The Date of the Revelation to John | Notes on the Apocalypse of John
Although many scholars accept a date in the AD ‘90’s, I accept a date in the AD ‘60’s for reasons I’ll here outline. Examining the date of the Revelation will help us better understand the meaning.
The spiritual status of the churches.
Many believe that an early date of Revelation is not possible because the churches in Asia have significantly declined spiritually. However, Paul told the Galatian Christians, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel” (Gal 1:6). Churches can quickly decline spiritually.
Many claim that the Nicolaitans whom Jesus condemned could have existed only have the ‘60’s. However, the teaching of the Nicolaitans existed in the ‘60’s. The Nicolaitans taught that one could eat meat sacrificed to idols and could practice sexual immorality. Th Jerusalem Council (AD 51) centered around such teaching. 2 Peter (AD 64-66) deals with teaching similar to that of the Nicolaitans.
The church in Laodicea was an extremely rich church. However, an earthquake leveled the city in AD 60-61, and many writers maintain that the church could not be described as rich just a few years later.
However, those who write such overlook important information. Tacitus said that Laodicea recovered from the earthquake without assistance from Rome. If the city rebuilt itself after the earthquake, that would be all the more reason to boast about their wealth.
Revelation 17 plays an important role in determining when the book should be dated.
Revelation 17:9-10 states: “This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while.” If one can determine which was the sixth Roman emperor, one can ascertain when Revelation was written. However, scholars are divided over who was the sixth emperor. Some scholars consider Julius Caesar the first emperor, while others consider Augustus the first emperor.
Revelation 13:18 points to a writing shortly after the reign of Nero ended.
This text says: “This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.” When one places Nero’s title into Hebrew, his title number is 666. We should not be surprised to find his title in Hebrew since John was a Hebrew himself, and this book contains many affinities with Hebrew.
Revelation seems to have been written prior to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
John was told to measure the temple, the altar, and those who worshiped there; he was not to measure the outside court for that court would be given to the nations who would trample the holy city for forty-two months. John clearly portrays the literal city of Jerusalem as the city under discussion—it is the “holy city” and the Lord was crucified there.
From this evidence it appears that John wrote Revelation around AD 68-69.