TIME: THE HEROES
WHEN DID JOHN WRITE REVELATION? Who wrote Revelation is relatively certain. Although not everyone agrees, the most ancient evidence points to the apostle John. When the apostle John wrote Revelation is far less certain. Unlike books today, no one placed copyright dates in copies of biblical texts! To decide the approximate date when this biblical text was written, scholars compare what’s inside the book with what was happening in the world outside the book. In the case of Revelation, that process results in two primary possibilities:
Evidence that Revelation may have been written during the reign of Emperor Nero (54–68)
Evidence that Revelation may have been written during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81–96)
An ancient ascription: A fifth-century version of Revelation in the Syriac language refers to the book as “the Revelation given by God to John the Gospel-writer, on the island of Patmos where he was banished by Emperor Nero.” It is possible that this ascription preserves an earlier tradition.
The testimony of Irenaeus: The secondcentury writer Irenaeus of Lyons—a student of Polycarp, who knew the apostle John— reported that John wrote Revelation while in exile during Domitian’s reign.14
Persecution of Christians: It seems that Christians may have been in the early stages of a time of persecution when John wrote Revelation (1:9; 2:2–3, 9–10, 13; 3:8–10). Nero instigated the first imperial persecution of Christians in AD 64; this persecution lasted until Nero’s death in 68.
Worship of the Roman emperor: Hints can be found throughout Revelation that Christians may have been coerced to worship the emperor (13:4, 14–17; 14:9; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). Nero was never worshiped as divine in his lifetime. Worship of the emperor does seem to have occurred during Domitian’s reign, in the AD 80s and 90s. Coins from Domitian’s reign refer to Domitian as “father of the gods.” An idol of Domitian may have been constructed in the city of Ephesus.
The temple in Jerusalem: If Revelation had been written in the AD 90s, it seems that John might have mentioned the fall of the Jewish temple that occurred in AD 70. The wording of Revelation 11:1–2 suggests to some scholars that the temple in Jerusalem was still standing when John wrote this book.
The church of Laodicea: The description of Laodicea’s self-sufficiency may reflect a time in the AD 80s when the Laodiceans rebuilt their city with no outside assistance after an earthquake (Revelation 3:17).
Published on Jul 20, 2011
Selected Sample Pages from the NEW Rose Guide to End Times Prophecy by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, Associate Professor, Southern Baptist Theolog...