Monday, April 27, 2009

When Was Revelation Written?

Most modern scholars believe that Revelation was written around AD 95. Obviously, if Revelation was written after AD 70, then the book could not be a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.

The arguments concerning the date of Revelation are very technical, on both sides. Nevertheless, there is one fairly obvious point in favor of a pre-AD 70 date.

Revelation 17:10 tells us when the book was written.

“There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time” (Revelation 17:10).

This verse is referring to seven kings, who are emperors of Rome. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has yet to come. This means that five have died. The sixth is currently reigning. The seventh is not yet ruling.

Claudius was the fifth emperor of Rome, and he died in AD 54. Nero was the sixth emperor, and he reigned from AD 54-68. The book of Revelation was written during his Nero’s reign.

Kenneth Gentry has written an entire book, Before Jerusalem Fell, defending a pre-AD 70 dating of the book of Revelation. He compiles a ton of evidence that many find convincing.

At the end of the day, neither side can absolutely prove when Revelation was written. It is best to keep an open mind, to study the contents of the book, and to see what the book points us toward.

As we will see throughout this study and especially this morning, the content of Revelation itself not only fits in a pre-AD 70 time period, but it only fits in a pre-AD 70 time period.


Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Eric, another most compelling fact that is proof to me the Book of Revelation was written on or before 70AD, was the fact that John didn’t mention it in his writing of Revelation. If Revelation was written in 95 AD, as most dispensationalist attest to, and we know by historical evidence that Titus and the Roman legion destroyed the city of Jerusalem in about 70AD, then why was most monumental event for the Jewish nation at that time, aside from the Resurrection of Christ, not mentioned?

Eric Adams said...

Woody, that is a powerful point. In this series, I have chosen not to spend much time on trying to date Revelation because I think the content speaks for itself.

Clifford said...

Interesting... I don't find the fact that John doesn't mention the Temple's destruction compelling at all (if the book were written after the fact). What John writes is under the direction of the Holy Spirit. John's writing is foremost to seven churches in Asia Minor, and his concern is their perseverance and faithfulness to Christ in the midst of intense persecution and animosity toward Christians.

To this point what I've found is that preterists and ammillenialists date Revelation around AD 65-67 and premillennialists date Revelation around AD 90-95. What is difficult is finding persuasive arguments (evidence) from persons without a theological position that needs defending. I suppose the lack of objective evidence is an indication that no such evidence exists. So then, it largely does boil down to how does Revelation best fit with what has been revealed in the rest of Scripture?

Eric Adams said...

The majority position today is that it was written in the 90's.

There is quite a bit of evidence. Check out Kenneth Gentry's "Before Jerusalem Fell."

But, yes, ultimately, it is best to compare with Scripture. If you read the rest of my entries, I make a case that it was written in the 60's from the text itself.

Patriarch said...

Mr. Adams,
I admire your tenancity in this field of study. But there was a statement in your original post that made me wonder; "This verse is referring to seven kings, who are emperors of Rome". I don't mean any offense, but, how do you know that these 'kings' are direct references to contemporary Roman Caesars? I have a hard time conceding this direct reference especially because in the following verse (17:11), the 'beast' upon which these 'heads' sit "...once was, and now is not." How can the 'beast' not currently exist at the time of composition while it's 'head' does exist? If we're going to use one form of interpretation in a verse, we're compelled to continue that format throughout the passage. Again, I mean no offense, but this just doesn't make sense to me.

window said...

Pastor Eric,
One argument against the seven kings being the Roman emperors is that the eighth "king" is the beast that was, and is not, yet is. (Rev.11) The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. Emperor Galba (the eighth "king") doesn't sound like the beast.

MDB said...

That the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple having no mention in the Revelation proves that it was written pre A. D. 70 raises another question. Since one of the express purposes of Revelation was "to show unto His servants the things which must shortly come to pass," and that there is still no mention of an event so imminent and so profound, is more astounding than if its mention were overlooked after the fact.

Since preterists deny that gaps exist, e. g., between Daniel's 69th and 70th week, and clearly this destruction lies outside of the 70 weeks, it is much more reasonable for those who disallow gaps, to allow a 30 year gap, than it is to allow a two millenia gap.

I think, rather, that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple are the express fulfillment of the requirement of Deuteronomy 13:1-3, ratifying Jesus earthly ministry, as That Prophet, in the setting aside of Israel by the cutting out of the natural branches of the olive tree, and the engrafting of the Church as God's witness to the world (Romans 11).

To those who believe the the Church is "True Israel" I have this question: Who, as touching the election, are beloved for the fathers' sakes? (Romans 11:28) Answer: None other than those who, as concerning the Gospel are enemies for your sakes. Therefore, boast not against the branches; be not highminded but fear, for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest He also spare not you. And, lest you be wise in your own conciet, brethren, I would not have you ignorant of this mystery. The olive tree symbolizes testimony, and the oil of the olive is for the light of the lamp. It is witness, not salvation, spoken of here. The fulness of the Gentiles runs concurrent with the cutting out of the wild branches and the overturning of the blindness is Israel. Then they will again be the witness bearers of the Gospel to the world.

raheem amam said...

The idea that Revelation was written in the reign of Nero has much to say in its favor, but there is another view that may fit the data as well or better.
One reason is that, although Julius Caesar was a famous Roman leader, he didn’t actually have the title “emperor.”
If the heads of the beast are identified with the line of Roman emperors then we should start it with the first emperor, who was Julius’s successor, Augustus.
If we do that, we get:
1. Augustus (fallen)
2. Tiberius (fallen)
3. Caligula (fallen)
4. Claudius (fallen)
5. Nero (fallen)
6. Galba (currently reigning)
7. Otho (will reign only a little while)
8. Vitellius (somehow seen as a return of one of the seven)
This would date the book of Revelation very precisely, to the seven months that Galba reigned, between June of A.D. 68 and January of A.D. 69.
Otho would then be the emperor who reigns for only a little while, which, indeed, he did—just three months.
And it would make Vitellius the emperor who is somehow seen as a return of one of the first seven and who goes to destruction.
That also fits. Vitellius was also a friend of Nero, and upon becoming emperor he celebrated Nero’s memory and imitated his style of governance. He publicly offered funerary offerings to Nero, and at the accompanying banquet demanded that Nero’s songs be played, at which point he was the first to applaud. He even jumped for joy.
Vitellius also signaled his intention to outdo even Nero himself in one respect, saying that Nero’s lavish Golden House wasn’t enough for him and he needed better.
He also went swiftly to destruction. After reigning eight months, he was killed by the troops of his successor, the emperor Vespasian.