This is a fascinating website for those who enjoy history and the Bible..
8. Historical setting:
Hailey gives an excellent account of the historical setting. The specific historical events below are listed by Caird.
AD 60: Earthquakes
AD 62: Defeat of Roman army by Parthian Vologeses on eastern frontier.
AD 64: Persecution of Christians by Nero following the fire of Rome.
AD 68: Suicide of Nero
AD 70: Four year war of Jews and Romans ending with Jerusalem in ruins
AD 79: Eruption of Vesuvius
AD 92: Serious grain famine
AD 81-96 Reign of Domitian, institutes emperor worship.
AD 95: Writing of Revelation.
By the time of the Revelation Caesar worship was the one religion which covered the whole Roman empire; and it was because of their refusal to conform to its demands that Christians were persecuted and killed. Its essence was that the reigning Roman Emperor, as embodying the spirit of Rome, was divine.
Once a year everyone in the Empire had to appear before magistrates to burn a pinch of incense to the godhead of Caesar and to say: 'Caesar is Lord.' After he had done that, a man might go away and worship any god or goddess he liked, so long as that worship did not infringe decency and good order; but he must go through this ceremony in which he acknowledged the Emperor's divinity.
There is the account which tradition gives us. The consistent tradition is that john was banished to Patmos in the time of Domitian; that he saw his visions there; at the death of Domitian was liberated and came back to Ephesus; and there set down the visions he had seen. Victorinus, who wrote towards the end of the third century AD. , says in his commentary on the Revelation: 'John, when he saw these things was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the mines by Domitian the Emperor.
There, therefore, he saw the revelation... When he was afterwards set free from the mines, he handed down this revelation which he had received from God.' Jerome is even more detailed: 'In the fourteenth year after the persecution of Nero, John was banished to the island of Patmos, and there wrote the Revelation... Upon the death of Domitian, and upon the repeal of his acts by the senate, because of their excessive cruelty, he returned to Ephesus, when Nerva was emperor.' Eusebius says: 'The apostle and evangelist John related these things to the Churches, when he had returned from exile in the island after the death of Domitian'.
Tradition makes it certain that John saw his visions in exile in Patmos; the only thing that is doubtful--and it is not important-- is whether he wrote them down during the time of his banishment or when he returned to Ephesus. On this evidence we will not be wrong if we date the Revelation about AD. 95.