John the Apostle, Presbyter, Other
Rome, Jerusalem, Other
Date of Composition:
Origin: Greek, Syriac, Other
Nero, Nero Redivivus,
Nero Rediturus, Etc.
Origin: Christian, Christian Redaction of Jewish Apocalyptic
Apocalypse: Late Date
The People's New Testament
Apocalypse: Early Date Advocates
Lardner on the Date of the Apocalypse (1788 PDF)
The Problems of a Pre-AD70 Date of the Apocalypse - "The date of the Book of Revelation (Rev) has been as disputed as its authorship. The dates proposed for the composition oscillate between, on the one hand, the time before or during the so-called Jewish War (66-77 CE) and, on the other hand, the time of Emperor Trajan,
viz. late 1st century (Aune 1997:lvii). Traditionally, the prevailing view has been that Rev was written sometime during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE); more specifically (and in harmony with the ancient testimony of Irenaeus ) towards the end of his reign, viz. ca. 94/95 CE. "
The Apocalypse: Christadelphian "A view that the Apocalypse was written before A.D. 70 against errant Judaism virtually nullifies its impact on this issue. The primary purpose of this booklet is to show that an early date and Jewish application is wholly against the facts." (1932)
Irenaeus' Quote (Used as Grounds for Late Date Theory)
"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the Revelation. For
(‘he’ [John?] or ‘it’ [Revelation?])
was seen not long ago, but almost in our
own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3)
"It is said that in this persecution [Domitian’s] the apostle and
evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island
of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word. Irenaeus, in
the fifth book of his work Against Heresies, where he discusses the number
of the name of Antichrist which is given in the so-called Apocalypse of
John, speaks as follows concerning him: ‘If it were necessary for his name
to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by
him who saw the Revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our
own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.’ To such a degree,
indeed, did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time that even those
writers who were far from our religion did not hesitate to mention in their
histories the persecution and the martyrdoms which took place during it. And
they, indeed, accurately indicated the time. For they recorded that in the
fifteenth year of Domitian Flavia Domitilla, daughter of a sister of Flavius
Clement, who at that time was one of the consuls of Rome, was exiled with
many others to the island of Pontia in consequence of testimony borne to
Christ (Church History, Bk. III, ch. 18).
"Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: ‘Domitian
also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same
thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence,
he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished.’ But
after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the
empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history
of those days, voted that Domitian’s horrors should be cancelled, and that
those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have
their property restored to them. It was at this time that the apostle John
returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus,
according to an ancient Christian tradition (Church History, Bk. III, ch.
“And He says unto me, Thou must again prophesy to the peoples, and to
the tongues, and to the nations, and to many kings.” He says this, because
when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the
labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the
Apocalypse; and when grown old, he thought that he should at length receive
his quittance by suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were
discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus subsequently
delivered the same Apocalypse which he had received from God. This,
therefore, is what He says: Thou must again prophesy to all nations, because
thou seest the crowds of Antichrist rise up; and against them other crowds
shall stand, and they shall fall by the sword on the one side and on the
other. (Commentary on the Apocalypse, 11)
The time must be understood in which the written Apocalypse was published,
since then reigned Caesar Domitian; but before him had been Titus his
brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius, and Galba” (Commentary on the
Clement of Alexandria
"And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly
there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is
not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of
memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned
to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the
contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set
in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the
Spirit." (The Rich Man, XLII)
"After an interval of some years from the death of Nero, there arose
another tyrant no less wicked (Domitian), who, although his government was
exceedingly odious, for a very long time oppressed his subjects, and reigned
in security, until at length he stretched forth his impious hands against
the Lord. Having been instigated by evil demons to persecute the righteous
people, he was then delivered into the power of his enemies, and suffered
due punishment." (Address to Donatus, Ch 3).
“Why, my son, dost thou flee from me, thy father, unarmed, old? Son,
pity me. Fear not; thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to
Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death, as the Lord
did death for us. For thee I will surrender my life. Stand, believe; Christ
hath sent me….And he, when he heard, first stood, looking down; then threw
down his arms, then trembled and wept bitterly. And on the old man
approaching, he embraced him, speaking for himself with lamentations as he
could, and baptized a second time with tears, concealing only his right
hand. The other pledging, and assuring him on oath that he would find
forgiveness for himself from the Savior, beseeching and failing on his
knees, and kissing his right hand itself, as now purified by repentance, led
him back to the church.” (The Rich Man, XLII)
"In the fourteenth year then after Nero, Domitian having raised a second
persecution he was banished to the island of Patmos, and wrote the
Apocalypse, on which Justin Martyr and Irenaeus afterwards wrote
commentaries. But Domitian having been put to death and his acts, on account
of his excessive cruelty, having been annulled by the senate, he returned to
Ephesus under Pertinax and continuing there until the tithe of the emperor
Trajan, founded and built churches throughout all Asia, and, worn out by old
age, died in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord’s passion and was buried
near the same city." (Lives of Illustrious Men, Ch IX).
"We maybe sure that John was then a boy because ecclesiastical history most
clearly proves that he lived to the reign of Trajan, that is, he fell asleep
in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord’s passion, as I have briefly noted
in my treatise on Illustrious Men. Peter is an Apostle, and John is an
Apostle – the one a married man, the other a virgin; but Peter is an Apostle
only, John is both an Apostle and an Evangelist, and a prophet. An Apostle,
because he wrote to the Churches as a master; an Evangelist, because he
composed a Gospel, a thing which no other of the Apostles, excepting
Matthew, did; a prophet, for he saw in the island of Patmos, to which he had
been banished by the Emperor Domitian
As a martyr for the Lord, an Apocalypse containing the boundless mysteries
of the future Tertullian, moreover, relates that he was sent to Rome, and
that having been plunged into a jar of boiling oil he came out fresher and
more active than when he went in (Against Jovinianus, Book 1, 26).
"Then, after an interval, Domitian, the son of Vespasian, persecuted the
Christians. At this date, he banished John the Apostle and Evangelist to the
island of Patmos. There he, secret mysteries having been revealed to him,
wrote and published his book of the holy Revelation, which indeed is either
foolishly or impiously not accepted by many" (The Sacred History, Ch 31).
"John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of
Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision;
and in Trajan’s time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were
sought for, but could not be found (The Twelve Apostles, XLIX).
Acts of the Holy Apostle John
"And the fame of the teaching of John was spread abroad in Rome; and it came
to the ears of Domitian that there was a certain Hebrew in Ephesus, John by
name, who spread a report about the seat of empire of the Romans, saying
that it would quickly be rooted out, and that the kingdom of the Romans
would be given over to another. And Domitian, troubled by what was said,
sent a centurion with soldiers to seize John, and bring him. And having gone
to Ephesus, they asked where John lived.
And when all were glorifying God, and wondering at the faith of John,
Domitian said to him: I have put forth a decree of the senate, that all such
persons should be summarily dealt with, without trial; but since I find from
thee that they are innocent, and that their religion is rather beneficial, I
banish thee to an island, that I may not seem myself to do away with my own
decrees. He asked then that the condemned criminal should be let go; and
when he was let go, John said: Depart, give thanks to God, who has this day
delivered thee from prison and from death.
And having prayed, he raised her up. And Domitian, astonished at all the
wonders, sent him away to an island, appointing for him a set time. And
straightway John sailed to Patmos, where also he was deemed worthy to see
the revelation of the end. And when Domitian was dead, Nerva succeeded to
the kingdom, and recalled all who had been banished; and having kept the
kingdom for a year, he made Trajan his successor in the kingdom. And when he
was king over the Romans, John went to Ephesus, and regulated all the
teaching of the church, holding many conferences, anti reminding them of
what the Lord had said to them, and what duty he had assigned to each. And
when he was old and changed, he ordered Polycarp to be bishop over the
church. (Acts of the Holy Apostle John, Exile and Departure).
"But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to
the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the
history of those days, voted that Domitian’s honors should be cancelled, and
that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and
have their property restored to them. 11. It was at this time that the
apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his
abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition. (Church
History, Book 3, Ch 20).
“And all the elders that associated with John the disciple of the Lord
in Asia bear witness that John delivered it to them. For he remained among
them until the time of Trajan.”
“But the church in Ephesus also,
which was founded by Paul, and where John remained until the time of Trajan,
is a faithful witness of the apostolic tradition.”
Clement of Alexandria
“Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning
John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For
when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to
Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories
of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set
in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of
those that were pointed out by the Spirit. (Church History, Book 3, Ch 23).
Refuting the Praeterist Counter-Scheme "What the grounds of this strange presumptuousness of tone? What the new and overpowering evidence in favor of the modern Pręterists?"
“The same is the recorded judgment
of Jerome; the same of Augustine’s friend, Orosius; the same of Sulpitius
Severus. Once more, we find an unhesitating statement of similar purport in
Primasius; an eminent Augustinian commentator on the Apocalypse, of the
sixth century. In his Preface to this Commentary, he speaks of the
Apocalyptic visions having been seen by St. John when banished and condemned
to the mines in Patmos by the Emperor Domitian” (Horae Apocalypticae, vol.
I, p. 36).
“Nor can it be wondered at: seeing
that as to any contrary statement on the point in question, there appears to
have been none whatsoever until the time of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in
Cyprus, in the latter half of the fourth century: ...whose chief work, On
Heresies, is decried ... as ‘full of blots and errors, through the levity
and ignorance of the author:’ ...For he speaks of St. John having prophesied
when in the isle of Patmos, in the days of the Emperor Claudius: --a time
when... it does not appear from history that there was any imperial
persecution of the Christian body whatsoever...” (Horae Apocalypticae, vol.
I, p. 37).
“ ...another testimony to the
early date of the Apocalypse. The subscription to a Syriac version of the
book, written about the beginning of the sixth century, is thus worded; ‘The
Revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the island of
Patmos, whither he was banished by the Emperor Nero.’ But of what value is
this opinion, then first broached, as it would appear?” (Horae Apocalypticae,
vol. I, p. 38-39).
"May not the mistake have arisen from Domitian having sometimes the title of
Nero given him; and in fact the original writer of the Syriac subscription
have meant Domitian, not Nero?” He includes in this footnote further proofs
given in Latin of this title applying to Domitian (Horae Apocalypticae, vol.
I pg. 39, footnote 1).
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Premillennialist)
"First, then, let us look at the
preterist view... It seems to me that the view is clearly impossible in terms of the book of Revelation itself. For the book takes us on to the very end of time and tells us, "that there should be time no longer" (Rev. 10:6). It takes us on to the destruction of the devil and all his powers, and the instruments that he uses - the dragon himself and the various beasts. Revelation deals with that final destruction, so, obviously, it cannot be right to say that it only refers to events confronting the early Christian Church and things which would come to an end when the Roman empire became officially Christian." (The Church and the Last Things, vol. 3, 152)
Robert Thomas (Premillennial Dispensationalist)
"Preterism uses the "soonness" of Christ's coming to prove a writing of Revelation in the 60s and fulfillment of much of the book's prophecies by A.D.70. Placing a time limit on "soon" is, however, unwarranted. Jesus taught against pinpointing the time of his return... He could have returned by 70, but he did not. God has not been pleased to reveal how long it will be. So far "soon" has extended to over 1900 years, but God's people still must anticipate an any-moment return of Christ. Ninteen hundred years may not seem to be "soon" for humans, but they must accept God's lesson about expecting Christ's coming to be near." ("A Classical Dispensationalist View of Revelation," in
Four Views on the Book of Revelation, gen. ed. C. Marvin Pate, 191.)
"It has been frequently assumed that the
Apocalypse may be dated to the reign of the Emperor Domitian, the last
representative of the Flavian house (AD 81-96), as a response to fierce
persecution which took place during his reign. But this view has recently
been challenged seriously, both because encouragement in the face of
persecution may not be regarded as the single motive behind the composition
of Revelation, and also on account of the insecurity surrounding the
evidence of imperial oppression during the time of Domitian. This leaves the
way open to revive the alternative view, common among nineteenth-century
scholars, that Revelation was written between AD 64, as a result of the
persecution under Nero, and AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem (see the summary of
the research representing these two positions in Robinson, Redating [the New
Testament, London: SCM Press, 1976], 224-26).
As it happens, I believe that it is
perfectly possible to locate the writing of Revelation in the reign of
Vespasian (AD 69-79); and I have argued that the book emerged just before
the fall of Jerusalem to Titus, Vespasian’s son, in AD 70 . . . I suggest
that this conclusion fits the internal and external evidence for the dating
of Revelation; it is also supported by the theological thrust of the drama
itself. For the members of John’s circle, the earthly Jerusalem and its
Temple would have been a central holy place in which to encounter God, and
also a spiritual centre of gravity. If Jerusalem were about to be destroyed,
the vision in Rev. 21-22 of a stunning and emphatically new holy city, where
God’s people will dwell eternally in a close covenant relationship with him,
would have provided exactly, and at the right moment, all the spiritual
encouragement they needed."
What do YOU think ?
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- 08 Nov 2003
The blind battling the blind. The date, structure and meaning of the book of Revelation are only revealed by relying on the complete and consistent typology that God gave the church for guidance - i. e., first the natural things of the OT, then the spiritual things of the NT (1 Cor. 15:46).
As long as Bible students continue their stubborn rejection of that God-given guidance and insist on relying instead on an endless variety of personal opinions about NT passages, they'll never understand what really happened in the first century.
Date: 26 Feb 2011
I believe the comment below is very clear and to the point. The scriptures
point to first century fulfillment, as do almost all commentaries on the
subject. Unfortunately if we can't square our literal understanding of
things with scripture, then we can't accept what God's word actually says.
We need to adjust our thinking to God's ways, not the other way around.
Date: 26 Jul 2012
Hengstenberg gives a detailed consideration of this matter, in his
introduction to his commentary on the Apocalypse, confidently concluding
that the date of the writing of the Apocalypse was during the latter part of
You can download this(Hengstenberg's commentary) from the Internet Archive.
Hengstenberg quotes Vitringa also, as being of the same mind, and it would
be good to see if there is available an English translation of Vitringa's
work on the subject.
Date: 02 Jul 2012
I never heard anyone mention that D Martyn Lloyd Jones was a
Premillennialist before. Can you please tell me the source of your
information or evidence for this.
I had understood that Todd Dennis no longer held to full preterism, is that
incorrect? The early date of Revelation is foundational, without it
preterism cannot be built. [That is correct. Agreed.]