three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned;
three times I have been shipwrecked, and for twenty-four hours I was adrift on the open sea. I have been constantly on the road, I have met dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my fellow-countrymen, dangers from foreigners, dangers in towns, dangers in the country, dangers at sea, dangers from false friends. I have toiled and drudged, I have often gone without sleep; hungry and thirsty, I have often gone fasting; and I have suffered from cold and exposure.

Then there is the evidence of an additional visit to Corinth and probably to southern Illyricum (or Dalmatia, our Jugoslavia) (Rom.15.19) before Paul returns to Jerusalem for the last time. Since a chronological sequence of events is lacking, it will be best to see if we can set a terminus ad quern for this period and then work backwards.

Unfortunately the evidence is nowhere near so firm for the end of it as it is for the beginning.

The crucial date is when Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as procurator of Judaea (Acts 24.27). This is a fact of Roman history which one might think could be securely established. But unfortunately there is (as yet) no inscription to settle the matter and the testimony of the historians is conflicting and inconclusive. Since, however, much turns on it, it is necessary to examine it in some detail.

There is general agreement that Felix himself had succeeded Cumanus in 52, but Tacitus [Ann. 12.54.] differs from Josephus [Ant. 20.137; BJ. 2.247.]
in saying that by then Felix had already shared the title of procurator with Cumanus for some time. It is not impossible to harmonize the accounts; but it is agreed that in this matter Josephus is more likely to be right, [So Zahn, INT III, 470; Lake, Beginnings V, 464f.; Ogg. op. cit., 149; Haenchen, Acts, 68-70.] and this throws our first doubt on the accuracy of Tacitus. Josephus is also clear that Felix was recalled under Nero, who had confirmed him in office on his accession as emperor in 54. Later he records that the Jews of Caesarea sent complaints to Nero about him, and 'he would undoubtedly have paid the penalty for his misdeeds against the Jews had not Nero yielded to the urgent entreaty of Felix's brother Pallas, whom at that time he held in the highest honour'. [Ant. 20.182.] Now according to Tacitus [Ann. 13.14.] Pallas fell from office as chief of the imperial treasury at a date that it is possible to calculate as late 55 - though this depends on juggling with discrepancies between Tacitus and Suetonius and is very far from certain. [Cf. Lake, BeginningsV, 466; Ogg, op. cit., 155-8.] So, it is argued, 55 would be the latest date for the recall of Felix if Pallas was to protect him.

Eusebius, in the Latin version of his Chronicle (the Greek original is lost) gives the date of Festus' succession as the second year of Nero, i.e., 56 [Ed. A. Schoene, Eusebii Chronicorum Libri Duo II, Berlin 1866, 152-5-Harnack, Chron., 238, supporting the date of 56, had to admit 'a little error' of one year on Tacitus' part. For whether Harnack changed his mind on this in favour of a later dating, see below p. 91.] - though in the Armenian version it is put in the last year of Claudius (54), which is impossible if, as Eusebius himself agrees in his History, [HE 2.22.I] he also served under Nero.

Now, if Festus arrived as early as 55, then the phrase in Acts 24.27, 'when two years had passed' (διετίας δὲ πληρωθείσης), must be referred not to Paul's time in prison but to Felix's term of office. For it is agreed that Paul could not possibly have arrived in Jerusalem as early as the summer of 53, [Harnack had no such problem, as, prior to the discovery of the Gallic inscription, he could simply push all the dates two years earlier.]
having only set out on his third journey, which included two to three years in Ephesus alone, in the spring of 52. But there are difficulties in taking it this way. Assuming the phrase to mean 'when his two years were up', we have to argue, with Haenchen, that Felix had only two years in office, and that therefore, though appointed in 52, he did not arrive till 53 and left again in 55. Certainly we should not get this impression from Josephus, who records a long list of events, which must have occupied a considerable time, while Felix was procurator, not only before but also after Nero's accession in 54. [Ant. 20. 148-81; BJ 2.248-70.] They include (and that not at the beginning of Nero's reign) the rising of the Egyptian, which according to Acts 21.38 already lay in the past (πρὸ τούτων τῶν ἡμέρων) when Paul was first arrested under Felix. Moreover, though the phrase in Acts 24.27 could refer to Felix's time in office, it is virtually certain that Luke did not intend it to do so, for he has already made Paul congratulate Felix on having administered justice in the province 'for many years' (24.10). In its context too it is much more natural to take it of Paul's stay in prison ('He had high hopes of a bribe from Paul, and for this reason he sent for him very often and talked with him. When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus'). Indeed those who want to interpret it the other way have to say that, while Luke thought it applied to Paul, 'this does not exclude the possibility that a source spoke of a two-year term of office for Felix.' [Haenchen, Acts, 661. It is to be observed how totally hypothetical and insubstantial this statement is.] Yet here we are in the midst of a very detailed section of Acts where Luke shows no sign of relying on second-hand material. The only other recourse, if one is committed to 55, is to say with Knox [Chapters, 66,84f.]that Paul after all did arrive two years earlier in 53, and with that abandon the entire chronological framework of Acts (and the Gallic date) and start again without it. It is however somewhat ironical that the pressure to do this should be occasioned by a moment in Paul's career which is mentioned solely by Acts and whose dating is far less certain than the fixed point which Knox discards. [Cf. the review of Knox by Ogg, "A New Chronology of Saint Paul's Life', ExpT64., 1952-3, 120-3.]

In fact the date 55 rests upon two fairly weak supports. The first is the conclusion that if Felix was saved by the intercession of Pallas it must have been before the latter was dismissed from the treasury, assuming that this was in 55.
[Schurer, HJP I, 466; Zahn, /AT III, 473; and Ogg, Chronology, 1581., are convinced that Josephus is simply mistaken on Pallas.]
But it is far from certain that this was the decisive turning-point. As Caird says,

It is plain that Nero had always disliked Pallas and intended to dismiss him from the moment he became emperor, so that it is hard to see why Pallas' influence with Nero should have been greater before his dismissal than after it. For Pallas was not disgraced; he was able to make his own terms with Nero, was exempt from the scrutiny normally undergone by retiring Roman officials, and was allowed to keep the vast fortune he had accumulated as secretary of the treasury under Claudius.
[IDE I, 604.]

Secondly there is the self-conflicting evidence of Eusebius, though it is highly doubtful if he had anything to go on at this point apart from his reading of Josephus. [Cf. especially Schurer, 'Zur Chronologic des Lebens Pauli', ZWT 41, n.f. 6,1898, 21-42; HJP I, 466.] Caird also adopts an ingenious way of accounting for this. In the Armenian version of the Chronicle Eusebius puts Festus' arrival in the fourteenth year of Claudius and the tenth of Agrippa II. The former, as we have seen, must be wrong, since Eusebius himself was well aware that Felix was recalled by Nero. But, says Caird,

It is a mistake which becomes intelligible if we assume that the second figure was the only one that stood in Eusebius' source. Knowing that Agrippa I had died in 44, Eusebius assumed that 45 was the first year of his son, Agrippa II, and therefore identified the tenth year of Agrippa II with 54, the fourteenth of Claudius. Actually, as we know from Josephus (BJ 2.284), the beginning of Agrippa's reign was reckoned from Nisan I, ad 50, so that his tenth year began on Nisan I, ad 59. There is thus good reason for believing that, according to Eusebius' source, Festus became procurator in the summer of 59.
[IDB 1, 604f. Yet this argument, which goes back to Plooij, Chronologic, 60f, and behind him to K. Erbes, 'Die Todestage der Apostel Paulus und Petrus und ihre romischen Denkmaler', TU 19. i, Leipzig 1899, 27, was already criticized by Lake, Beginnings V, 472, on the ground that the shift in years should apply not only to the date of Festus' appointment but also to that of Felix. But this would bring forward the latter into the reign of Nero, which is impossible.]

This would allow him three years in office (59-62), which would match the relatively small space which Josephus devotes to him compared with Felix. [Ant. 20.182-96; 57 2.271.] The older writers gave him still less, opting for 60, though allowing 59 as entirely possible. [Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, 217-20; Schurer, HJP I, 466; Zahn, INT III, 469-78. Ogg, op. cit., 160-70, indeed puts it as late as 61.]
59 is also the date favoured by a number of scholars [A. R. S. Kennedy, 'Palestinian Numismatics', Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, 1914, 198; Ramsay, St Paul, xiv-xx; Gadbury, Acts in History, 10; Bruce, JVT History, 327; Gunther, Paul, 140!. Goguel and Plooij also opt for 59.]on the grounds that a new issue of provincial coinage for Judaea in the fifth year of Nero may point to a change of procuratorship before October 59. [Cf. F. W. Madden, History of Jewish Coinage, 1864, 153. A. Reifenberg, Ancient Jewish Coins, Jerusalem 2I947, 27, supports this.] Yet this inference is very far from certain. [Pilate became procurator in 26 and as far as we know issued no new coins till 29/30 (Madden, op. cit., 147-9). This point is made by Haenchen, Acts, 71, and Ogg,op.cit., 170.]

From the external evidence the conclusion must be that no firm date can be given. [This was also the outcome of Turner's very careful investigation (HDB I, 417-20). He opted for 58. But he wrote before the Gallic date was fixed.]
59 seems as likely as any other, putting Paul's arrival in Jerusalem at 57. But the actual date must be decided, if we can, from what the New Testament story itself requires. What is methodologically unsound on the evidence before us is to fix an upper limit (as we can fix the lower with a reasonable degree of confidence) and then adjust the material to this Procrustean bed. So, with the ends open, let us then return to the longest and most important stretch of Paul's work represented by what Acts depicts as the third missionary journey.

We left him setting out again for Asia Minor in all probability in the spring of 52 (18.23). [Ogg, op. cit., 132-4, 'assumes' (!) that Paul was ill for the whole of 52 and did not set out till June 53. He then has him spend more than a year in Galatia, reaching Ephesus only in the autumn of 54. But Ogg has an interest in stretching the chronology, as we shall see later that Barrett has an interest in contracting it. There is no objective evidence from Acts - or the epistles - for such a long-drawn-out progress.] Confining ourselves first to the Acts outline, we should conclude that he arrived at Ephesus (19.1); say, in the late summer of 52. He based his teaching on the synagogue there for three months (19.8) before withdrawing his converts and starting daily discussions in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus, which went on for the next two years (19.10). This would bring us, on our chronology, nearly to the end of 54. There is then an undated incident (19.13-20), followed by a typically vague Lukan time-reference:

When things had reached this stage (ὡς δὲ ἐπληρώθη) Paul made up his mind to visit Macedonia and Achaia and then go on to Jerusalem; and he said, 'After I have been there, I must see Rome also'. So he sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed some time longer (χρόνον) in the province of Asia (19. 21f.).

This is followed by the story of the silversmiths' riot (19.23-41), introduced by the words 'about that time'. This is the same formula used in 12.1 of Herod's action against James and Peter, which we have already had reason to think is misplaced in relation to the famine visit. All we can say therefore is that the riot probably took place towards the end of Paul's stay in Ephesus, perhaps in the first half of 55. In any case further time must be allowed for the dispatch (with the coming of spring ?) of Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia and for Paul's continued stay in Asia, which would bring us naturally to the early summer of 55. This would fit very well with Paul's assertion to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (20.31) that 'for three years, night and day' he had not ceased to have the most intimate contact with them.

Then, to round off the Acts story as far as Jerusalem, we will follow him from Ephesus:

When the disturbance had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-bye, and set out on his journey to Macedonia. He travelled through those parts of the country, often speaking words of encouragement to the Christians there, and so came into Greece. When he had spent three months there a
nd was on the point of embarking for Syria, a plot was laid against him by the Jews, so he decided to return by way of Macedonia

He set sail from Philippi after the Passover season (20.6), making all speed so as 'to be in Jerusalem, if he possibly could, on the day of Pentecost' (20.16) - and there is no reason to suppose that he did not achieve his object.

For the journey from Philippi onwards we are in a narrative recounted by Luke in the first person plural (20.6-21.18) and the notes of time are characteristically precise. But prior to that there is no indication of time apart from the three months' stay in Greece (i.e., Achaia). From Acts alone there would be nothing to suggest that if Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia in the summer of 55 he should not have reached Corinth by the end of that same year, left the following March, and arrived in Jerusalem in May 56.

But at this point we must turn to the evidence of Paul himself, and in particular that of the Corinthian correspondence which covers much of this period.

First it is important to notice how it confirms as well as supplements (and stretches) the Acts framework. In II Cor.1.19 Paul speaks to the Corinthians of the gospel which he had originally proclaimed to them, adding 'by Silvanus and Timothy, I mean, as well as myself. This strikingly confirms Acts 18.5 when Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy join Paul in preaching at Corinth for eighteen months on his first visit to the city. It is significant too that Paul does not mention Apollos in this connection, who according to Acts 18.20-19.1 arrived in Corinth only after Paul's first visit. II Cor.11.7-9 taken with I Thess.2.2; II Thess.3.1, 6; and Phil.4.15f. also confirm the sequence of Acts 16.12-18, viz. Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth. [Cf. Campbell,JBL, 74,82f.]

Paul himself also speaks of his intention to revisit Corinth via Macedonia, having already sent Timothy ahead to prepare the way; and the details and timing again fit well with the plan outlined in Acts 19.21f. In I Cor. 16.5-11 he says:

I shall come to Corinth after passing through Macedonia - for I am travelling by way of Macedonia - and I may stay with you, perhaps even for the whole winter, and then you can help me on my way wherever I go next. I do not want this to be a flying visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I shall remain at Ephesus until Whitsuntide, for a great opportunity has opened for effective work, and there is much opposition.

If Timothy comes, see that you put him at his ease; for it is the Lord's work that he is engaged upon, as I am myself; so no one must slight him. Send him happily on his way to join me, since I am waiting for him with our friends.

Earlier Paul had made it clear that he had planned for Timothy to go as far as Corinth, and he promised: 'I shall come very soon, if the Lord will' (4.17-19). At this stage he had evidently not finally decided whether to accompany the bearers of the collection to Jerusalem himself: 'If it should seem worth while for me to go as well, they shall go with me' (16.3f.); and he leaves his further destination open: 'You can help me on my way wherever I go next' (16.6). Indeed there is a tentativeness about his plans ('If the Lord permits', 'if the Lord will') which suggests that in Acts 19.21f. Luke is summarizing in the light of subsequent events. Nevertheless there can be little doubt that I Corinthians was written in the spring of Paul's last year in Ephesus, round about Easter-time, which the references to Passover in 5.7f. would support:

The old leaven of corruption is working among you. Purge it out, and then you will be bread of a new baking, as it were unleavened Passover bread. For indeed our Passover has begun; the sacrifice is offered - Christ himself. So we who observe the festival must not use the old leaven, the leaven of corruption and wickedness, but only the unleavened bread which is sincerity and truth.

Paul plans to stay on in Ephesus till Pentecost in the early summer, by which time Timothy should be back to report on the situation he has found. So far all is straightforward.

Then the upsets begin. For some reason or other (perhaps because of Timothy's report) Paul apparently changed his original plan, and then later went back on the second - though the details are far from certain. [The best recent discussion is by C. K. Barrett, II Corinthians (Black's NTC), 1973, introduction and ad locc. I find his general solution convincing, though his time-table intolerably constricted.]
In II Cor.1.15f. he says,

I had intended to come first of all to you and give you the benefit of a double visit. I meant to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and after leaving Macedonia, to return to you, and you would then send me on my way to Judaea.
[It could mean 'I had originally intended to come to you' (neb margin), but this would not explain the double visit.]

In other words, instead of going to Corinth via Macedonia (as proposed in I Cor.16.5) he had decided to go to Corinth direct (by sea), then do his work in Macedonia, and return to Corinth (by land) en route for Jerusalem, which was by that stage fixed in his mind as his next destination. It is fairly clear that he did pay the first of these two visits (his second in all), since in II Cor.12.14 and 13.1f. he speaks of his second visit and says that his next will be his third. It is also clear that he abandoned the plan to come straight back to Corinth after his work in Macedonia. 'It was out of consideration to you', he says in II Cor.1.23, 'that I did not come again to Corinth';
[οὐκέτι. The neb's 'after all' suggests that he never paid the visit at all, which is contradicted by II Cor.13.2.] for, he explains later, 'I made up my mind that my next visit to you must not be another painful one' (2.1). In place of the visit he wrote them a letter, 'out of great distress and anxiety' (II Cor.2.3), which, he says, he does not now regret, even though he may have done so (7.8). [Lightfoot and earlier commentators identified this letter with I Corinthians, but it is almost universally agreed that it does not fit its tone. Lightfoot indeed put the second visit to Corinth in Paul's first year at Ephesus, prior even to the 'previous letter' mentioned in I Cor.5.9 (Biblical Essays, 222). But then it is surely incredible that this visit should have left no trace in I Corinthians.] It is not clear from where he wrote the letter, but evidently it had been sent via Titus, whose report on its effect Paul awaited anxiously (2.13). By that time he was in the Troad (τὴν Τρωάδα, not simply Troas), in north-west Asia minor (2.12). How he got there -via Macedonia, as planned, or from Ephesus – we do not know. He went there to preach the gospel, and a considerable opening beckoned him, but because he could find no relief of mind he 'took leave of the people there and went off to Macedonia' (2.13). This appears to be the departure, however spun out, that Acts refers to in 20.1, though of course Acts records no intermediate visit to Corinth. By that time it must have been autumn at least, and it has been convincingly suggested that Paul waited at Troas for as long as there was hope that Titus might still arrive there by boat from Corinth. [W. L. Knox, St Paul and the Church of the Gentiles, Cambridge 1939, 144; Bruce, NT History, 315.]
When winter put an end to shipping across the Aegean it was clear that he would be coming by land. So Paul set out to meet him. Yet, he says,

Even when we reached Macedonia there was still no relief for this poor body of ours: instead, there was trouble at every turn, quarrels all round us, forebodings in our heart (7.5).

Eventually, however, Titus did arrive, and with joyful news (7.6f.), which made Paul write off to Corinth again from Macedonia (9.2). He sent Titus back (8.6, 17), presumably with the letter and certainly with two other 'brothers' (8.18-24), to complete the collection which earlier he had initiated (8.6) and which Paul had told the Macedonians was ready (as it should have been) 'last year' (8.10; 9.2). Clearly by now we are in the year following the instructions which Paul had given concerning this in I Cor.16.1-3 - and there seems little point in seeking to argue (with Barrett) that, since the new year (in all probability on Paul's calendar) began in the autumn, II Corinthians could have been written in the October of what to us is the same year (55). Rather, Paul appears to be writing in the first part of 56. And he promises to come again himself when time has been given for the collection to be prepared (9.4f.).

It remains to ask whether he fulfilled this promise at once or after yet further delay. This depends on the relation we believe II Cor.10-13 to bear to II Cor.1-9. Many have felt that its tone is so different that the two sections cannot form continuous parts of the same letter. It has often indeed been suggested with much plausibility that chs.10-13 are a part of the severe or sorrowful letter which Paul sent earlier. Yet in 12.14 and 13.1 he says in no uncertain terms that he is intending to visit the Corinthians, whereas the earlier letter had explained why he was not coming (2.3). Moreover, it looks as if the reference in 12.17, 'I begged Titus to visit you and I sent our brother with him', must be to the same mission mentioned in 8.17-24. The only question is whether in each case the aorist is an epistolatory aorist (meaning 'I am sending') or whether (as the neb takes it) in the second passage Paul is now looking back, in a separate and subsequent letter, on this previous mission. In this case we have to assume, with Barrett, [So too, Bruce, I and II Corinthians (NCB), 1971, 166-70.]that there was further trouble and that Paul writes yet again, threatening this time to come and deal with the situation unsparingly (13.2, 10). There is no need for us here to decide this question. But if we do posit an interval between the two sections of II Corinthians, then the second part must come from yet later in 56. It becomes the more incredible that everything can be fitted into the previous year, if Paul is to have three months in Achaia before leaving for Jerusalem in March. It appears far more likely that most of 56 was spent in Macedonia and 'those parts' (Acts 20.1) and that this was also the occasion when, as he reports in Romans, Paul 'completed the preaching of the gospel ... as far round as Illyricum' (Rom.15.19). For 'now', he says, he has no further scope in these parts (Rom.15.23) and can thus press on beyond, as previously he had hoped to do (II Cor.10.15f.). But first he must go to Corinth to 'finish the business' of the collection before delivering it under his own seal to Jerusalem (Rom.15.28). Even then he was prevented by a plot of his Jewish opponents from sailing direct (Acts 20.3), but accompanied by the delegates of the congregations (Acts 20.4; cf. II Cor.8.18-24) he set off once more through Macedonia.

It looks therefore as if we should allow a further year for Paul's final preparations than the bare summary of Acts 20.2 would suggest. [Plooij, Ogg and Bruce agree.]He writes to the Romans in 15.22 that he has been 'prevented all this time' from coming to them, and certainly he would appear to have run up against frustrating delays and changes of plan of which Acts gives no hint. Only when the Acts narrative once again supplies a detailed timetable, as it does from 20.6 to the end, may we safely assume that there are no substantial gaps.

If then we may conclude that Paul probably arrived in Jerusalem for the last time at the end of May 57, the next period of his career is fairly certain. Matters came rapidly to a head. Within twelve days (Acts 24.11), or a little longer, [See n. 9 above.] he had been arrested, tried, and remanded in jail at Caesarea, where he was to stay for two years (24.23-27) till the arrival of the new procurator provided occasion for his case to be reopened. As we saw earlier, the date of this cannot be fixed with certainty from the external sources, but the possible, if not probable, date of 59 fits precisely. Within a fortnight of Festus taking up his appointment (25.1, 6) Paul is in court again and, threatened with being returned to Jerusalem, makes his dramatic appeal to Caesar (25.9-12). A further appearance before Agrippa and Bernice follows, after an interval of' some days' (25.13f., 23). There is no precise indication of when Paul was finally put on board for Italy (27.1), but evidently it was (as we should expect) in the late summer. 'Much time' had already been lost by the time they were in Crete (27.9) and with the equinoctial gales the 'danger season' for sailing had begun (September 14-November 11). [Vegetius, De rei milit. 4. 39.]
Indeed 'even (καὶ) the Fast' (i.e. the Day of Atonement) had passed - or the Fast 'as well' as the equinox (September 23 or 24), which was reckoned to be the last safe day for shipping. [Caesar, Bell. Gall. 4.36; 5.23.]
It has convincingly been argued that this may also afford some confirmation of the year. [W. P. Workman, 'A New Date-Indication in Acts', ExpT n, 1899-1900, 316-19. Plooij, op. cit., 86-8; Bruce, Acts, 506; and Gunther, op. cit., 141, support this.] For there would have been no point in this further time-reference if the Day of Atonement was not late that year or at any rate later than the equinox. Of the years in question only 59 really fits, when it fell on October 5. [The only other possible year is 57, when it fell on September 27. In 61, which Ogg favours, it was as early as September 12, when the danger season had not even begun. He admits this, but slurs over it.]
Moreover unless they did not leave Crete till well into October, taking something over a fortnight (27.13-28.1) to reach Malta in November, a three months' stay in Malta (?November, December, January) would not have been sufficient to see the winter out. Even so it is difficult to stretch it to March 10, when Vegetius says the seas opened [De rei milit. 4. 39.], though Pliny allows that sailing could start from February 8. [Nat. hist. 2.47.]
In any case 'after three months' (28.11) must be taken to mean what it means for us and not 'after two months' - and this may provide a key to Luke's usage in similar statements of interval when we are in no position to check him (e.g. 24.1; 25.1; 28.13, 17). A further two to three weeks were to see them in Rome. There, from the spring of 60 to the spring of 62, Paul spent two full years (28.30) under open arrest. Beyond that we cannot go with any certainty, though we shall return to the discussion later. [Pp. 140-150 below.]

At this point we may summarize our conclusions about the outline of Paul's career, remembering that the absolute datings cannot be more than approximate:

      33     Conversion
      35     First visit to Jerusalem
      46     Second (famine-relief) visit to Jerusalem
      47-8     First missionary journey
      48     Council of Jerusalem
      49-51     Second missionary journey
      52-7     Third missionary journey
      57     Arrival in Jerusalem
      57-9     Imprisonment in Caesarea
      60-2     Imprisonment in Rome.

Within this framework let us now try to fit his letters.

I Thessalonians.

According to I Thess.3.6 Paul is writing just after Timothy arrived from Thessalonica, whither Paul had sent him when he was in Athens (3.1f.). According to Acts 18.5 Timothy and Silas rejoined Paul in Corinth. The presumption therefore is that the letter was written by Paul, with the other two (1.1), from Corinth towards the beginning of the eighteen-month period that ended in the summer of 51 (Acts 18.11). Acts however elides two journeys of Timothy. He and Silas had been left behind in Beroea with instructions to join Paul with all speed at Athens, where he waited for them (17.15f.). Evidently they (or Timothy at least) did do this, but were then sent back to Thessalonica. By the time they returned Paul had moved on to Corinth and set up with Aquila. Once again Acts appears to summarize more complex travels, but the overall situation is not in doubt. Precisely how long an interval is required after Paul's original visit to Thessalonica in the summer of 49 is disputed; but neither Kummel [INT, 257-60.], nor Ernest Best [E. Best, I and II Thessalonians (Black's NTC), 1972, 7-13.], who take into account all the most recent scholarship on the matter, sees reason to question the traditional placing. We may therefore accept early 50 as the most probable date for the Epistle.

II Thessalonians.

To go into the challenges that have been made to the authenticity and integrity of this epistle and to its order in relation to I Thessalonians would take us far afield. The arguments are set out in all the commentaries. Suffice it here to say again that, after full examination of all the theories, both Kummel [INT, 263-9.] and Best [Op. cit., 37-59.] come down decisively in favour of the traditional view that Paul wrote II Thessalonians, with Silas and Timothy (1.1), from Corinth within a short time of I Thessalonians, either late in 50 or early in 51. The hypothesis of pseudonymity, despite the authentication of the personal signature in 3.17, would require a date at the end of the first century. Yet, as Kummel says, 2.4 ('he ... even takes his seat in the temple of God') 'was obviously written while the temple was still standing'. [The authenticity of II Thessalonians is defended by F. W. Beare, IDB IV, 626, even though he would question both Ephesians and I Peter and is doubtful about Colossians.]
There is no sound reason for not accepting the usual dating. [The attempt by Buck and Taylor, St Paul, 146-62, to establish absolute dates for Pauline chronology, not from Gallic, but from placing II Thess.2.11-12 three and a half years (as in Dan.12.11-13) after Caligula's frustrated attempt to set up his statue in the temple, i.e. in 44 (with I Thessalonians in 46) is so subjective as to be almost unanswerable.]

I Corinthians.

We have already argued that this was written from Ephesus about Passover-time (March-April) when Paul had been nearly three years in Ephesus and was beginning to make plans to move on. There is wide agreement that this must, as we have reckoned, have been in 55. [Thus, summarizing other scholarship, C. S. C. Williams, PCB, 954; S. M. Gilmour, IDB I, 692.]
It is surprising therefore that Barrett makes it 54 or even 53. [C. K. Barrett, I Corinthians (Black's NTC), 1968, 5; II Corinthians, 4f.] The reason becomes clear when we realize that he is one of those who is convinced that everything must be adjusted to allow Paul to appear before Festus in 55. (He cannot of course have arrived in Jerusalem by 53, so the 'two years' of Acts 24.27 have, as we have seen, on this view to be referred to Felix.) Barrett agrees that Paul came to Ephesus in the late summer of 52, but he has to make him leave again by the early summer of 54. He argues that the 'three years' of Acts 20.31 is not inconsistent with the two years and three months of 19.8 and 10. But it is difficult to see how it can be consistent with less than two years - quite apart from the fact that the two dated spells in Acts do not claim to cover all Paul's time at Ephesus (cf. 19.22). It seems much easier to take the space of 'three years, night and day' to mean what it says and put I Corinthians in the spring of 55. Barrett has subsequently to compress all the further journeys and letters of Titus and Paul to Corinth and the work in the Troad and Macedonia (let alone Illyricum) into the remaining months of the same year - and this despite the fact that he believes that II Cor.10-13 reflects yet further trouble and a fifth letter in all. It is more natural to reckon that his dealings with the church there dragged on well into 56 and the early part of 57.

II Corinthians.

The first part of this epistle at any rate (i.e. chs.1-9) is written from Macedonia, in all probability in the early part of 56. If chs.10-13 belong to a subsequent letter, then they must come from later that same year, shortly before Paul descends upon Corinth for the last time to winter there (13.1-10). In any case we can safely place the whole of II Corinthians in 56.


Paul is writing shortly before setting off for Jerusalem (15.25), while staying with Gaius in Corinth (16.23; cf. I Cor. 1.14) and completing the work on the collection (15.26-8). It can confidently be dated during the three months spent in Achaia (Acts 20.3), early in 57. [Notwithstanding J. R. Richards, 'Romans and I Corinthians: Their Chronological Relationship and Comparative Dates', NTS 13, 1966-7, 14-30.]
The only issue is whether the final ch.16 is part of the letter sent to Rome or, as many have argued,  a covering letter for dispatching a version of it at the same time to Ephesus. [E.g. T. W. Manson, 'The Letter to the Romans', Studies in the Gospels and Epistles, Manchester 1962, 225-41.] As this does not affect the date, it is not directly our concern. But since the destination of the chapter determines the use of its material elsewhere, I simply register my conviction, with that of most recent commentators, that, despite the evidence of textual dislocation, it belongs to Rome with the rest of the Epistle.
[E.g. C. H. Dodd, Romans (Moffatt NTC), 1932; C. K. Barrett, Romans (Black's NTC), 1937; and even J. C. O'Neill, Romans (Pelican NTC), Harmondsworth 1975, who believes that remarkably little else is an original part of the epistle. So too, Kummel, INT, 314-20.]


Galatians presents much more uncertainty. The view that we have taken that the visit to Jerusalem in Gal.2 corresponds to the council visit of 48 means that it cannot be written before that date. There would in any case be no initial reason to think that it was, since the closest contacts of the epistle are with II Corinthians and still more with Romans. It is however difficult to be more precise. We do not even know for certain the location of the recipients, whether in the Roman province of Galatia, which included the churches in Pisidia and Lycaonia founded on Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13-14) and revisited on the second (16.1-5), or the territory of Galatia further north (which could be referred to in 16.6 and 18.23.) [For a balanced survey of the arguments, cf. Guthrie, NTI, 450-7.]
The weight of scholarly opinion appears to favour the former, [Cf. F. F. Bruce, 'Galatian Problems: North or South Galatians?', BJRL 52, 1970,243-66.] with which on balance I would side, though Kummel [INT, 296-8.]
and J. A. Fitzmyer [J. A. Fitzmyer, Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 236f.]
still argue for the latter view, championed by Lightfoot.
[Galatians, 18-31. Similarly, strongly, Moffatt, ILNT, 90-101.]

Fortunately we do not have to decide this issue for the purposes of dating, since both options remain open unless we wish to put Galatians before the council of Jerusalem and therefore before the second missionary journey. If in Gal. 4.13, as is probably the contrast intended in II Cor.1.15, τὸ πρότερον means 'on the first of my two visits' (rather than simply 'formerly' or 'originally', as it certainly could mean), then the epistle must be written at least after the visit of Acts 16.6 (in 49), if not after that of 18.23 (in 52). [To refer the second visit to the return journey in 14.21-23 is possible, though forced.]
The reference in Gal. 1.6 to the Galatians having turned 'so quickly' (ταχέυς) from the true gospel is sometimes taken as an argument in favour of an earlier rather than a later date. But such an expression, even if it has a temporal sense and does not mean 'hastily' or 'suddenly' (cf. II Peter 2.1), is highly relative.

The undoubted affinities with II Corinthians and Romans, [Cf. Lightfoot, Galatians, 44-50; C. H. Buck, 'The Date of Galatians', JBL 70, 1951, 113-22; Buck and Taylor, op. cit., 82-102.]
though certainly not decisive for dating, have inclined the majority of scholars who do not wish for other reasons to put Galatians back in 48 to place it either during Paul's time in Ephesus (52-5) or between II Corinthians and Romans, perhaps on his travels in northern Greece, in 56.
[So e.g. Moffatt, ILNT, 102; Sanders, PCB, 973; Fitzmyer, JBC, 237.]

The greeting in 1.2, 'I and the group of friends now with me', perhaps suggests that Paul is not writing from an established Christian congregation like Ephesus or Corinth, and there are no personal messages at the end (contrast I Cor. 16.191. and Rom.16). It is more like what we find in II Corinthians (written in Macedonia), where he simply sends greetings from 'all God's people' (13.13). Again, though he longs to be with the Galatians (Gal. 4.20), he appears to be in no position even to propose a visit - and this would, on balance, count against a place so accessible as Ephesus. A further possible pointer may be found in I Cor.16.1: 'About the collection in aid of God's people: you should follow my directions to our congregations in Galatia.' Clearly our epistle to the Galatians contains no such directions and it must either have been written before the project (i.e., well prior to I Corinthians) or later on. In favour of the latter there is one of the parallels between Galatians and II Corinthians. In II Cor. 9.6 Paul says, in relation to the collection,

Remember, sparse sowing, sparse reaping; sow bountifully, and you will reap bountifully.

In Gal. 6.7-10 he writes:

Make no mistake about this: God is not to be fooled; a man reaps what he sows. ... So let us never tire of doing good, for if we do not slacken our efforts we shall in due time reap our harvest. Therefore, as opportunity offers, let us work for the good of all, especially members of the household of the faith.

It is possible (though no more than possible) that Paul is here reproving the Galatians for their lack of liberality in the same cause.

I would conclude therefore, with Lightfoot and others, that Galatians most probably comes from the period between II Corinthians and Romans, which we have already argued covers most of 56. [Galatians, 36-56; E. H. Askwith, The Epistle to the Galatians: An Essay on its Destination and Date, 1899, a valuable and forgotten book which combines this dating (as I would) with a south Galatian destination and an identification of the visits of Gal. a and Acts 15; Buck, J.B.Z, 70,113-22; C. E. Faw, 'The Anomaly of Galatians', BR 4,1960,25-38.] But this conclusion is much less sure than that for the other epistles so far discussed. Indeed Knox has suggested that, so far from being the first of Paul's writings, it may have been among the last, written from prison. [IDB II, 342f.; cf. Hurd in Farmer, Moule and Niebuhr, Christian History, 241-3.] However, the absence of the slightest reference to his 'bonds' (particularly in a letter which has so much to say about freedom) makes this very arbitrary. Yet it is a salutary warning. For Philippians, which carries the same greeting, 'the brothers who are now with me' (Phil.4.21; cf. Gal.1.2), and which many have put last of all, has equally forcibly been argued to come from the period of Paul's Ephesian ministry (where indeed Knox puts it) because of its common themes with Galatians, Corinthians and Romans.


This brings us to the so-called captivity epistles, and we may start with Philippians, which, it is generally agreed, stands apart from the other three, Colossians, Philemon and (assuming its authenticity) Ephesians. The dating of all these is almost entirely dependent on the judgment made about their place of writing. Three locations have been canvassed, Ephesus (52-5), Caesarea (57-9) and Rome (60-2), and none has finally prevailed over the others. Rome has been the traditional one for all four, but many scholars have wished to discriminate and allocate different letters to different places. It will be well to say at the beginning of the discussion that complete certainty cannot be established on the evidence available and that it is a matter of assessing probabilities. Whatever conclusions we finally reach, other alternatives cannot be ruled out.

With regard, then, to Philippians, we may note that of all the captivity epistles this is the one for which the hypothesis of an Ephesian origin has won greatest support. [Cf. e.g. the survey by Bruce, 'The Epistles of Paul', PCB, 9321.; and Guthrie, JV77, 149: 'There is a much greater inclination to attribute Phiiippians than the other Captivity Epistles to Ephesus.' For the Ephesian hypothesis in general, cf. especially W. Michaelis, Die Gefangenschaft des Paulus in Ephesus und der Itinerar des Tinotheus, Gutersloh 1925; Die Datierung des Philipperbriefs, Giitersloh 1933; G. S. Duncan, St Paul's Ephesian Ministry, 1929. On the other side, C. H. Dodd, 'The Mind of Paul: II', New Testament Studies, Manchester 1953, 85-108; Guthrie, JV77,472-8. It is notable that Dodd does not even consider the alternative of Caesarea.]
Indeed it can at first sight be fitted neatly into the Acts narrative at this point. In Phil. 2.19-24 Paul says that he hopes to send Timothy soon, confident that he himself will come before long. In Acts 19.22 he sends Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia, of which Philippi was 'a city of the first rank' (Acts 16.12), while he stays on for a time in Asia. Referring apparently to the same situation, Paul speaks in I Cor.16.5-11 of Timothy having gone before him to Corinth. And he will wait in Ephesus for his return, just as in Phil.2.19 he hopes that Timothy will bring him news of the church at Philippi. [Kummel correctly points out, INT, 330f., that Paul himself does not say that he is sending Timothy to Corinth via Macedonia (only that he is planning to come that way himself) and that Acts 19.22 does not indicate that Paul expects Timothy back before his own departure. But these would be negligible differences if everything else fitted.]
On the other hand, there is not the slightest hint in Acts or I Corinthians that Paul is or has been in prison. On the contrary, he is a free agent planning his future travels (Acts 19.21; I Cor.16.6-8) and fully stretched by his evangelistic opportunities (I Cor.16.9). He sends greetings from the churches of Asia and from Aquila and Prisca and the congregation at their house (I Cor.16.19). The cri de coeur of Phil.2.20, that, apart from Timothy,

there is no one else here who sees things as I do and takes a genuine interest in your concerns; they are all bent on their own ends, not on the cause of Christ Jesus,

fits neither Acts 19.22, 'he sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia', nor I Cor.16.11f., 'I am waiting for him with our friends' (who include Apollos).

Of course, it is always possible to say that the imprisonment of Paul and the sending of Timothy occurred independently, before or after the events of which we have record. But this merely exposes the main weakness of the hypothesis of an Ephesian captivity, that it rests on no direct evidence whatsoever - merely unspecified references to φυλακαί in II Cor.6.5; 11.23 and Rom.16.7 (cf. I Clem.5.6, which mentions seven imprisonments of Paul). No description of Paul's many troubles and dangers in Ephesus or Asia (Acts 19.23-20.1; I Cor.15.32; 16.9; II Cor.1.8f.; and [perhaps] Rom.16.3f.) includes imprisonment. Moreover, the imprisonment referred to in Phiiippians must have been an extended one (1.13f.) (and based on a capital charge, 2.17) - having lasted long enough even by the time of writing for the Christians in Philippi to have heard about it and sent Epaphroditus with relief, and then for Epaphroditus to have recovered from a near fatal illness, of which they had also had time to get news (2.25-30).

Another difficulty is that in Phiiippians there is no reference whatever to the collection for the poor, in which Macedonia was so prominent (II Cor.8.1-5; 9.1-4; Rom.15.26f.). On the contrary, stress is laid upon the Phiiippians' collection for Paul's personal needs (Phil. 2.25, 30; 4.10-19), which he is especially sensitive to dissociate from the other collection (II Cor.8.i6-24; 12.13-18; Acts 20.33-35). It looks then as if Phiiippians must come from a period well before or well after the project that occupied so much of Paul's time and thought in the two years (at least) prior to 57. And if it came before it must be well prior to the spring of 55, when the Corinthians are already assumed to know about the collection (I Cor.16.1-4). This scarcely fits the impression which we get from Phiiippians that Paul's relations with that church have by then extended over many years (1.5; 4.10f., 15f.). Nor does it comport with his expressed desire for death (1.20-26), which is very different from what he is looking forward to even in Romans. It seems altogether easier to place it later.

The only advantages indeed of an Ephesian locale for Phiiippians would seem to be: (a) the affinity of language with the other epistles in the central section of Paul's ministry. But the parallels are spread amongst all the Pauline epistles;
[Cf. C. L. Mitton, The Epistle to the Ephesians, Oxford 1951, 322-32.]
and, as with Galatians, this is a fairly uncertain criterion. (b) The shorter distance required for the journeys described to and from Philippi (Phil. 2.19-30). But it is generally conceded that this latter cannot be decisive. For the rest, the references to the praetorium in 1.13 and the servants of the imperial establishment ('Caesar's household') in 4.22, though not impossible in Ephesus, point more obviously to Rome or Caesarea.

Certainly these latter two references would seem to favour Rome, though again it is agreed even by the advocates of this hypothesis that they cannot be decisive. Indeed, if it is in Rome, then the phrase ἐν ὃλω τῶ πραιτωρίω must be taken, with Lightfoot,
[J. B. Lightfoot, Phiiippians, 1873, 97-102.]
to refer to the members of the Praetorian guard, whom Paul it is supposed influenced by rota, and not a building - since according to Acts 28.30 he is in his own hired lodging. This is not however how it is used anywhere else in the New Testament (Matt.27.27; Mark 15.16; John 18.28, 33; 19.9; Acts 23.35). An alternative is to say that it refers to a later stage in Paul's Roman captivity when he has been moved into the praetorium to stand trial - though Lightfoot insisted that 'in Rome itself a "praetorium" would not have been tolerated'. But then we lose all contact with the evidence and can invent any circumstance that suits us (as at Ephesus).

In Caesarea, [For this case, cf. E. Lohmeyer, Philipper (KEKNT 9), Gottingen 1930, 3f., i4f., 41; L. Johnson, 'The Pauline Letters from Caesarea', ExpT68, 1956-7, 24-6; Gunther, op. cit., 98-107.]
on the other hand, Paul is specifically said to be in the praetorium of Herod's palace, the headquarters of the procurator of Judaea (Acts 23.55). Moreover, the sense of Phil. 1.16f. is correctly rendered in the neb by 'as I lie in prison'. He is in jail. And yet, according to Acts 24.23, Felix 'gave orders to the centurion to keep Paul under open arrest [ἂωεσις (cf. Josephus, Ant. 18.235) 'apparently means leave to communicate with friends and receive food' (Lake and Cadbury, Beginnings IV, 304).] and not to prevent any of his friends from making themselves useful to him' - a statement which fully fits the description of his conditions in Phil. 2.25-30; 4.10-19. Furthermore a hearing has already taken place (1.7), which suits the situation at Caesarea following the appearance before Felix; but by the time Acts ends there has been no hearing in Rome. It has been objected that at Caesarea Paul was not facing the possibility of death, since he could always appeal to Caesar. Yet it is constantly made clear that his life is in danger from the Jews (Acts 21.31, 36; 22.22; 23.30; 25.3, 24; 26.21), a fate from which he is protected only by Roman custody. If he had really brought a Greek into the temple, then, even as a Roman citizen, he would under Jewish law have been liable to death. In fact he says to Festus, 'If I am guilty of any capital crime, I do not ask to escape the death penalty' (25.11). Yet he knows, like the authorities, that he is innocent of this (23.29; 25.10, 25; 26.31; 28.18) and therefore has every ground for expecting discharge (26.32) - which, it is suggested, he could have bought at any time (24.26). His appeal to the emperor is only a last desperate recourse when it looks as if Festus is going to hand him back as a sop to the Jews (25.11). At the time of writing to the Philippians his confidence was that he would be alive and free to visit them once more (Phil. 1.24-26; 2.24) on his projected journey back west (Rom. 1.13; 15.23-29; Acts 19.21; 23.11). That he had any plans for returning east from Rome is entirely hypothetical - though of course we can never prove that he did not change his mind. The only evidence is for journeys further west still, whether planned or accomplished.

Further support for Caesarea as the place of writing is the bitter polemic in Phil. 3.1-11 against the Jews, who are much more fiercely attacked even than fellow-Christians who betray the gospel (1.15-18; 3.18f.).
 This fits the fanatical and unrelenting Jewish opposition Paul encountered in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Acts 21.37-26.32; cf. 28.19). There may have been such bitterness later in Rome, but the only evidence we have is of Jews who are conspicuously fair to Paul, even if sceptical and obtuse (28.21-28).

I would agree therefore with Kummel [1NT, 329.] in thinking that Caesarea as the place of origin for Philippians has been too quickly abandoned, and it is certainly preferable to Ephesus. Rome has little to be said against it, precisely because the evidence is so thin. Reicke, who argues, as we shall see, strongly for the Caesarean locale of the other captivity epistles, still places Philippians in Rome. [B. Reicke, 'Caesarea, Rome and the Captivity Epistles', in W. W. Gasque and R. P. Martin (edd.), Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce, 1970, 277-86; 'The Historical Setting of Colossians', RE 70, '973>429-38.]
He urges, rightly, that on grounds of personalia it does not belong with the rest. Yet I believe the best hypothesis may turn out to be that all these epistles come from the same place but at different times. But before deciding on a date for Philippians, we should turn to the other letters.

Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians.

At once we are up against the problem of authenticity, not for the last time. There is virtually no one now who denies the genuineness of Philemon. [John Knox, Philemon among the Letters of Paul, Nashville, Tenn., 1959, makes its genuineness a corner-stone of his case against Ephesians. Cf. also Bruce, 'St Paul in Rome: 2.The Epistle to Philemon', BJRL 48, 1965, 81-97.] There are those, especially in Germany,
[for names, cf. Kummel, INT, 340.]
who question Colossians on stylistic and theological grounds. But the close and complex interrelationship of names with Philemon points strongly to the fact that the two epistles were dictated by the same man at the same time and sent to Colossae by Tychicus, in company with Onesimus (Col. 4.7-9; Philem.12). Reicke summarizes the connections thus:

Greetings were conveyed from and to nearly the same persons in both letters, but their names were by no means given in the same order so that any hypothesis of dependence cannot be plausible (Philem.1f., 23f.; Col.1.7; 4.7-19). In particular, the fact that Epaphras of Colossae appears in both writings, though in different contexts (Philem.23; Col.1.7; 4.9), is a remarkable evidence of a common background. ... This complex of relations cannot be understood as the result of artificial imitation.
[RE 70, 434. Cf. also the different way Archippus comes into Philem. 2 and Col. 4.18.]

After a careful weighing of the pros and cons Kummel ends by saying 'all the evidence points to the conclusion that Colossians ... is to be regarded as Pauline',
[INT, 340-6; similarly Goodspeed, INT, 102-4; C. F. D. Moule, Colossians and Philemon (Cambridge Greek Testament), 1957, 13f.]
and I would agree.

Ephesians presents a difficult problem to handle here. To argue in any detail the question of Pauline authorship would take us far from our primary purpose, which is to establish a chronology. If it is not Pauline, then there are two alternatives: either it is by an amanuensis or agent writing on the apostle's behalf at the same date; or it is strictly pseudonymous, claiming to be Pauline but coming (probably) from towards the end of the first century. The former alternative has commanded little support (though it has recently been argued by Gunther, who believes that the author was Timothy) [Op. cit., 130-8. The absence of Timothy's name from the address (in contrast with Colossians, Philemon and Philippians) has to be put down to self-effacing modesty! M. Goguel, Introduction au Nouveau Testament, Paris 1923-6, IV.2, 474f., suggested an original homily by Tychicus, with subsequent additions attributing it to Paul. From the point of view of dating, these theories are interesting as testimony to the difficulties felt in regarding Ephesians simply as a late pseudepigraph.]
and it does not affect the date anyway. It is really a straight issue between attributing it to Paul [Cf. most recently and massively, A. van Roon, The Authenticity of Ephesians, Leiden 1974, and M. Barth, Ephesians, New York 1974.] and to a second-generation Paulinist imitating and expounding his theology. [Major presentations of this thesis are: E. J. Goodspeed, The Meaning of Ephesians, Chicago 1933; INT, 222-39; The Key to Ephesians, Chicago 1956; and Mitton, Ephesians.]
The pros and cons are summarily set out by Sanders and Nineham [In F. L. Cross (ed.), Studies in Ephesians, 1956, 9-35.] and assessed by Guthrie [NTI, 479-508.] (who comes down in favour of Paul), Kummel [INT, 357-63.] (who comes down against), and H. Chadwick [PCB,980f.](who regards the issue as evenly balanced).

Short of going over the whole evidence afresh, I can only express my own considered conviction. In contrast with most of the other judgments in this book, which have been modified, often radically, in the process of writing it, I have never really doubted the Pauline authorship of Ephesians. [Cf. my study The Body (SBT5), 1952, 10.]
It has always struck me as noteworthy that in what has remained a classic English commentary on Ephesians, [J. Armitage Robinson, St Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, 1903. Note the title.]
Armitage Robinson, who was in close touch with Harnack and contemporary German scholarship [Harnack left the matter open in his Chron., 239, but in his later 'Die Addresse des Epheserbriefs des Paulus', Sitzungsberichte der koniglich preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1910, 696-709, argued that it represented Paul's letter to the Laodiceans mentioned in Col.4.16.Julicher, Einleitmg, 124-8, declared a verdict of 'non liquet' (though the edition revised by E. Fascher, 7.1931, 138-42, subsequently came down against). Zahn, INT I, 491-522, vigorously defended Pauline authorship.] and certainly not conservative for his day (and whose very late dating of the Didache I shall subsequently disagree with completely), [See ch. x below.] never even raised the question of authorship. Features of style and theology which have struck others as impossible for Paul
[Thus Nineham, Historicity and Chronology, 27, holds that key words in Colossians and Ephesians are used 'to convey completely different ideas' (italics his). This at any rate is an exaggeration.]
apparently to him, with as extensive a knowledge of the early Christian literature as any Englishman since Lightfoot, seemed entirely at home. In a nicely balanced article Cadbury asks the question:
[H.J. Cadbury, 'The Dilemma of Ephesians', .NTS 5, 1958-9,91-102 (101).]

Which is more likely, that an imitator of Paul in the first century composed a writing ninety or ninety-five per cent in accordance with Paul's style or that Paul himself wrote a letter diverging five or ten per cent from his usual style?

Moreover there is the question of what sort of imitator. If he were a scissors-and-paste copyist and conflator, it would be relatively simple. Yet everyone agrees that his relationship to the genuine Paul is more subtle than that. He is so near (especially to Colossians) and yet apparently so far. The only thing he does reproduce virtually verbatim from Colossians is the note in 6.21f. (= Col.4.7f.) about the sending of Tychicus to convey Paul's news. Why this, and no other personalia, should have been inserted to add verisimilitude is inexplicable. Moreover, as Dodd says, 'Does one find such faithful dependence and such daring originality in one and the same person?' [In the Abingdon Bible Commentary, 1929, 1225, favouring Pauline authorship.]
For he is a spiritual and theological giant, and these men do not appear and disappear without leaving any other trace, especially in that singularly flat sub-apostolic age from which the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas are typical samples. Even if, with the majority of scholars, we regard the Pastoral Epistles and II Peter as pseudonymous, we are not in these cases dealing with original and creative productions. The only comparable unknown author is the writer to the Hebrews. But he is not imitating anyone, and in any case, I believe, belongs firmly within the apostolic age. [See ch. vii below.]
Here as so often the case is cumulative and to some extent circular. If on other grounds half the literature of the New Testament is to be located in the last quarter of the first century, then the epistle to the Ephesians will seem to stand in good company. If on the other hand it is isolated there, it will look very exposed.

I propose therefore to proceed as though Ephesians comes from Paul, and to see how it fits in if it does. There is not in fact much that turns on it for chronology, since its dating (if genuine) is derivative from Colossians and Philemon rather than vice versa. If, therefore, anyone prefers to regard it as an exception and set it outside the series altogether, the consequences for the rest are not decisive.

If then all three epistles are by Paul, there can be no doubt that they were written closely together and sent by Tychicus on the same journey, with Ephesians being composed in all probability shortly after Philemon and Colossians, almost certainly as a general homily to the Asian churches. This is strongly supported by the absence of 'in Ephesus' from the best manuscripts of Eph.1.1 and the lack of local details or personal messages. Where, and therefore when, may we say that they were written?

Again the same three options are open. Only, of course, if Ephesians was not sent to Ephesus (and the inclusion of that church in the general circulation is difficult to deny) is Ephesus itself a credible source of origin. Indeed all the previous objections and more arise to this hypothesis. Mark and Luke are with Paul (Col.4.10, 15; Philem.24). Yet according to Acts (15.37-39) Mark had not accompanied Paul to Ephesus, and the absence of any 'we' passage for the Ephesus period, let alone any account of an imprisonment, tells strongly against Luke's presence there (assuming for the moment the Lukan authorship of Acts). Indeed the only real argument for Ephesus is again its geographical proximity, [Colossians is indeed assigned to Ephesus by the Marcionite Prologue, but the value of this statement is negatived by its assignation of Philemon (which clearly belongs with it) to Rome.] which considerably eases Paul's request to Philemon to have a room ready for him should he be released (Philem.22) and, according to some, the arrival there of the runaway slave Onesimus. But that Onesimus would have been most likely to flee to Ephesus, a mere hundred miles away, to escape detection seems to others less credible. As Dodd says,

If we are to surmise, then it is as likely that the fugitive slave, his pockets lined at his master's expense, made for Rome because it was distant, as that he went to Ephesus because it was near. [New Testament Studies, 95.]

We cannot tell. Moreover, though arguments from theological development are notoriously dangerous, there are strong grounds for thinking that the elaboration of the doctrine of the church as the body of Christ, with Christ as its head, found in Colossians and Ephesians follows rather than precedes its much more tentative formulation in I Corinthians and Romans (written on or after Paul's departure from Ephesus). It has not seemed to anyone to come earlier: the only question is whether it is so much later as to require an author other than Paul.

We are back then with Caesarea or Rome. The latter has been the traditional location, and the only argument has been whether these epistles precede or follow the somewhat different situation pre-supposed by Philippians. There is nothing finally against Rome, and from the 'we' passages Luke can certainly be presumed to have been there. But the lack of obstacles again is largely due to the fact that we know so little about Paul's prospects there that we can create what conditions we like - for instance, that he is expecting release and plans to travel east (though the idea of asking from Rome for a guest-room to be prepared in Colossae has always stretched credibility).

The case for Caesarea has recently been stated again by Reicke with much persuasiveness. [Opp. cit. (n.101 above). I am much indebted to him also for valuable suggestions in conversation and correspondence. Johnson and Gunther (opp. cit., 11.98) also argue that these epistles come from Caesarea.] Of the people with Paul, Timothy (Col.1.1; Philem.1), Tychicus (Col.4.7; Eph.6.21), Aristarchus (Col.4.10; Philem. 24) and Luke (Col.4.14; Philem.24) all travelled with the collection (Acts 20.4; cf. 20.6 for the 'we') and may be presumed, like Trophimus (20.4; 21.29), to have reached Jerusalem together (21.17f.) and to have stayed with Paul at any rate for a time to see him through the troubles which their presence brought him (21.27-29). Aristarchus, described as a fellow-prisoner in Col.4.10, indeed is still with Paul (as is Luke) as he sets out for Italy (Acts 27.2). [Lightfoot, Philippians, 34, argued that Aristarchus did not go all the way to Rome but was put off at Myra for his home in Thessalonica. But the case is highly speculative. Dodd, New Testament Studies, 91, goes so far as to call it an 'irresponsible conjecture'. It is to be noted that Lightfoot then has to make Aristarchus come later to Rome (on no evidence whatever) if Colossians is to be written from there.]
Meanwhile Epaphras has joined Paul from Colossae (Col.1.7; 4.12) and has apparently also been arrested (Philem.23). [Unless συναιχμάλωτος is purely figurative (so Moule, Colossians, i36f.). But cf. E. Lohmeyer, Kolosser (KEKNT 9), Gottingen 81930, ad loc., to the contrary.] Reicke argues that there is no reason why he should have been arrested in the mild conditions of the Roman detention but that in Caesarea he could well have shared the danger to the other Hellenistic companions of Paul, who once more laments how little support or comfort he has had from the Jewish Christians (Col.4.11). [Kummel, INT, 347, takes this to mean that there were only a few Jewish Christians and therefore as an argument against Caesarea (a location, however, which he does not reject). But, as in Phil.2.15-18, all that Paul implies is that the Jewish Christians were very doubtful fellow-workers.]
The fact that Tychicus rather than Epaphras is taking the letters and news (Col.4.7; Eph.6.21) may reflect the fact that the latter was not free to leave. Yet it would be natural by then for Tychicus to go back, since he came from those parts (Acts 20.4). [Gunther, op. cit., 102, makes the point that Col. 4.7 implies that the Colossians would receive Tychicus before the Laodiceans did (4.15f.): 'Since Colossae is south-east of Laodicea it is legitimate to assume that Tychicus was coming from that direction. Such would be the case if he were proceeding from Caesarea via Attalia, but hardly from Rome or Ephesus.']
Onesimus would also return with him (Col. 4.9), far less of an undertaking in either direction than the journey from Rome. Paul, too, as we have seen, could reasonably have been expecting release from Caesarea and would naturally hope to revisit Colossae, as well as Philippi, on his way west.

Reicke also makes the interesting suggestion that the political situation at that time in Jerusalem and Caesarea throws light on the language of Ephesians. ['Caesarea, Rome and the Captivity Epistles', 281f.] According to Acts 21.28f. Paul had been unjustly accused of bringing Greeks into the inner sanctuary (τὸ ἱερόν) of the temple. On the wall which marked it off from the court of the Gentiles were inscriptions, fragments of which survive to this day, giving warning of the death-penalty for any foreigner transgressing this line. [Josephus,BJ 5. 193f.; Ant. 15.417.] 
Reicke draws attention to the particularly virulent animosity at this time between Jews and Gentiles in Caesarea, leading later to an appeal to the emperor, with each party denying the other the right of citizenship (ἰσοπολιτεία); [Josephus, Ant. 20. 173f.] and he observes how closely these themes are reflected in the language of Ephesians:

Paul speaks of (a) the ethnic dividing wall (Eph.2.14b), which has been removed in Christ, and the new temple (2.20); (b) the animosity between Jews and Gentiles (2.14c; 16b; cf. Col.1.21), which has been changed into peace through Christ (2.15b, 17); (c) the divine citizenship (2.19), which in Christ belongs also to the Gentiles (3.6), as well as the fact that every nationality (πατριά) on earth has its origin in God the Father (3.15;cf. Col.3.11).

No one of course is to say that such language could not have been written in Rome, but in the Caesarean context its appropriateness is striking. As Reicke says, 'If the epistle is a forgery, then the author had unusually accurate information to hand.' It is also a strong argument, as with the epistle to the Hebrews, against a date after 70. For by then the situation had been obliterated by events, and Paul's spiritual point could scarcely have been made without reflecting the fact that the infamous dividing wall had quite literally been 'broken down'.

In his second article, 'The Historical Setting of Colossians', Reicke has extended his argument by drawing attention to the links of personalia not only between Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians but with II Timothy, venturing the conclusion that this also was written (whether by Paul or on his behalf) about the same time from Caesarea. [Johnson and Gunther make the same suggestion (though Gunther, op. cit., 107-14, argues that only the fragment II Tim.4.9-22a comes from Caesarea). The three appear to have written independently of each other.]
I confess that when I first read this I thought it incredible. For, unlike Ephesians, I had never believed the Pastoral Epistles to be Pauline, nor contemplated that if they did fall within his lifetime (as I was prepared to accept) they could be fitted into any other period but a presumed further stage of missionary activity after the close of the Acts story. Until halfway through the writing of this book I had planned to deal with them in a separate and subsequent chapter. I am persuaded however that here as elsewhere one must be prepared to suspend previous assumptions and be open to the evidence wherever it may point.

The issue of authorship is relevant for our purposes only in relation to chronology; and with regard to dating two questions may be isolated:

(a) Is there anything that requires, or makes probable, a date for the Pastoral Epistles outside the lifetime of the Apostle, whether or not genuine fragments from an earlier period are incorporated in them?
(b) If there is not, how may they be fitted into his career, whether he composed them personally or not?

(a) For the former it would have to be established that the vocabulary, the church organization and the theology presupposed by the epistles could not come from the 50s or 60s of the first century but only from the end of the first century or the beginning of the second - if not later. Without going into the detail needed to determine this, I can only say that I do not regard the case as proven. There is nothing decisive to require us to say that the distinctive vocabulary of the Pastorals could only have come from the second century. On the contrary, it has been shown that nearly all the words in question are to be found in Greek literature by the middle of the first century and that half of them occur in the Septuagint, with which Paul was well acquainted. [Cf. R. F. M. Hitchcock, 'Tests for the Pastorals', JTS 30, 1928-9, 2781.; W. Michaelis, 'Pastoralbriefe und Wortstatistik', ZNW 28, 1929, 69-76; F. J. Badcock, The Pauline Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews in their Historical Setting, 1937, 115-27; D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul, 1956, 3gf.; B. Metzger, 'A Reconsideration of Certain Arguments against the Pauline Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles', ExpT 70, 1958-9, 91-4.]

With regard to the organization of the church, the Pastorals do not presuppose monarchical episcopacy (on the second-century Ignatian model), but rather the equivalence of bishop and presbyter (cf. I Tim.3.if.; 5.17; Titus 1.5-7), and they demand nothing more elaborate than the local ministry of 'bishops and deacons' of Phil.1.1 [Cf.Jeremias, 'Zur Datierung der Pastoralbriefe', ZNW 52, 1961, 101-4; and earlier Zahn, INT II, 89-99, and R. St J. Parry, The Pastoral Epistles, Cambridge 1920, lix-lxxx. Even Goodspeed, WT, 337, who puts the Pastorals as late as 150, has to admit that they do not show the 'fully developed polity' of later Catholicism already present in Ignatius.]
Timothy and Titus themselves are travelling delegates of Paul, not residential archbishops with fixed territorial assignments. While therefore concern for orderly ministry and appointments in the church could argue a later date, there is nothing that requires a second-century setting - or indeed anything subsequent to the pastoral solicitude already shown by Paul, according to Luke, in his speech to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20.28-31). Parry [Op. cit., Ixxviii.]concludes an extensive examination with the words:

There is no substantial reason in the character of the organisation implied in the Pastoral Epistles for assigning them to a date later than the lifetime of S. Paul.

With regard to doctrine too, the type of gnosticizing Judaism attacked in the Pastorals betrays no more elaboration than that refuted in Colossians (if anything less) and certainly bears no comparison with the fully-blown gnostic systems of the second century, which we now know so much better at first hand. Indeed Kummel, [INT, 379; cf. earlier Zahn, INT11, 99-121.]
who believes that the way in which this false teaching is countered is uncharacteristic of Paul, is nevertheless emphatic that there is

not the slightest occasion, just because the false teachers who are being opposed are Gnostics, to link them up with the great Gnostic systems of the second century. ... The Jewish-Christian-Gnostic false teaching which is being combated in the Pastorals is ... thoroughly comprehensible in the life span of Paul.

The preoccupation with purity of doctrine, the quotation of hymns and teaching formulae, and the stress on 'the faith' rather than 'faith', though certainly more marked in these epistles, represent but shifts in emphases already present in other parts of Paul and the New Testament. [Cf. Guthrie, NTI, 604-6; Parry, op. cit., xc-cx.]
None of them rules out a first-century date; and unless a date well after the death not only of Paul but of Timothy and Titus is presupposed it is hard to imagine a situation in which the fiction would either have deceived or have been taken for granted. We may contrast the situation presupposed by II Thessalonians, where Paul warns of the effect of 'some letter purporting to come from us' (2.2) and is most insistent to add the authentication of his personal signature: 'In my own hand, signed in my name, PAUL;

this authenticates all my letters; this is how I write' (3.17; cf. I Cor.16.21;Gal.6.11;Col.4.18).

The inherent difficulties of the alternative theories, whether of total fabrication - with purely fictional messages, like 'I am hoping to come to you before long' (I Tim. 3.14) - or the incorporation of genuine (but highly-fragmented) fragments, do not directly concern us. [The major statement of this latter theory is P. N. Harrison's, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, Oxford 1921, whose second thoughts arc to be found in Paulines and Pastorals, 1964. There are many other fragment theories, but no two agree on all the same passages (cf. Guthrie, NTI, 590f.).]
All one can say is that the case which makes a second-century composition necessary or even probable has very far from established itself. Indeed Reicke has pointedly argued that the call for 'petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings' for 'sovereigns and all in high office, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in full observance of religion and high standards of morality' (I Tim.2.1f.; cf. Titus 3.1) betokens an attitude towards authority and its beneficent effects which would be inconceivable after the Neronian persecution (we may contrast the Apocalypse). Among the recent commentators it is interesting that J. N. D. Kelly, the patristic scholar, [J. N. D. Kelly, The Pastoral Epistles (Black's NTC), 1963.] should judge that the Pastorals could not come from the second century, while, writing in the same year, Barrett, the Pauline scholar, should judge that they could not come from Paul. [C. K. Barrett, The Pastoral Epistles (New Clarendon Bible), Oxford 1963.]
Perhaps both may be right. At any rate there would seem to be a detectable swing back, if not to apostolic authorship, at any rate to taking seriously the second set of questions relating to dating. [Cf. E. E. Ellis, 'The Authorship of the Pastorals: A Resume and Assessment of Current Trends', EQ.32, 1960, 151-61; and Kelly, op. cit., 30: 'The strength of the anti-Pauline case has surely been greatly exaggerated.']

(b) The presupposition here is that Timothy and Titus are the same real persons who meet us in the rest of the New Testament and that they are being addressed by Paul in genuine pastoral situations, whether directly at his dictation or through someone writing on his behalf or by a combination of the two. It is not necessary for our present purpose to come to a decision on the purely literary issue. But, whether the style is Paul's own or not, this is the position taken by such scholars as Jeremias,
[J. Jeremias, Die Briefe an Timotheus und Titus, Gottingen 6I953, 7f.]
Kelly, Moule
[C. F. D. Moule, 'The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles', BJRL 47, 1965, 430-52. He suggests that Paul used Luke as his agent. For the same thesis, cf. A. Strobel, 'Schreiben des Lukas? Zum sprachlichen Problem der Pastoralbriefe', NTS 15,1968-9,191-210.]
and Reicke, as well as by the more conservative Guthrie
[D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul; The Pastoral Epistles (Tyndale NTC), 1957; and NTI, 584-622, 632-4.]

and by the majority of Roman Catholics. [E.g. C. Spicq, Les Epitres Pastorales (Etudes Bibliques), Paris 1947, cxix; P. Benoit in the Jerusalem Bible, 1966, 264; G. A. Denzer, 'The Pastoral Letters', JBC, 351f., and the literature there cited.] I believe it to be open to fewer difficulties than any theory that requires the letters to be pseudonymous, whether in whole or part. Whether Paul penned them himself must remain questionable. There are very real differences from his usual style and theology (though also many more similarities); but I am not persuaded that there is anything he could not have written. [Moule, BJRL, 432, instances I Tim.1 .8: 'We all know that the law is an excellent thing [Paul may well be quoting his opponents here; cf. the οἲδαμεν of I Cor.8.1, 4] provided we treat it as law.' But this is surely his position elsewhere. If we treat the law as a means of salvation, it is worse than useless; but as a dyke against the lawless and sinful (I Tim.i,9f.) it is admirable (cf. Rom. 7.12, 14; 13.1-6). Zahn, INT II, 121, ironically quotes I Tim.1.9 in support of Pauline authorship and comments, 'Nowhere in these Epistles do we find sentences that sound so "un-Pauline" as I Cor.7.19'!]
Yet the Pastorals were after all composed for a very distinctive purpose. Paul would not be the last church leader whose style (and indeed subject-matter) in an ad clerum differed markedly from his already highly diverse and adaptable manner of speaking and writing for wider audiences. He himself claims to 'have become everything in turn to men of every sort' (I Cor.9.22). But the issue of authorship for its own sake may here be left on one side. Our concern is with the occasions and circumstances which the letters might fit if they do belong to his period.

The consensus among those who wish to place the Pastorals within Paul's lifetime is that they cannot be made to fit any part of his career covered by Acts. They are therefore located in the gap between his (inferred) release from custody in Rome in 62+ and his execution there some years later. This view was first propounded, as far as we know, by Eusebius [HE 2.22.2-8.] and is based by him on nothing else than deductions from II Timothy. But the complexity of Paul's itinerary and the divergence between the proposed schemes vividly illustrate how totally hypothetical this construction is.
[E.g. Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, 223:
First journey eastward:
He revisits Macedonia (Philippi) (Phil. 2.24), Asia and Phrygia (Colossae) (Philem.22).
Journey westward:
He founds the church of Crete. Visits Spain, Gaul (?) (II Tim.4.10 V.I.), and Dalmatia (?) (II Tim.4.10). Second journey eastward; He revisits Asia and Phrygia (II Tim. i.i5f.), visits Ephesus (I Tim.1.3); here probably he encounters Alexander the coppersmith (I Tim. 1.20; II Tim.4.14). Leaves Timothy in charge of the Ephesian church. Revisits Macedonia (Philippi) (I Tim.1.3) and Achaia (?) (Athens and Corinth). Writes I Timothy. Visits (perhaps revisits) Crete, and leaves Titus in charge of the church there (Titus 1.5). Returns to Asia. Writes Epistle to Titus. Visits Miletus (II Tim.4.20), sails to Troas (II Tim.4.13), is at Corinth (II Tim.4.20) on his way to Nicopolis to winter (Titus 3.12). Arrested (probably at Corinth) and carried to Rome. Titus joins him there.
Writes II Timothy. Timothy shares his imprisonment (Heb. 13.23). Martyrdom of Paul.

Guthrie, NTI, 598f.: 'The Pastorals tell us that Paul again visited Asia (Troas, II Tim. 4.13, and Miletus, II Tim. 4.20) although it is not necessary to suppose that he visited Ephesus on the strength of I Tim. 1.3. But he urged Timothy to stay there when he was en route for Macedonia. At some time he paid a visit to Crete, where he left Titus, but his main activity appears to have been in Macedonia and Greece. From the Captivity Epistles we may surmise that he visited the Lycus valley, no doubt on the same occasion as he urged Timothy to remain at Ephesus, and that he paid his promised visit to Philippi... . He may have been rearrested in the western districts of Macedonia or Epirus (which is mentioned in Titus 3.12) and taken to Rome.'

Denzer, JBC, 351: 'He might have gone to Crete first. When he left Crete, Titus might have remained there as his legate (Titus i .5). From Crete, Paul might have gone to Asia Minor. When he left Ephesus for Macedonia, Timothy remained as his legate (I Tim. 1.3). Possibly, Paul passed through Troas on his way to Macedonia (II Tim.4.13), and there wrote I Timothy and Titus. Paul then perhaps spent the winter at Nicopolis in Epirus (Titus 3.12). The following spring he might have returned to Ephesus, according to his plan (I Tim.3.14; 4.13). It would seem that he was then arrested in the region of Ephesus (II Tim.1.4). In the course of Paul's voyage to Rome as a prisoner, the ship might have stopped at Miletus and Corinth (II Tim.4.20). During his imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote II Timothy. In this letter, Paul is without hope of being released; he expects to be condemned and to suffer martyrdom in the near future (II Tim.4.6-8).']

Since there are no controls, we can make Paul do anything, go anywhere, and the sole evidence for any of the journeys (let alone for their dating) is that surmised from the documents themselves - on the odd assumption, judging from his previous experience, that all Paul's hopes and plans were fulfilled. It is interesting that those who suppose that the fragments represent genuine travel-plans do not think of placing them here, but, by dint of judicious selection and drastic dissection, slot them into the Acts framework - though even so they do not agree together. [In his Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, 115-27, Harrison isolated five fragments and placed them as follows: (1) Titus 3.12-15 in western Macedonia; (2) II Tim. 4.13-15, 20, 21a in Macedonia; (3) II Tim.4.16-18a (18b?) in Caesarea; (4) II Tim.4.0-12, 22b, and (5) II Tim.1.16-18; 3.10f.; 4.1, 2a, 5b, 6-8, 18b, 19, 21b, 22a in Rome (before the end of Acts). Duncan, op. cit. (n. 94), 184-225, scattered all his fragments among or between different imprisonments in or near Ephesus. Subsequently Harrison, Paulines and Pastorals, 106-28, converted to an Ephesian origin for Colossians and Philemon, reduced his fragments to three and located them as follows: (1) Titus 3.12-15, in western Macedonia; (2) II Tim. 4.9-15, 20, 21a, 21b in Ephesus; (3) II Tim.1.16-18; 3.10f.; 4.1, 2a, 5b-8, 16-19, 31b, 22a in Rome.]
But this is testimony to the fact that some external control is felt to be necessary for any plausibility. Those who believe that the travel plans are all part of the fiction do not explain why the inventor of them should not have aimed at greater verisimilitude. One would have expected him to quarry the details from existing sources (as the author of Ephesians is supposed to have drawn on Colossians for the journey of Tychicus), or at any rate to have seen that they matched. The very difficulty of squaring them with any itinerary deducible from Acts or the other Pauline epistles is a strong argument for their authenticity.

An attempt was indeed made some time ago by Vernon Bartlet to fit them, with the rest of the captivity epistles, into the first imprisonment of Paul in Rome between 60 and 62. [Vernon Bartlet, 'The Historic Setting of the Pastoral Epistles', The Expositor, 8th series, 5, 1913, 28-36, 161-7, 256-63, 325-47, especially 326-39.]
But quite apart from the hypothetical nature of any journeys back east from Rome, Bartlet's reconstruction is open to at least three weaknesses: (1) He does not attempt to explain why, if I Timothy and Titus were written from prison, they contain no references to Paul's 'bonds', like all the other prison epistles. (2) He is hard put to it to account for Paul's referring back after some five years to his instruction to Timothy to stay on in Ephesus (I Tim.1.3 = Acts 20.1) when so much else has happened to both of them in the interval. (3) He can do nothing with II Tim.4.20 ('Erastus stayed behind at Corinth, and I left Trophimus ill at Miletus'), which he has to explain, rather tamely, as a misplaced fragment of a much earlier, and entirely hypothetical, letter.

With the other alternatives so unsatisfactory, it is at least worth exploring one more, and I do so by taking up the suggestive hint dropped by Reicke in the second of the two articles to which I referred (n. 101 above).

He draws attention to the names in common between Colossians and Philemon (which he has already argued were written from Caesarea) and II Timothy. [Though the personalia in Philippians are different, both Johnson, ExpT 68, 25, and Gunther, op. cit., 97, suggest that 'those who belong to the imperial establishment' in Phil. 4.22 could well be represented in the predominantly Latin names of Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, unique to II Tim.4.21.]
Demas, Luke and Mark reappear in different contexts (Col.4.10, 14; Philem.24; II Tim.4.10f.). Moreover, in II Tim.4.12 the sending of Tychicus to Ephesus (Eph.6.21f.; cf. Col.4.7-9) is again mentioned, but this time in the past tense. Timothy, associated with the writing of Colossians and Philemon, but not of Ephesians, is by now away on Paul's behalf apparently somewhere near Troas in Mysia, north-west of Ephesus (II Tim.4.13). Mark, for a possible visit from whom Paul had previously prepared the Colossians (Col.4.10), is to be collected from the same parts (II Tim. 4.11). Reicke's suggestion is that it is Mark who is to take II Timothy, which, he argues, is an open pastoral letter for reading aloud in the various churches visited. The names and places mentioned in it reflect his itinerary:

A reference to the belief found in Timothy's mother and grandmother was inserted (II Tim. 1.5), for they lived in the city of Derbe (Acts 16.1), through which Mark had to pass on his way from Caesarea to Colossae (Col.4.10). For the same reason the Christians, to whom Mark would come in other cities of Lycaonia, were reminded of Paul's earlier troubles in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra (II Tim. 3.11). After the visit to Colossae (Col.4.10), Mark was expected to make the Christians of Ephesus familiar with the epistle of Timothy. He should especially let the house of Onesiphorus know about Paul's appreciation of this man (II Tim. 1.16-18; 4.19) and make sure that people in Asia realised the danger of the new heresy (1.15; 2.16-3.9). [We might add 4.14f., if (as Reicke subsequently agrees) Alexander the coppersmith is the same Alexander put forward in Acts i9.33f. by the silversmiths and workers in allied trades (19.25) of Ephesus. He is mentioned, in conjunction with Hymenaeus (who also appears in II Tim.2.18), in I Tim.1.20, which we shall argue comes from shortly after that incident.]
After this it was planned that Mark should meet Timothy in Mysia (4.11) and go back with him via Troas (4,13). Paul needed their help since his only collaborator was presently Luke (4.11). [RE 70,438.]

Reicke adds, 'It is questionable whether any member of the early church would have found it worthwhile to restore or construct such antiquities in a later situation.'

Obviously such a reconstruction is hypothetical (and I shall question its detail), but at least it is not grounded on air. And once we make it, other connections open up. Above all, 'my first defence' (τῆ πρώτη μου ἀπολοωία) in II Tim.4.16 will now refer not to some entirely undocumented court appearance in Rome but, like the ἀπολοωία mentioned in Phil.1.7 and 16, to the hearings in Jerusalem and Caesarea, which in Acts 22.1 Paul specifically introduces as μου τῆς νυνὶ ἀπολοωίας and which Felix adjourns in 24.22. As soon as this identification is made, other correspondences are recognizable. II Tim.4.17a, 'But the Lord stood by me and lent me strength, so that I might be his instrument in making the full proclamation of the Gospel [Cf. earlier Rom.15.19: 'I have completed the preaching of the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem as far round as Illyricum.']
for the whole pagan world to hear,' reflects with considerable precision Acts 23.11, 'The following night the Lord appeared to him and said, "Keep up your courage: you have affirmed the truth about me in Jerusalem, and you must do the same in Rome"', while II Tim.4.17b, 'And thus I was rescued out of the lion's jaw', will refer to Paul's narrow escape from ambush the following day (Acts 23.12-35). [Cf. M. Dibelius, Die Pastoralbriefe (HNT 13), Tubingen 81966, 95, who saw the strength of the case for Caesarea. Harrison, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, 121f., also recognized these parallels in his earlier placing of II Tim.4.16-18 in Caesarea - though he confused the issue by supposing, apparently, that only the speech of Acts 22.1-29 represented the 'first defence'. But later he put the fragment in Rome, where no hearing is recorded at all.]
Even the phrase in II Tim.1.3, 'God, whom I, like my forefathers, worship with a pure conscience' echoes the speech Paul made before Felix in Acts 24.14 and 16: 'I worship the God of our fathers ... and keep at all times a clear conscience.' Either the correspondences arise from the facts, or the author of the Pastorals is using Acts. But in that case why did he not draw on Acts for the travel-notes - or at least not make them so hard to harmonize?

If then we equate the captivity in II Timothy with that at Caesarea, Onesiphorus' services on Paul's behalf (II Tim.1.16f.) will fall into line with those of Epaphroditus (Phil. 2.25-30) and of Onesimus (Philem.11-13), who were among the friends permitted to 'make themselves useful to him' (Acts 24.23). But here we meet the first of two objections to the whole reconstruction. For apparently, according to II Tim.1.17, Paul was not in Caesarea but in Rome, where Onesiphorus 'took pains to search me out when he came to Rome'. So fatal to his theory of an Ephesian imprisonment did Duncan find this verse that he was reduced to the desperate expedient of emending the text to ἐν Πριήνη or ἐν Λαοδιλία. [Paul's Ephesian Ministry, 189. Here Harrison could not follow him (Paulines and Pastorals, 93-5). Badcock, Pauline Epistles and Hebrews, 115-2 7, who also wished to put II Timothy in Caesarea (with Ephesians - though not Colossians and Philemon, which he located in Ephesus) was reduced in 1.17 to emending 'Rome' to 'Antioch' (of Pisidia), as well as placing 4.20 much earlier. Unfortunately his book is spoilt throughout by a tissue of speculation. E. G. Selwyn, I Peter, 1946, 392, referring to it with approval, says: 'I hesitate to express any opinion either as to the date or the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles as they stand; but the view that the greater part of a Timothy was written during St Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea seems to me to merit careful consideration'. Gunther, op. cit., 95, 177, though placing II Tim.4.9-22a in Caesarea, is compelled, without any supporting evidence, to see 1.15-18 (and 4.6f.) as a fragment of a later letter to Timothy from Rome.]
But though it has regularly been taken to mean that Paul was in Rome when Onesiphorus came to see him, I am indebted to Reicke for an interpretation which I believe in the context makes better (though admittedly less obvious) sense. [To be included in his forthcoming article in TLZ,, 'Chronologic der Pastoralbriefe'.]

Onesiphorus was evidently a man of some substance, whose household in Ephesus was the centre of notable church work (II Tim.1.16, 18; 4.19). In the last of these passages his name is linked with those of Prisca and Aquila, who, as we know, were in business (Acts 18.3) and are to be found at short intervals in a succession of places. Though hailing originally from Pontus, Aquila with his wife were, prior to 49, living in Rome (18.2). From 49 to 51 they were in Corinth (18.2-11), in 52 (18.26) and again in 55 (I Cor.16.19) in Ephesus, in 57 in Rome, where they had a house (Rom.16.3-5), and finally back once more in Ephesus (II Tim.4.19). It is not unreasonable to suppose that Onesiphorus was also an itinerant Jewish businessman, of the sort so vividly described by James, who say to themselves: 'Today or to-morrow we will go off to such and such a town and spend a year there trading and making money' (James 4.13). It was on some such business trip that we may guess that Onesiphorus found himself in Rome (μενόμενος ἐν Ῥώμη). As was his wont, for Paul said he had 'often' relieved his needs (II Tim.1.16), he looked out for Paul, expecting him to be there, since the apostle had made no secret of his intention to go on to Rome after visiting Jerusalem (Acts 19.21; Rom.1.15; 16.22-9). He failed to find him; but hearing he was in prison, he determined to search him out. He was 'not ashamed', says Paul, (though his business interests might have prompted otherwise?) to visit one who was 'shut up like a common criminal' (II Tim.1.16; 2.9). He made strenuous efforts to track him down (σπουδαίως ἐζήτησεν), and eventually found him. If Paul had been in a Roman jail, it is hard to believe that with his well-placed Christian contacts Onesiphorus would have had difficulty in being directed to him. Paul's extravagant gratitude (II Tim.1.16, 18) seems to demand something more, and this would indeed be explained if Onesiphorus had made it his business to go out of his way to Caesarea to visit him before returning to Ephesus. At any rate the reference to Onesiphorus being in Rome cannot of itself be allowed to settle the question of Paul's being there, if the evidence points in another direction. We must judge the location of the epistle on its own merits.

The second difficulty is occasioned by II Tim.4.20, 'I left Trophimus ill at Miletus'. For if this refers to Paul's brief stay at Miletus on the way to Jerusalem (Acts 20.15-38), Trophimus had not been left behind, for he was subsequently seen with Paul in the city (21.29). The easiest (perhaps too easy) solution would be to say that in a highly confused situation, of which there were garbled reports and rumours (21.27-40), Luke has simply mixed up the twin delegates from Asia (20.4) and confused Tychicus with Trophimus. It would be a pardonable error.

But Paul may not be referring to the journey up to Jerusalem. It is assumed both here and in Titus 1.5 that 'I left' (ἀπέλιπον) must imply that Paul himself was present. In Titus, as we shall see, there is no reason to suppose this to be implied. When speaking of his own personal possessions, as in II Tim.4.13 ('the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas'), this of course is so. But Paul is also speaking in these letters very much as the director of operations, with 'the responsibility', as he puts it in II Cor.11.28, 'that weighs on me every day, my anxious concern for all our congregations'. He is like a general reporting on the movements of his commanders in the field (cf. the metaphor of II Tim. 2.4: 'A soldier on active service ... must be wholly at his commanding officer's disposal') or the head of a missionary society giving news of his staff.

Demas has deserted and gone to Thessalonica: Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is here with me. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Erastus has stayed in Corinth.

[Perhaps because he now has a permanent post there, if Rom. 16.23 (written at Corinth) refers to the same man (cf. also Acts 19.22). Harrison argues persuasively for this in 'Erastus and his Pavement', Paulines and Pastorals, 100-5. He believes that owovop.os means something more like 'clerk of works' than the neb's 'city treasurer'. H. J. Cadbury, 'Erastus of Corinth', JBL 50, 1931, 42-58, comes down on the whole against the identification.]

Trophimus I have had to leave ill at Miletus.

Perhaps Trophimus was on his way back to Ephesus with his fellow-delegate Tychicus:
we do not know. [A possible alternative would be to take ἀπέλιπον in 4.19f. to mean 'they left' (for the history of this interpretation, cf. Zahn, WT II, 26) and refer it, with Johnson, ExpT68, 25, to Onesiphorus and his family, who after visiting Paul (1.17) were taking Trophimus back home with them to Ephesus, while Tychicus was sent independently on Paul's work. Yet there is no reason to think that Onesiphorus' family was with him at the time and the subject for the plural verb is both remote and difficult.]
Reicke suggests that Timothy is notified so that he may call in on him at Miletus, after Troas and Ephesus, on his way home (cf. the sequence in 4.13, 19, 20).

The one thing of which we can be reasonably sure is that Paul is reporting on recent events, not only for Timothy's benefit (who would have known of the first hearing of Paul's case from being at Jerusalem and Caesarea), [This is a genuine difficulty, but not so hard surely as positing, with Johnson, op. cit., 26, another defence before Felix (why then is it called the first?) unrecorded by Acts, or referring it, with Gunther, op. cit., 109f., to the first defence under Festus (Acts 25.6-12). The latter solution would confine the writing of II Timothy to the few days (25.13) between that and the second ἀπολογία (26.1, 24) before Festus and Agrippa. Moreover it totally fails to explain why Paul does not inform Timothy of the major new turn in events - namely, his appeal to Caesar and the transfer of his case to Rome (25.11f.).]
but for the leaders of the congregations, to whom the letter would be read out - for all the Pastoral Epistles end with greetings to the church as well as to the individual (I Tim.6.21; II Tim.4.22; Titus 3.15). This brings us back to our main question, the date of II Timothy, which, if our hypothesis is right, must be considered in close conjunction with that of the other letters from the Caesarean jail.

We may begin again with Philippians, which as we saw stands apart from the rest not only in style and content but in personalia. If it comes from the same place, it must be either before or after the rest. I had originally thought it came last, and indeed most scholars who see them written from the same imprisonment (Lightfoot was an exception [Philippians, 29-45. He rested his case, somewhat dubiously, on the resemblances with earlier epistles, especially Romans.]) have put it after Colossians and Ephesians, because it speaks of Paul looking forward to death. [So Lohmeyer, Kolosser, 141., who sets Colossians and Philemon as well as Philippians in Caesarea. But he does not reckon with II Timothy.] Yet it is not at all natural to put it after II Timothy (as Reicke has to, since he locates Philippιans in Rome), which reads if anything does like a last will and testament.

I am now persuaded, especially after reading Johnson's article already quoted, [ExpT68, 24-6. His argument is unhappily mixed up with highly speculative theories that stichometrical analysis shows the 'two years' in Rome of Acts 28.30f. to be misplaced from the two years at Caesarea in 24.26 and γενόμενος ἐν Ῥώμη in II Tim.1.17 to be an interpolation.] that it is the first of the letters from Caesarea. He argued that the Philippians, who saw Paul and his party off on their journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20.6), would with their characteristic forwardness (Phil.4.15-18) have lost no time in collecting for Paul's needs once they had heard of his imprisonment. The journey from Philippi to Caesarea in Acts 20.6-21.8 did not require longer, even with stopovers, than the six weeks between Passover and Pentecost, and there is no reason why, once the news had got back, Epaphroditus should not have arrived with their supplies by the autumn of 57. He then fell dangerously ill, for long enough for the Philippians to get news of it and for Epaphroditus to hear that they had done so.
By the time Paul feels he must send him back (Phil.2.25-30), with the letter, we may judge that winter has passed and that we are in the spring of 58. Timothy is associated with the writing of it (1.1) and Paul hopes shortly to send him too, so soon as ever he can see how things are going with him (2.19, 23). Timothy is still with Paul when he writes Colossians and Philemon but not, apparently, Ephesians (even though the three letters are taken together by Tychicus). However he writes to Timothy to inform him of Tychicus' dispatch to Ephesus (II Tim. 4.12) and asks him to collect the cloak which he had left with Carpus at Troas, together with his books and note-books (4.13), and to bring them before winter (4.21). Paul had doubtless deliberately deposited them there as he set out on foot for Assos in the warmth of late spring (Acts 20.131.), fully expecting to pick them up on his way back after delivering the collection. Now he faces the prospect of a second winter without them in prison and is understandably pressing to have them in time. Reicke assumes that Timothy is in Mysia near Troas, but there is nothing actually to suggest this, nor anything to say that Mark should meet him there. It seems more natural to suppose that Paul writes to Timothy in Philippi (where he has sent him) and asks him to call in at Troas, and later at Miletus and Ephesus, on the route back to Caesarea that both of them had followed before (Acts 20.6-21.8). He is to pick up Mark, perhaps from Colossae, where Timothy, as joint-author of the letter to that church, would not need to be told he was due to be (Col.4.10). [This involves abandoning Reicke's assumption that Mark is the carrier of II Timothy, but that is only a guess.]

If so, we may reconstruct the following time-table for the year 58:

      Spring:   Philippians written and dispatched via Epaphroditus to Philippi.
      Summer:   Philemon and Colossians written.
          Timothy sent to Philippi.
          Ephesians written and dispatched with the other two letters via Tychicus to Asia Minor.
          Mark sent to Colossae.
      Autumn:   II Timothy written and dispatched to Philippi.

Reicke argues that Paul's appeal in Philem.9 as 'an ambassador of Christ Jesus and now his prisoner' indicates that this betokens a new situation and that Paul had therefore 'quite recently' been arrested. [More likely than 'old man', especially if Eph.6.20, 'an ambassador in chains', is Pauline. Anyhow no inference for dating can safely be drawn from Paul's age.] But this is surely to read a great deal into one word. [So too when he argues, RE 70,435, that it could 'only' fit Caesarea.]
For Onesimus has already had time to become Paul's spiritual child in prison (Philem.10f.) and indeed to begin, like Timothy, to 'be at his side in the service of the Gospel like a son working under his father' (Phil.2.22; cf. I Tim.1.2; II Tim.1.2). Moreover time must be allowed for Epaphras to have come from Colossae bringing news of the state of that church, to which, after some thought and prayer, Paul responds (Col.1.7-9). I believe that 58 is the earliest likely date. It is also probably the latest. For, like the rest of the news in II Timothy, the sending of Tychicus would appear to be quite recent. Anyhow by the following year Paul was already in late summer awaiting shipment to Rome: the request to have his cloak before winter would have been too late.

The only good reason for putting II Timothy later in Paul's career (unless we judge from 1.17 that it must come from Rome) is the sense it conveys that, as he sees it, the end is at hand - combined with our knowledge that it was not yet so. Yet already, according to Acts 20.24, he had said at Miletus in the spring of 57:

I set no store by life; I only want to finish the race and complete the task which the Lord Jesus has assigned to me, of bearing testimony to the Gospel of God's grace.

But things dragged on for him. At first he had every reason to assume that his case would last no longer than it took Lysias to come down from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Acts 24.22) and that he could expect early release. Until then he had had, as far as we know, no experience of more extended detention than being locked up on the order of local magistrates, which (if the incident at Philippi in Acts 16.19-40 is any sample) would not have lasted more than a night or so (16.35), even without the intervention of the earthquake. The word describing these experiences, φυλακαί, custody (II Cor.6.5; 11.23), is never used in the captivity epistles, where it is always δέσμοι; and the situation thus reflected is indeed different. As the weeks and months pass at the imperial headquarters, Paul's confidence ebbs. In Philippians, though he cannot yet see the outcome, he is sure that he will live to be with them again before long (1.25f; 2.24). In Philemon he hopes, in answer to their prayers, to be granted to them (22). In Colossians and Ephesians he says merely that Tychicus will tell them all the news, and prays that he may be given the right words when the time comes (Col.4.7-9; Eph.6.19-22). By the time of II Timothy only the prospect of death appears to await him, hope of release having faded: he is deserted, and men must come to him (1.12; 4.6-13). As he was to explain later (Acts 28.19), he had 'no option' left - except his last card,
appeal to the emperor.

To bear out the interconnections - and the mutual order - of Philippians and II Timothy, it is interesting to observe how he takes up the language of 'finishing the race' (τελειώσω τὸν δρόμον) which, according to Luke's report (Acts 20.24), had come into his speech at Miletus. (Earlier he had used the same metaphor but spoke of running rather than finishing: I Cor. 9.24-6; I Tim. 6.12.) We may set the phrases out in parallel columns:

Philippians II Timothy
What I should like is to depart (ἀναλῦσαι) (1-23). The hour for my departure (ἀναλύσεως) is upon me (4.6).
If my life-blood is to crown the sacrifice (εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι) (2.17). Already my life-blood is being poured out on the altar (ἢδη σπένδομαι) (4.6).
 I have not yet reached perfection (οὐκ ... ἢδη τετελείωμαι)  but I press on (3-I2). I have run the great race, I have finished the course (τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα) (4-7).
I press toward the goal to win the prize (3.14). Now the prize awaits me (4.8).

It is hard to resist the conclusion that both epistles reflect the mind of the same man, at not too great an interval and in that sequence.

So we may put Philippians in the spring of 58, Philemon, Colossians and (a little later) Ephesians in the summer of 58, and II Timothy in the autumn of 58.

But what finally of the other Pastoral Epistles, I Timothy and Titus? Working backwards from II Timothy, let us take Titus first.

We last heard of Titus in Corinth, whither he had been sent from Macedonia to reorganize the collection (II Cor.8; 12.17f.). By the time Paul writes Romans early the next year, he is evidently no longer there - or he would certainly have featured, like Timothy, in the greetings of Rom. 16.21-3. Paul is finishing off the business of the collection himself (15.28). It could well have been at this stage that he had sent Titus to Crete, for which Cenchreae, the port of Corinth (cf.16.1f.), was the natural point of embarkation. He was sent, as Paul reminds him in Titus 1.5, to set right the shortcomings of the church there (τὰ λείποντα : not what remained to be done after some hypothetical visit of Paul's) [Cf. Titus 3.13, 'See that they are not short (λείπη) of anything'.]
and to appoint local presbyters. Paul explains that he had deliberately left him behind, instead of taking him with the rest (as Titus of all people had surely earned the right to expect) as one of the delegates to Jerusalem. This is just the opposite of what he had done earlier when, he explains to the Thessalonians, 'we decided to be left in Athens alone and sent Timothy' (I Thess.3.1). So he writes Titus a charge, for public recitation, to reinforce his original instructions (1.5) and promises him a replacement (3.12).

When is Paul writing? There is no hint that he is in prison. [Failure to recognize this vitiates Gunther's reconstruction of the epistle (op. cit., 114-20) as coming from the same time as II Timothy.] Any time in the first half of 57 would fit. Reicke has made the plausible suggestion that Paul writes to Titus en route to Jerusalem, perhaps from Miletus, whence a boat could easily go to Crete and where we know his mind was occupied with similar matters. Indeed he may well have used material prepared for his charge to the Ephesian elders. Themes common to the speech and the epistle are the warnings to elders, who are also ἐπίσκοποι (Acts 20.18, 28; Titus 1.5-9), against those who like wild beasts will ravage the flock from within and by distortion of the truth break up the family of God (Acts 20.291.; Titus 1.10-12) and an insistence on the example of honest work (Acts 20.33f; Titus 3.8, 14). Paul has with him Artemas as well as Tychicus (Titus 3.12), one of whom (and the uncertainty argues strongly for authenticity) he promises to post to Crete. Presumably it was Artemas, of whom we hear nothing more, since Tychicus was sent subsequently to Ephesus. When the replacement arrives, Titus is to hasten to join Paul in Nicopolis, where, he says, he has decided to spend the winter. This would be the same winter of 57, for Paul was fully intending at this point, having delivered the collection, to come back west to Italy and Spain (Rom.15.28). And there is no suggestion that he planned to go by sea, as eventually he was forced to. On the contrary, he would follow his usual practice of going over the ground he had covered. Naturally he would go via Asia Minor (Philem. 22), stopping at Troas to pick up his cloak and other valuables (II Tim.4.12f.). Then he would call in at Philippi (Phil.2.24), before taking the Via Egnatia to consolidate the work in Illyricum and the north-west begun the previous year. He would winter with Titus on the coast at Nicopolis in Epirus, and thence cross the Adriatic, when the spring weather allowed, for southern Italy and Rome. But, alas, as it turned out, Titus had to go to Dalmatia alone (II Tim.4.10) and Paul was to spend the winter languishing in a Palestinian jail.

What finally of / Timothy? With far fewer personal details than the other two, it is correspondingly difficult to locate. There is no more suggestion than in Titus that Paul is or has been in prison. The only clear clue is in 1.3, where he says to Timothy, 'When I was starting for Macedonia, I urged you to stay on at Ephesus.' It is natural to look to Acts 20.1, where Paul sets out for Macedonia from Ephesus after the silversmiths' riot, and natural, too, as we have said, to surmise that the Alexander mentioned in 1 .20 recalls the same incident. Unfortunately, as we have seen, Luke's notice in Acts 20. 1f. condenses a considerable amount of time and activity which it is impossible to reconstruct accurately. During the interval Paul probably went to Corinth and back and certainly spent some time in the neighbourhood of Troas. From where he would have written to Timothy we cannot know. Perhaps it was from Corinth, if he did travel there via Macedonia, as he originally planned (I Cor.16.5) - though probably he went direct (II Cor.1.16). More likely it was from the Troad, where he had gone for missionary work, which turned out to present many openings (II Cor.2.12). At the time of writing he is still hoping to come to Timothy before long, though he recognizes the possibility of delay (I Tim.3.i4f.). The next time in fact they meet, owing to Paul's restless determination to push on (instead of returning to Ephesus?) in order to make contact with Titus (II Cor. 2.13), is evidently in Macedonia, where Timothy joins Paul in the sending of II Corinthians (1.1). It looks therefore as if the autumn of 55 is the most likely space for I Timothy. Indeed the farewell exhortation for which Paul assembled the disciples in Acts 20.1 may be the occasion mentioned in I Tim.1.3, where the same word is used (παρακαλέσας, παρακάλεσα). The letter will then reinforce on paper as a pastoral charge the gist of this address, whose substance could indeed be incorporated in I Tim.2.1-3.13 (beginning παρακαλῶ οῦν). I Timothy more than any other epistle stresses the aspect παραγγελία or pastoral 'order' (1.3, 5, 18; 4.11; 5.7; 6.13, 17), which had been a distinctive feature of Paul's apostolic method from the beginning (I Thess.4.11; II Thess.3.4, 6, 10, 12; I Cor.7.10; 11.17). We should not therefore see anything un-Pauline or indeed novel here. If the dating seems surprisingly early we must not forget that at this stage Timothy is evidently still quite junior and is working closely under Paul's supervision. Earlier the same year he had felt it necessary to say to the Corinthians:

If Timothy comes, see that you put him at his ease; for it is the Lord's work that he is engaged upon, as I am myself; so no one must slight him. Send him happily on his way to join me, since I am waiting for him with our friends (I Cor.16.10f.).

Now he writes to his protege in very similar terms:

Let no one slight you because you are young, but make yourself an example to believers in speech and behaviour, in love, fidelity, and purity. Until I arrive ... make these matters your business and your absorbing interest, so that your progress may be plain to all (I Tim.4.11-15).

It is not difficult to believe that these words were written six months apart.

Each of these three epistles appears to embody directions for an immediate pastoral occasion. We tend to assume that Paul is appointing Timothy and Titus to extended supervision over designated areas. But in fact the instructions relate to specific short-term tours. In II Timothy Timothy is to do his best to come back as soon as possible (II Tim. 4.9); Titus is to be relieved whenever Paul can arrange for a replacement (Titus 3.12); and I Timothy is written only for the brief interval during which Timothy is to stay on at Ephesus until Paul himself can come (I Tim.3.14; 4.13).
[The same word that is used in Acts 18.18 for Paul staying on 'for some days' at Corinth.]

They do not presuppose, nor do they require, long gaps. They are more like the charges composed by a modern missionary bishop for an archidiaconal visitation lasting weeks or months rather than years. It is not unknown for a busy bishop to have these written for him. But in any case their style is determined much more by their form and content than by their date. If Paul had need for such specialized and formal communications there is no reason why he should not have put them together, or had them put together, probably out of material prepared (as Acts would suggest) for spoken exhortations to church leaders, in amongst, rather than after, his other correspondence. So it should not surprise us if they were not composed, as is usually assumed, in a bloc by themselves. Nor is there valid recourse to explain the change of style by the passage of years. For if our conclusions are right, the whole of Paul's extant correspondence (not forgetting that as early as II Thess.3.17 he spoke of 'all my letters') appears to fall within a period of nine years - indeed apart from his early letters to the Thessalonians within the astonishingly short span of four and a half years.

To clarify this we may end with a summary of the resultant dates:

      50   (early)   I Thessalonians
      50   (or early 51)   II Thessalonians
      55   (spring)   I Corinthians
      55   (autumn)   I Timothy
      56   (early)   II Corinthians
      56   (late)   Galatians
      57   (early)   Romans
      57   (late spring)   Titus
      58   spring)   Philippians
      58   summer)   Philemon
      58       Colossians
      58       Ephesians
      58   (autumn)   II Timothy

It must be stressed again that the absolute datings could be a year or so out either way and that the schema is more tentative than it looks. But the importance of these conclusions, which, except for the Pastoral Epistles, are not particularly controversial, is threefold:

(a) They provide a reasonably fixed yardstick or time scale against which to set other evidence.

(b) If in fact the whole of Paul's extremely diverse literary career occupied so brief a span, this gives us some objective criterion of how much time needs to be allowed for developments in theology and practice. Though it may at first sight appear extraordinarily short, we should not forget two other canons of measurement. The whole of Jesus' teaching and ministry (which I believe to have involved at least three fundamental shifts in the way he saw his person and work) [Cf. my book The Human Face of God, 1973,80-4.] occupied at most three or four years. And the whole development of early Christian thought and practice up to the death of Stephen and the conversion of Paul, including the first Hellenistic statement of the gospel, took place within something like the same period. [Cf. R. B. Rackham, Acts, 61912, Ixix.]
Indeed Hengel, in his important article 'Christologie und neutestamentliche Chronologic', [In Baltensweiler and Reicke, News Testament und Geschichte, 43-67.]
argues strongly that the crucial stage in the church's basic understanding of Christ and his significance was represented by the four to five 'explosive' years between 30 and 35. These years included the tension between the groups in Jerusalem (c.31-2), the murder of Stephen and the dispersion of the church apart from the apostles (('.32-3), the conversion of Paul (c.32-4), and the first missionary work in Judaea and Samaria, Phoenicia, Damascus and Antioch (c.33-5). By the time of his first extant epistle (I Thessalonians) Paul's Christology, Hengel maintains, is in all fundamentals complete, having reached its essential shape in the years prior to any of his missionary journeys. Speaking of the period up to the council of Jerusalem in 48 (and his dates agree with ours), he says: 'Fundamentally more happened christologically in these few years than in the following 700 years of church history, [Hengel, op. cit., 58; cf. his Son of God, ET 1976, 2.]
A priori
arguments from Christology to chronology, and indeed from any 'development' to the time required for it, are almost wholly unreliable.

(c) The working assumption we made to trust Acts until proved otherwise has been very substantially vindicated. There is practically nothing in Luke's account that clashes with the Pauline evidence, and in the latter half of Acts the correspondences are remarkably close. Even in the speeches attributed to Paul, and especially those at which Luke can be presumed to have been present (Acts 20 and 22-5), there are parallels to suggest that they are far from purely free compositions. This conclusion must also be relevant as we turn now to consider how close in date Acts stands to the events which it records.