LEARNING ACTIVITY #40
Dating the Book of Revelation
This Learning Activity is a continuation of Learning Activity #39 which should
be completed before you continue with the following material.
There are many
and varied commentaries available that purport to inform the reader as to the meaning
of the contents of the book of Revelation. To the Bible student who is familiar with
history and has a basic understanding of prophetic language as used throughout the
Scriptures and as explained in Learning Activity #30, there is no explanation needed.
Revelation describes the Parousia (second appearance or presence of Christ) with
His judgment of Jerusalem by the destruction of the city, the Temple and the entire
Jewish priesthood with its ordinances and rituals. This action, which took place
over a period of siege by the Romans, culminated in the total leveling of the city
and the Temple in AD 70, a fact which is clearly recorded in the annals of history.
One such place where this fact is recorded is in the writings of the Jewish historian
Josephus, in his War of the Jews, Volume Seven, where he indicates that the
fall of Jerusalem began with Nero giving the order to Vespasian in February, AD 67.
The war and the destruction ended in September AD 70, three and one–half years later!
can be no mistake that the city that is the center of the destruction described in
the book of Revelation, Babylon, is no other than the ancient city of Jerusalem.
I think the following gives adequate support for this conclusion.
refers to "Babylon" as "the great city." These references are
found in Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5, 18; 18:2, 10, 16, 18, 19 and 21. In addition,
Revelation 11:8 identifies "the great city" as the place where our Lord
was crucified. In Jeremiah 22:8, Jerusalem is also referred to as "this great
city." It would take a serious case of tunnel vision for anyone to think that
the great city spoken of in the book of Revelation is any city other than Jerusalem!
seven kings of Revelation 17:10 also help us to date the book of Revelation.
there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come;
and when he cometh, he must continue a short space" (Rev.17:10).
believe these seven kings to be the emperors of the Roman Empire. This line of succession
consisted of Julius Caesar followed by Augustus, Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, Nero
and Galba as the seven kings. The first four in this succession are confirmed by
Josephus in his historical writing,
Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 2, Paragraph
2; Book 16, Chapter 6, Paragraph 2; Book 18, Chapter 6, Paragraphs 9 and 10. The
Revelation 17:10 verse states that five have fallen, one is and one is yet to come.
The five heads of this kingdom that "are fallen" would mean that
they had died. "And one is" would seem to signify that one is still
living at the time the book of Revelation was written. This individual would be Nero
in the succession. "The other is not yet come" would refer to Galba
who had not yet come into power at the time of the writing of Revelation. If all
of this is true, John is indirectly telling us when the book of Revelation was written.
This would place the vision in the time of Nero which is 54–68 AD with Galba to follow
who ended up reigning for only six months!
The instructions to John to measure
the Temple are also important to our study.
"And there was given to
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" (Rev. 11:1–2).
this part of the vision, John is asked to measure the Temple. If the vision was before
AD 70 there was a Temple that could be measured. If the vision was given at the late
date of AD 95, there was no Temple to measure as it had been destroyed in AD 70!
Since there is still no Temple 2,000 years later, and the vision was supposed to
have been fulfilled in "tachu" time, which is real quick, then there
is a problem with the vision having been given at that late date. The only
logical answer is the earlier date (AD 68) prior to the destruction of Jerusalem
when the Temple would have still been standing!
1. Revelation 1:1 ____________________________________________________________
scripture above is probably all a person should require to properly understand the
time frame and context of the book of Revelation. The verse shows that the focus
of the book is Jesus Christ and that it was written about "things which must
shortly come to pass." This wording supports a time frame where its internal
prophecies had to take place "shortly" and cannot by the rational
reader be placed in any other time frame than the near future at the time it was
There are other internal references in the book of Revelation for
the serious Bible student to study, however, the writer feels this is an adequate
treatment to convince those who may be open to what the Scriptures say. To regard
this book as a revelation of the distant future, as some Christians do, when it expressly
declares that these things of which it speaks are at hand, is to ensure misconception
and failure in interpretation. Much confusion has been introduced into the church
when those who exegete this book engage in such gyrations as interpreting "near"
as being "distant," "quickly" to mean "thousands of years
hence" and "at hand" signifying "afar off."
it appears to the writer that this entire situation illustrates the power of bringing
preconceived doctrine into our reading of the Scriptures. The influence of doctrine
causes us to see what our doctrine demands, rather than letting the Scriptures speak
for themselves. To assume that no mistake has been made by some in the church before
us would be preposterous given the contents of this Learning Activity and other research
that I am sure will surface in time to come. I am convinced that fellow travelers
along this same route will soon correct what is proven to be erroneous and confirm
that which is shown to be correct. My research has convinced me that the late date
of 95–96 AD for the writing of Revelation is more a product of tradition of some
rather than by solid evidence.
The list that follows will be an attempt on
my part to provide the reader with some Christians who have found that an earlier
dating for Revelation is to be found more accurate than the later (AD 95) dating.
I will attempt to add to this list as I remember to do so.
in his book, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Books for the Ages, Albany,
Oregon, 1997, states on pages 95 and 96 that the internal evidence of the book of
Revelation points to a date prior to the destruction of Jerusalem for the writing
Philip Schaff in his work History of the Christian Church,
Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, vol.1, p. vi writes "...the date
of the Apocalypse (which I now assign, with the majority of modern critics, to the
year 68 or 69 instead of 95, as before."
Robert Young, who authored "Young's
Analytical Concordance, wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation which was
published about 1885. In that work, Young makes the following statement: "It
[the book of Revelation] was written in Patmos about A.D. 68, whither John had been
banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syriac version of the book;
and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus in A.D. 175, who says it
happened in the reign of Domitianou - i.e., Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius, Orosins,
etc., stupidly mistaking Dimitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer
to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder.
The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the early date."
Glueck has written that, "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer
any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80."
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