that the Book of Revelation is primarily a prophecy about the Roman war against
the Jews in Israel that began in a.d.
67 and ended with the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70. In
order for Revelation to be a prediction of the future (Rev. 1:1, 3, 11, 19;
22:6-10, 16, 18-20) and if it was fulfilled by August a.d. 70, then it had to have been written by a.d. 65 or 66 for the preterist
interpretation to even be a possibility.
Preterist Ken Gentry has noted this major weakness when he said of
fellow early date advocate David Chilton, " if it could be demonstrated that
Revelation were written 25 years after the Fall of Jerusalem, Chilton's entire
labor would go up in smoke."  Actually, all one would have to do is
to show that Revelation was written any time after the destruction of Jerusalem.
interpretation is not dependant upon the date of Revelation since it does not
matter when these events take place since they are still future to our own
time. However, the date of
Revelation is essential to the preterist position and explains why they are so
focused upon defending an early date.
There are two lines of evidence: external (evidence from outside the
Revelation) and internal (evidence from inside the Revelation).
overwhelming consensus of scholarship believes that Revelation was written well
after a.d. 70. Most have concluded that Revelation was
written around a.d. 95, primarily
because of the statement by early church father Irenaeus (a.d. 120-202) around a.d. 180.
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 not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of
It is important
to note that Irenaeus was from Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Apostle John was also from Ephesus
in Asia Minor. Irenaeus was
discipled in the faith by Polycarp who was discipled by the Apostle John. Thus, there is a direct link between
the one who wrote Revelation and Irenaeus. This strongly supports the credibility of Irenaeus and his
statement. Significantly, no other
tradition relating to the date of Revelation developed or gained a following in
this part of the world. This is
the very area to which the Revelation was given. Later, other traditions developed in the territories of
Christendom of a different time of the writing of Revelation. However, these were areas where
Revelation was not taken as literally as in Asia Minor. It appears logical that if the theory
teaching an earlier date of Revelation were genuine, then it should have had a
witness to it in Asia Minor and would have begun earlier than the fifth and
sixth centuries. If the early date
were really true, then it would have had a 30-year head start to establish
itself within early church tradition.
However, that is not what happened. Such reality argues against the early date view and is a
strong support for the late date view.
for Irenaeus' statement is seen in some of the early enemies of Irenaeus'
interpretation of Revelation.
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius, to name just a few, support
Irenaeus' statement of a Domitian date.
They did not believe that the statement of Irenaeus was not clear and
should be doubted, as many contemporary preterists desperately contend. Yet all the ancients who were on record
concerning this mater accept our understanding of Irenaeus, as do modern
translators. It is also not true
that early date support goes back to a single individual (although there would
be nothing wrong with that since the truth of a matter is often traced back to
a single source), since Hegesippus' (a.d.
150) testimony pre-dates Irenaeus.
" The first clear,
accepted, unambiguous witness to the Neronic date is a one-line subscription in
the Syriac translation of the New Testament in a.d. 550," notes Mark
Hitchcock. " Only two other
external witnesses to the early date exist: Arethas (c. 900) and Theophylact
(d. 1107)." This is scant
" evidence," needless to say, upon which to draw such dogmatic conclusion, as is
often done by many Preterists. On
the other hand, Hitchcock notes that the late date " has an unbroken line of
support form some of the greatest, most reliable names in church history,
beginning in a.d. 150. . . . The external evidence from church
history points emphatically to the a.d. 95 date for the composition of
contend that there are two major reasons from the Book of Revelation itself
that provide proof for their earlier date. First, they argue that since John refers to a Temple in
Jerusalem (Rev. 11:1-2), then it must have been standing at the time of
writing. If still standing, then
Revelation was written before the Temple's destruction in a.d. 70. Next they contend that the seven kings of Revelation 17:1-16
refer to a succession of Roman kings in the first century. Preterists contend that " one is" (Rev.
17:10) would be a reference to Nero Caesar and " the other is not yet come"
(Rev. 17:10) would be Galba. Thus,
while John wrote, Nero was still alive and Galba was looming in the near
future. This would mean, according
to Preterists, that Revelation was written while Nero was still alive.
In rebuttal to
the first Preterists argument, it must be remembered that in the Book of
Revelation John is receiving a vision about future things. He is transported in some way to that
future time in order to view events as they will unfold. The word "saw" is used 49
times in 46 verses in Revelation because John is witnessing future events
through a vision. It does not
matter at all whether the Temple is thought to be standing in Jerusalem at the
time that John sees the vision since that would not have any bearing upon a
vision. John is told by an angel
to " measure the temple" (Rev. 11:1).
Measure what Temple? He is
to measure the Temple in the vision.
Even if there were a temple still standing in Jerusalem, John was on the
Island of Patmos and would not have been allowed to go and measure that
Temple. Ezekiel, during a similar
vision of a Temple (Ezek. 40- 43) was told to measure that Temple. When Ezekiel saw and was told to
measure a Temple there was not one standing in Jerusalem (Preterists
agree). Thus, there is no
compulsion whatsoever to conclude that just because a temple is referenced in
Revelation 11 that it implies that there had to be a physical Temple standing
in Jerusalem at the same time.
Preterist argument is polluted by the same assumption that underlies their
previous contention about the Temple.
Preterists assume that the line of kings refer to a first century
succession of Roman kings and then pronounces Nero as the one to which
Revelation 17:10 refers. This is
just an assumption and begs the question.
John is seeing, recording, and commenting on a vision of the
future. Thus, the time frame that
he is referencing would be that of whatever time he was viewing the
future. This cannot then be used
as a proof that he was viewing a particular time frame, without having
previously, in some other way, established the period of time that he views in
the vision. Preterists have not
previously established when such a time frame is to take place. This line of reasoning by Preterists is
not an internal proof for a Neronian date for Revelation. All of the alleged proofs for an early
date presuppose a preterist interpretation (this certainly has not been
established) as a false stating point in which they attempt to argue from.
Regardless of the
interpretation of this passage, it cannot be used as a proof for when
Revelation was written. This
passage is providing a landscape of biblical history of those kingdoms, not
individual kings, which have persecuted Israel. The five that are fallen refer to the kingdoms of Egypt,
Assyria, Babylon, Medes/Persia, and Greece. The sixth empire that was reigning at the time when John
wrote was Rome. The seventh that
is to come will be the future kingdom of the antichrist, known in Revelation as
the Beast. This view is consistent
with the way in which kings (i.e., kingdoms) are used throughout both Daniel
and Revelation. Revelation 17:10,
says that the future leader and his empire will have a short life according to
the words, " when he comes, he must remain a little while." The adjective " little" has the idea of
brevity (Rev. 12:12). God is
saying that He has decreed the time of this final empire will be shorter than
the six previous. This factor
alone would eliminate the possibility of the seven kings being first-century
The Seven Churches
One of the key
internal evidences, which does not require positing a particular interpretative
approach, is the condition of the seven church in Revelation 2 and 3. Do these churches look more like
first-generation churches, which would appear to support an early date, or do
they favor a second-generation church, which would support the late date? There are some key evidences that
strongly favor a second-generation depiction of the churches.
If John wrote
early (a.d. 64- 66) then it is
likely that Paul' s two letters to Timothy, who was in Ephesus at the time,
would overlap with John' s writing of Revelation and his letter to the church at
Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7). It would
also mean that, " Paul likely wrote 2 Timothy after John wrote to the church."  The problem is that the error that
Christ points out to the Ephesians in Revelation should have surfaced in Paul' s
epistles if they were written around the same time. However, these problems are not evident in Paul' s
writings. Further, it is unlikely
that John had moved to Ephesus until after Peter and Paul had passed from the
scene. Philip Schaff tells us: " It
was probably the martyrdom of Peter and Paul that induced John to take charge
of the orphan churches, exposed to serious danger and trials." 
bishop of Smyrna, said that no church existed during the ministry of Paul. Paul died around a.d. 66- 67. Thus, there was not even a church in existence at Smyrna
when the early daters say John wrote to them. Needless to say, this strongly favors the late date.
The church of
Laodicea would not have had time to develop into the church described in
Revelation 3:14- 22 if the early date is the true one. An earthquake devastated the city in a.d. 60.
History tells us that it took them 25 years to rebuild. Only the late date view makes sense of
Christ' s statement to church that says, " I am rich,
and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (Rev. 3:17). Ten years would
have been enough time for such a condition to develop, but it could not have
been said of them when they were in the early stages of rebuilding.
is said to be on the island of Patmos (1:9) when writing Revelation because he
was banished there. Yet, Nero put
to death Peter and Paul. If
Revelation were written during the reign of Nero, then why wouldn' t John have
been killed like Peter and Paul?
Banishment was Domitian' s favorite way to persecute Christians. " Moreover, we have no evidence of
Nero' s use of banishment for Christians." 
Since a preterist
interpretation of Revelation requires an early date of the final book in the
Bible, preterists go to great lengths in their attempts to make their view
appear viable. The Domitianic date
is the overwhelmingly accepted view of scholarship in our day and throughout
most of church history. Nothing in
Revelation itself contradicts such a conclusion. It appears the major reason that preterists believe in an
early date for Revelation is that their system requires it. In this instance the saying is true
that necessity is the mother of invention. Maranatha!