When Was the Book of Revelation Written?
There are different views to the time when the book of Revelation was written. Some believe it was written during the reign of Nero (A.D. 54–68), or during the reign of Vespasian (A.D. 69–79), or during the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81–96).
The scholars who suggest the early date for the writing of the book of Revelation see the persecution pointed to in the letters to the seven churches as that suffered by Christians under Nero (A.D. 64), or possibly later under Vespasian. They see that the troubles given in the book of Revelation are similar to the troubles that affected the city of Rome from the last years of Nero to the early years of Vespasian.
And they also identify the beast that suffers a deadly wound and is healed (Revelation 13:3) and in the beast that “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 17:8) as pointing to Nero. The scholars interpret the number 666 (Revelation 13:18) as symbolic number for Nero Caesar, when spelled in Hebrew consonantal letters (Nrwn Qsr). According to these markers, the scholars believe that the book of Revelation was written in the late 60’s or 70’s of the 1st century.
But it is clear that this understanding is not correct because the prophecies of the Revelation have an end time application that goes beyond that early time frame (Revelation 1:11). The book of Revelation is an apocalypse unveiling the mysteries of the future culminating to the final triumph of Jesus Christ over all the powers of Satan (Revelation 6:14-16; 16:20, 21…etc.).
Early Christian writers are almost in agreement that the book of Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian which ended in A.D. 96. This is seen in the following references:
Irenaeus, who claims to have had a personal connection with the apostle John through Polycarp, says of the book of 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) writes, “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; Revelation 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.
Thus, the early Christian testimony places the writing of the Revelation in the time of Domitian’s reign.
In His service,