Notes condensed from original video series by Don K. Preston
To say that the dating of the book of Revelation is a critical element to understanding this book of prophecy is a HUGE understatement. Clearly, if Revelation was written in the AD90’s then it’s not predictive of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 and the end of the Old Covenant age and, therefore, it contains an eschatology which is outside of the boundaries of COVENANT eschatology. Determining the proper dating of this book is absolutely critical. Likewise, determining the identity of Babylon in Revelation is equally critical. Both of these elements go hand in hand because the judgment of Babylon was at hand, coming shortly, and coming soon at the Day of the Lord. So we must do an examination of both elements; the dating of Revelation standing on its own merits, but also the dating of Revelation as it relates to the topic of “WHO is this Babylon?” Any interpretation or study of the book of Revelation that does not take seriously the language of Revelation 1:1-3 as the framework and context is not doing proper justice to the investigation of the book of Revelation. Notice what the beginning of the book says:
Revelation 1:1-3 [KJV]
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 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.
The first and most critical thing to understand about Revelation will be, for most people with a futurist eschatological paradigm, an eye opening shock. It is an absolutely glaring truth which you will wonder why you never saw it before. Yet, when you do see this truth for the first time, you will NEVER look at the book of Revelation again in the same way. The key to understanding the book of Revelation has been hanging right on the doorpost all along mostly ignored by the commentators. Here it is.
Please read carefully the first verse of Revelation 1:1 above. The first statement is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The word “revelation” means “unveiling.” The next statement is “which God gave unto him.” This means that God the FATHER gave this message to CHRIST. Christ has now received a major Revelation about himself from God the FATHER. This is VERY significant!! The next part of the verse explains WHY the Revelation was given and says “to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” So, we have the Father giving an important revelatory message to Jesus Christ the Son for the purpose of showing (revealing) things to his (Christ’s) SERVANTS (the body of Christ) things which must SHORTLY come to pass. Do you catch the power and significance of the imminent time statement “things which must SHORTLY come to pass”??
One of the primary arguments used to negate all of the time statements contained in Revelation is the claim that John couldn’t honestly be saying the time for fulfillment was truly at hand. After all, Jesus said he didn’t know the day or the hour, so if JESUS didn’t know the day or hour, then surely JOHN did not know either. There is a major problem with that position. Notice what Jesus says in Matthew 24:36:
Matthew 24:36 [KJV]
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
So the FATHER knew the hour of the Day of the Lord, the parousia of Christ. And Revelation 1:1 shows the FATHER, who knew the day and the hour, was now revealing, unveiling all the details of the entire event, to HIS SON JESUS CHRIST who then shows it to his servants through John’s vision! AND…these things would SHORTLY come to pass!
This wasn’t John expressing his hope or wishful thinking about the nearness of these events. It wasn’t Jesus in his incarnate ignorance expressing some vague generality about when these things would take place. It was the FATHER HIMSELF, who knew the day and the hour, who sent the Holy Spirit, to tell John, to REVEAL to the 1st century churches that these things MUST (Greek: dei = divine necessity) SHORTLY COME TO PASS! If the FATHER, who knew the day and the hour, was revealing through the Spirit, through Jesus, through John, to the churches that the time was AT HAND….then you and I have NO basis whatsoever for saying:
- That God cannot tell time and…
- That John could not know the day or the hour because Jesus himself did not know it.
Any interpretation of Revelation that seeks to distort, ignore, or deny the FACT that it was the FATHER HIMSELF who knew the day and the hour, who was revealing the IMMINENCE of those events is a WRONG interpretation. The traditional views and applications of Revelation fall far OUTSIDE the parameters of “SHORTLY COME TO PASS.”
When God communicates in time and when he makes promises in time ABOUT time, God is bound by his word to act within the parameters of TIME. God cannot lie. What many people overlook or miss, is the word TIME. The Greeks had a couple of different words for time. The generic word for time without any specificity is “chronos.” However, that is NOT the word used in Rev 1:3. The word used here is “kairos.” Kairos means “the divinely appointed time.” In other words the specific day and the hour that God KNEW and had decisively appointed and determined for those events to come to pass. God APPOINTED the Last Days period and KNEW the DAY and HOUR of judgment. All of these are in the divine counsel and the divine purpose of God in which he determined the “kairos,” the divinely appointed time. It is impossible to overemphasize that this is the FATHER who knew the day and the hour and who had appointed the TIME for the Last Days and HE was saying the judgment was now AT HAND.
The Greek word for “at hand” was “eggus” (pronounced “en-goos”) which can be used in both a special geographical or a temporal manner. To use eggus in a special geographical way to say Jesus was near to Jerusalem would normally indicate that he was close to Jerusalem TEMPORALLY. So, there’s really no huge disconnect between the special geographical use and the temporal use of eggus. The main point is that, in the context of Revelation, the appointed time IS AT HAND. Therefore, without any doubt, the temporal use is being emphasized.
So, Revelation emphatically tells us, that the appointed time was NEAR. But here’s the problem as relates to the late dating of the book of Revelation. What event, POST 95 A.D., qualifies as the Day of the Lord? What event, POST 95 A.D., that was “shortly, soon to come to pass, coming quickly”, actually occurred as a judgment on Babylon, whomever you choose to identify as Babylon? The answer to that is there were absolutely NO other events that could qualify. If, however, we take the early date of Revelation, then all of the URGENT time statements make absolutely PERFECT SENSE. But if we take the 95 A.D. dating of Revelation and say that Revelation was talking about events that haven’t happened yet 2000 years LATER…then all of those time statements mean NOTHING. But remember….God CAN tell time. When God communicates in time, makes promises about time, God is bound by his own character to keep his time promises…and HE DID!
Many commentators have said that establishing the date of the writing of the Revelation is one of the most critical issues to interpreting the book of Revelation. If we place the book of Revelation in the wrong historical, temporal context, then we must be able to find events that match the imminent context. The late dating of Revelation provides NO EVENTS that fulfill the “at hand”, “must shortly come to pass” framework after 98-95 A.D. which match the Biblical definition of the “The Day of the Lord” against this enigmatic city “Babylon.”
Let’s consider the issue of the transfiguration of Christ and the dating of Revelation. John said “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” More than a few commentators have stated, we believe correctly, that John was saying that he was taken to see the Day of the Lord through the Spirit in visionary form. He saw a vision of Christ. What John saw has a tremendously significant similarity to the vision of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. John did not see Christ as a regular Jewish man, he saw a vision very similar to the glory in which Jesus appeared on the mount of Transfiguration. The Transfiguration was a vision of Christ in his 2nd coming glory according to Peter:
2 Peter 1:16-18 [KJV]
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
We must understand that the Transfiguration was NOT a vision of the end of the Roman Empire, not of the end of time, not of the destruction of planet Earth, it was not of the raising of physical bodies out of their graves, it was a vision of the END OF THE LAW OF MOSES AT THE COMING OF THE LORD. Both of these Hebrew fathers, Moses and Elijah, appeared with Jesus in glory, but then Moses and Elijah disappeared when the voice came from Heaven declaring “This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM!” Christ was left alone appearing in the glory of his 2nd coming. His glorified appearance was a very radical transformation of Jesus’ incarnate body, so much so that the disciples were greatly frightened. Moses and Elijah faded away, but the voice of the Father said that his glorified Son was the one to HEAR! PLEASE catch the power of this! This vision signified the passing of the Old Covenant Law of Moses at the coming of the Lord in the glory of his Father! Christ’s coming in judgment of Babylon would be the END of the Mosaic Law and Prophets.
Peter, James and John all saw the vision of the Transfiguration of Christ which Peter later testified was the vision of Christ’s coming in glory, the Day of the Lord. John ALSO saw a vision of The Day of the Lord in his Revelation in which there were many statements that Jesus said he would come quickly and that the time was at hand. Revelation 1:1 says the vision was given to show the servants of Christ “things which must shortly come to pass.” But the coming of the Lord in the Transfiguration was the END of the Law and Prophets! This is a very troublesome issue for those who insist that the Mosaic Law and the Prophets passed away at the cross because Peter said the Transfiguration was a vision of the 2nd coming…not of the cross! John was seeing the fulfillment of the Transfiguration, the Transfiguration was a vision of the 2nd Coming, and the 2nd Coming was to be at the end of the Law and the Prophets. If, therefore, you say Revelation is about the coming of the Lord at the fall of Rome, then you posit the ending of the Mosaic Law and the Prophets at the fall of Rome! Likewise, if you say that Revelation is about the coming of the Lord and you claim it hasn’t happened, then you are saying the MOSAIC LAW AND THE PROPHETS HAVE NOT PASSED!
Only the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant Age of Israel AT THAT EVENT qualifies:
- to be the time of the passing of the Law and the Prophets and…
- to match the “coming quickly, at hand, must shortly come to pass” language of the book of Revelation.
John’s Revelation was a vision of the fulfillment of the Day of the Lord, the same thing seen at the vision of the Transfiguration. But what they saw at the Transfiguration was the END of the Mosaic Law and the Prophets. Therefore, wherever you put the fulfillment of Revelation, the coming of the Lord, it is THERE that the Law and the Prophets pass away.
If we wrongly date the writing of the book of Revelation, then we are doomed to a false interpretation of Revelation, and thus, a false interpretation of eschatology as a whole. Very clearly, John’s eschatology in Revelation is the same as that of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, and the same eschatology of Paul in Thessalonians. So, if we have the wrong context and setting for our understanding of Revelation, then we have the wrong context and setting for our understanding of Jesus’ eschatology, and Paul’s, James’, and Peter’s!
Revelation 1:7 is one of the most often quoted verses to prove that it HASN’T been fulfilled..that it refers to OUR future.
Revelation 1:7 [KJV]
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. Even so, Amen.
We are told the time is coming when every person on the globe will see him coming on the clouds. This interpretation overlooks the actual wording of the text and who is the real focus of the text. “And every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” Despite the poor translation of the KJV, this is very clearly a judgment against those who killed Jesus. We must take Revelation 1:7 and conflate it with Revelation 11:8 which tells us of the two witnesses who were slain in the city where the Lord was slain. You have Revelation 1:7, the judgment of those who pierced him. You have Revelation 11:8, the judgment of the city where the Lord was slain. It seems that we have absolutely perfect correlation between Revelation 1:7 and Matthew 27:25. Jesus was on trial, Pilate found him innocent and attempted three times to release him, but the Jews would have nothing of it. Finally, Pilate said “Would you then have me release Barabbas?” “Yes!” they replied. Pilate said “My hands are innocent of the blood of this innocent man.” They responded, “Let his blood be upon us and on our children.” In Matthew 27:25 we have the Jews acknowledging their blood guilt for killing Jesus. Revelation 1:7 is the coming of the Lord against those who were guilty of piercing him! When was the blood of Jesus avenged? When did the blood guilt for killing Jesus fall upon Israel? There is really no debate about this…it was at the destruction and fall of Jerusalem and their temple in 70 A.D. And that means that Revelation 1:7, as it predicts the coming of the Lord against those who pierced him, is the same thing as when Jesus said “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” It applied, and was to be fulfilled, and WAS fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This means that the book of Revelation WAS WRITTEN BEFORE that time.
Those who adhere to a late date (98-95 A.D.) for the writing of Revelation generally proclaim that the evidence for this is CLEAR. However, once you begin to look into this issue, you soon discover, quite stunningly so, how very little evidence actually exists for this view. Most of this evidence is tenuous at best, not independent, and, most importantly, it is not internal evidence taken from within the book of Revelation itself. The only evidence for the late date is purely external evidence which surprisingly violates and contradicts what the book of Revelation says about itself; its application, its framework, and its context, and thus, its dating. I am of the opinion that if a person does an in-depth, objective study of the book of Revelation with regard to its dating, that will come to no other conclusion but that it was written BEFORE the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and applied directly and prophetically to that event.
As Jesus speaks to the church at Philadelphia, they are being persecuted by the Jews (which is significant of itself), but Christ says in Revelation 3:10
Revelation 3:10 [KJV]
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall [Greek “mello” = IS ABOUT TO] come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Take note of the fact that John was writing to the churches in Asia who were being persecuted the Jews and yet there is MORE persecution about to come and the Lord says “I will keep you from the trial that is about to come.” Now, everyone admits that 1 Peter was written before the fall of Jersualem in 70 A.D. Peter is writing to the very same identical churches of Asia that John was writing to in Revelation. Except that in 1 Peter 4, Peter writes to them and says
1 Peter 4:12 [KJV]
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
This is an unfortunate translation and Smith’s Literal Translation renders this much better:
1 Peter 4:12 [SLT]
Dearly beloved, be not astonished at the refining of fire in you, being for trial to you, as a strange thing happening to you:
The fiery trial was already happening AMONG THEM in the present tense.
Jesus, through John in Revelation, predicts the coming of a trial on the churches of Asia and says “It’s about to come!” They were already being persecuted by the Jews, but more is coming. Peter, writing to the same identical churches, says “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is already among you.” Why were they not supposed to think it strange that it was happening to THEM? I suggest it is just exactly like 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 where Paul says:
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 [KJV]
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
I also suggest to you that John said the fiery trial is coming, it’s about to come…which is future tense. Peter, then writing to the identical people said the TRIAL IS HERE. But Peter was writing BEFORE the Fall of Jerusalem. So, if Peter, writing to the very same people, about the very same issue, says it is HERE, and if Peter is writing about what John and Jesus predicted, then since Revelation said “it is COMING”, but Peter said “IT IS HERE”, then of absolute necessity, the book of Revelation MUST have been written before 70 A.D.
Revelation 2:12-15 [KJV]
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
There are those who suggest that the condition of the churches in Asia mentioned in Revelation demands a late date for the writing of the book of Revelation. I suggest that the conditions of those seven churches in Asia demand exactly the opposite, an early dating. First of all, notice the problem at Pergamos is a Jewish persecution issue. The Lord says they dwell where Satan dwells and where his throne is. Notice that in the previous letter to Smyrna, they were being persecuted by those who say they are Jews, but are not, they are the synagogue of Satan. In rhe letter to the church at Philadelphia, they were engaged against those who say they are Jews, but they are not, they are the synagogue of Satan. Now, if the synagogue of Satan in Smyrna and Philadelphia represent the forces of Jewish persecution, then we have every reason to believe that Pergamos, “where Satan dwells” and “where his seat is”, was likewise facing those very same forces of Jewish persecution as Smyrna and Philadelphia.
Now also notice that the issue at Pergamos mentioned in Revelation was specifically the doctrine of eating of meats sacrificed to idols. However, it is important to understand this issue was an early issue of controversy within all the churches with brand new converts coming out of paganism and idolatry. With these converts now learning that the idol was nothing, they were now eating meat sacrificed to idols. However, the Jewish converts, who had been taught by Torah, that the eating of meats or anything sacrificed to pagan idols was an abomination were in conflict and controversy with these new converts. So Paul had to write in the 50’s to the church at Rome and address this issue as early as the Jerusalem controversy. This was a very early in the church’s existence. When Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 8 & 10, he addressed this same controversy between Jew and Gentiles. But with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the division between Jews and Gentiles then being made very clear, the issue of Torah observance became a moot issue, especially by the time of the 90’s when the book of Revelation is proclaimed to have been written. These facts strongly suggests an EARLY dating of Revelation.