The Chronology of Paul’s Letters

I’m enjoying the chronology discussions prompted by Mark Goodacre’s series (I, II, III) on the dating of Galatians with respect to I Corinthians.

For the uninitiated, Peter Bercovitz’s website is a good source to start with. He offers two alternate timelines:

Letters Based Chronology (A): Pre-Conference Founding Missions (Contra Acts)

Letters Based Chronology (B): Post-Conference Founding Missions (Acts Friendly)

Bercovitz favors option (A) for many reasons, the two most important being that (1) option (B) limits Paul’s activity to the regions of Syria and Cilicia for fourteen years and then requires Herculean accomplishments across Greece and Asia Minor during the closing years; and (2) option (B) means that it took Paul twice the time to deliver the collection to Jerusalem, 6-8 years instead of 3-4.

Here are the highlights of option (A), which is indeed the one that is preferable, and compatible with Goodacre’s dating of Galatians (between I and II Corinthians).

First Jerusalem visit

In Syria and Cilicia, then founding of churches in Galatia, at Philippi, at Thessalonica, and at Corinth.


Second Jerusalem visit (agreement on the collection)

Antioch Incident

Second visit to Galatians (collection begun there), then founding of church in Ephesus

Previous Letter to the Corinthians

Titus sent to Corinth (collection begun there)

I CORINTHIANS (directions given for collection there)

Crisis in Galatia (lapse of collection there)


Imprisonment in Ephesus



Release from prison

Crisis in Corinth (lapse of collection there)

Second visit to Corinth

Back in Ephesus


In Troas, then Macedonia where meets Titus


Titus to Corinth (collection resumed there)

Third visit to Corinth (collection completed there)


Third Jerusalem visit (presumed delivery of the collection)

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