In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. . . .
The Lord — holy, sovereign, utterly independent — became incarnate in the person of Jesus. . . when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So, who is Quirinius? That he was governor of Syria is obvious enough. But this is such an apparently insignificant detail. What purpose does this serve in holy Scripture? Well, Quirinius was a real person, a real governor over a real Syria in a real world in real space and time. And God really stepped into this.
Here's one way to think about the chronology of the New Testament: it testifies to realness.
For this installment in the Life of the Mind we go back to a 1976 paper by John Piper that explains the timeline of the New Testament from Jesus' birth to Peter and Paul's martyrdom. Let this work be to you a helpful reminder this Advent season of Jesus' historicity — he walked on this earth (the same one we walk on) and he lived in this continuum of history (the same one we live in).
Read the paper, "The Chronology of the New Testament."
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