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First, church history records Peter and Paul being executed in Rome near the end of Nero’s reign.Why would Nero execute Peter and Paul for being Christians only to banish John to an island?It is important to note that Irenaeus was not a random guy with an interest in the Bible.Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, and Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John!Third, nowhere in history is there a record that says Nero banished Christians.The only punishment known by Nero for Christians was death.In Rev 21:9-22:5 John describes his vision of seeing the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven and from God.This New Jerusalem points out that the Old Jerusalem might have already been destroyed (Rev 11:1-14).
Domitian was known for banishing Christians while Nero was known for killing them.This means Irenaeus was one generation removed from the apostle John.Therefore, his comments and their weight are extremely important regarding the date of the book of Revelation.While Nero definitely persecuted Christians in Rome, it does not appear that his persecution extended beyond that city.
On the flip side, while the persecution under Domitian does not appear to be as strong as Nero, there is evidence from Pliny, Dio Cassius, Clement of Rome, Melito of Sardis, Hegesippus, Eusebius, and Tertullian that he persecuted Christians throughout the entire Roman Empire (instead of just the city of Rome as Nero did).
Mark Hitchcock’s summary for the late date of the book of Revelation is powerful: “The late date, on the other hand, has a solid line of support from some of the greatest, most reliable names in church history beginning in A. 180: Irenaeus, Victorinus, Eusebius, Jerome, Sulpicius Severus, Orosius, Primasius, Venerable Bede, Isidore of Seville, Andreas, and Prochorus (The Acts of John).