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Dating of Revelation

The argument has been made that if Revelation was written in the final decade of the first century (the traditional view), then its prophecies probably do not concern the destruction of Jerusalem, an event that would have already taken place. On the other hand, if Revelation was written before A.D. 70, then a case could be made that it describes chiefly those events leading up to Jerusalem's fall.

However in the light of the Hebrew view of prophecy it really does not matter all that much. If Revelation were written before 70 AD the prophecies were two fold nature in nature with an immediate fulfillment as well as a distant fulfillment. If the later date for Revelation is correct  Jesus [through John] was simply doing what He did when He spoke about the Abomination of Desolation… He took that event and prophesied that it would happen again. He took a past event and spoke about it in the future tense.
[See Understanding Prophecy and Typology]

However for those that are interested there is strong support for a 95/96 A.D. date. The most telling of the evidence is internal, taken from the Bible itself. Consider

Banishment to Patmos
John is said to banished to the island of Patmos (1:9) where he wrote Revelation. It was the emperor Nero that had both Peter and Paul killed. If Revelation were written during the reign of Nero, it makes one wonder why he did not put the apostle John to death as well, instead of banishing him to Patmos.  Apparently banishment rather than execution was more Domitian's style… not Nero’s.

The following points are from www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk.

Paul’s Messages to Ephesus
 If Revelation was written before 70AD, its message to the church at Ephesus would have overlapped Paul’s messages to Ephesus, particularly the letter to Timothy, whom Paul appointed as bishop of the Ephesian church. Paul warned the Ephesians of the dangers of ‘grievous wolves’ coming in to devour the flock (Acts 20.28-30) and appointed Timothy to oversee the Ephesian church (1 Timothy 1.3). In his admonitions to Timothy and in his letter to the Ephesians there is no hint of the same problem which is highlighted in the Lord’s word to Ephesus in Revelation 2.1-7 – losing their first love. Paul’s messages warn of deception coming in and the need to stand firm against the wiles of the Devil and in the doctrine delivered by the Apostle. Revelation 2.1-7 rebukes the Ephesians for coldness towards the Lord as a result of doctrinal orthodoxy without love. It is hard to believe that the two situations could be contemporary as must be the case if Revelation were written before 70AD. It is very easy to believe this could be the case if Revelation were written a generation later.

The Church at Smyrna
According to Polycarp the church at Smyrna was not founded until after the death of Paul, so it could not have been born any earlier than around 64-67AD. There is no way that it could have reached the stage of being a representative church for the letters to the seven churches if Revelation were written before 70AD.

History records that Laodicea was devastated by an earthquake in 60AD. It took them 25 years to rebuild. During the period 60-70AD the church in Laodicea could not have been described as rich and in need of nothing (Revelation 3.17). By 96AD however it had recovered its trade and wealth so fitting in with this word from the Lord.

Eusebius, the church historian who lived 265-339AD affirms Irenaeus’ dating of Revelation and also declares that John’s banishment to the Isle of Patmos occurred during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, commenting: “After Domitian had reigned fifteen years, Nerva succeeded”.


The Nicolaitan Heresy
A prominent feature of John's message to the churches is the Nicolaitan heresy (2:6, 15), but Paul's epistles say nothing at all about it.


Before 70 A.D?
Two of the most common arguments for an early date are..

The Measuring of The Temple
In Revelation 11:1-2, John is told to measure the Temple which is often believed to indicate that Herod’s temple was still standing when John wrote Revelation.  [Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70].

    “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” [Revelation 11:1-2].

However as said by Thomas Ice..

    “In the Book of Revelation John is receiving a vision about future things. He is obviously transported in some way to that future time in order to view the events as they will unfold. This is why the word “saw” is used 49 times in 46 verses in Revelation because John is witnessing future events. It does not matter at all whether the temple is thought to still be standing in Jerusalem at the time that John sees the vision, since that would not necessarily have any bearing upon a vision. John is told by the angel accompanying him during the vision to “measure the temple” (Rev. 11:1). Measure what temple? The temple in the vision. In fact, Ezekiel, during a similar vision of a temple (Ezek. 40—48) was told to measure that temple. When Ezekiel saw and was told to measure a temple, that there was not one standing in Jerusalem. Thus, there is no compulsion whatsoever, that just because a temple is referenced in Revelation 11 that it implies that there had to be a physical temple standing in Jerusalem at the time. [Thomas Ice. Has Bible Prophecy Already Been Fullfilled?]

Note: There is a telling comparison between the language in Revelation 11:2 and what our Lord told the disciples in Luke 21 in reference to the temple. In verse 24 He says

    “.. Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”.

The Greek verb pateō [translated trampled or trodden] is used both in Revelation 11:2 and Luke 21:24. The Roman/Jewish war lasted about exactly forty-two months. Nero commissioned Vespasian in March or April of 67 A.D. and the temple fell in August or September of A.D. 70.

The Seven Kings in Revelation 17

    Here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while. Rev 17:9, 10 

Preterists believe that the seven kings referred to were the rulers of the known world of John's day, i.e., the Roman Empire, five of whom had already come and gone. Therefore an examination of the list of emperors starting with Julius Caesar determines who the sixth king was and thereby the date of the writing of Revelation. The Roman Emperors were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius (Caligula); Claudius, and Nero who reigned from 54 to 68 AD.

However this is sheer speculation. Preterists assume that the line of kings refer to a first century succession of Roman kings and then pronounce Nero as the one to which Revelation 17:10 refers. However why should the counting of kings begin with Julius Caesar. Rome was a Republic ruled by the First Triumvirate, in the days of Julius Caesar. Augustus was the first (and most important) of the Roman Emperors.

We are not told what time frame is being seen by John and he could well be describing a broad panorama of  Biblical history. . Remember that he is seeing and recording a vision. However the Kings could equally well refer to the fall of once powerful empires. Kingdoms in the Bible were generally represented in character by a prominent head.. the king. Babylon was represented by Nebuchadnezzar, Medo-Persia by Cyrus, Greece by Alexander, etc.  Therefore it is perfectly likely that the five which are fallen refer to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, which closely ties with Daniel’s interpretation of king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. [Daniel did not reference Egypt and Assyria but started with Babylon which, may, in part, be due to the fact that he was interpreting the King of Babylon’s dream].

    And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition. Revelation 17:11.

The sixth empire that was reigning at the time which John wrote was Rome. The seventh that is to come will be the future kingdom of the antichrist. The eighth, known in Revelation as the Beast, is part of the seventh, which brings us into a whole new area of the interpretation of Biblical prophecy.

The Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks and finally the Romans have all come and gone exactly as Daniel prophesied. The last two are yet to come but is it possible that we are witnessing the birth of the fulfillment of the next kingdom? Many students of Bible prophecy think so. Click here for full article

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