TemplePMT 2014-111 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this brief series I am presenting some of the evidence for Revelation’s early dating, before AD 70. This is helpful for postmillennialism because if it was written prior to the Jewish temple’s destruction, it may well be looking to that judgment. And if so, then its main judgment scenes lie in our past, leaving the future open for the progress of the gospel.

The first line of evidence I would present for the early date of Revelation is the presence of the temple in Revelation 11. In Revelation 11:1, 2 we read:

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

Here we find a Temple standing in a city called “the holy city.” Surely John, a Christian Jew, has in mind historical Jerusalem when he speaks of “the holy city.” This seems necessary in that John is writing scripture and Jerusalem is frequently called the “holy city” in the Bible. For example: Isaiah 48:2; 52:1; Daniel 9:24; Nehemiah 11:1-18; Matthew 4:5; 27:53.

Before Jerusalem Fell
by Ken Gentry

My doctoral dissertation defending a pre-AD 70 date for Revelation’s writing
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In addition, verse 8 informs us that this is the city where “also our Lord was crucified.” This was historical Jerusalem, according to the clear testimony of Scripture (Luke 9:22; 13:32; 17:11; 19:28). Interestingly, historical Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in Revelation. This may be due to the name “Jerusalem” meaning “city of peace.” In Revelation the meanings of specific names are important to the dramatic imagery. And so it would be inappropriate to apply the name “Jerusalem” to the city upon which woe and destruction are wreaked.

Now what Temple stood in Jerusalem? Obviously the Jewish Temple ordained of God, wherein the Jewish sacrifices were offered. In the first century it was known as Herod’s Temple. This reference to the Temple must be that historical structure for four reasons:

(1) It was located in Jerusalem, as the text clearly states in verse 8. This can only refer to the Herodian Temple, which appears over and over again in the New Testament record. It was the very Temple which was even the subject of one of Christ’s longer prophetic discourses (Matt. 23:37-24:2ff).

(2) Revelation 11:1, 2, written by the beloved disciple and hearer of Christ, seems clearly to draw upon Jesus’ statement from the Olivet Discourse. In Luke 21:5-7, the disciples specifically point to the Herodian Temple to inquire of its future; in Revelation 11:1 John specifically speaks of the Temple of God. In Luke 21:6 Jesus tells his disciples that the Temple will soon be destroyed stone by stone. A comparison of Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2 strongly suggests that the source of Revelation’s statement is Christ’s word in Luke 21.

• Luke 21:24b: “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
• Revelation 11:2b: “it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot for forty and two months.”

The two passages speak of the same unique event and even employ virtually identical terms.

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(3) According to Revelation 11:2 Jerusalem and the Temple were to be under assault for a period of forty-two months. We know from history that the Jewish War with Rome was formally engaged in Spring, A.D. 67, and was won with the collapse of the Temple in August, A.D. 70. This is a period of forty-two months, which fits the precise measurement of John’s prophecy. Thus, John’s prophecy antedates the outbreak of the Jewish War.

(4) After the reference to the destruction of the “temple of God” in the “holy city,” John later speaks of a “new Jerusalem” coming down out of heaven, which is called the “holy city” (Rev. 21:2) and which does not need a temple (Rev. 21:22). This new Jerusalem is apparently meant to supplant the old Jerusalem with its temple system. The old order Temple was destroyed in August, A.D. 70.

Thus, while John wrote, the Temple was still standing, awaiting its approaching doom. If John wrote this twenty-five years after the Temple’s fall it would be terribly anachronous. The reference to the Temple is hard architectural evidence that gets us back into an era pre-A.D. 70.




  1. Lucas Ferrari September 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Gentry, do you think that the fourty-two months in Rev. 11.2 could be different from the 1260 days in Rev 11.3?

  2. Kenneth Gentry September 15, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I suppose it could refer to a different period. But their prophesying “for twelve hundred and sixty days” (11:3) apparently covers the same period of “forty-two months” during which the Gentiles trample the holy city (11:2; cf. Aune 610; Kistemaker 329; contra Terry 368). This is because the two vision-sets are so closely linked (11:3) and focus on Jerusalem (11:2b, 8c).

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