Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TEN REASONS TO BELIEVE REVELATION WAS WRITTEN BEFORE 70 AD



After my recent article concerning the Mark of the Beast, I was asked several questions. One of them was about the date of the writing of John’s Revelation epistle. This article will attempt to address that question and make a case for the earlier date, previous to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, as opposed to the later date under the Emperor Domitian.

Why does this matter? Well, it only matters because if Revelation is about the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, then the case can be made (as I have done) that the letter was written to warn First Century Christians of that event and to identify The Beast (Nero) and to provide prophetic context for what was soon to take place.

If, however, if it can be shown that John wrote Revelation after the fall of Jerusalem, then it must be warning Christians in future days about events that have not yet happened.
NOTE: This article was written using various sources of information, most notably, the Raptureless website - specifically THIS article -  and the radio ministry of Steve Gregg which you can find HERE.

The 10 reasons below were taken almost entirely from the Raptureless blog article linked above, but my notes and comments are found below each of them.

The Opposition

Before I share my reasons for claiming the earlier date, let’s examine why some believe it was written after the reign of Nero. First, because there is conflicting testimony concerning when John was exiled to the island of Patmos (where he wrote the epistle). Some have said that he was exiled there by Domitian (who came after Nero) and was on the island between 81 AD and 96 AD. However, there are also many historical documents that contradict that claim and say that John was exiled during the reign of Nero (before AD 70).

The strongest evidence for a later date comes from Irenaeus (120-202 AD) who claimed that John wrote his Revelation under the reign of Domitian. However, Irenaeus had a pretty lousy track record for historical accuracy. For example, he also wrote that Jesus’ ministry lasted twenty years and that he was crucified at age 50. No one takes those claims seriously, so perhaps we shouldn’t take his word for the date of John's Revelation either.

Here are 10 reasons why I believe we can confidently accept the early date of Revelation rather than the later date.

Reason 1: John Identifies Nero As The Current Emperor.

In Revelation 17:10 John says this: "They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while"

Here, John is attempting to identify the meaning of the 7 headed beast. He says that the seven heads are seven kings and then says that the previous five have died, and the sixth one is still living. If we start with Julius Caesar (the first Emperor of Rome) and start counting, we’ll find that the sixth Caesar – the one who is now ruling – is Nero.

Could it be any clearer than that?

John himself tells us that the ruler of the Roman Empire at the time he is writing his epistle is the sixth Caesar and that was none other than Nero. [See more in my article “The Mark of The Beast Revealed”]

Reason 2: The Syriac New Testament.

One of the oldest known New Testament documents is from the second century and it is called The Syriac, or the Peshitto. In this early version if you turn to the Book of Revelation you’ll see this on the title page:

"Again the revelation which was upon the holy John the Evangelist from God when he was on the island of Patmos where he was thrown by the emperor Nero."

Since Nero ruled Rome from AD 54 to AD 68, John had to have written his epistle during this time period.

Reason 3: Jewish Persecution of Christians.

The New Testament reveals that, almost from the beginning, the Jewish rulers persecuted the early church. Paul, the Apostle, was himself a member of the group that went around arresting and harassing those who followed Jesus as Messiah. This persecution by Jews continued and intensified until something drastic happened: The Jewish Temple was destroyed, Jerusalem was ravaged and the Jewish system of religion was effectively dismantled.
Because John refers to Jewish persecution in Revelation as something that Christians were still enduring at the time of his writing, this means that the Temple was still standing and therefore we can date his Revelation as being written before AD 70.

Reason 4: Judaizers Within The Church.
According to John’s epistle, Judaizers were very active at the time of his writing.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9)

“Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.” (Rev. 3:9)

This would have not been any issue if the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed when John wrote his letter.

In addition, once Paul’s letters against Judaizers (Galatians, Romans, and Ephesians) were published and circulated throughout the early church (something that we can assume came after John’s Revelation letter), this activity would not have been so easily tolerated.

So, after Paul’s letters denouncing Judaizers this would not have been an issue. The fact that John addresses the issue means that Paul’s letters had not yet been written and ciruculated. Therefore, Revelation was written before Galatians, Romans and Ephesians, which means it was Pre-AD 70.

Reason 5: The Existence of Jerusalem and the Temple.

In Revelation, Chapter 11, John is told to go and to “measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.” (v. 1)

If the Temple had been destroyed, John could not have done this. Therefore, John’s Revelation was probably written before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Reason 6: Events To Come “Shortly” and “Soon”.
All throughout Revelation, John continues to remind his readers that the events he is foreshadowing in his letter will come to pass “shortly” or “soon” or “quickly”. If he meant that these events would happen more than 2,000 years later, he certainly could have said so. But he didn’t.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place..” (Rev. 1:1)

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. “ (Rev. 1:3)

“And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (Rev. 22:10)

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)

Reason 7: Christ Seen By “Those Who Pierced Him”.

To explain this reason (and the reference above from Rev. 22:20) it’s necessary to first explain what we mean by the “Coming” of Jesus, as opposed to the “Return of Christ” at the End of the World.

There are several references throughout the entire Bible to judgment events as “the coming of God”. For example, in the OT we find prophecies about God’s judgment against certain nations expressed this way:
“Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.” (Isaiah 19:1)

Did God actually ride on a cloud and attack Egypt? No. But the Assyrian army did attack Egypt in fulfillment of this prophecy around the 7th century BC.
It’s in the same way that Jesus says that he will “come in the clouds” to bring judgment against Jerusalem for rejecting him and his gospel. For example, Jesus tells the High Priest that he will personally see Jesus coming on the clouds with power:

“Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)

This was a promise made to a certain man, Caiphas, the High Priest: “You will see the Son of Man…coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus also prophesied during his Olivet Discourse, (which is all about the destruction of the temple), the following:

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:30)

So, having said all of that, let’s look at what John says in Revelation:

“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)

Here, John says that the same people who crucified Christ will see him “coming in the clouds” which not only aligns with Jesus’ own words, but also points to a coming Judgment against Jerusalem by using the phrase “coming in the clouds” as a reference to those OT passages above.

Just for the record, “those who pierced him” were not alive in AD 96 when some believe John wrote Revelation. How do we know this? Because they were all killed in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Therefore, “those who pierced him” were still alive before AD 70 and that means John had to have written his letter when they were still living.

Reason 8: John’s Condition In AD 96.

We know from the writings of Jerome (an early Church Father), that John the Apostle was seen in AD 96 and that he was quite frail, saying:

"…he was with difficulty carried to the church, and could speak only a few words to the people.”

However, if we read Revelation 10:11 John says:
“(I must) prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."
If John wrote Revelation in AD 96, when we have an eyewitness who says he was barely able to walk or speak at that time, then how could John continue to speak to anyone in that condition?

However, if John wrote Revelation in AD 70, he had many years of life left to speak to many nations and kings about the Gospel of Jesus before AD 96.

Reason 9: Daniel’s Prophecy.
When the prophet Daniel was given his prophecy by the angel of God, he is told to "seal up the vision, for it is a long way off" (See Daniel 12:4). But the things he wrote about were only about 483 years away. Yet John is told “not to seal up the vsion”. Why? Because he is told his prophecy “concerns things which must shortly come to pass.” (See Rev. 22:10).

If the events in John’s prophecy were just a few years away (10 or 20 years time), then all of this would make sense. However, if Daniel’s prophecy was sealed because it was “a long way off” (483 years), it makes no sense that John’s prophecy was NOT sealed if it “must shortly come to pass” more than 2,000 years later?!

For this reason, I believe that John’s Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Reason 10: Only Seven Churches?

John’s letter begins with a series of specific messages given by Jesus to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor. If John’s epistle were written after AD 70, say in AD 96 as some suggest, there would have been many, many more churches in that region than just seven.

IN CONCLUSION

These are the ten best reasons for accepting the early date for the writing of John’s Revelation and for interpreting the events found in this epistle as being fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70.

Future articles will answer the following questions:

*What about the claim that apocalyptic events would be the worst that have ever been or ever would be again?

*How do the events in Revelation compare to the actual, historical destruction of Jerusalem?

*If Revelation has already been fulfilled, then what is there left to look forward to?

Any other questions? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thanks!

kg

5 comments:

Taco Verhoef said...

Are the other articles already written if so, links please :)

Keith Giles said...

Not yet! Hope to get to those sometime this year...

benny cephas said...

I want verses of syria version mentioned persecution by Nero

Anonymous said...

Revelation is a completed work. Yes it foretells the fall of the city and persecution of the Jews, but it is also the testimony of Jesus. The fulfillment, the doing away with the old and sin and death. The ten kings being the ten commandments that gave the 7 headed beast their power to judge our sins that were upon Jesus at the cross. What do you see as the abomination of desolation?

Anonymous said...

Julias caser was never an actual Emperor of Rome officially.

This list of actual Roman Emperors is fully known to have started with Augustus by modern historians as the Roman Empire made that clear in records.

The bible also prophesied this in the book of Daniel where it states that in the days of the ten kings ( of Rome the fourth kingdom) God was to setup his kingdom .

This setting up of the kingdom of God was by its anouncment by Jesus Christ himself in his proclamation of the Kingdom of God in his mission as recorded in the new testemant.
TRUE TO THE PROPHECY IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL Jesus himself was born in the later reign of the first Emperor AUGUSTUS CEASER the first of those ten kings.


SO JOHNS BOOK THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST WAS WRITTEN AFTER 70 Ad as Julias ceaser was not meant by the ten kings for they started with Augustus and not he.


For the seven heads/ horns ( kings) on the beast being shown as Five already fallen must be refering to the second dynasty, the one king that is in Johns day being the 11 Emperor of Rome Dontian who called himself The Lord God and so a type of antichrist prophesied Due to being the literal 11 Emperor of Daniels fourth beast empire. the 11 horn was the actual historic little horn of Daniel's prophecy that Johns book of the revelation of Jesus Christ expounded upon , showing the spirit of antichrist was the factor in those seven, mostly rearing its head in the sixth, then under Nerva abating a little time, the coming in full in the one who took over the entire beast, the 8th king the papacy, whom fulfilled in full the little horn prophecy in Daniel, or which Domitian was although historically the 11 th horn of that prophecy of the ten kings nad little horn , only fulffiled in part for although the prophecies of that little horn could be said to have been fulffilled by Domitian all bit one was not, that being the prophetic length of the little horns rule being the time times and half a time of 3.5 years or 42 months of 1260 days which being only a prophetic number actually meant the years of the papal rule of exactly 1260 years under the supremacy laws given the pope by rome itself which ended on the exact end as speciafied by the prophecy, the time length being fron 538 ad to the abolishment of the papacy under the french directive in 1798 ad. Which is exactly 1260 prophetic days the key being the day for the year principle of scripture i.e 1260 dayd = 1260 years.