Was the book of Revelation written before A.D.70 (Early Date
), or after A.D.70 (Late Date
The Late Date is a Dispensational necessity, but no support for it can be found in within the book of Revelation, nor other Scriptures; all comes from external sources, which is a desperate "grabbing at straws," because they have nothing else. External evidence is useful only when it supports internal evidence. When it is used to disprove that which is in the Scriptures, or when it is used as the sole means of proving what the Bible does not say, then it should be taken with a large grain of salt. In this article we will not bother with external evidence as a means of proving either an Early Date, or a Late Date. We go straight to the Bible.
The first argument for an early date is found in Chapter 1:1, "...things which must shortly
come to pass..."
According to Strong's Concordance, shortly means "...a brief space of time..."
Some believe that the word shortly
means that "There will be no waiting around for it. That implies that the Lord is not coming soon, but that when He does return, the things that He is talking about will happen shortly and with great speed. His vengeance will take place in a brief period of time"
(Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, vol 5, p 888).
This definition of the word shortly
is coerced by the tenets of Futurism, which forces upon it an alien
meaning. There are two basic problems with their definition
One is generated by futurists themselves. The "brief period of time" of God's vengeance has already been
determined by Futurists to be seven years (the Great Tribulation), so arguing that the period will be brief,
and over quickly, would be rather superfluous. Seven years is seven years, no matter how you slice it.
Of course, as futurists describe the Great Tribulation, the length of it may seem
to be relatively
brief for those not in it, but for the ones "left behind," it may seem
like an eternity.
possibly mean that it will happen soon, or that it won't happen soon, but when it happens, it will take place with great speed?
Although we could effectively debate that, we let the simple logic of verse 1 find the answer for us.
First, for arguments sake, let us accept the Dispensational premise that this Great Tribulation is a long time coming, that it won't be here shortly. Why, then, would the message to the Christians about this far off Tribulation be so urgent? Why would Christ send His angel to interrupt John's Sunday worship service, and instruct him to write a message to the seven churches, telling them that the vengeance is neither coming soon, nor will it last long? Why stop everything just to tell them something that the next 30 or more generations of Christians would only hear about from Dispensational preachers and prophecy experts? What would be the point?
Verse 3: "...for the time is at hand." In the Scriptures, when something is "at hand" it is either geographically near, or chronologically near - that is - near in time. The Dispensational argument that "at hand does not indicate the possible length involved, that all is seen from the perspective of God," explains nothing. It only reveals the difficulty futurist have in defending the indefensible.
Verse 7: This verse is not about the Second Coming of Christ: "Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."
To make this happen at the Second Coming, as Dispensationalists attempt to do, then Scripture must be spiritualized because, those who pierced Him are surely among the wicked ones, and according to their own teaching, the wicked remain dead for a thousand years after Christ's Second Coming (Rev. 20). How could they see Him?
Notice, the Bible says that He comes with clouds
, not in the clouds.
There is a difference. When Christ came with clouds,
the clouds were the vast multitudes of the Roman Armies marching across the land toward Jerusalem 2000 years ago. That was not the Second Coming, and it was not an Advent. Christ fulfilled promises that He would punish the wicked and unbelieving from among His people. Daniel 9:27, "...and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate..."
Dispensationalists widely miss the mark when they interpret the "He" of this verse to be the "Antichrist." Daniel says that He would make it desolate, for the overspreading of abominations. The word "for" here can be interpreted as either because of,
or for the purpose of,
overspreading abominations. Does it make sense that the Antichrist who, acording to prevailing descriptions, himself is all the abominations of the world wrapped in a single person, would make Jerusalem desolate because of
the abominations of the Jews? Or would he make it desolate for the purpose of
overspreading abominations? That makes even less sense. On the contrary, It was christ Himself, using the heathen Roman military might, who made the house of David desolate.
Dispensationalists believe that there can only be two advents of Christ; the first one 2000 years ago, and the second advent in two stages, the first stage will be when He comes secretly to rapture His church, and the second stage seven years later, when He comes in power and glory to end the "Tribulation." According to futristic beliefs, the view that Rev.1:7 has reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 spiritualizes Scripture, because Christ cannot in any way come back until the Second Coming. But Christ promised several times to come back if need be.
When Dispensational commentators touch on Revelation 2:5, they somehow manage to tiptoe right past the fact that Jesus promised he would COME
unto the Church quickly.
Verse 2:5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Jesus promised two other "comings":
REV. 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
REV. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
These, clearly, are not His Glorious Second Coming.
At His Second Coming, Christ comes "in the clouds."
When He came "with clouds" 2000 years ago, every eye saw Him coming, even those who pierced Him (every eye doesn't necessarily mean every eye on earth). "Those who pierced Him were the guilty Jews who had to do with His rejection and crucifixion. They were in the city of Jerusalem at the time. Jesus had warned His own, those Christians who believed on Him, to get out quickly when they saw the abomination - that is - the heathen army entering into the city, or standing in holy places where heathen ought not to be. By the end of that war, those holy places would no longer be holy.
Rev. 11:8 "And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
In this study we will not engage in the guessing game of who the two witnesses are. This verse speaks of "the great city," where our Lord was crucified. That, of course, is Jerusalem. How does heaven view Jerusalem which crudified the Lord? It is no holier in the eyes of the occupants of heaven than Sodom or Egypt.
THE ARGUMENTS IN DEFENSE OF THE LATE DATE ARE RATHER WEAK
Dr. Tim LaHaye, a strong proponent of the late authorship of Revelation, states, "Among those who take the Bible literally there has never been any serious question about either the author of the book or the date it was written."
(Revelation Unveiled, p 26).
While it is widely accepted that John wrote Revelation, there is nothing in the Bible which points to a late authorship. Futurists cannot find a single shred of biblical evidence that the book was written after A.D.70. All they have is "external" evidence. Mr LaHaye, again: "All the external evidence points to the writing of Revelation by John when he was banished to the Isle of Pathos during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian."
There is not even any internal evidence that John was banished to Patmos by the Romans. The Bible says, "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ"
Was he on this isle as punishment for preaching the Word
of God and having the testimony of Jesus Christ, or was he there for the purpose of preaching the Word of God? If he was there, banished by the cruel Domitian, and working in the mines, as some contend, would the Roman guards there have permitted him to write a Christian book such as Revelation?
And if there was that kind of persecution of Christians and Christian churches going on, it doesn't make sense that Christ would have him write the book of Revelation, and then deliver it to seven churches which, though not perfect by any means, preached the Word of God, and had the testimony of Jesus Christ. How did those pastors get away with it while John was singled out for banishment to the Isle of Patmos? It doesn't add up.
TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH
Jesus promised salvation to the members of each of the seven churches who overcomes. For example, to the members of Ephesus, He says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
(Rev 2:7). The fact that salvation is promised cannot be mistaken when reading Rev 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
These verses seem to fly in the face of the doctrine of eternal security, and we should pity all those who believe in eternal security, but who attempt to interpret these passages while chained to the teachings of Futurism. But there the verses are, and by established rules of literal intepretation we cannot change the wording, nor try and cloud the meaning. The key to these verses is found in other books of the Bible, especially Romans.
Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith.
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Some would argue that this "absense of difference" between Jew and Gentiles applies only to those who are saved, that when a Jew accepts Christ, he then loses national identity and becomes a Christian. In a sense that is true, but the Jew lost his national identity even before he accepted Christ.
It is common knowledge that ever since the nation of Israel was established by God, Israelites were born into a special relationship with God, which Gentiles were not. Paul hints at this: "We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,"
(Gal. 2:15). So Jews were by nature different than Gentiles. But now read verse 16:
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
Obviously something happened that changed the status of the Jew. Paul says that "even we [Jews] have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law..."
Paul is saying that "even we Jews must believe in Christ, just as the Gentiles do, that we might be justified..." So it seems that, not as before, now there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, even before accepting Christ. That means that before accepting Christ, the Jew was a sinner same as the Gentile. This obviously was a new thing. How did it happen?
"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
(Rom 11:32) Paul had just finished writing of the Jews, so "them all" were the Jews he was referring to. These God concluded in unbelief. The second "all" means everyone, Jews and Gentile alike. God concluded the Jews in unbelief. In other words, He made them just like Gentiles, so that He could treat everyone equally - so that He could have mercy on all mankind. Jews were no longer a special people.
When God concluded all Jews in unbelief, He took away their special status, and actually made them unbelievers, just like the Gentiles. (Ignore the modern silliness that God "shut up all men to disobedience so the He could show mercy to all." Knowing who God is, and that He doesn't "shut people up" to make them disobey, so He can show them mercy, a man would have to be partly deprived of sanity to understand that translation.)
To be grafted back into the Family of God, or the "Good Olive Tree," (not Israel), Jews would have to accept Christ as Saviour; they would have to be "born again." there was no other way to come back to the Father. That they were spiritually dead after God had concluded them in unbelief is verified by other Scriptures:
"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
(1 Peter 1:3)
Peter says that God had "begotten us again
..." The word "again" means that before this they did have a "lively hope," but then did not have the "lively hope," and now once more, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they had this 'lively hope again." They were "born again."
So the Jews had been converted from Jew to Gentile status (Rom.
11:32). Many accepted Christ but, being weak in faith, could not
overcome and hold out to the end. Some fell away. But those who
overcame would not have their names blotted out of the Book of
Life. The "end" meant the end of the Israelite economy, the end
of the house of David, in A.D. 70.
If the book of Revelation had been written after Israel fell, and after the doctrine of the security of the believer became effective, then
the letters to the churches would have been meaningless. More
frightful yet, we would still have to be enduring and overcoming
to the end in order to remain saved. Before A.D. 70, Jews, even
after accepting Christ, could still turn away from Him, go back
to the Mosaic Law, and have their names taken out of the Book of
Life. This seems harsh, but that generation of Jews who rejected
Jesus Christ had no excuse. They were there when He walked among
them, taught them, preached to them, healed the sick, gave sight
to the blind, and performed many other miracles. When they
rejected Him they were, in effect saying, "We will not have this man to rule over us!" They were "asking for it."
After A.D. 70, the Jewish Mosaic system officially, meaning
Scripturally, came to an end. The temple was no more, all Old
Testament prophecies had been fulfilled (Luke 21:22), and all of
the New Testament had been written. The days of the vengeance of
God came upon the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, while the
faithful escaped and were scattered to the four winds, taking the
Gospel of Christ with them.
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of
this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein:
for the time is at hand" (Rev. 1:3).
"The time is at hand" means that the time is near.
Dispensationalists try hard to obscure the meaning of this phrase.
Dr. McGee's loyalty to the Dispensational Cause seems undiminished by any difficulty to interpret Scripture Dispensationally: "'For the time is at hand' does not mean that the things which are mentioned at the end of the book are happening in our day, but it does mean that the beginning of the church on the Day of Pentecost began this movement of the Lord Jesus' ministry in heaven" (Thru the Bible, vol 5 p 889).
Is that convoluted statement a clever attempt to divert the
reader's attention from the fact that John is preparing to write
about things that were going to happen soon, or is it mere innocent ignorance? John didn't say that the things mentioned at the end of the book would be happening in our day. The only possible meaning for the expression, "time is at hand" is that those things he began mentioning at the beginning of the book would begin happening soon.
All external evidence notwithstanding, the inspired internal
evidence undeniably points to an early authorship for the book of