Jerusalem, Rome, Revelation – John’s Apocalypse Written Before 70 A.D.

282.   Also, the 200 A.D. Tertullian wrote105 that “the Apostle John” – having previously (and apparently by Nero in A.D. 64 to 68) been “plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil” – was (apparently under Domitian in A.D. 69) “remitted to his island exile.”   Indeed, “Domitian – who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, once [in A.D. 69 to 71] attempted to do the same thing the latter [Nero] did” – namely, to persecute the Church.   “But because he [Domitian] had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased – and even recalled those whom he had banished.”106

283.   The 225 A.D. Clement of Alexandria wrote “about the Apostle John” that, “on the tyrant’s death” (apparently meaning the demise of Domitian), John “returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos.”   Later, asserts Clement, “he [John] went away, being invited to the contiguous territories of the nations to appoint Overseers.”   Then, “time passed.”   But later, “some necessity having emerged, they [the Overseers outside of Ephesus] sent again for John.”   He, though then “an old man,” went to them.   “Forgetting his age,” he still testified. Indeed, he had now become so “aged” a person, that even the aging Overseers appropriately called him “the old man.” 107

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284.   The 295 A.D. Victorinus, in his Commentary on the Apocalypse,108 says that when “John said these things [cf. Revelation 10:11], he was on the island of  Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian” (in A.D. 69?).   “There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse.   And, when grown old” (later?), “he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by suffering” during his A.D. 93 to 96 [re-?]exile.   Thereafter, however, “Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged.   And, John being dismissed from the mines,” he “subsequently” (again?) “delivered the same Apocalypse which he had received from God” (earlier, during A.D. 69?).   “This, therefore, is what He [God] says [to John]: ‘You must again prophesy to all nations!”   Cf. Revelation 10:11.

285.   It is especially the 300 A.D. Eusebius who writes about John’s post-exilic life. We have already seen that Eusebius (in his Demonstratio Evangelica) gave an early date (before 70 A.D.) to John’s Revelation.   Now we shall look at Eusebius’s description of John’s life especially after the latter’s Pre-70-A.D. exile.

286.  “Domitian,” writes Eusebius, 109 “having shown great cruelty toward many, and having unjustly put to death no small number of well-born and notable men at Rome, stirred up a persecution against us [Christians] – although his father Vespasian had undertaken nothing prejudicial to us.   It is said that in this persecution the Apostle and Evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos….   To such a degree, indeed, did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time – that even those writers who were far from our religion…recorded that in the fifteenth year of Domitian, Flavia Domitilla…was exiled with many others.”

287.   However, observes Eusebius, “after Domitian had reigned fifteen years” from A.D. 81 to 96, “Nerva had succeeded to the Empire” (as the new ruler who took over after Domitian).   At that time, “the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days,110 voted that Domitian’s honours should be cancelled – and that those who had unjustly been banished, should return to their homes and have their property restored to them. It was at this time that the Apostle John returned from his banishment in the island, and took up his abode at Ephesus again, according to an ancient Christian tradition.   After Nerva had reigned a little more than a year [96 to 98 A.D.], he was succeeded by Trajan….   At this time, Ignatius was known as the second Overseer of Antioch [from 70 to 107 A.D.].   Symeon likewise was at that time the second Ruler of the church of Jerusalem [and died about 107 A.D.]….   At that time, the Apostle and Evangelist John, the one whom Jesus loved, was still living in Asia [Minor], and governing the churches of that region, having returned after the death of Domitian from his exile on the island.   And that he was still alive at that time, may be established by the testimony of two witnesses” – viz. “Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria.

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