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.

Dating the Book of Revelation

A Futurist answer for Ed Steven’s A.D. 62 Date as Presented to the Blue Point Preterist Conference 2017

By Stephen Whitsett M.Div.

The dating for the book becomes paramount when its understood that the Preterists paradigm can not exist with out the early date.  Partial preterism and other Eschatological forms necessitate that The Olivet also be part of the Revelation narrative to prove it happened soon. Debates have flourished and books written that some claim prove the early date, as they examine external and internal evidence to prove their case.

In 2017 at the Blue Point Preterist Conference, Ed Stevens presented his claim for a A.D. 62 as the date of the writing and formulates his argument. In the first section, like all preterists, argue from time statements as being the necessary presupposition that forces the early date as being with in that generation. Since it was prophesied to happen soon then it had to have happened soon. In defense, I do not have to explain soon, at hand, or quickly, until I have understood the historical narrative as the events contradict the idea that the second appearing must happen in that generation.

The majority of Ed Stevens claim for the early date in this paper revolves around internal evidence. Like most preterists they discount the claims of the early church since they were not inspired, yet go to external sources to prove the A.D. 70 events from Josephus, who argues he testifies to the second coming of Christ. Meanwhile Early Church Fathers for the first three hundred years testified that events of Revelation are yet future (Irenaeus; Against Heresies Ca 150, Book V Chpt 30.) and assert Jerusalem was torn down according to the prophecies of Jesus. (EusebiusHistory of the Church Book 3 Chpt. 7)[1] Yet every Early Church Father held to the future view of the Second Appearing. It is for this reason Preterist seek to discredit every Early Church Father and Ed Stevens does the same,

But very little of that uninspired patristic testimony carries any weight, simply because most of it can not be confirmed at the mouth of two or more reliable first century eyewitnesses.

How do we define reliable? If we have several independent sources that speak in testimony to the same fact the preterist job is then to prove these men unreliable in order to dismiss their testimony with a clean conscience. If we find two independent reliable testimonies of witnesses will Ed retract his statements?

In Eusebius work, History of the Church, Book Three specifically, he quotes from many sources concerning historical facts and lends credibility to Josephus account as being accurate by quoting from him extensively in his third book of the History of the Church. He verifies many facts known from history while inserting his own opinions but his facts are verified by two or three witnesses. Because of the facts he presents are verifiable by other witnesses we find Eusebius very reliable in his presentation of historical facts. His whole historical treaties are based on the works of other men, down through the years, and their testimonies to the facts of history. In fact, Ed finds him so credible he actually quotes him in his paper.

In the written works of these Early Church Father (A.D. 70, through A.D. 325) when ever the second appearing is mentioned they all agreed to a yet future fulfillment. A bodily resurrection and return of Christ is commonly understood among them an expressed as the hope of the believer.

Barnabas Epistle of Barnabas Chpt 16 (Ca 70-90) “It has so happened. For through their going to war, it was destroyed by their enemies; and now: they, as the servants of their enemies, shall rebuild it. Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were to be given up. For the Scripture says, And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, and their sheep-fold and tower, to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken.”

(Chpt 15) When His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.

Clement of Rome [2] letter to the Corinthians, Chpt 23 (Ca 70-99) “Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, speedily will He come, and will not tarry; and, The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom you lookMalachi 3:1

There is no way that Ed can say with a straight face that Barnabas or Clement are unreliable. Reading of their works simply demonstrate sound Christian men.

While we understand these statements are not historical facts but matters of faith, based on their own observation, in which they never testified to a second appearing in A.D. 70, instead these are the testimonies of men of the Bible, who lived through the A.D. 70 and were righteous men of good reputation and who based on their letters had not fallen in apostasy, all affirm their whole-hearted belief in a future coming of Christ. 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. Paul taught the whole church would experience the Second Appearing, Resurrection, and John even stated He would see him at his coming, these events were not to be confined to Jerusalem alone.

The Preterist must answer why John, Clement, Barnabas and other men missed the second coming being sound in the faith that was handed down to them?


Concerning John 

Eusebius History of the Church Book Three 23.2 “And that he was still alive at that time may be established by the testimony of two witnesses. They should be trustworthy who have maintained the orthodoxy of the Church; and such indeed were Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria.

So let’s examine the text from which Eusebius quotes from. 

Irenaeus; Against Heresies (Ca 150) Book 2.22.5 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. 

Clement of Alexandria What Rich Man can be Saved (Ca 150-215) 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.

  (IF Nero is the Tyrant, Nero died in 68. John would not have been released until after Nero had died, and yet by testimony we have no case where Nero would have exiled anyone, let alone released them and still sentencing many Christians to the coliseum to be killed. Then there is not enough time in 68 for him to write the book, return, and then send it to the churches[3] as a warning, as the events of Revelation are already in full bloom according to the Preterist paradigm.

Ed claims, “John was most likely exiled to Patmos as a result of Ananus II’s arrest of “James and some of his companions” [Antiq. 20:200 (20.9.1)].Josephus tells us that James the brother of Jesus, along with some of his companions, was arrested at Passover (April) in 62 AD. John was one of the apostles who was still in Jerusalem at the time, and was most likely one of those “companions” (fellow apostles or relatives of Jesus) who was arrested at that time and exiled to Patmos.”

So checking Ed’s source, from Josephus, it actually says, “brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:”

Ed claims he was sent by Ananus II’s to Patmos, before 62,  Ananus was only high Priest for three months. And what he did to James was  he delivered them to be stoned. It never says a word about being exiled.

IN Eusebius, History of the Church, Book 2 Chpt 23 he gives two accounts by Clement and Hegesippus of how James was killed by being thrown from the temple, and then beaten with a club.

Which version are we to believe? And why does Ed state that there exiled when the text he cites says no such thing?

From these quotes above three things are established because of the testimony of Christian men:

Eusebius accurately records the words of Clement and Irenaeus and establishes his reliability in relating facts.  As we go through Eusebius works it completely demonstrates his reliability as many of his claims are verifiable from other sources.

John lived beyond 70 A.D. as we have the testimony of two men to that historical fact. By Ed’s own statement, we have two testimonies that confirm the facts and should be accepted.

John was on the Island of Patmos after A.D. 70.

Eusebius History of the Church Book Three Chpt 17/ 18 Domitian, having shown great cruelty toward many, and having unjustly put to death no small number of well-born and notable men at Rome, and having without cause exiled and confiscated the property of a great many other illustrious men, finally became a successor of Nero in his hatred and enmity toward God. He was in fact the second that stirred up a persecution against us, although his father Vespasian had undertaken nothing prejudicial to us. It is said that in this persecution 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.

Ed states, The book of Revelation needed to be written before John’s death during the Neronic Persecution (64-66 AD). Papias (the late first and early second century patristic writer) said that John was “killed by the Jews”.

There is no record of Papias stating that John was killed by the Jews from any fragment of Papias himself. You can examine his words for yourself[4]. Most of His works has disappeared from History except for fragments and quotes made by others of Papias. So what we do have is fifth century ecclesiastical historian Philip of Side and the ninth-century monk George Hamartolos[5] both stated that Papias had written that John was “slain by the Jews.” in book 5. The quote from Philip of Side, Fragments[6], Pg 18

Papias is mistaken about the Millennium as is Irenaeus because of him. Papias in the second book says that John the Theologian and James his brother were killed by Jews.

Note: This statement does not demand a pre-70 AD Date but is assumed by reason of argumentation. John could have been killed by Jews after A.D. 70.

By implication of the context Philip might be addressing Papias as also wrong about John being killed by the Jews. Secondly Steven’s demanded above for first or second century testimony, two or more reliable first century eyewitnesses, yet offers up fifth century writers as evidence for something he believes Papias was possibly wrong about.

But this view of John dying before A.D. 70 goes against what John recorded in his own gospel,
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

 If the words of Jesus are true then John lived up through the AD 70 “coming”.


John and Ephesus

And further, there was a certain man with us, (Ephesus) whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Justin Martyr (Ca 130-165) Dialogue with TyphoChpt 81 Parentheses added for clarification.

John, moreover, who reclined on the Lord’s bosom, and who became a priest wearing the mitre, and a witness and a teacher-he rests at Ephesus. – Polycrates 196 AD[7]

Bishops (Historical record of the Church of Ephesus)

  1. Apollos
  2. Paul (3 years)
  3. Apostle St. Timothy of the Seventy (62-80?)
  4. Apostle St. Onesimus of the Seventy (80?-97?)
  5. Apostle St. Gaius of the Seventy (80?-96?)
  6. Apostle and Evangelist St. John the Theologian (62-100?)
    A. Domitian (81-96)

In the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 12:1-17 52-55). It’s at this time its believed that John went to Asia.

Ed also states, “It was not a very long boat ride to Patmos from Judea (two or three weeks at most). He would have been there by the beginning of summer (June) 62, and could have written the Apocalypse shortly after arriving (summer 62).”

Revelation 1:9 “…was on the island called Patmos.” The text clearly indicates the book was written while John was on the Island. Eusebius records it was the practice of some rulers upon there ascension to the throne undid what others had done before them. We know that Nero committed suicide in 68, Would John have been released after his death?

“10. 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.

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. Eusebius Church History Book Three Chpt 10-11.

It should also be noted that Ed, while dismissing the early church fathers, quotes from Eusebius, 3.5.3 to prove that the Saints were warned beforehand to flee from Jerusalem. Yet within the same text he ignores what is argumentative against Preterism. 


An Answer

If the book was written in AD 95 (like futurists think) then they will have to find some major event which happened shortly after 95 AD which was significant enough to call it “the Second Coming”, the death of one of the horns of the Beast, the destruction of the Great City Babylon, and the end of a very threatening great tribulation which would see a great multitude of martyrs killed from every nation! How did all four of those things occur shortly after 95 AD?

These questions are predicated on the meaning of “shortly” “quickly”, “at hand” as if that is the guiding factor in determining when things are to take place. If we have no record of the exact events taking place in A.D. 70 as described in Revelation then we can assume we are missing something in the translation because if John said they were to happen soon then they were to happen soon.

We have testimony from Christian men that John lived up to about 100 AD, We have these reliable men also testifying that John was on the Island during the reign of Domitian, who preceded Trajan. We have these same men testifying to a future bodily return of Christ and a bodily resurrection based on scriptural interpretation.

Looking at the events in A.D. 70 there is no fulfillment of the Second Coming (no one saw HIM), the end of the Beast, (no Roman ruler died in 70) the destruction of Babylon, (Rome) and the end of the Tribulation (Roman tribulation continued until A.D. 325) . None of these events happened in AD 70 therefore if they were to happen soon then, why didn’t they?

Instead of gaining a fuller understanding of time statements in the light of none fulfillment the Preterist chooses to change the meaning of the events and the nature of their fulfillment to prove they did happen.

This historical revision is easy to demonstrate, Ed states, “And as a matter of historical fact, Josephus documented the very “day and hour” of His appearance in the sky with His angelic armies [Josephus Wars 6.299-300 (6.5.3)].

There are four fundamental flaws in this statement.

1. According to Acts 1:11I Thess 4, It is Jesus himself that descends to earth. Not some clouds swirling around in the sky. Zech 14:4 states his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.

2. Johns says, “we shall see him” (I John 3:2), John is not living in Jerusalem still he claims that he would have seen him when he comes. So clouds over head in Jerusalem would not be seen in Asia. And we must ask why John who we have proven lived beyond A.D. 70 never declared Jesus returned. Was he that “apostate” that he no longer recognized the one he loved? Or no longer “loved his appearing”?

So if Jesus appeared overhead in Jerusalem how can John claim to have seen him?

3. Josephus never claimed to see Jesus Himself in the sky when he supposedly appeared. You can say Josephus records the day and hour of his appearance, yet he does not appear as a cloud or as a chariot but as Jesus himself when he does come.

It was not angelic armies that were to come but the resurrected saints, “And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.” Rev 19:14

…It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Rev 19:8

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their handsRev 7:9

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7:13-14

While Preterists claim we do not pay attention to “time statements”, it’s obvious from someone of Ed Stevens caliber, who willfully chooses to ignore many passages that speak to the subject of His appearing, suffer from the same mental deficiency.

Here is another problem, Ed states, “Therefore, this appearance of the two witnesses in Jerusalem must have occurred after the Zealots were in total control of the city, in late 69 and afterwards to the end of the war.”

Revelation 11.3 states, “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

1, 260 is 3 ½ years, 42 months. AD 69 plus 42 months equals AD 72 ½ so according to Ed, Jesus return late in A.D. 72 when the war ended. (not). It would seem he is so preoccupied with proving he forgets the actual scriptures.

But rather than heed the message, the Zealots killed the messengers, and then their real troubles began to multiply out of their control. – Ed Steven’s

Rev 11: 7And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, – Not Zealots in the city.

The rest of his arguments? I think it is proven from what I have addressed thus far, that the rest of what he states also has their flaws.



Having read Before Jerusalem Fell, The Book of Revelation from Foy Wallacethe same inconsistent errors are repeated. For example, Gentry addresses the quote from Irenaeus, and concludes no definite answer can be determined, From the context of the book what is being discussed by Irenaeus is clear , The Revelation of John.

Irenaeus; Against Heresies (Ca 150) Book 2.22.5 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.           

Irenaeus establishes that John was seen during the reign of Trajan. If again John wanted to reiterate that John lived up to the time of Trajan the following would have been unnecessary.

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. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3

Notice he first attributes John living to the time of Trajan, but places the seeing of the vision during the reign of Domitian. Did you catch the power of that?

So for arguments sake lets replace the “him” and “that” with specifics.

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 JOHN who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For John was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign


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 JOHN who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For the apocalyptic vision was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign

 It was not John who was seen near the end of Domitian’s reign since he has already established John was seen up the time of Trajan. The context is about the Antichrist and his name which comes from the Revelation. Those who argue for the former do so to simply cast doubts on Irenaeus reliability or the translation unreliability.

Even still we have another statement again that provides evidence that John lived at least till A.D. 98. IF the vision was seen then it was seen near their time it was seen by John.


We have testimony that every Early Church Father believed in a future coming and bodily resurrection of the dead. (no one believed it happened in A.D. 70)

Reliable men testified to their belief, after living through AD 70 events in different cities, of a future coming of Christ and that Jerusalem was destroyed according to the prophecies of Christ.

We have the written testimony of several Christian men that John lived about to the time of Trajan. (A.D. 100)

We have written testimony that John ministered in Asia, specifically Ephesus and was on the Island of Patmos during the reign of Domitian, and returned to Ephesus after he was released.

We have testimony and a tomb where John died in Ephesus.
We have testimony John fled Jerusalem before A.D. 70 and ministered in Asia.

But we are asked to believe by the Preterist they were all wrong in every one of these areas. That every testimony was a lie, recorded by fake Christian men who died for their faith in horrible ways for claiming to be Christian even to the point of death. That no real church existed after AD 70.

If all one has to do is read any post A.D. 70 written work of these men proves the preterist the liar concerning the faithfulness of these men.

We have no testimony of anyone who claimed to have seen Jesus return in A.D. 70, or that a resurrection happened, even from John himself who said he would see him.

We have no testimony that John died prior to A.D 70 or that he saw the vision prior.

We have inspired men who seemed to have quoted from the Book of Revelation yet can be agued that by inspiration they wrote what they did, and it was possible John who by the inspiration of the same Spirit wrote the same in his written account of the vision[8]. We also know many of those NT books were in wide distribution by A.D. 100.

After reading many other claims and works of other men regarding the dating, most of which is in favor of the early dating, the preponderance of their evidence created or invented is to discredit the reliability of these early men and confuse personal belief statements as on the same level of historical facts.  In both cases when we compare the historical facts they present and eschatological beliefs common agreement is found among them as noted above.

When we address internal statements, we come to the conclusion that every instance of presentation of truth that proves early date to the preterist, is actually contrived interpretation by presupposition. Revelation 11, the temple, has long been held by the church theologians to represent the church in heaven, yet the Preterist claims it is the literal temple on earth, (Rev1.1 the temple of God / Rev 11:19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened)

The rejection of the Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutic in exchange for the preterist hermeneutic completely undoes what the church has taught for 2000 years. Why change the rules of Hermeneutics if the intent of the authors is that plain? I guess that would be the point, preterist claim the plain language is not to be accepted but the spiritual meaning they place behind the words and then declare that was the intent of the Author’s meaning as if they alone truly understand scriptures.

I would then conclude the invented preterist paradigm is not what the Apostles entrusted to good men. The claims of Preterism is false in every aspect except one. Jerusalem was destroyed according to the prophecies of Jesus as recorded in the Olivet discourse.

“Preterist are like a broken clock, right twice a day, but who relies on a broken clock to tell time?”

Stephen Whitsett M.Div.


[1] Justin Martyr (A.D.150-165) The First Apology, Chpt 18 since we expect to receive again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth, for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible. – Future Bodily Resurrection.

[2] According to church tradition Clement and Barnabas of these letters are the same men mentioned in scriptures.

[3] Him writing to the seven churches is evidence that he was ministering among them and not in Jerusalem.


[5] No English translation is found



[8] Do we not find the same, quotation of Mark in Mathew? Who wrote first? Mark.

2 Replies to “Stephen Whitsett: Dating the Book of Revelation (2017)”

  1. Or, many of the new testament books are said to have been written after 70ad. If that is true , these writers surely would have mentioned the destruction of Jerusalem. Appearantly , all the books of new testament were written before 70ad. Many post 70ad christian fathers also taught the destruction of the temple was proof Christ had returned. And the fact that , also many were still looking for His return, just means they were like us, they expected something quit different that what happened. A spiritual return was not in their mind set.

  2. I’m pretty sure if the Temple had been destroyed and Jerusalem sacked by the Romans, John would’ve mentioned that in Revelation. That would’ve been big news, would it not?! Instead he directs them(“That” generation) to go and measure the temple. What? How can you measure something already destroyed? You can’t. I find it humorous and desperate on the part of the Pret-deniers that they’ll quote Irenauos as proof of a late writing and then ignore the fact that he states that Jesus lived to be 50 and had a 15 year ministry. C’mon guys you can’t have it both ways. Cognitive dissidence is a tough nut to crack, but I use to be a dispensationalists too and I got out. They should also clarify that ONLY Hyper-Prets believe all prophecy has already happened and they are the minority in the Pret World. Don’t paint us with such a broad brush. I myself only believe some of the prophecies have been completely fulfilled while others are still, “Now, but not yet”. In other words they have been started but not yet completed. I know some Disp’s think if they except that most everything already happened 70 AD that they won’t have any hope, but that’s not true. I myself am much happier and at peace without having to watch every political world event or leader and wonder if they are the anti-Christ and that the tribulation may be upon us. Tribulation has already taken place and we still yet have hope.

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