The debates over the dating of Revelation is one is not uncommon among scholars and teachers alike. One thing is for sure. Your eschatology view would be framed by school of thought you belong. Most importantly it would influence the quality of life you live in terms of your expectations on how things should turn out and outlook in life.
I believe that with a close look at the book of Revelation that we would discover that the book instead dates itself. There are landmarks within the prophetic and Eschatological framework to prove it was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem.
One of such evidences is the existence of 7 churches to whom the book was also written to. The existence of only seven churches in Asia Minor as Revelation 1 states also suggests a writing date before the greater expansion of Christianity into that region, which occurred after the fall of Jerusalem.
In one of the letters written to the church in Pergamos as captured in Chapter 2, we find interesting name which has also caused differing views with regards to the dating of the book.
It’s the name Antipas.
Proponents for a late date state that according to church history that Antipas was ordained as bishop of Pergamon during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred in ca. 92 AD by burning in a brazen bull-shaped altar for casting out demons worshiped by the local population.
This note of history passed down through various channels is enough to throw out a pre-date view of the book of Revelation. But if we do so we will get to premature conclusion without considering the balance of evidence as presented throughout the book.
If one verse seems obscure or out of place should the others be made to align to it. I believe that healthy exegesis should be that the unclear should be interpreted the clear.
But now let’s look at the letter again and I believe we will see something that truly confirms a different position.
Which is the fact that Antipas in the verse is not a personbut a place.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 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.
A closer look at that verse will show you 2 things:
1. Notice the word “wherein”
“was” is not in the original manuscript but was added by the translators to fill a thought.
2. The word “wherein” in the greek is a word preposition denoting position and by impl. Instrumentality according to NAS Exhaustive Concordance. It can be used to denote a place, proximity.
This can be seen as also used in Matthew 2:1:
“was born in Bethlehem”
“his star in the east, and”
“A voice in Ramah was heard”
It is important we note that the Lord gives a revelation of Himself first and then gives us a background of the location before His message to the correspondent church.
The city of Pergamos was Built on a 1,300 foot hill overlooking a deep valley 45 miles north-east of Smyrna, Pergamum was the Roman capital of Asia Minor. It was a sophisticated city of high culture boasting a library of 200,000 books. It was called “the most illustrious city of Asia,” by the historian Pliny. Another historian called it, “the royal city, the city of authority.” The city was filled with temples and shrines to various gods and goddesses, including: Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios, as well as being the center of the Imperial cult of Asia. It had a temple specifically devoted to the worship of Caesar Augustus.
The mountain city of Pergamum, covered with temples and shrines to false gods is confirms the Lord description of it being the “throne of Satan,” and “the place where Satan dwells.”
Vs 13 the subject under discourse is still giving us a background information which is the backdrop under which the early church was operating.
So when the verse says “even in those days WHEREIN Antipas my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth”
It was saying that in Antipas His (The Lord’s faithful witness, which is the greek actual translation) was slain.
What many people do not know based on history is that “Antipas” was a sudo-name given for that city, including the place “Perea” (a.k.a “Perga” or “Pergamos”). The ruler of this city during “those days” spoken of was Herod Antipater (a.k.a. “Herod Antipas”, Herod was his title, Antipas was his name).
The name Antipas is synonymous the ruler as sometimes we can also find such references in some locations as of old.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia “In the history of the Messianic movement Antipas plays a most important part; for he is the Herod of the Gospels who slew John, and who was partly responsible for the execution of Jesus;…”
The faithful martyr being referred to here by Jesus in His message to Apostle John is John the Baptist. John is that witness that embodies the law that confirm the authenticity of the Messiahship of Jesus. Herod Antipas is the ruler that martyred John the Baptist. John was killed in Antipas aka Perea aka Pergamos.
John the Baptist was the one that came to prepare the way of the Lord and as was stated in Malachi he was to come before the great and terrible day of the Lord, One of the major talking point of the book of Revelation.
That verse in Rev 2:13 is supposed to read:
“even in those days WHEREIN Antipas, my faithful witness was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth”
This letter written to the church in Pergamos was as well others was written by John as He said in chapter 1 that they were his companions in the tribulation that early church suffered. That prophesied tribulation is behind us now. We can only learn from their victory and patience in their trials that Lord never abandons His. He will always come through for His family.
This Antipas is not the same in church history. The one in this book is a place and the other mentioned in church tradition was a person. The 2 should not be put together as it will only lead to confusion.