A few weeks ago I was in Ephesus and saw the tomb of the disciple, John, author of the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. As I stood there I entertained the obvious thought, “Wow, I’m just a few feet away from the remains of a person who walked with Jesus.”
But I also had a burning question, the one question I would ask John if I could only ask him one question: “When did you write the Book of Revelation?” The question is not just an academic one but one with profound consequences. If John wrote the Book of Revelation in the early 90s A.D. then futurists–those who believe much of what is written in Revelation, including the Great Tribulation, is in the future–probably have the better argument.
If, however, John wrote Revelation in the early 60’s A.D. before Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians, which followed the great fire in Rome in 64 A.D., the postmillennialist view actually makes more sense. And instead of cowering in fear of a coming Great Tribulation and living in a timid expectation the kingdom of God will fail on earth, Christians can go forth confidently building the kingdom, knowing it will continue to permeate the earth like leaven.
I am firmly in the second group, believing Revelation was written in the early 60s A.D., before Nero’s persecution and before the destruction of Jerusalem. The best book I’ve seen on the dating of the Revelation is Dr. Kenneth Gentry’s book, The Beast of Revelation. There are arguments of course for a later dating of Revelation, but I believe the more convincing case is for an early dating.
Too bad though we can’t just ask John. GS