The internal evidence of the book regarding the Roman Empire and the external testimony of the Church Fathers both point to a date of authorship around 95 A.D., 25 years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The type of widespread Roman persecution of the Church that is pictured in Revelation did not occur until the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D.). The persecutions of Nero were limited to the area of Rome. One of the Church Fathers, Iranaeus (c.130-c.202), wrote that the book of Revelation was authored by the apostle John "toward the end of Domitian's reign." Irenaeus was discipled by Polycarp (c.70-c.155 A.D.) who, in turn, had been discipled directly by John himself.
One of the arguments for an earlier date is based on a reference to the Temple in Revelation 11:1-2. John is told to measure the Temple, which in this case seems to be a command to assess the Temple's spiritual condition. This reference to the Temple, it is argued, must mean that the book was written before the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.
But this argument ignores the fact that the Scriptures teach there are going to be two future Temples, one during the Tribulation which the Antichrist will desecrate (Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), and another during the Millennium which Jesus Christ will consecrate (Ezekiel 40-46).
The Temple mentioned in Revelation 11 must be the Tribulation Temple since the passage says it will be trampled down by the Gentiles for 42 months (the last half of the Tribulation). It also says this will be immediately preceded by the testimony of the two witnesses for 1,260 days (the first half of the Tribulation).
Revelation Study Resources
- An Overview of Revelation multimedia training kit covers the book of Revelation verse by verse.
- Dr. Reagan's book, Wrath and Glory, covers the book of Revelation chapter by chapter.
- Dr. Reagan's video program, Revelation Revealed, presents a sweeping overview of the entire book of Revelation.