Neil Cadman





Many claim that the Gospels are not written in chronological order. But there is at least some chronological order in their arrangement. In all the Gospels the following chronology applies.


i) The birth of Christ.

ii) His Galilean ministry.

iii) The walk to Jerusalem. (Primarily in Luke.)

iv) The Passion and Resurrection.


1. The incarnation. (Matt.1, Mk.1, Lk.2, Jn.1)

2. The preaching of John the Baptist. (Matt. 3. Mk.1, Lk.3, Jn.1:6)

3. The Baptism of Jesus. (Matt.3, Mk. 1, Lk.3 )

4. The temptation in the wilderness. (Matt.4, Mk.1, Lk.4)

5. The calling of the disciples. (Matt.4, Mk.1, Lk.5, Jn1)

6. The casting into prison of John the Baptist. (Matt.4:12, Lk.3:20 ) *

7. John the Baptist’s continuance in prison. (Matt.11:2, Mk.6:17)

8. The death of John the Baptist. (Matt.14:10, Mk.6:27 )

9. The transfiguration. (Matt. 17:1-13, Mk. 9:2-13, Lk.9:28-36.)

10. The last walk going up from Galilee to Jerusalem. (Matt.20:17, Mk.10:32, Lk.9:51.)

11. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem. (Matt.21:10, Mk.11:11, Lk.19:41,Jn.12:15.)

12. The last supper. (Matt.26:17, Mk..14:18, Lk.22:14, Jn.13:1)

13. The arrest of Jesus. (Matt.26:46, Mk.14:43, Lk.22:47, Jn.18:2)

14. The trials of Jesus. (Matt. 26:57, Mk. 14:53, Lk.22:54, Jn.19:24)

15. The crucifixion of Jesus. (Matt. 27:33, Mk. 15:22, Lk.23:33, Jn.19:18)

16. The burial of Jesus. (Matt 27:57, Mk.15:42, Lk.23:50, Jn.19:38)

17. The resurrection of Jesus. (Matt. 28:1, Mk.16:1, Lk.24:1, Jn.20:1)

18. The ascension of Jesus. ( Lk.24:50 )

*Luke’s reference to John being cast into prison is an aside, referring both back to the introduction of this section (3:1) where Herod is mentioned as being in control of Galilee and forward to the death of John. Asides need not be chronologically ordered.

All these incidents, except the transfiguration, are dependent upon their chronology for their sense.


There are a number of “middle events” which have little effect on the overall story.

i) The healing of Peter’s Mother in Law. (Matt.8:14-15, Mk.1;29-31, Lk.4:38-39)

ii) The paralytic lowered through the roof. (Mk.2:3-12), Lk.5:17-26)

iii) The disciples eat corn on the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:1-8, Mk. 2:23-28, Lk.6:1-5)

iv) The healing of the withered hand. (Mk.3:1-6, Lk.6:6-11)

v) Jesus chooses the twelve. (Mk.3:13-19, Lk.6;12-16)

vi) The feeding of the 5,000. (Matt.14:15-21,Lk.9:12-17, Jn.6:4-15)

vii) Jesus walks on the sea. (Matt.14:25-33, Mk.6:45-52, Jn.6:4-21)

viii) The Canaanite woman asks for help. (Matt.15:21-28, Mk.7:24-30)

ix) Jesus feeds the 4,000. (Matt. 15:29-39, Mk.8:1-9)

Not one of these middle order lesser events varies in the order of its occurrence from Gospel to Gospel. This is prima facie evidence that all the lesser events are chronologically ordered.


There are instances of sequences in the middle portion of the Gospels that are the same in each of the Gospels in which they occur. They are as follows:

i) Jesus calms the storm, – casting the demons into the pigs.

ii) Jairus’ daughter,the woman with a flow of blood, – Jairus’ daughter.

iii) The feeding of the 5,000,Jesus walking on the water.

iv) Going up to Jerusalem, (Matt. 20:17) the disciples ask for greatness, (Matt.20:20- 23) the other disciples annoyed, (Matt. 20: 24:28) they go through Jericho. (Matt.20:20)


Prophesied events show chronological order indirectly. e.g.

Assuredly I say to you, that there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt.16.28) “…the kingdom of God(Lk.9:27) “….with power” (Mk. 9:1)

This prophecy and fulfillment occurs in the same order in Mathew, Mark and Luke. The prophecy is followed by an incident which Matthew records as being six days later and Luke says “about eight days after these sayings” i.e. the prophecy was uttered towards the evening of the first day and was fulfilled on the morning of the eighth day thereby leaving six days between utterance and fulfilment. The prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to a mountain and Jesus is transfigured before them and as He prophesied, they see Jesus in the kingdom of God in power. There is a chronological order of prophecy first and fulfilment second, as one would expect.


There are episodes that mention preceding events. E.g. Jesus speaks to the disciples about feeding the 5,000 and feeding the 4,000 in that order. (Matt.16:9, Mk.9:19)


There are a number of events and teachings contained within the Gospels which appear initially to be non-chronologically arranged, such as the cleansing of the temple. The question must be asked, “Are these the same events or similar events?”

See the solution to the Synoptic Problem.