Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
Dating Revelation - My Case for the late date
After spending several days reading early church fathers one thing become very apparent of first –
third through century church fathers, almost every writer expressed their belief "Christ will come again", NOT has come already. There is no consensus that any one person learned or believed that Christ had returned a second time in 70 AD nor was any time of "tradition" passed on from the Apostolic fathers.
My contention is that Eusebius as well as the other church fathers established three very important facts
(1) John lived beyond 70 AD and died an old man in Ephesus.
(2) Clement, Timothy, Ignatius, Papias, Polycarp, Luke, Barnabas, All pre-post 70 AD saints died with no knowledge of a return.
(3) Repeated testimony from the same sources used by Kenneth Gentry in his book “Before Jerusalem Fell” and statements ignored by him, establish Revelation was written post 70 AD, during the time of Domitian, who proceeded Nerva, while on the Island of Patmos as John reveals in Revelation that is where he received the vision and then wrote the book after his departure from the island.
Gentry credits a repeated mistake by Ireneous for the late date. Gentry
never deals with John date of death.
(a) John living through the “supposed” events of Revelation fulfillment in 70 AD, then HE would have been a recipient of the benefits of what was promised in His return and in the events following. IE: To be changed bodily and to be with the Lord from that point forward, (in His physical presence)
(b) John having lived to see the “supposed” return would have taught and passed on this tradition of fulfillment. Yet almost every church father expressed a hope in a future return and resurrection. No one taught Revelation fulfillment was of the past.
Why would John be so negligent?
According to Full Preterist eschatology ALL things of Revelation have been fulfilled. The universal understanding of the early church fathers insist that John lived beyond 70 AD and died an old man and was buried in Ephesus. To this day there is a tomb in Ephesus with his name on it. The fact is well established and cannot be doubted by any one. The
Preterist paradigm demands all evidence and I mean all evidence of history that disproves their case must be discredited regardless of the writer.
If the fulfillment of Revelation was realized in 70 AD as all
Preterist claims, then John experienced all the events. He saw the return of Christ; He was changed in the twinkling of an eye, (not resurrected), experienced the great White Throne Judgment, and saw the New Heavens and the Earth, (not arguing the nature of the events, YET). The One to focus on is the Return. The power of the Gospel is the death burial, and resurrection of Christ. The gospel that is proclaimed throughout the “world”, the greatest news ever preached, only to be followed by the promise of His return. John then a witness to His return would have boldly proclaimed Christ kept His promise, his return happened, what greater event could ever have happened outside of His first appearance? His Return.
John who witnessed his ascension and heard the promise that he would return, and thirty-seven years later did not witness His return, not once is it recorded as John teaching any person or disciple that this glorious event had happened by the evidence of them passing on the “good news of the Gospel”, of Christ return.
In fact his letters are dated also as after 70 AD.
The Preterist excuse this over sight either by claiming they were all raptured, their work that follows is fake, lies, and deception and no one mentioned the return because they were all gone. Ed Stevens goes so far as to say every disciple died before 70 AD, including John ignoring the fact that Jesus said some would be alive to see the judgment. The Preterist claim is these benefits were all realized spiritually but in reality nothing changed for the believer after 70 AD becomes laughable as who would know better than those who lived through the events.
With the testimony of early church fathers, we can attest the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was fulfillment of prophecy concerning the last days of the Jewish religious system as recorded in Mathew 23-24.
In Charles Meeks recent work, "When was Revelation written" the standard arguments again are presented.
"The argument for the late date of Revelation rests principally on a single ambiguous comment by the early church father
Ireneous (who lived circa AD 130-202). That one piece of evidence is pretty much all the late daters have!"
The specific quote he is referring to is Irenaeus, “Against heresies”
"3. If it were necessary for his name to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian."
The question then comes in understanding the translation was it "HE" that was seen or was it the Revelation that was seen? BUT when we scroll down several verses what do we find...Eusebius
Church History book three.
"10. But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian's honors should be cancelled and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them."
- Emperor Domitian preceded Emperor Nerva in Roman ascension history.
We then understand WHICH Domitian he was referring to, not the Family name of Nero. The real strength of this passage though is often missed by those who have an agenda, "would have been declared by him who saw the revelation." The idea of Him declaring who the "Antichrist was" as it was "he" who was seen and could have declared it IS the proper linguistic interpretation based on sentence syntax, as it could not have been seen recently without the person who sees it being present. Irenaeus establishes that John was seen and alive during the reign of Domitian.
The greatest proof we have of then the late date is by the work of the writers in tying in historical events with history itself. For example, when Luke starts his gospel he places the birth of Christ with Caesar Augustus "Decree of taxing" (Luke 1.1-2 ) thereby we can identify exactly WHEN in history this took placed outside of Jewish history. So the strength of Johns statement of "being on the Island of Patmos" and the repeated Church fathers’ testimony of believing John was on the Island during the reign of Emperor Domitian is impossible to dismiss with any integrity.
Tomb of St John