Why Christians Must Seriously Question the Late Date For the Book of Revelation

Second Edition

The Roman Empire at its Greatest Size ABC.org

Do Events and Realities Under the Five ‘Good’

Emperors Correspond to Anything John Saw in

His Visions of the End of the World?

by Mark Mountjoy


The Five Good Emperors: Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, served as capable leaders of the Roman world from September 18, A.D. 96, to March 17, A.D. 180. Instead of ascending to power through dynastic succession, these five rulers were chosen, a selection seen as a means to unify the empire. The imperial cult of the emperors also played a pivotal role in unifying the diverse peoples of Roman civilization, fostering a common devotion to the same deities.

This era marked a period of exceptional prosperity, characterized by enduring peace and stability across the empire. Taxes remained low, the military stood strong, and the populace enjoyed a relatively high standard of living. The state of the roadways facilitated travel and trade, while cities flourished with grand edifices and magnificent monuments, creating an inviting environment for both residents and visitors alike.

Roman taxes during this period ranked among the lowest in the empire's history, with an average tax rate of merely 2.8 percent for all citizens, even lower than in Trajan's reign. This was made feasible by the implementation of a system based on land surveys and registers, enabling the government to collect taxes without disrupting citizens' daily lives. Furthermore, the government diligently invested the taxes it collected into public works projects, including the construction of roads, bridges, and aqueducts. These initiatives not only bolstered the empire's infrastructure but also generated employment opportunities and heightened overall prosperity.

The standard of living for Roman citizens during the reign of the Five Good Emperors remained consistently high. The Roman Empire boasted a robust economy, supported by an efficient taxation and revenue system. Access to an array of goods, encompassing food, clothing, and housing, was readily available to its citizens. Education was widespread, with many having access to both basic and higher education. The political landscape was stable, marked by minimal political violence, ensuring the Roman populace enjoyed a high degree of safety and security.

The Roman road system during the rule of the Five Good Emperors was remarkably well-developed, featuring paved roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that facilitated travel. Moreover, a network of well-maintained roads, complemented by relay stations, ensured swift communication of messages and orders across the empire. These well-kept Roman roads and bridges efficiently interconnected various regions of the empire, promoting ease of movement and trade.

During this period, sea travel also enjoyed a notable degree of safety. The Roman Navy, well-equipped and expertly trained, effectively safeguarded ships and their cargo against pirates and other threats. While occasional pirate attacks and maritime hazards persisted, the Roman Empire implemented coastal defenses and other measures to fortify itself against such threats.

Early Christian Expectations About

the Impending End of the World

The early Christians harbored a profound belief that the impending end of the world was imminent. This conviction is conspicuously evident throughout the New Testament, with the Book of Revelation serving as a particularly noteworthy testament to this eschatological outlook. In Revelation, we encounter vivid descriptions of various divine judgments meted out by God. Notably, in Revelation chapter 6:1-8, John of Patmos delineates the emergence of four horsemen, entities that appear to symbolize different facets of Roman dominion and might. Certain interpretations posit that these four horsemen represent instruments of God, agents tasked with unsettling the tranquility and stability prevailing in the Roman world.

Furthermore, John expounds upon the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities such as wheat and wine in Revelation 6:6. This reference likely alludes to the historical reality that periods of famine, warfare, or political unrest often gave rise to shortages in vital provisions. Consequently, the prices of these necessities would have exhibited volatile fluctuations contingent upon supply and demand. It is imperative to underscore that these circumstances did not typify the broader epoch under examination.

In essence, the early Christian community's belief in the imminent culmination of the world was palpable and prominently featured in the New Testament, with the Book of Revelation offering a striking portrayal of divine judgments and societal turmoil. John's vivid descriptions of the four horsemen and the inflated prices of essential goods in the midst of tumultuous times provide a valuable window into the eschatological mindset of the early Christians.

The One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand

Revelation chapter 7:1-8 narrates the divine selection of twelve thousand individuals from each of the tribes of Israel. However, this account seems to reflect an insubstantial portion of the population of the Second Jewish Commonwealth rather than that of the Roman Empire. This interpretation arises from the notable contrast between the small number of individuals mentioned in each tribe and the biblical portrayal of the descendants of Abraham, who are frequently described as numbering “as the sand of the sea” (Ro. 9:27).  This may be an allusion to the fact that each Hebrew tribe was poorly represented in the Church at the time John was in exile.

The Great Multitude That No Man Could Number

After the one hundred and forty-four thousand are named, John sees a greater number referred to as the “great multitude,” a multitude too numerous to count. These individuals are not Hebrews but non-Semite Gentile converts to early Christianity who embraced faith through the dedicated efforts of the Apostle Paul and his co-laborers (Gal. 2:8).  Paul declared that the Gentile Church faced constant deadly violence during the Apostolic period (Ro. 8:36-39). It appears likely that martyrdom, even among Gentile Christians, was a looming threat stemming from Jewish hostilities before the destruction of Jerusalem.  The events described in Revelation chapter make more sense if they occurred BEFORE the fall of Jerusalem, rather than in the immediate aftermath.  This is because the next significant persecution of the Church only began in A.D. 133 when Jewish Christians refused to join Bar Kokhba’s army in their fight against the Romans.

To better understand the major conflicts between the Jews and Christians and Jews and Romans during the peaceful years and to pinpoint the specific years in which they transpired, we need to delve deeper into historical records and narratives.

The Diaspora Revolts

IIn the second century of the Common Era, Jews living in Crete and Cyrenaica revolted against Roman rule, achieving temporary success in driving the Romans out of the area.  However, in Mesopotamia and Egypt, far-flung flashpoints of unrest occurred, but any Jewish victories proved short-lived as the Romans eventually regrouped and counter-attacked.  Ultimately, they defeated the Jewish rebels, reasserting their control over these regions.  While these conflicts were intense, they were also short-lived and did not significantly impact the overall tenure of the rule of the five good emperors, nor did they affect the standard of living and general well-being of the rank and file citizens in the Roman Empire. Nonetheless, a major conflict during the good years did have a substantial impact on the well-being of Roman civilization: The Bar Kokhba Revolt.

What Was the Bar Kokhba Revolt?

The Bar Kokhba Revolt was a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judaea from 132 to 136 CE.  It was led by Bar Kokhba, the so-called “Son of the Star,” a charismatic Jewish commander who had acquired a large following by appealing to the Jewish population's religious and nationalistic feelings.  The rebellion began in earnest after a long period of tension between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors.  This tension had been brewing for some time, as Roman authorities had imposed restrictions on Jewish religious practices and beliefs. When they attempted to confiscate weapons in a Jewish village, the Jews rose up in revolt.  The revolt spread throughout the region and, within a few months, had become an organized and dangerous insurgency.

The Romans were initially taken aback by the sudden rebellion and were slow to respond.  The Jewish population was able to gain a significant amount of ground, seizing control of nine hundred towns and fifty fortresses in the region.  The Romans eventually responded with overwhelming force, but the rebellion was already too powerful to be quashed.  The Romans eventually resorted to brutal tactics in an attempt to crush the rebellion, including mass executions and the destruction of entire villages.  The Jews, however, held out and ultimately triumphed, with the Romans conceding defeat and withdrawing from the region only to return with reinforcements.  Hadrian dispatched his ablest general from far away Britain, Sextus Julius Severus, who masterfully employed a strategy of attrition with which he effectively drove desperate rebels into hunger and thirst in their caves and underground tunnel systems

These steps brought on horrific privations upon huge sections of the Jewish population which had fled their homes to the hill country of Judaea and Dead Sea coastal caves.  Thousands of ordinary Jews had every intention of returning home upon a Jewish victory against Rome's rule in the Holy Land, but it was not to be!

The Bar Kokhba Revolt was a major turning point in Jewish history, establishing the Jews as a formidable force in the Roman Empire and laying the foundation for the post-Second Temple period, which saw an unprecedented decline of Jewish culture and religion for eighteen centuries, but the next fifty-six years saw unparalleled fortune under the remaining years of Hadrian, then Antoninus Pious, and finally Marcus Aurelius.

The Roman Empire Definitely Did

Not End in the First or Second Century

The Roman Empire did not end in A.D. 70, 96, or 180.  It is widely accepted that the Fall of Rome in the 5th century AD marks the end of the Roman Empire, but this is not the only possible date.  The Roman Empire may have continued for several decades after the Fall of Rome, possibly even into the early 7th century A.D.  However, most historians agree that the Western Roman Empire fell definitively in A.D. 476 when the Germanic chieftain Odoacer deposed the last western emperor and the Germanic tribes invaded the empire.

Roman Triumph in the First Century

Detracts From the Late Dating

After the Jewish Second Temple was destroyed and their city was captured, the Romans razed Jerusalem to the ground and sold the surviving population into slavery.  The Arch of Titus (Latin:NEW ARCH OF TITUS Atavist Bible Church.org Arcus Titi) is a triumphal arch in Rome, Italy, dedicated to the deified Roman Emperor Titus. It stands at the entrance of the Circus Maximus, where the chariot races used to take place during the ancient Roman games.  The arch is made of white marble and decorated with gilt bronze.

“The triumphal arch was created in 81-85 A.D, built by Emperor Domitian to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem over the Jewish Zealots.

It was one of the first of its kind, with the 50ft tall monument said to have influenced the Arc de Triomphe located in Paris.  Emperor Domitian's main purpose for the arch was to make a tribute to his brother, Emperor Titus, following his death. Commemorating both the military triumphs of Titus and his father Vespasian, with their victory in the Jewish war. Each of the images depicted on the arch display the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, showcasing the divinity of Emperor Titus.”4

The Arch of Titus is one of the best-preserved Roman triumphal arches and is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.  Its beauty lies not only in its proportions and elegance, but also in the skill and artistry of the sculptors who worked on it.  The names of the sculptors are not known, but the quality of their work can be seen in the details of the ornamentation and the skill with which they were crafted.  The sculptors of the Arch of Titus were most likely part of a team of artisans who worked on the project over several years.

The Defeat of the Jews

Commemorated on Coinage  

The Romans used a wide variety of imagery on their coins to emphasize the defeat of the Jews and the triumph ofJudea Capta A Rome.  They depicted various aspects of their victory: the booty the Romans had taken from the defeated city, the defeated leaders being led in triumph, and religious imagery to emphasize the piety of the victorious general.  They also issued bronze coins with the images of their defeated enemies on them, to emphasize the submission of the defeated to the victors.  The defeated city was often depicted on the obverse of the coin, while the victorious general was on the reverse.  The Romans also issued gold and silver coins with their emperors' effigies, to show their power and authority.

The defeated enemies were often shown with their arms crossed over their chests, in a submissive position, and their defeated city's name was often included in the imagery.  For instance, the defeated city might be scratched onto the defeated enemy's image, or a laurelJudea Capta B branch might be used to represent the defeated city. Religious imagery was also commonly used on the coins, such as the head of Medusa on the obverse of a coin, which was a reference to the Gorgon, whose gaze turned men to stone.  The reverse of the coin often depicted deities who had aided Rome in its victory, such as the Dioscuri, or the Capitoline Triad.

The Jews were often depicted on the coins as slaves, led by their Roman masters, to emphasize the Roman victory.  

Second Century Roman Successes

The early second century of the Roman Empire was a time of great peace, expansion, and prosperity.  The Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, had been established for almost two centuries, bringing stability and order to the Mediterranean world. During this period, the Roman Senate granted Augustus almost unlimited power, bringing about reform in both the city and the provinces.  This period of peace allowed the Roman Empire to expand its reach and influence, creating a more powerful and hegemonic empire than ever before.

This stability and order allowed for a period of unprecedented growth and prosperity, making the early second century of the Roman Empire a truly remarkable time.  However, the woes, disasters, and calamities in the Book of Revelation text do not live up to the portrait we draw from historical descriptions of everyday Roman life in the second century.

First Century Rome Was a Remarkable City

The city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C. and it was a trading post for merchants from all over the Mediterranean region, as well as a robust military stronghold.  During the period of the early Roman Empire, the city became a hub for trade and culture, with people from all walks of life gathering in the city to share ideas and knowledge.

The city's architecture, artwork, and literature were some of the most impressive achievements of its time. In fact, many ancient ruins that we see today were built during this period.

Rome was also known for its grand public works, such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum.  These structures were built using advanced building techniques at the time, and they still stand to this day.

The city also had a strong military presence, with the Roman army controlling much of Europe and the Mediterranean basin.

In conclusion, first century Rome was a major hub of culture and art, and its influence and glory were only magnified by the downfall and defeat of the Zealots who threw down the gauntlet of war in the autumn of A.D.66.  Jerusalem fell twice within an interval of seventy years, but the city of Rome itself would survive another four-hundred and six years.  Beyond that, the lifetime of the Eastern Roman Empire extended well past anyone's expectations into A.D.1453—977 years after Rome's last emperor.  Now, let's talk about the five good emperors and their rule.

Under Nerva (A.D.96-98)

Emperor Nerva's short two-year rule was marked by his commitment to NERVA WITH CAPTION Atavist Bible Church.orgreform and his successful implementation of agrarian laws.  He was also instrumental in creating the alimenta system, a system that provided grain to the city of Rome.  He is credited with the establishment of the Praetorians, a group of elite bodyguards who would go on to become an important part of the Roman military.  Additionally, he was responsible for the construction of the Colosseum and the restoration of the Pantheon.

Nerva's Attitude Toward Christians

Reports about Nerva's attitudes toward Christians praise him as a high official tolerant of a small minority religion; in his fifteen months in office he addressed concerns for the poor and revised the tax codes to exempt Christians from having to pay the Jewish tax, the Fiscus Judaicus.  Nerva was not only kind to Christians but he was also even handed towards the Jewish people; he took steps to curb abuses of the Jewish tax funds coming into Rome.5 

All in all, it can be said with a fair degree of certainty, that Nerva was tolerant of both Jews and Christians at a time when the Jews were despised their recent seditions and the Church was looked upon with disgust for what Romans considered to be superstitious, shameful, and degrading.

Under Trajan (A.D.98-117)

The rule of Emperor Trajan was the second of a series of five imperial rulers in the Roman Empire, a period of relative peace and prosperity during the later years of the Roman Republic and early Empire. It was a time of political stability and economic growth, where the people of the Empire felt safe and secure. 

Trajan's rule saw great advancements in many fields, from military to social. In the military, Trajan continued the expansion of the Roman borders and armies, leading to further conquests in Dacia, Greece, and the Near East. He also improved the welfare of his soldiers, providing them with better pay, food, and housing. 

In the social sphere, Trajan sought to promote unity among his subjects, creating a sense of national identity. He encouraged intermarriage between different groups, and even those of different classes, and he worked to ensure that all free men had the right to vote. 

Trajan's rule was also marked by great advancements in culture and education. He founded many new schools and libraries, and supported the arts and sciences. He even wrote several important works himself, such as the “Aeneid,” a Latin epic poem about the founding of Rome. TRAJAN atavist bible church.org

Overall, Trajan's rule was a time of great progress and prosperity for the Roman Empire. He ensured that his subjects were safe and secure, and that the people of the Empire felt united and proud of their culture and heritage.  

Trajan, who defeated Dumnorix in 102, also suppressed a slave rebellion in Hispania Citerior, perhaps by executing Dumnorix and his followers. The rebellion had begun when the slaves, led by a man called Asellio, rose up against their Roman masters. Asellio had been born a slave but had managed to gain some influence among the other slaves, leading to his becoming their leader.

The rebellion spread quickly, with other slaves in the area also rising up against their masters. The Roman governor of Hispania Citerior, Piso, sent in troops to put down the rebellion, but they were unsuccessful. Asellio was eventually captured and crucified, while the other slaves were either killed or sold into slavery.

Trajan's victory in Hispania Citerior was significant, not just because he was able to put down the rebellion, but also because it showed that he was a strong leader who was capable of protecting the interests of the Romans. However, it should be noted that the suppression of the rebellion was not without its costs, both in terms of money and reputation.

Trajan's Attitude Towards Christians

Trajan, the Roman Emperor, had a strict policy towards Christianity. He believed that Christianity should not be spread beyond its proper boundaries, and that those who were caught practicing it should be punished.  This view was in line with the beliefs of his time, but it was not until much later that the persecution of Christianity was officially ended.

Nevertheless, Trajan did not actively seek out Christians to punish them, but rather, when they were brought before him, he was determined to punish them for their unorthodox beliefs. 

Trajan’s policy towards Christianity was in line with the beliefs of his time, and he did not believe that anyone should be  punished or put to death simply because they were accused of being a Christian.

Under Hadrian (A.D.117-138)

During the reign of Emperor Hadrian, Rome flourished and he built many important buildings. Hadrian constructed the Pantheon, the Temple of Venus and Roma, and the Colosseum, and he also built the Castel Sant'Angelo as a tomb for himself and his family. He also established a vast system of public works, including the restoration of aqueducts, the building of bridges, and the restoration of the Pantheon.  He also constructed a vast system of public works, including the restoration of aqueducts, the building of bridges, and the restoration of the Pantheon.

The Colosseum was a massive arena used for gladiator battles and public events.  It could seat 50,000 people and was a place where the people could come together to celebrate and watch fights.

The Pantheon was an important temple that was dedicated to all the gods of Rome.  It was originally built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Furius Camillus in 125 BC, and it was rebuilt during the reign of Hadrian. The Temple of Venus and Roma was also built during the reign of Hadrian, and it was dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus and the deified Julius Caesar. The Colosseum was also built during the reign of Hadrian and was used for gladiator battles and public events.Hadrian Atavist Bible Church.org

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, relations between the Roman Empire and its neighbors in the East were tense. Rome had already annexed Egypt, Cyrenaica, and other territories in the East, but the Parthians still posed a significant threat. In order to maintain peace and stability, Hadrian was willing to make tough decisions and cede some of his territory to the East.

Hadrian was a wise and just ruler who sought to protect and expand the Roman Empire.  He was the first Roman emperor to recognize the importance of the East, and worked hard to maintain good relations with the Parthians and other neighboring powers. His decisions were not without their risks, as it could have inflamed the Parthians and other neighboring powers, but it was a risk that Hadrian was willing to take.

In the end, Hadrian's efforts paid off. His successful expansion of the Roman Empire, combined with his wise leadership, helped to ensure the stability and prosperity of the Roman Empire for centuries to come.  

Hadrian and Circumcision: A New Look?

It is widely acknowledged that Hadrian was opposed to the Jewish custom of circumcision. This has often been taken as an example of anti-Semitism on the part of Hadrian, although some historians dispute this claim. 

Circumcision was a common practice among many ancient cultures, including the Greeks and Egyptians.  In fact, it was a symbol of their shared cultural heritage. However, Hadrian’s personal views on the matter are thought to have been influenced by his upbringing and education. It is possible that Hadrian’s opposition to circumcision was based on this idea of the soul, and how it should be separated from the body.  

Hadrian and the Jews

Hadrian, the Roman emperor, was remembered for his efforts to suppress the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea. During his reign, he enacted a ban on Jewish ritual practices and issued a decree to execute any Jews who refused to comply.  This persecution was a contributing factor to the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and attacks on the Jewish community.  These measures, combined with the ongoing Roman oppression of the Jewish people, created an atmosphere of tension and fear that contributed to the spread of anti-Jewish violence. 

In the eighteenth year of his reign, Hadrian led an army to victory against Bar Kokhba, a Jewish leader in the city of Betar. After a long and grueling battle, Hadrian emerged victorious, and Bar Kokhba was forced to retreat. This victory marked a turning point in Hadrian's reign, as he was now seen as a powerful and respected leader.

Hadrian's victory over Bar Kokhba was significant for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it showed that Rome was capable of defeating a powerful nation like Israel, which had a long history of military prowess (Daniel 11:32 cf. 1 Maccabees 3:14-25).

Secondly, it showed that Hadrian was a respected leader in the eyes of his soldiers, who had the courage to defeat a seemingly unbeatable enemy.

Lastly, it cemented Hadrian's status as a strong leader, able to protect and expand his empire.  This victory was a major turning point in Hadrian's reign, and marked the beginning of the final two years of his reign. He was eventually succeeded by Antoninus Pius.

Jewish Defeat At Betar

The Roman Empire’s forces were victorious in the Battle of Betar, the final stand of the Jewish rebels led by Shimon bar Koziva. After three years of siege, the city was overrun, and the Roman army met little resistance.  The fall of Bethtar was a crushing defeat for the Jewish rebels, with an estimated 580,000 deaths due to starvation or the sword.6  This victory marked the end of the war and the Jewish rebellion. 

Hadrian and Rabbi Akiba 

Emperor Hadrian and Rabbi Akiba were two of the most influential people of their respective times.  Hadrian was the emperor of Rome during the second century, while Rabbi Akiba was a renowned rabbi during the fourth century. Both men were renowned for their wisdom and knowledge, and both were revered by many.

Their legacies are still celebrated to this day. Emperor Hadrian's name is remembered in numerous places, including the city of Adria in northern Italy, which was named after him. Rabbi Akiba is remembered through his work, the Mishnah, which is the first major written compilation of Jewish law.

The similarities between the two men end there. Emperor Hadrian was an avowed pagan, while Rabbi Akiba was a devout Jew. Despite this, both men were highly educated and well-versed in both Jewish and Roman culture.  Theirs was a unique and symbiotic relationship that has lasted for centuries.

Hadrian's Attitude Toward Christians

We are told that Emperor Hadrian was well aware of the presence of Christians in his empire but he maintained the policy of his predecessor. 

“No, Hadrian did not persecute Christians. Despite being a pagan, he had tolerance toward Christians.  He carried on with Trajan's policy on Christians, which stipulated that Christians were not to be pursued and persecuted based on their belief.”

Hadrian's disposition was a fair one: Merely being a Christian was not enough for action against them to be taken, they must also have committed some illegal act.7

The Roman Empire Under

Antoninus Pius (A.D.138-161)

Emperor Antoninus Pius was a highly successful emperor who ruled for almost two decades.  He was known for his strong military leadership and successful campaigns, butAntoninus Pius Atavist Bible Church.org also for his policies of expansion and consolidation. He was a proponent of stability and security, ensuring that the borders of the empire were secure and that there was no political unrest or rebellion. He was also a strong advocate for the people of Rome, ensuring that they had access to basic necessities such as food and water.  He was also a proponent of education, making sure that the people of Rome had access to quality education and were able to advance in their careers.

On the frontiers Antoninus Pius and Verus campaigned against the Parthians. Verus died in 166 and Antoninus Pius continued the war with success.

Antoninus Pius defeated Marcomanni and Quadi in Bohemia in 166. He then concluded a treaty with the Goths in Sirmium in 168 and married their king, Vindex, in 169. 

Antoninus Pius' Attitude Towards Christians

Antoninus Pius, (born Sept. 19, 86, Lanuvium, Latium, died March 7, 161, Lorium, Etruria), Roman emperor from A.D. 138 to 161, was a well-known opponent of Christianity.  He wrote a letter to the Senate in which he expressed his disdain for the religion, stating that it was “worthless and vain.”

Additionally, he issued a rescript which stated that if a Christian did not sacrifice to the traditional gods, he should be put to death. This demonstrates Antoninus Pius' clear disdain for Christianity and his belief that it should not be tolerated in the Roman Empire. 

The Roman Military During

Antoninus Pius’ Rule

The Roman military during Antoninus Pius’ rule was a well-trained and well-equipped force. They were organized into various units, including legions, auxiliaries, and naval squadrons.  These units were well-trained and well-equipped, and they were constantly prepared for war.  The Roman military was a formidable force, and it was used to protect the borders of the Empire and to expand its influence.  They were also used to subjugate foreign territories and to ensure the safety of the people living within the borders of the Empire. 

Rome Under Emperor Marcus Aurelius 


Marcus Aurelius was a wise and just(!!) ruler who was driven by a deep sense of duty and purpose.  He was a Stoic philosopher and a great military leader, but his legacy is more remembered for his commitment to reason and the pursuit of peace. 

His reign saw great expansion and prosperity, and he was dedicated to ensuring that his people were happy and prosperous.  He was a compassionate leader who was always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.  His reign was marked by a period of great expansion and prosperity, and he was dedicated to ensuring that his people were happy and prosperous.

He was also a great philosopher, and his reign saw the rise of Stoicism as a popular philosophy. 

Marcus Aurelius' Attitudes Toward Christians

Emperor Marcus Aurelius was a man of great influence and power, and his attitude towards Christians was a defining factor in their persecution.  He was born in A.D. 121 and educated extensively in rhetoric and philosophy, and he succeeded his adoptive father Antoninus Pius as Marcus Aurelius Atavist Bible Church.orgEmperor of Rome, and he reigned until his death in 180. 

Marcus Aurelius was known to be a stern and severe ruler, and he persecuted Christians. He was listed among the persecutors of Christians alongside Nero and Domitian, Decius and Diocletian.  This was in part due to the book of Martyrs by John Foxe, which stated that Marcus Aurelius had “followed about the year of our Lord 161, a man of nature more stern and severe; and although in study of philosophy and in civil government no less commendable, yet toward the Christians, in that study, more austere.”

Marcus Aurelius’s persecution of Christians was not limited to his reign, however. He was part of a larger trend in Rome’s attitude towards Christianity, which was becoming increasingly hostile during this period.  Despite his early education and his adoptive father’s lenient approach, Marcus Aurelius himself was a persecutor of Christians. 

In conclusion, Emperor Marcus Aurelius’s attitude towards Christians was a defining factor in their persecution.  

Conclusion: Revelation's Judgments

Did Not Happen Against the Romans

Assuming the Book of Revelation actually was written in A.D.96 that was the year Domitian was assassinated and a brand new era of positive developments ensued in the Roman Empire.  Even if the Romans persecuted Christians during the entire period in question, Revelation's seven seals, trumpets, and bowls did not happen against Rome, the Roman military or their civilization.  Even if these misfortunes are not taken literally there is no logical way to correlate, justify, or imagine that Roman's years of stellar success was, somehow, happening along with apocalyptic mayhem and chaos, judgment and ruin. 

It is agreed that the Book of Revelation uses symbolic images to communicate truths about judgment and Acts of God but imagery and words are really meaningless if they do not correspond to any events in real time.  This leaves us with basically two options: Either the Book of Revelation was written earlier and reflects Jewish hostilities, misfortunes and tragedies (along with the ones yet to happen in the second century, e.g., the Diaspora Revolts and Bar Kokhba Rebellion), or absolutely nothing happened at all.  The very last shred of hope for the Book of Revelation is that its truth and significance will be finally realized in our future—but such an outlook is completely contrary to the claims of John and to the spirit of urgency that pervades his writing.8 


1 Historians are agreed that the Roman Empire was at its best in the second century, see e.g., The Empire At High Tide.  

2 They are called "the most majestic days of the Roman Empire" but that would not be the case if the woes of the Book of Revelation really fell on the Roman people (Five Good Emperors| Summary|Accomplishments| History).

3 Yigael Yadin, Bar Kokhba, pp. 22, 258.

4 Arch of Titus, Rome - Sightseeing Tours Italy 

5 "[Nerva] had a generous social and economic policy which attempted to alleviate the fiscal excesses and increasing pauperism in the empire. He abolished the extortionist procedure of the *Fiscus Judaicus that had given rise to abuse under Domitian. In commemoration of this he issued coins with the inscription Fisci Judaici Calumnia Sublata. He exempted adherents of the Christian faith from the obligation to pay the Fiscus Judaicus, thus officially recognizing Christianity as a new religion and not merely a sect." Encyclopedia.com.  Also see, Roman Emperor Nerva's Reform of the Jewish Tax.

6 Cassius Dio on Bar Kokhba.

7 Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire wikipedia.

Rev. 1:1, 3, 7; 2:2:24-25; 3:10-11; 11:14; 22:6, 7, 10, 12 and 20.



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