When was Revelation written?
The following information is from An Introduction to the New Testament, D. Edmond Hiebert, Moody Press, 1977, pages 253-257.
“It was the testimony of the early church that the Apocalypse was written during the latter part of the reign of Domitian who was emperor from AD81-96.”
1. Irenaeus (150-200): “For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” Against Heresies, 5.30.3 Note: Some think that Irenaeus was quoting Papias around AD130.
2. Clement of Alexander:, “For when on the tyrant’s death he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos…” Who was This Rich Man?, XLII
3. Victoinas of Pettau (D304): “… in the isle of Patmos condemned by Caesar Domitian.” Commentary on the Apocalypse, 10:11
4. Eusebius agreed with Irenaeus: John was imprisoned in the 15th year of Domitian (AD95-96) and returned during the reign of Nerva, Eccliastical History, 3.18 and 3.20
5. Jerome (d420): Agreed with Domitian date, Lives of Illustrious Men (ch 9)
6. Making the transliterated name of Nero equal 666 requires misspelling the transliterated name by adding a second letter “n.”
7. The churches of Asia were not in decline in the AD60s but had declined by the AD90s (Rev 2:4; 3:1; 3:15-18).
8. The Nicolaitan party was not present in Paul’s letters of the AD60s but was very strong in the AD90s (Rev 2:6, 15).
9. John seems to have a long intimate knowledge of the churches. This was not possible for the AD60s because he only went to Asia in AD67. The AD96 date best explains this.
10. The expression “synagogue of Satan” would have been inappropriate for the AD60s but not for the AD90s.
11. The phrase “the Lord’s day” (1:9) as a reference to Sunday had replaced “the first day of the week” in the AD90s and not in the AD60s.
12. Live emperor worship seen throughout Revelation and especially in chapter 13 does not fit Nero because Domitian was the first Emperor who demanded worship of a living emperor.
13. Laodicea had been destroyed by an earthquake in AD62 and could not have been wealthy between AD67-70. It was wealthy again in AD96.
14. Polycarp implies that there was no church in Smyrna as of AD63. Therefore AD96 better fits the description.
15. If Revelation were written in Nero’s age, why did the early church have such a strong tradition that it had been written under Domitian? (Hiebert, p257)