Revelation Late Date Study Archive
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
Date of John’s Apocalypse
Late Date Advocates
- PRETERISM AND THE DATE OF REVELATION
- SYSTEMATIC APPROACHES
- STUDY TOPICS:
- Authorship: John the Apostle, the Presbyter, Other
- Babylon: Rome, Jerusalem, Other
- Date of Composition: Before AD70, After AD70, Composite
- Language of Origin: Greek, Syriac, Other
- Antichrist: Nero, Nero Redivivus, Nero Rediturus, Etc.
- Origin: Christian, Christian Redaction of Jewish Apocalyptic
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Alan Nairne: Essays On The Book Of Revelation Providing A Key To Its Understanding (2007)
As I have indicated throughout this paper, I believe that the gospel will triumph throughout the earth, however long it may take.
American Presbyterian Church on the Second Coming and Preterism (2012)
Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, Russell, who lived in the 19th century, was guilty of profane and vain babblings and has increased unto more ungodliness, (II Tim. 2:16-18). Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, Russell’s word eats like gangrene.
(1997)Arthur Ogden: Dating the Apocalypse
The final destruction of Jerusalem came in 70 A.D. God’s purposes and plans were all in place by this time. Nothing remained to be done.
B.W. Johnson: The People’s New Testament – Late Date of Revelation (1891)
Hence, it is no misstatement of the facts to say that the historical proof, in favor of the later date, is uniform, clear and convincing.
Bill Kalivas: Refuting the Early Writing of Revelation (1999)
We have demonstrated in our short discourse that for the “seventy weeks” to have ended at the fall of Jerusalem would have required another “break” in time, similar to how the Futurists view this prophecy.
Bill Wepfer: Which Way to the End? A Primer on Eschatology and the Message of Revelation (2018)
Forcing the Millennium upon the rest of Scripture is a high interpretive price to pay on behalf of one figurative passage in the third chapter from the Bible’s end! Maybe our Futurist brethren should count the cost before erecting such a hermeneutically expensive structure that takes glory away from Christ and His church. With these and other interpretive machinations, it is well to note exactly what is NOT in Rev20.
Brian Roy: Redating the New Testament to A.D. 47-57/58 (2006)
In dating Revelation to 95 A.D. by using Irenaeus as the primary source, I ask those who are into investigative chronology to name one commentary which cites all three of Irenaeus’ relevant quotes concerning the dating of John’s Revelation to justify its date.
C.C. Torrey: The Apocalypse of John (1958)
It is to be observed how the result thus reached―a date shortly before the year 70―confirms the explicit statement of the author of Revelation that he wrote in the time of the sixth emperor, before the seventh had come to the throne; that is, the year 68.
Chuck Schussman: When Was The Book of Revelation Written? (2016)
Most arguments for the date of Revelation only look strong to the one making them. This is true whether one supports an early or a late date.
D. Ragan Ewing: The Identification Of Babylon The Harlot In The Book Of Revelation (2002)
Given thoughtful investigation, none of the objections raised decisively precludes Jerusalem as the harlot of the Apocalypse. The burden of proof still lies on the cumulative evidence that can be used to support this interpretation.
DOV: Absolute Refutation of Preterism! (2004)
It is illogical for one to think that YAHSHUA gave this vitally important revelation less than four years before His return.
Enoch Pond: The Apocalypse – When Written and by Whom (1871)
On the whole, we find nothing, in the Apocalypse or out of it, which should lead us to think that it was written during the persecution under Nero, and that the most of it relates to his death and to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the fall of pagan Rome
Greg Bahnsen: The Historical Setting of the Writing of Revelation (1984)
the reference in Revelation to the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and the Roman Empire – all of which, in their own order, are prophesied to be destroyed. Now in 70 A.D. the Romans leveled Jerusalem and the temple, as we know from history.
H.A. Whittaker: Revelation – A Biblical Approach (1973)
All told there would seem to be a considerable preponderance of Biblical evidence in favour of interpreting this Fourth Trumpet on the same lines as the first three, i.e. with reference to God’s hammer – blows of wrath (Jeremiah 23: 29) in A.D. 70 against His rebellious people.
: 5 Key Errors of Preterism (2018)Jonathan Brentner
It’s impossible, however, to maintain that John wrote the book before AD 70. Many writers in the early centuries of the church place John’s banishment to the Isle of Patmos and the writing of Revelation late in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, who ruled over Rome from AD 81-96.
Ken Gentry: The Book of Revelation and Eschatology (2003)
With the particularity of the audience emphasized in conjunction with his message of the imminent expectation of the occurrence of the events, I do not see how a preterism of some sort can be escaped.
: The Dating of Revelation (2012)Khristian Trotter
How did we come to arrive at these misunderstandings, which have lead people to believe in the Fathers’ enforcement of the “late” date?
Lee Hodges: What is the Date of John’s Revelation? (2003)
The support for the late day advocates is twofold: the persecutions under Emperor Domitian and the testimonies of early church fathers. Edward A. McDowell uses the persecutions of Domitian for his main attack against the early date possibility. He says that the persecutions under Nero are not nearly as severe as those under Domitian.
Otto Nordgreen: Problems of the Early Date of the Apocalypse (2000)
The present paper is based on a personal letter to Mr. J. Christian Wilson, whom I would like to thank for a fruitful discussion; for his interesting comments, and informative answers to my many questions.
Stephen Whitsett: Dating the Book of Revelation (2017)
Since they lived through the events of A.D. 70, though not as eye witnesses to the events in Jerusalem, they become witnesses to what did not happen as the preterist claims it did. If the second appearing had happened, they would have all testified to it without fail.
The Muratorian Fragment (0170)
So, if the original author of the Muratorian fragment – a contemporary of Irenaeus – thought that John’s letters to the groups in Revelation preceded even some of Paul’s letters, then John must have written Revelation during the time of Nero, and not during the time of Domitian.
Tim Warner: Preterism and the Date of the Apocalypse (2003)
The preterist’s attempts to date Revelation before the destruction of Jerusalem fail on both internal and external evidence. This failure is indicative of their whole system, which is forced upon the Scriptures, and in this case, upon history as well. Preterist scholarship on this question is clearly agenda driven.
Virgil Vaduva: What’s the Date? (2003)
After these things, when the Gospel was increasing by the hands of the Apostles, Nero, the unclean and impure and wicked king, heard all that had happened at Ephesus. And he sent [and] took all that the procurator had, and imprisoned him; and laid hold of S. John and drove him into exile; and passed sentence on the city that it should be laid waste.
The 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. 20)
“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 Apocalypse, XVII).
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).
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.)
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 Præterists?”
“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).
Jonathan P. Leonard
“Late date advocates such as Charles, Swete, and Ladd, see Revelation as a response to the pressures of an empire-wide persecution initiated by Domitian.” (The Beast, p. 17)
“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.”
B.W. Johnson in The People’s New Testament
“Only two dates for the composition are named, (1.) that always assigned to it by the ancient church, near the end of the reign of the Emperor Domitian, which extended from A. D. 81 to A. D. 96, and (2.) that which has been urged by certain modern critics, the latter part of the reign of Nero, about A. D. 65-68. The first date is supported by the historical testimony. It is urged in behalf of the second that there are internal evidences in its favor, but when these are examined they are found to resolve themselves into certain theories of interpretation and were it not for the necessity of these, this date would never have been proposed. Before stating the grounds for assigning the date to the latter part of the reign of Domitian, about A. D. 95,96, I will briefly consider the reasons urged in favor of the date in the reign of Nero. (1.) It is held that the work must have been written while the temple was still standing (Re 11:1) and that chap. 11:2 and chap. 20:9 prove that the City of Jerusalem was still standing but in a state of siege. It seems strange to me that a Bible student could use this argument. Every New Testament student knows that both the temple and Jerusalem are used elsewhere as symbols of the church, and how much more likely that the terms would be used as symbols in a book which is largely composed of symbols from beginning to end! It seems strange that in a vision composed of symbols any one should insist that John on Patmos, a thousand miles distant, literally saw the temple or Jerusalem. Besides, when John in chap. 11:8 speaks of the city as “spiritually called Sodom and Egypt,” he shows that he cannot mean the literal Jerusalem. A holy city is the symbol of the church; a wicked city of an apostate church; a city trodden down by the Gentiles of a church overcome by worldly influence. The language of chap. 20:9 utterly excludes the Jewish capital in the reign of Nero.1(2.) It is held that chap. 17:11 refers to Nero, and hence a forced and, as will be shown in the text, an erroneous interpretation is made the basis for determining the date. The theory itself is skeptical in that it convicts John of holding and sanctioning a popular error. (3.) It is also urged that there are certain solecisms in the Greek original which are wanting in John’s gospel, and from this it is argued that the Revelation must have been written much earlier than the gospel, before John had fully mastered the language. Upon this point I quote from Prof. Wm. Milligan, of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, than whom, probably, no man living is a more thorough scholar in New Testament Greek: “The solecisms are not such as proceed from an ignorance of the Greek language, and they would not have been removed by greater familiarity with  it. However we attempt to account for them, they are obviously designed, and rather imply a more accurate knowledge of the grammatical forms from which they are intentional departures. At the same time there are passages in the book (as for example chap. 18) which, in their unsurpassed and unsurpassable eloquence, exhibit a command of the Greek tongue, on the part of the writer, that long familiarity with it can best explain, were explanation necessary.” (4.) It is said that the Jewish imagery belongs to John’s earlier rather than his later years. To this it may be replied that no New Testament writer shows a stronger Jewish feeling than is found in John’s gospel. It is John, who states, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22) that Jesus is “the King of Israel” (John 1:49), and Old Testament thoughts and figures constantly appear in the fourth gospel.
THE REAL DATE.
It is thus seen that the argument in favor of the early date is easily answered. On the other hand, the historical argument in favor of a later date is convincing to the mind which can be swayed by historical evidence. Commencing with the positive and definite statement of Irenæus there is unbroken agreement for nearly four centuries that the date of the work belongs to the persecution of the reign of Domitian. To properly weigh the statement of Irenæus, elected Bishop of Lyons in A. D. 178, and born in the first quarter of the second century, it is needful to keep in mind that he was a disciple of Polycarp, who suffered martyrdom in A. D. 155. In one of his letters Irenæus speaks to a fellow disciple of how intimate they had been with Polycarp and how often they had heard him tell of John the apostle, and how much they had been told of John by the aged saint who had once been under the instruction of the apostle. Hence it is apparent that Irenæus must have known from Polycarp the leading facts of John’s history, and especially the circumstances connected with his exile to Patmos. This witness, whose opportunity for knowing the facts is unquestioned, declares, “Revelation was seen no long time since, but almost in our generation, towards the end of the reign of Domitian” (A. D. 96). With this plain statement agree all the church fathers who speak of the subject, not only of the second century, but for three centuries. “There is no variation in the historical accounts. All statements support the conclusion that St. John was banished to Patmos by Domitian (A. D. 81-96)–some writers placing the exile in the fourteenth of his reign–and all agree that the Visions of which Revelation is the record were received in Patmos.”3
One writer in the fourth century makes the blunder of assigning the banishment to the reign of Claudius Cæsar, a blunder which finds no endorsers, a blunder which is supposed to have been a verbal mistake, but it is not until the sixth century that we find the opinion expressed that the banishment belonged to the persecution of the reign of Nero, and up to the twelfth century there are only two writers who endorse this date. They cannot be called witnesses, since the earliest of them was separated from the death of John by a period greater than that which separates us from the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Hence, it is no misstatement of the facts to say that the historical proof, in favor of the later date, is uniform, clear and convincing. 
The historical conclusion is corroborated by convincing internal testimony. I condense from Godet’s Bible Studies, second series, certain points which bear upon the question of Date: (1.) “The condition of the churches indicated” in the second and third chapters renders the early date improbable. These churches were not founded before A. D. 55-58. Paul wrote to two of these churches, Ephesus and Colosse, in A. D. 62 or 63; Peter wrote to all the churches of that region several years later still; Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, at Ephesus, probably as late as A. D. 67; in these letters there is no hint of John being in that section of the world, or of the spiritual decay revealed in the letters to the angels of the churches of Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea; yet this theory requires us to believe that not later than A. D. 68 or 69, John found these churches spiritually dead. There is no reasonable doubt but that the second and third chapters of Revelation describe a condition which could only have arisen a generation later than the date of Paul’s last intercourse with these churches. (2.) Godet notes the fact that an ecclesiastical organization reveals itself in the seven churches which did not reveal itself until about the close of the first century. In each church there is one man, “the angel of the church,” through whom the whole church is addressed. There is no hint of any individual enjoying a distinction like this until about the beginning of the second. (3.) The expression, “The Lord’s-day,” does not occur in the earlier apostolical writings. They always speak of the “First Day of the week” instead. The term used in A. D. 68 was “the First Day of the week,” but the writers of the second century from the beginning use “the Lord’s-day.” This term, then, points to a period near the beginning of the second century as the date of Revelation. (4.) The expressions in chap. 2:9 and 3:9 point to a complete separation between the church and the synagogue. This complete separation did not take place until the epoch of the destruction of Jerusalem. Such language as we find in these two places can only be accounted for by a fact so momentous as the overthrow of the Jewish state, and hence belongs to a later date.
This discussion might be continued, and it is of importance to any correct interpretation that the date should be clearly settled, but I believe that enough has been said to show that all the facts point to “near the end of the reign of Domitian, or about the year A. D. 96.” It might be of service to add that the persecution of Nero, as far as known, was local and confined to Rome; that death, instead of banishment, was the favorite method of punishment with him; that it is not probable that he would have put to death Paul and Peter and banished John; and that there is no evidence that John, as early as A. D. 68, had ever visited the region of the seven churches. On the other hand, the persecution of Domitian was not local; we know also that he sent other Christians into exile; we know also that the later years of John’s life were passed at Ephesus, and in the region of which it was the center.
- Date: 08 Nov 2003
- Time: 07:44:40
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 Domitian’s reign.
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.]