When was the book of the Revelation written?

WHEN WAS THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION WRITTEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“You mention the canon of scripture complete @ 68ad. Many say Revelation was written in 96ad. Do you hold that Revelation was written before 68ad?” Thank you for submitting this question, and driving us to search the Bible for any clues regarding the penning of the book of the Revelation.

For a long time, I held the common view that John wrote his Gospel record, his three little epistles, and the Revelation between A.D. 90 and 100. Why did I believe that? Only because I had heard it all my life in church. Friend, I did not have a verse to support the view, so I gave up the view and kept the verses! It is a traditional idea, something that has been repeated so long and so often that no one really remembers that it lacks any Scriptural support. I will share the verses that changed my view, in just a few moments.

From what I have researched, there is no solid Biblical evidence to support the view that John wrote in A.D. 90-100. To have John writing 20 or 30 years after the deaths of Peter and Paul and some 60 or 70 years after Calvary is strange to me. Why would God have such a huge gap in New Testament chronology?

Actually, to have Revelation dated so late is, I think, partially due to a misreading of John 21:22-24. It is said that Jesus claimed John would live to be an old man, and as an old man he would see Jesus return to Earth (or at least John would see a glimpse of Jesus’ Second Coming, a supposed reference to John’s visions recorded in the book of the Revelation). If you study that passage closely in John, however, it reads so that we know there was a similar misunderstanding amongst the disciples. The Holy Spirit made sure we see that John living until Christ would come back was attached to a big “IF” (conditional, hypothetical, not 100% truth). Jesus never actually said John would live to see His Second Coming.

Then, there are the “preterists,” people who say that most or all of Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when Rome overran Jerusalem and burned the Temple. They say Jesus came back at His Second Coming in A.D. 70 and established the earthly kingdom (is that ridiculous or what?!). Perhaps church tradition dated John’s writings (particularly the Revelation) to be A.D. 90-100 in order to disprove the preterists’ view. If John wrote about Christ’s coming as future from A.D. 90-100, it is said to combat preterists, then Christ did not come back in A.D. 70 (John’s writing would be pointless). While assigning John’s writings to A.D. 90-100 does indeed prove the preterists wrong, I believe it causes us to disagree with verses that indicate Paul wrote the last Bible book. The preterists are wrong for many reasons (beyond the scope of this study), but we do not need to disregard verses just to date John’s writings so late.

Here are two passages that convinced me that the book of the Revelation and John’s other Bible books were written much earlier than most scholars say.

1. COLOSSIANS 1:23-27

“[23] If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

One of the tasks the God of the Bible gave the Apostle Paul was for him to “fulfil the word of God.” Paul was commissioned to finish the Bible—to bring its revelation to completion—by writing the mystery program. When Paul finished writing his last epistle (which was 2 Timothy in light of 4:6-8), the revelation from God was complete. Israel’s writers had already summed up the prophetic program, and now Paul had summed up the mystery program. All of God’s will was now disclosed. Apostles Peter and Paul are estimated to have died under Roman Emperor Nero’s reign. I have read their demises occurred anywhere from A.D. 64 to 68. Obviously, Paul could not have written past his death, so I just use the latter year for simplicity. Paul wrote 2 Timothy no later than A.D. 68. To have John come 20 or 30 years later (A.D. 90-100) writing further revelation from God would not fit with these verses.

2. II TIMOTHY 3:16-17

A second passage I use in regards to dating Revelation (or all of John’s books) is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Paul considered the Bible complete. By writing 2 Timothy, he was writing the last book, and in that last book, he talked about a full revelation from God. In the Apostle’s mind, Christians did not need another word from God (again, prophecy was fully disclosed and mystery was fully disclosed, as I mentioned earlier). Had John’s five books (the Gospel According to John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Revelation) been written in A.D. 90-100, that meant a fifth of the New Testament was absent when Paul wrote 2 Timothy. How could God consider a New Testament with 22 books—five books short of the 27 books we have today—enough for Christian living to be experienced to its fullest? Whether in our mystery program or Israel’s prophetic program, believers would still be lacking five books to from which to learn and in which to be edified. Hence, I would conclude that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says everything that God wants us to do, was now written down, and Paul could finish his ministry (the Bible now finished).

CONCLUSION

Dear friend, I have no desire to dictate to you what you should or should not believe about this matter. You are free to believe as you like, but you should be as informed as possible before you take a stand on any doctrinal matter. Thus, what I can do is provide you with the method whereby I came to a conclusion in my own mind some time back. Ask yourself three questions: “Are there any verses that support the idea that John wrote his books at such a late date as A.D. 90-100?” (I never found any.) “Are there any verses that disprove the idea that John wrote his books at such a late date?” (I believe I have found two passages.) “Are there any verses that indicate which was the last Bible book to be written?” (Again, I believe I have found two passages.) What I do urge you to do is look at Colossians 1:23-27 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and come to your own conclusion. The Bible-believing view would be to believe the Bible and let go of everything else.

It is in light of these verses and comments that I believe all New Testament Bible books were written before A.D. 68. Paul wrote the last Bible book (2 Timothy) no later than A.D. 68, and Peter wrote his last epistle (2 Peter) just before this time. To have the Apostle John writing near the end of the first century A.D. (90-100) would seem rather odd to me, considering the general consensus that almost all of the non-Johannine books of the New Testament were written 30 or so years earlier.

To me, these verses make it clear that Paul wrote the last Bible book. I have yet to have anyone give me any verses that suggest John was almost 100 when he wrote his Bible books. Although I once believed in such a late date for the Johannine books, I did not have a single verse to support that position. One day, I relinquished the view, and took a stand on verses I did have. May you too have joy and peace in believing the precious Word of God (Romans 15:13)!

Also see:
» Must I study the Bible in its original languages to understand it?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10?

6 responses to “When was the book of the Revelation written?

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