Date of Revelation: Before AD 70 or After?
Don K. Preston (early date)- Versus Dr. Sergius Bale (late date)
Don K. Preston’s First Affirmative Presentation
Each man will have three affirmatives and three negatives.
I affirm that Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and foretold that event. Understanding the dating of Revelation is crucial to a proper interpretation of the Apocalypse since the coming of the Lord (parousia), the judgment and the resurrection (the judgment of the living and the dead) all occur at the time of, in direct connection to the judgment of “Babylon.” To have an anachronistic view of the book produces a false interpretation.
If it is established that “Babylon” of Revelation was first century, Old Covenant Jerusalem, that fully, definitively proves that Revelation was written prior to AD 70. So, let’s identify Babylon.
“Babylon Was the City That Killed the OT Prophets (Revelation 16:4-7):
You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” (Revelation 16:6f)
Note the reference to the “altar” which is where the souls of the martyrs were as they cried out for vindication and vengeance on those who had killed them (Revelation 6:9f). That vindication would be at the Great Day of God’s Wrath. Hang onto that.
FACT: In the NT, when the anarthrous word “prophet” or “the prophets” is used, without a contextual qualifier (Cf. 1 Cor. 12:28-29 / Ephesians 2:2 / 4:8f, etc) it invariably refers to OT prophets.
The term “the prophets” is used 72 times in the New Testament. This count does not include the term “the prophet” singular, or the anarthrous “prophets.” In the instances where “the prophet” is used, it almost invariably cites a specific OT prophet. Only 12 times does the term “prophets” refer to prophets of Jesus. In each of the 12 instances, the context demands that the prophets be identified as New Covenant prophets, (Acts 13:1f; 15:32; Ephesians 2:20; 3:8, 4:8f etc.). In Revelation 16, there is no indication that New Testament prophets are in view.
FACT: No city in the entire Bible – other than Jerusalem – was ever accused of killing God’s prophets.
FACT: Jesus identified Old Covenant Jerusalem as the city guilty of that crime:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus was emphatic that Jerusalem was THE source for all persecution of “the prophets”:
Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
He did not mean that in a rigidly literalistic manner, but was pointing out that Jerusalem was the source for the death of all of God’s OT prophets- and would be the cause of the death of his apostles and prophets.
Jesus’ parables confirm this. In Matthew 21, the wicked husbandmen persecuted the messengers of the Master, before the sending of the Master’s son. Likewise in Matthew 22, the parable of the wedding, is referent to the persecution of the prophets of God.
Steven, in the temple, said to those Jews who had just been guilty of killing Jesus– “Which of the prophets have you not slain?” (Acts 7:52).
Paul rehearsed that bloody history of the Jews as he addressed the Thessalonians being persecuted by their Jewish countrymen- (Acts 17:1-7)– “who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men.” It was OC Israel / Jerusalem– and no other entity – that had historically and Biblically killed the prophets.
The unbroken Biblical evidence is that OT Jerusalem was the city that killed the OT prophets.
Babylon of Revelation killed the OT prophets.
NO PAGAN CITY KILLED AN OT PROPHET!
NO CITY AFTER AD 70 COULD EVER KILL AN OT PROPHET!
Therefore, Babylon of Revelation was OT Jerusalem.
This means that since Revelation was predicting the yet future, but imminent, destruction of Babylon / Jerusalem, the book of Revelation was written before the fall of Jerusalem.
On this point alone my proposition is proven, and Sergius’ is falsified. Unless Sergius can prove that Revelation breaks the heretofore unbroken chain of evidence, and demonstrate definitively that Babylon of Revelation was some other city than that which the Bible, in every occurrence identifies as the city that killed the OT prophets, then it is undeniably true that Babylon of Revelation was Old Covenant Jerusalem. (Sergius admits that he cannot definitively prove his proposition!!)
To my next point:
“Babylon” was, “Where the Lord was crucified.”
Nothing could be more definitive. That statement, “It is also where the Lord was crucified” is the interpretive explanation of the spiritual designation, leaving no doubt whatsoever about the identity of Babylon. Jesus was not crucified anywhere but at one city, only one city was guilty of crucifying him. “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” Matthew 27:25).
The text says the city was “spiritually called Sodom and Egypt,” Note the following:
BIBLICALLY, ONLY ONE CITY IS EVER SPIRITUALLY DESIGNATED AS SODOM – OLD COVENANT JERUSALEM.
1. Deuteronomy 32:32- The Lord said that in Israel’s last days (32:19-20, 29), “Her vine is the vine of Sodom” (v. 32).
2. Isaiah 1:9-10- “Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.” – She was then guilty of the same sins as Babylon in Revelation. (Cf. Is. 3:9f also).
3. Jeremiah 23:14 – “Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
4. Ezekiel 16– Several times in this chapter YHVH called Israel and Judah “Sodom and Gomorrah” (v. 44-56). The reason for it is because they committed spiritual adultery and played the “harlot” with the nations. They were also guilty of shedding innocent blood– i.e. the very sins of Babylon in Revelation. (We cannot forget that Jesus called Jerusalem and the Jews of his generation the “adulterous generation”- Matthew 12 / 16).
(In Jeremiah 49 the Lord compared the coming destruction of Edom with the past destruction of Sodom. But that is simply a comparison of degrees of punishment. He did not call Edom “Sodom.”)
Babylon in Revelation was spiritually called Sodom.
The only city in the Bible ever spiritually called Sodom was Old Covenant Jerusalem.
Therefore, Babylon in Revelation was Old Covenant Jerusalem– unless Sergius can definitively prove that Revelation is breaking from the previous united testimony.
Babylon is the city that killed the apostles and prophets of Jesus- all the martyrs
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. ….The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore……And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” (Revelation 18:20-24).
This echoes Jesus’ Temple diatribe against Jerusalem:
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth (Matthew 23:34-35).
Due to this destruction, “the voice of the Bridegroom and Bride will no longer be heard.” This is a direct echo from Jeremiah 7:34 / 16:9 / 25:10– Jeremiah’s prediction of the BC 586 destruction of Jerusalem. (Also, in my Babylon book I adduce over 20 direct parallels between the book of Lamentations and Revelation, demonstrating that they are both about the fall of Jerusalem in their respective days).
Notice the focus on this martyrdom of “the apostles and prophets.” This alludes directly to Luke 11:49-50:
Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation.
Recall again Jesus’ words: “It is not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.”
Thus, Jerusalem killed the prophets, Jesus, and his apostles and prophets. She was guilty of “the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world.”
Likewise, Babylon killed the prophets, Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. She was guilty of “the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”
Upon what hemeneutical and exegetical principle is it possible to delineate between Jerusalem and Babylon?
Speaking of killing the apostles, Paul said:
For I think, God has exhibited us, the apostles, last of all as men condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to mankind(1 Cor. 4:9).
Paul argued that the apostles were set forth by God as “the last to die” or, “the last to be set forth to die” in the eschatological narrative. This means that the martyrdom of the apostles was to fill up the measure of suffering of the saints, and the cup of sin on the part of Israel. This is what Paul said in Colossians 1:24:
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.
Paul was patently NOT saying Christ had not suffered enough. Paul was repeating what he said in Corinthians- the martyrdom of the apostles would fill up the measure of Israel’s internecine guilt for killing the saints– “fill up then the measure of your fathers’ guilt…behold, I sent to you apostles and prophets, some you shall crucify…”
This is what Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, where he echoed Jesus’ Temple discourse, saying that in killing the prophets, Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets, Israel was filling the measure of her sin. Judgment was about to fall when Paul wrote, circa AD 50.
Likewise, Babylon killed the prophets, Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. She was guilty of “the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” And the judgment of Babylon was at hand, coming shortly and quickly: “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:7-8).
No city other than OT Jerusalem ever did– or ever could do – what Revelation says “Babylon” did! Thus, “Babylon” of Revelation did not point forward to another Babylon! Revelation says not one word about “What Jerusalem did, the future Babylon will do” because no city can ever do what Babylon did!
The evidence above- there is much, much more – is probative and powerful. Babylon was clearly OT Jerusalem- unless Sergius can definitively prove otherwise. He has already admitted that he can’t.
The problem in Revelation is very specific, historically delimited. The issue was not the timeless issue of “Christian suffering” throughout time. The text is about ONE CITY, that had killed the OT prophets, Jesus and the Lord’s apostles and prophets, indeed she was guilty of shedding all the blood of all the righteous. She truly had filled up the measure of her father’s guilt. From Jesus to Paul to John, the identity of that ONE CITY is clear and undeniable: That was Old Covenant Jerusalem.
The rules state that Sergius must address my arguments to the best of his knowledge. We shall see if he will address the evidence above.