Who is the author of the book of Revelation? When was it written?

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The author of the Revelation identified himself as “John” (Rev chs. 1:1, 4, 9; 21:2; 22:8). The NT mentioned several men by this name, the Baptist, the son of Zebedee, who was one of the Twelve, John, who was surnamed Mark, and a certain relative of the high priest Annas (see on Acts 4:6). So, by examination, John the son of Zebedee and the brother of James is left for consideration.

Every Christian writer until the middle of the 3d century, attributes the book of Revelation to John the apostle. These writers are Justin Martyr at Rome (c. A.D. 100–c. 165; Dialogue With Trypho 81), Irenaeus at Lyons (c. A.D. 130–c. 202; Against Heresies iv. 20. 11), Tertullian at Carthage (c. A.D. 160–c. 240; On Prescription Against Heretics 36), Hippolytus at Rome (died c. A.D. 220; Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? xlii).

There are varying views as to whether the writing of the Revelation should be assigned to a comparatively early date during the reign of Nero (a.d. 54–68) or to that of Vespasian (a.d. 69–79), or to a later date toward the end of the reign of Domitian (a.d. 81–96). But the testimony of early Christian authors is almost unanimous that the book of Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian. Let’s look at some of these authors and their testimonies:

Irenaeus, who claims to have had a personal connection with John through Polycarp, declares of the Revelation, “For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign” (op. cit. v. 30. 3; ANF, vol. 1, pp. 559, 560).

Victorinus (died c. a.d. 303) says, “When John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse” (Commentary on the Apocalypse, on ch. 10:11; ANF, vol. 7, p. 353; see on Rev. 1:9).

Eusebius (op. cit. iii. 20. 8, 9) records that John was sent to Patmos by Domitian, and that when those who had been unjustly banished by Domitian were released by his successor, Nerva (a.d. 96–98; see Vol. VI, p. 87), the apostle returned to Ephesus.

These testimonies lead scholars to place the writing of the Revelation to be during the time of Domitian’s reign, which ended in a.d. 96.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

 

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