Range of Dates
Dates for the book have been proposed between A.D. 41 and A.D. 117. The
majority place the date of writing between A.D. 54 and A.D. 96.
Significance of Date
Significance depends on the interpretive system one holds.
For the most popular form of preterism (discussed in detail later),
the date is
Other systems are not as sensitive to the date of writing.
Significance to Preterism
One form of preterism holds that the events of Revelation describe the
destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state
in A.D. 70. If Revelation is written later than approximately A.D. 68,
preterist interpretation collapses!
Internal Evidence vs. External Evidence
The two sources of evidence for determining the date:
evidence. Internal evidence
is much more subjective than external evidence.
Internal Evidence for Early Date
John's Knowledge of Priestly Service
Edersheim holds that John's knowledge of priestly service indicates
Revelation must have been written by someone active in priestly
service. Therefore, the Temple must have still been standing.
Mention of a Temple
John is told to "Rise and measure the Temple of God..." (Rev. 11). Therefore, the Temple must have still been standing.
But Ezekiel describes a Temple at a time when no Temple stood (575 B.C.).
Ezekiel's Temple is also measured
(Eze. 40:5). Ezekiel's Temple is described in
much greater detail than John's
yet is not standing at the time.
Daniel also mentions a Temple
when none is standing
("the Sanctuary" in
Nero as Fulfillment for Early Date?
Caesar Nero was the fifth Roman Emperor (AD 54–68).
He became infamous for his personal debaucheries, and extravagances.
Like "the beast" of Revelation
Rev. 13:1), Nero persecuted Christians.
Image courtesy of Mike McCorkle.
Nero as Fulfillment for Early Date
The Nero Revival Myth
Some hold that the
mention of the revival of the Beast
must refer to the Nero revival myth.
The Number of Nero's Name
One variation of the Hebrew spelling of the Latin title "Caesar Neron" adds up to "666" (Rev. 13:18).
External Evidence for Early Date
Paul Followed Pattern of Seven Churches
(170-190) and the
(250-350) claim that Paul wrote to seven churches following the pattern of
John in Revelation.
(Revelation would then have to predate the Pauline Epistles! Galatians
written in A.D. 49.)
Papias' Statement Concerning John
Papias says, " he was killed by the Jews, thus clearly fulfilling,
together with his brother,Christ's prophecy concerning them " (Mark 10:39). (James was martyred in A.D. 63.)
(This merely states
killed John, not
Late Date Evidence Tortured to Support Early Date
Statement of Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 180)
" 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 apocalyptic vision.
that was seen
no very long time since, but almost in our day,
towards the end of Domitian's reign. "
Church Historian Schaff
" The traditional [late] date of composition at the end of Domitian's reign
(95 or 96) rests on the
clear and weighty testimony of Irenaeus, is confirmed by Eusebius and Jerome, and has still its learned
Preterist Ken Gentry
" What is the subject of this verb [was seen]? Is it 'him who saw
the Apocalypse' (i.e., John) or 'the Apocalypse'? "
Irenaeus Tortured to Support Early Date
Irenaeus' Statement is Clear
The nearest antecedent to the verb "it was seen " is "the apocalypse." 2)
The passive verb
eorathe , "he/she/it was seen," is not appropriate for describing the length of a person's life.
If John were the subject, Irenaeus would have said that John lived until the
reign of Trajan, something Irenaeus knew. Instead, he mentions Domitian.
There is no textual ambiguity. It is simply wishful thinking.
Irenaeus Destroys Preterism!
" But when the Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world,
he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple
at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds,
in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him
into the Lake of Fire; but bringing for the righteous the times of the
kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to
Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that
'many coming from the east and the west should sit down with Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob.' " [Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. I (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), ECF 188.8.131.52.5.31.]
Internal Evidence for Late Date
Changes in Church at Ephesus
If John wrote Revelation in A.D. 64-67, then the letter to the church at
overlaps with Paul's two letters to Timothy, who was pastor of the church
when Paul wrote. Pauls epistles fail to mention the problems recorded in
Changes in Church at Laodicea
Paul indicates that the church was an active group
in about A.D. 60-62. Yet the church received no commendation when
the time Revelation was written
(Rev. 3:14-22). Clearly, considerable time intervened.
When Revelation was written, the Nicolaitans were an established,
15), yet they are not mentioned in the epistles.
No Mention of Paul
Paul ministered at Ephesus for almost 3 years (A.D. 52-54). If John wrote
only 12-16 years later (ala the early date), it seems very unusual there is
not the slightest inference about Paul in the letters to the Seven
the worship of Roman Emperors is reflected in the persecution recorded
in the letters to the Seven Churches
this would accord better with a later date.
" More important for the [dating] issue here is that Nero was not deified,
though there is some evidence that he wished to be. However, there was no
widespread demand that he be recognized as such....
the coins of the 90s prove Domitian's megalomania; they show even
his wife was called the mother of the divine Caesar.... the imperial
cult was apparently much more developed and prominent in Domitian's day
than it was in Nero's time. " [Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 6-7.]
External Evidence for Late Date
The previously discussed clear statement of Irenaeus (slide 14).
In the 14th year of Domitian: " Persecution of Christians and under him the apostle John
is banished to Patmos and sees his Apocalypse, as Irenaeus mentions. "
Other Church Fathers
Tertullian (ca. 160-220) and Origen (ca. 185-254) support the late date.
Although they do not specifically say that John was banished by
Domitian, Jerome and Eusebius interpreted Tertullian as holding this view.
Late date is attested by Victorinus (d. ca. 304) who wrote the first
commentary on the
Book of Revelation.
Jerome (writing ca. 390) witnesses to the late date.
These statements made so near the time of writing by such well-known people
would surely have been challenged if they were in error.
We have no such indication from the historic record.
For additional information on this topic, see the commentary.