Twenty Evidences Why Revelation Was Written before AD 70

The dating of Revelation is important because it influences the interpretation of the book. There are two views of when Revelation was written. One view is that it was written around AD 95-96 during the reign of Domitian. The second view is that it was written in the mid 60’s AD, during the reign of Nero—prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. I will show that the early date has the strongest support from both the internal evidence and external evidence.


  1. Revelation 17:10 says that the book was written during the sixth king, who was Nero, who reigned from AD 54-68. (The previous five Roman rulers were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius.) Interestingly, the text also says that the seventh king to come would reign only “a little while.” The seventh king was Galba, who was ruler for only seven months (AD 68-69).
  1. Revelation 1:9 says it was being written during the Tribulation (Greek, thlipsis), which Jesus promised would occur during his own generation, when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies (Matthew 24:15-34; Luke 21:20-24).[1]
  1. Scholars agree that the major theme of Revelation is a GREAT JUDGMENT upon “Babylon.” Babylon was an historic enemy of God’s people, and it is used symbolically in Revelation to represent Old Covenant Israel/Jerusalem who had become unfaithful. This is the theme of chapters 16-19. The Lord’s wrath, promised in Revelation, would come against “the GREAT CITY Babylon” (Revelation 16:19; 18:2, 10, 21; 19:2), which is clearly identified as the “CITY WHERE THE LORD WAS SLAIN” (Revelation 11:8-9). This unambiguously confirms that the Great Judgment was against JERUSALEM, and thus the identity of Babylon. Also confirming the identity of Babylon, is her description as a harlot (Revelation 17:1, 15; 19:2). Throughout the Bible, when Israel was unfaithful, she is characterized as a harlot or adulterer (Deuteronomy 31:16-18; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6-9; Ezekiel 6:8-9; 16:15, 26, 28; Hosea 1:2; 9:1). The harlot Babylon is adorned in purple and scarlet (Revelation 17:4), which are the colors of the ritual dress of the high priest and the colors that adorn the temple (Exodus 28:5-6; 39:1-2).
  1. Revelation contains over 30 passages that demand its imminent, radically near, fulfillment. We see such statements as “must shortly take place,” “soon,” “near,” and “about to happen” (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-20; etc.). The wrath of God and the Lamb (Revelation 6:16-17; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 16:19; 19:15―especially note 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2), is consistent with Jesus’ astounding condemnation of his fellow Jews in Matthew 23, which He insisted would be judged for all the righteous blood ever shed on earth—IN THEIR GENERATION. This judgment was because of their sins, failure to accept Him as Messiah, and their participation with the Roman authorities in Jesus’ conviction and crucifixion (Matthew 27:25). There is nothing post AD 95 that could qualify as such an imminent (“must shortly take place”) judgment. Only a pre-AD 70 fulfillment (prior to the fall and judgment of Old Covenant Israel) makes any sense. Case closed about Babylon and the Great Judgment.
  1. In Revelation 11:1, John was told to measure the temple. This implies that the temple was still standing when the book was written, thus prior to AD 70. While some argue that this is about a spiritual temple, it would be a bizarre instruction if given at a time when the magnificent physical temple was just a bunch of rubble. And of particular note, the destruction of the physical temple in AD 70 is not mentioned by John in Revelation as a past event. It is incomprehensible that, if John, a Christian Jew, was writing after AD 70, he would not have mentioned the destruction of the temple, it being the center of the Jewish faith―and its destruction a prophecy of Jesus (Matthew 24:1-2).
  1. Revelation 11:2 says, “They will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” This statement is consistent with Jesus’ statement to his contemporaries: “When YOU see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you know that its desolation is near.” (Luke 21:20). Thus, some of those living in the first century would witness this. It cannot be coincidence that forty-two months is exactly the period of the Roman army’s final assault on Israel—from February AD 67 to August AD 70. So, Revelation must have been written prior.
  1. Revelation 1:7 tells us whom God’s judgment was against. It reads: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.” This clearly identifies Jesus’ crucifiers as the target. “All the tribes of the earth” is a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, which means Old Covenant Israel. Interestingly, some astounding external evidence comes from Josephus and other ancient historians who reported chariots in the sky above Jerusalem during the start of Jewish-Roman War in AD 66.[2] This fulfilled the visibility requirement. “Coming on clouds” is Hebraic idiomatic apocalyptic language from the Old Testament, where God “came” in judgment against his enemies (examples: Psalm 18:7-12; Isaiah 19). Thus, this poetic judgment language (“Hebraic apocalyptic language”) affirms that the Lord would come in a not-so-literal sense against apostate Israel, as predicted in numerous New Testament passages, such as Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 21:33-45; 22:1-14; 23:29-24:2; Luke 21:5-33; etc. Similar to judgments against Israel in Old Testament times (722 BC and 586 BC), God used an opposing army as his instrument.
  1. Daniel was told to seal up the vision for it was a long way off (Daniel 12:4). By contrast, in Revelation, John was told not to seal up the vision because the time for fulfillment was near (Rev 22:10). These two passages are book ends. Clearly, the inescapable meaning is Revelation shouldn’t be sealed because Daniel’s vision was about to be fulfilled. That had to be at the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the temple “when the power of the holy people would be shattered” and “the burnt offering taken away” (Daniel 12:7, 11). Again, Revelation was written prior.
  1. The existence of only seven churches in Asia Minor also indicates an early date for Revelation. Some futurists claim, for example, that the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) did not exist in the 60’s AD, so Revelation could not have been written at that time. But that assumption has been adequately refuted by scholars. Here are three: (1) Edward Stevens’ book Final Decade Before the End pages 87-89.[3] (2) Kenneth Gentry’s book Before Jerusalem Fell, third edition, pages 324-329. (3) Don Preston’s book Who Is this Babylon, pages 12-13.[4] The gist of the argument is this: The church at Ephesus was founded (or at least nurtured) by Paul in the early to mid-50’s AD (Acts 18:19). The church at Smyrna, only 30 miles from Ephesus, was probably founded in AD 58 or soon thereafter by the members of the Ephesus church, after Paul had finished his third journey. The other churches were founded in this time-frame. There was a devastating earthquake in the area about AD 60, but there was time for the cities to be rebuilt to include all seven cities of Revelation. Then, Paul states in 2 Timothy 1:15 (Paul’s last letter, written between AD 64 and 68), “All who are in Asia turned away from me.” This implies that the Christian churches of Asia were dissolving. The Neronic persecution (AD 64-68) was a major cause of this falling away. But by AD 95 the church was being rebuilt and there would have been many more congregations in Asia than just seven. We can reasonably conclude that the only time all seven churches existed was in the early 60’s AD.[5]


  1. There are six separate traditions from the early church that have Revelation being written prior to AD 70.[6] For example, an ancient New Testament—The Syriac version (called the Peshitta, believed to have originated in the second century)—says the following on the title page of the Book of Revelation: “The Revelation, which was given by God to the Evangelist John on the island of Patmos, upon which he was cast by Nero Caesar.” [7]
  1. Another reason to believe the Book of Revelation was written at the earlier date is there is a question about John’s life after AD 70. Papias (AD 60-130) wrote that John was killed by the Jews. John’s martyrdom would have been when the Jews had the authority and means to have accomplished the execution—before AD 70. Actually, there is internal biblical evidence about the martyrdom of John (and his brother James). In Matthew 20:22-23 and Mark 10:38-39 Jesus implies that John and his brother James would drink the cup of martyrdom that He was about to drink! Further evidence comes from silence in the historical record about John. If John had survived AD 70, he would have been a leader in the church, but history is silent.[8]
  1. However, an opposing view about John is from Jerome (AD 340-420), who noted in his writings that John was plunged into boiling oil by Nero. John escaped that torture, and Jerome stated that John was apparently seen in AD 96, and that he was so old and infirm that “he was with difficulty carried to the church, and could speak only a few words to the people.” It is difficult to imagine John could write Revelation in AD 96 or be able to speak to many nations and many kings at any late date since he was already elderly and infirm. It is equally difficult to imagine the Roman authorities would arrest a decrepit very old man.
  1. Tertullian, an early church father who lived from 145-220 AD, seems to place John’s banishment to Patmos at the same time as the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, who we know were killed during the reign of Nero (prior to his own death in 68 AD). In his writing, “Exclusion of Heretics,” speaking of the history of Rome, he had this to say: “. . . on which the Apostles poured out all their doctrine, with their blood: where Peter had a like Passion with the Lord; where Paul hath for his crown the same death with John; where the Apostle John was plunged into boiling oil, and suffered nothing, and was afterwards banished to an island.” [9]
  1. The Muratorian Canon (c. AD 170) is the earliest surviving list of canonical books. In this important manuscript we read: “The blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name.” This demands a dating of John’s Revelation prior to the time that Paul was beheaded, no later than AD 67 or 68, and probably earlier than his letters.[10]
  1. Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215) in his writing “Miscellanies (7:17)” said: “The teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero.” (Again, Nero died in AD 68.)
  1. The book “The Shepherd of Hermas” was well known by early church fathers and was often considered canonical. This suggests its composition to have been around the time of the apostles or shortly thereafter, as later books were not considered canonical. The book may have been written by the person Paul references in Romans 16:14. The book draws from Revelation, which implies a date for Revelation much earlier than the AD 95 time-frame, and probably before AD 70.[11]
  1. The apostle Peter wrote about the coming New Heaven and New Earth (2 Peter 3), reminding his readers that other apostles also wrote about it (2 Peter 3:2). The other apostle to have written most prominently about this was John in Revelation 21. Thus, it is probable that Peter used Revelation as source material. Since Peter was martyred under Nero no later than AD 68, that places the writing of Revelation earlier than Peter’s death.
  1. The late date is based largely on a third-hand ambiguous statement by Irenaeus in around AD 175-185, about either John or the book of Revelation having been “seen” during Domitian’s reign.[12] Numerous scholars have questioned just what Irenaeus meant, and have also pointed out that Irenaeus was a sloppy historian. As stated by Edward E. Stevens, “Irenaeus was seemingly ignorant about a lot of things (e.g. Neronic persecution, death of Paul, Peter, and John during the Neronic persecution). He thought Jesus lived to over 40 years of age. He was clueless about the fulfillments at AD 70. Thus, he shows no evidence of having been taught by John or any of the other twelve apostles. So, it is no surprise that Irenaeus chronologically misplaced a whole bunch of things, not merely his confusion over Nero vs. Domitian.” In the same work (Heresies 5.3.1), Irenaeus spoke of “ancient copies” of Revelation, which leads to a contradictory conclusion.[13]
  1. There is potential confusion over who Irenaeus referred to with his reference to Domitian. Domitian was the Roman emperor from AD 81 to 96. But Domitius was the family name of Nero. While most scholars seem skeptical about the following opinion by Robert Young, it is worth considering based on the scholarly reputation of Young. (He was the author of Young’s Analytical Concordance as well as Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible.) In his commentary on Revelation, written around 1885, he said:

“It was written in Patmos about A.D. 68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syriac version of the book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus in AD 175, who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou – i.e., Domitius (Nero).  Sulpicius, Orosius, etc., stupidly mistaking Dimitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the early date.”

So, Irenaeus may have simply been wrong, or something may have been lost in the copying or translation of his work. There are other possibilities concerning the Irenaeus quote. Domitian was the son of Vespasian (and brother of Titus). Vespasian was elected Emperor in December 69. But he was not in Rome at the time. It took Vespasian six months to make his way back to Rome from Jerusalem and Egypt, where he was securing foodstuff for his soldiers. During this half year, Domitian assumed the role temporarily as Caesar. So, if Irenaeus was indeed saying that John was writing Revelation during the reign of Domitian, he may have been referring to this period in AD 69. Also, there are reports that Irenaeus confused John the Apostle with John the Presbyter.[14] Confounding the problem, almost all late daters rely on the unreliable and confusing Irenaeus quotation.

  1. Kenneth Gentry lists 136 authors that hold to a pre-AD 70 dating. See Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision, 1998, pgs. 30-38). Gentry, considered by some to be the most authoritative author today about the dating of Revelation, discusses the Irenaeus issue (as well as a statement by Origen sometimes used to support the late date), in his book and in the articles below.[15]

Conclusion: We should always place Scripture above non-scriptural sources. There are no convincing internal evidences for the late date of Revelation, and the external sources for the late date, upon examination, are flawed. While certain of the above points can be debated, the totality of the evidence strongly supports the early dating of Revelation.


For more evidences, see also:  (first in a series on the internal evidence) (first in a series on the external evidence)

Book of Revelation Fulfilled – Pursuing Truth (

[1] The Tribulation, in context, was either (or both) the persecution of Christians under Nero as well as the Jews, and the Jewish/Roman War of AD 66-70. Jesus speaks of “tribulation” (Matthew 24:9, 29) and “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). Luke puts it in the context of “when Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies” (Luke 21:20-24, 32).

[2] Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 6 (6.5.3, 296-300). Also, Tacitus, Eusebius, and the Jewish Talmud mention this phenomenon. See Tacitus Histories (Book 5), Eusebius Ecclesiastical History (Book 3, Chapter 8, Sections 1-6), and Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel (Chapter 87, “Burning of the Temple”).


[4] Gentry’s and Preston’s books are available at

[5] Scholars are coming to the conclusion that Domitian was not the Christian persecutor that Nero was:

[6] Francis X. Gumerlock, Revelation and the First Century:  Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early Christianity, 2012, Chapter Two.

[7] See info about the Peshitta:

[8] Some claim that Papias was speaking of a John other than John the Apostle, such as John the Baptist, but Papias specifically also mentioned the Zebedee brothers James and John as being martyred, so this John was the Apostle John. Johns’ brother James was martyred by Herod Agrippa in AD 44 (Acts 12:2). Here’s information about the Papias fragments and John’s martyrdom:,





[13] Stevens’ website is He can provide documents about the dating of Revelation. His email address is


[15] The Origen issue is discussed in this, the third of three articles in a series on the external evidence:

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