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I am curious to know which book came first: Book of John or Book of Revelation. Are there any evidence to prove this chronology?

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    It seems you are putting the cart before the horse. Is there any evidence to suggest the same man authored both?
    – user862
    May 24 '17 at 6:06
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    Who do you suggest wrote these books?
    – Nguai al
    May 24 '17 at 6:41
  • +1 Thanks for your question. It gave an opportunity for someone to provide a valuable point of view in regard to the dating of the biblical texts.
    – enegue
    Jun 4 '17 at 12:54
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    This should be two separate questions: When was the Revelation written, and when was the Fourth Gospel written.
    – user2910
    Jun 4 '17 at 16:44
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    I have removed the suggestion that the books have the same author, since the question is clearly about the order, not the author. If this is not satisfactory, please re-edit the question.
    – enegue
    Jun 6 '17 at 14:22
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There is an excellent web site that I have found very useful. It is called Dating the New Testament, and you can find it at www.datingthenewtestament.com.

Contrary to what the Roman Catholic Church and most protestant denominations have traditionally taught in the last 150 years, all of the books of the NT were written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and there are many evidences in the scriptures to prove it. The best indicators are the references within all of the books to the temple at Jerusalem, for if the books were written after that temple had been destroyed, the very center of the Jews' worship and sacrificial covenant, those references would not be to a still standing, a still existing temple in the present tense verbs. They certainly could not have failed to mention its destruction.

On the author of the gospel of John, and of 1, 2, & 3 John and of Revelation:

"It would perhaps be best to first establish the case that the same author is responsible for all the books associated with John. The New Testament books of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation are sometimes called the Johannine literature and are traditionally assigned to John the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. The attributions within these books are not at all clear on this point, since the Gospel of John and 1 John are anonymous, 2 John and 3 John are letters from “The Elder”, and the Revelation is given to simply “His servant John” (Rev 1:1). Still, there is reason to believe that the traditional understanding here is correct. The identification of John the son of Zebedee as the author of this material is dependent on a combination of the writings of early church fathers and indirect evidence within these books." Source: here

John 11:49, 51 indicate the Caiaphas was no longer High Priest, and places the gospel after AD 37. Further evidences presented within the gospel book address the issue that some appeared to be worshiping John the Baptist as the Messiah, where the apostle John had to correct that misunderstanding (John 1:19-37) is just one indication that it was written after the synoptic gospels.

The reference to Peter's death in John 21:18-24 might be an indication that Peter's death was very close, or had just happened. This would push the date for the gospel of John out to AD 64 or 65.

Most definitely the gospel of John was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70) as references are made within the book to structures existing before that siege of Jerusalem. (John 5:2)

Revelation is pushed a little further out to about AD 66 - 68. Another excerpt from the same source:

"Revelation looks to have been written before there was a clear break between Christians and Jews. Rev 2:9 and 3:9 refer to those "who say they are Jews but are not", while the 144,000 sealed in chapter 7 are from the twelve tribes of Israel. This joint association of Christians and Jews together disappears as the New Testament closes, as even the earliest church fathers address Christians and Jews with an "us and them" perspective."

That John was told to measure the temple in Rev. chap. 11 cannot be ignored as referring to the still standing temple in Jerusalem. As such, the kings of Rev. 17:10 (five are fallen, and one is) have to be kings that existed before the temple was destroyed.

Robert Young, Young's Analytical Concordance concerning the date of Revelation:

“It was written in Patmos about A.D. 68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syria version of the book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus in A.D. 175, who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou – i.e., Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius, Orosius, etc., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the early date.”

One of multiple sources (p. 147): here

Prior to 1850, most biblical scholars recognized these evidences and acknowledged that Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. It was only after the errors of "premillennialism" crept into the churches that the former knowledge was deliberately buried.

See also "It's Not The End of The World - Part V: Dating the Book of Revelaiton" and "The Signs of Revelation Part I: The Time of His Coming" at ShreddingTheVeil

The internal evidences place the gospel of John most probably about AD 65, the books of 1, 2, & 3 John about 65 to 66 AD, and Revelation a little later at 66 - 68 AD.

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  • Thanks for this elaborate answer. Greatly appreciated and impressed.
    – Nguai al
    May 24 '17 at 15:00
  • +1 A valuable answer. Thanks for the link to www.datingthenewtestament.com
    – enegue
    Jun 4 '17 at 12:51
  • There are several questionable presumptions in this answer. 1. The measuring of the Temple proves it was still standing. Ezekiel did the same thing while there was no Temple. (Also John's description of the Temple in no way corresponds to the Temple the Romans destroyed.) 2. The Gospel makes no reference to the Sadducees, the party which controlled the Temple but disappeared after its destruction. 3. The reference to Peter's death is a statement about John outliving Peter (not his death) and the other disciples. If they died before the Temple was destroyed, John is the “last man standing”… Jun 1 '19 at 15:45
  • ... as the Church awaits the return of Christ. 4. The "hard" division of Jew and Christian occurred after the destruction of the Temple which made the synagogue a Temple “substitute.” The Temple's destruction validated the Christian message of the unimportance of the physical Temple (i.e. Stephen). It also put an end to the location where the Apostles had standing and pushed the debate to the synagogues, where they had little standing. IOW as long as the Temple remained, there was common ground, but the Christian would be expelled from the synagogue (John 12:42, 16:2). Jun 1 '19 at 15:46
  • @Rev'Lad, each of your contentions are loose, & based upon traditional "church" teachings that do not hold up, or cannot be refuted w/o knowing which scripture is the basis. 1. Measuring the temple or any building was done both before construction & destruction. The context governs, & in Rev. the discussion centered around the desolation which means destruction. Trodding down referred to destruction by the "gentiles" - Romans. 2. How is this stmt even relevant? 3. The pt is simply that Peter would die before John, & that this was a possible indication of timing near or close to that event.
    – Gina
    Jun 1 '19 at 21:45
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Just to throw a twist into this discussion, here's another question related to this subject. Could the Gospel of John been written after Revelation? Is the thematic approach, which is clearly distinguished from the other gospels, a result of different understanding or different perspective of Christ after having seen the visions recorded in Revelation? I have no problem with Revelation being the last revelation of Christ and I think there is sufficient evidence that the Letter of Revelation was written before 70 AD and the possibility that many of the events of Revelation already took place. I won't entertain a discussion over this subject, but would like to take a deeper look at whether we've gotten the order of the Gospel and the Letter of Revelation reversed.

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Great answers from Gina and Bill.

To agree with Bill, Revelation shows that John was given a vision of the heavenly tabernacle. The vision or it's account may or may not have been symbolic imagery. But say he did at least see a vision of the heavenly tabernacle first before writing the Gospel whether he wrote Revelation later or not. As you point out we see the thematic approach in the Gospel. I've heard online audio from Steve Gregg pointing out this is the only one (maybe even only book of the Bible) that calls Jesus the "Lamb of God" which could be a reference to the altar of burnt offering in the tarbernacle. "I am the living bread..." possibly references the show bread. Then at the tomb John's Gospel mentions two angels sitting where Jesus was lying. This may represent the two cherubim at the either ends of the Ark of the Covenant. John 1:14 says Jesus "tabernacled among us." The lamp in the tabernacle..."I am the light of the world." Just to name a few of the parallels.

And agreeing with both Gina and Bill, I also have no problem with dating both books prior to the destruction of 2nd Temple possibly for reasons of eschatolgical bias. Most people are not preterist or partial preterist so they can't tie the destruction as fulfillment of prophecy in Revelation. But linking this nicely fits with "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

Steve Gregg traced the sources of scholars who date Revelation post destruction and found they all eventually trace back to how to interpret a statement from Irenaeus. "For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign." It is not clear if "that" refers to John himself or his vision which were both mentioned in the prior sentence. In Latin the same word as a pronoun is used for both he and it. Irenaeus as born in 130 so if he meant John'vision occured almmost in his time that favors a later dating of Revelation. But John is thought to have died circa 100. Irenaeus knew Polycarp and Polycarp knew John. John can be more easily exressed as having been seen almost in Irenaeus' day. Earlier in the passage Irenaeus refers to "ancient copies" of Revelation. If the copies are ancient the original could be a week or so to significantly older. But refering to Domitian's reign (81 to 96) as almost in his day would not be consistent with calling that time period ancient. It seems both cases for post or pre-dating the book to the destruction are just as weak as the other.

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