Preterism seems to be on the rise these days. A number of friends of mine and people on Facebook seem to be either fully in this camp now or “exploring” it to the point where they are at least leaning heavily in that direction.
In response to this, recently, I’ve been looking into the writings of the so-called “Early Church Fathers” and going as far back as to The Didache, I am not seeing any evidence that they subscribed to the ideas presented by Preterists (partial or otherwise), which would have us believe the book of Revelation was fulfilled by the events of 70 AD.
Keep in mind The Didache (aka “The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations”) was written in the late first or early second century. This places it VERY close to the writings of the New Testament, and especially the book of Revelation. All the more so, if you accept the 90 AD authorship date – but even if you accept the 65 AD date for Revelation, this is still not too long thereafter. The Didache was used as a source to provide instruction for early Christian communities. Some of the later “Church Fathers” even thought it should considered part of Scripture. Regardless, it was clearly widely distributed and highly esteemed among early Christians.
The last chapter of The Didache addresses the subject of Christ’s return and warns Christians about the persecution and deception of the Antichrist that will precede it – encouraging them to “endure in their faith” until the end:
Chapter 16 – Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.

Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.


Why would this need to be said if they believed prophecy had already been fulfilled in 70 AD?? Indeed, the more I looked into the Early Church Fathers, the more I saw evidence that they believed they were either in the “Last Days” or that it was coming soon – Antichrist and all. Justin Martyr (100 – 165 AD), Iranaeus (130 – 202 AD),  Clement of Alexandria (150 – 220 AD), Hippolytus (170- 235 AD), Cyprian (200 – 258 AD), Victorinus of Pettau (2?? – 304 AD) and many others who wrote in the first few hundred years following the time of the New Testament writers obviously shared a Premillennial view of End Times, showing no indication that they believed Revelation was fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple just a few decades to a century or so prior.
Justin Martyr in his work, Dialogue With Trypho – Chapter 60 wrote:

He [Christ] shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy [Antichrist], who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,—our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,—and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’ Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus.


Note Justin’s use of the word “shall” indicating not past events, but rather a future in which he says “us the Christians” will have to endure persecution.
Irenaeus shared a similar view. But perhaps of extreme importance, he was a student of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. So, here we are just 2 generations of students away from the man who wrote the book of Revelation. John discipled Polycarp, who discipled Irenaeus, who wrote in Book 5 of Against Heresies:

Chapter XXVI.-John and Daniel Have Predicted the Dissolution and Desolation of the Roman Empire, Which Shall Precede the End of the World and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ. The Gnostics are Refuted, Those Tools of Satan, Who Invent Another Father Different from the Creator.

1. In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, telling us that thus it had been said to him: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but shall receive power as if kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.” It is manifest, therefore, that of these [potentates], he who is to come shall slay three, and subject the remainder to his power, and that he shall be himself the eighth among them. And they shall lay Babylon waste, and burn her with fire, and shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the Church to flight. After that they shall be destroyed by the coming of our Lord. 


Again, note the repeated use of the word “shall” employed by a disciple of Polycarp, who was discipled by the author of the book of Revelation. This is significant. Frankly, it should be a case closed scenario if you ask me. But wait! There’s more. Much more…
Early in the third century, in a document titled, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, in sections 60 and 61, Hippolytus wrote:
Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John also speaks thus: “And I saw a great and wondrous sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who is to rule all the nations: and the child was caught up unto God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath the place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And then when the dragon saw it, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast (out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast) out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the saints of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.”

By the woman then clothed with the sun, he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun. … “And the dragon,” he says, “saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks conceal-meat in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defence than the two wings of the great eagle, that is to say, the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands on the holy tree, unfolded two wings, the right and the left, and called to Him all who believed upon Him, and covered them as a hen her chickens.


Cyprian wrote in the Epistles of Cyprian:
“For you ought to know and to believe, and hold it for certain, that the day of affliction has begun to hang over our heads, and the end of the world and the time of Antichrist to draw near, so that we must all stand prepared for the battle … “The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service…” Nor let any one wonder that we are harassed with increasing afflictions, when the Lord before predicted that these things would happen in the last times,” (Epistles of Cyprian, LV, 1,2)

Nor let any one of you, beloved brethren, be so terrified by the fear of future persecution, or the coming of the threatening Antichrist, as not to be found armed for all things by the evangelical exhortations and precepts, and by the heavenly warnings. Antichrist is coming… but immediately the Lord follows to avenge our sufferings and our wounds. (Epistles of Cyprian, LIII, p.722)
Writing shortly after the Valerian Persecution (circa 260 AD), in his Commentary of the Apocalypse, Victorinus wrote quite an interesting commentary on Chapters 11 – 13, and 17 – all of which is worthy of our attention here:

From the Eleventh Chapter:

1. And there was shown unto me a reed like a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. A reed was shown like to a rod. This itself is the Apocalypse which he subsequently exhibited to the churches; for the Gospel of the complete faith he subsequently wrote for the sake of our salvation. For when Valentinus, and Cerinthus, and Ebion, and others of the school of Satan, were scattered abroad throughout the world, there assembled together to him from the neighbouring provinces all the bishops, and compelled him himself also to draw up his testimony. Moreover, we say that the measure of God’s temple is the command of God to confess the Father Almighty, and that His Son Christ was begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, and was made man in very soul and flesh, both of them having overcome misery and death; and that, when received with His body into heaven by the Father, He shed forth the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, that He was announced by the prophets, He was described by the law, He was God’s hand, and the Word of the Father from God, Lord over all, and founder of the world: this is the reed and the measure of faith; and no one worships the holy altar save he who confesses this faith.

2. The court which is within the temple leave out. The space which is called the court is the empty altar within the walls: these being such as were not necessary, he commanded to be ejected from the Church.

It is given to be trodden down by the Gentiles. That is, to the men of this world, that it may be trodden under foot by the nations, or with the nations. Then he repeats about the destruction and slaughter of the last time, and says:—

3. They shall tread the holy city down for forty and two months; and I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall predict a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth. That is, three years and six months: these make forty-two months. Therefore their preaching is three years and six months, and the kingdom of Antichrist as much again.

5. If any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies. That fire proceeds out of the mouth of those prophets against the adversaries, bespeaks the power of the world. For all afflictions, however many there are, shall be sent by their messengers in their word. Many think that there is Elisha, or Moses, with Elijah; but both of these died; while the death of Elijah is not heard of, with whom all our ancients have believed that it was Jeremiah. For even the very word spoken to him testifies to him, saying, Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations. But he was not a prophet unto the nations; and thus the truthful word of God makes it necessary, which it has promised to set forth, that he should be a prophet to the nations.

4. These are the two candlesticks standing before the Lord of the earth. These two candlesticks and two olive trees He has to this end spoken of, and admonished you that if, when you have read of them elsewhere, you have not understood, you may understand here. For in Zechariah, one of the twelve prophets, it is thus written: These are the two olive trees and two candlesticks which stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth; Zechariah 4:14 that is, they are in paradise. Also, in another sense, standing in the presence of the lord of the earth, that is, in the presence of Antichrist. Therefore they must be slain by Antichrist.

7. And the beast which ascends from the abyss. After many plagues completed in the world, in the end he says that a beast ascended from the abyss. But that he shall ascend from the abyss is proved by many testimonies; for he says in the thirty-first chapter of Ezekiel: Behold, Assur was a cypress in Mount Lebanon. Assur, deeply rooted, was a lofty and branching cypress — that is, a numerous people — in Mount Lebanon, in the kingdom of kingdoms, that is, of the Romans. Moreover, that he says he was beautiful in offshoots, he says he was strong in armies. The water, he says, shall nourish him, that is, the many thousands of men which were subjected to him; and the abyss increased him, that is, belched him forth. For even Isaiah speaks almost in the same words; moreover, that he was in the kingdom of the Romans, and that he was among the Cæsars. The Apostle Paul also bears witness, for he says to the Thessalonians: Let him who now restrains restrain, until he be taken out of the way; and then shall appear that Wicked One, even he whose coming is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders. And that they might know that he should come who then was the prince, he added: He already endeavours after the secret of mischief 2 Thessalonians 2:10 — that is, the mischief which he is about to do he strives to do secretly; but he is not raised up by his own power, nor by that of his father, but by command of God, of which thing Paul says in the same passage: For this cause, because they have not received the love of God, He will send upon them a spirit of error, that they all may be persuaded of a lie, who have not been persuaded of the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 And Isaiah says: While they waited for the light, darkness arose upon them. Isaiah 59:9 Therefore the Apocalypse sets forth that these prophets are killed by the same, and on the fourth day rise again, that none might be found equal to God.

8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt. But He calls Jerusalem Sodom and Egypt, since it had become the heaping up of the persecuting people. Therefore it behooves us diligently, and with the utmost care, to follow the prophetic announcement, and to understand what the Spirit from the Father both announces and anticipates, and how, when He has gone forward to the last times, He again repeats the former ones. And now, what He will do once for all, He sometimes sets forth as if it were done; and unless you understand this, as sometimes done, and sometimes as about to be done, you will fall into a great confusion. Therefore the interpretation of the following sayings has shown therein, that not the order of the reading, but the order of the discourse, must be understood.

19. And the temple of God was opened which is in heaven. The temple opened is a manifestation of our Lord. For the temple of God is the Son, as He Himself says: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. And when the Jews said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, the evangelist says, He spoke of the temple of His body.

And there was seen in His temple the ark of the Lord’s testament. The preaching of the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, and all the gifts whatever that came with Him, he says, appeared therein.

From the Twelfth Chapter:

1. And there was seen a great sign in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried out travailing, and bearing torments that she might bring forth. The woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars upon her head, and travailing in her pains, is the ancient Church of fathers, and prophets, and saints, and apostles, which had the groans and torments of its longing until it saw that Christ, the fruit of its people according to the flesh long promised to it, had taken flesh out of the selfsame people. Moreover, being clothed with the sun intimates the hope of resurrection and the glory of the promise. And the moon intimates the fall of the bodies of the saints under the obligation of death, which never can fail. For even as life is diminished, so also it is increased. Nor is the hope of those that sleep extinguished absolutely, as some think, but they have in their darkness a light such as the moon. And the crown of twelve stars signifies the choir of fathers, according to the fleshly birth, of whom Christ was to take flesh.

3. And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold a red dragon, having seven heads. Now, that he says that this dragon was of a red color — that is, of a purple color — the result of his work gave him such a color. For from the beginning (as the Lord says) he was a murderer; and he has oppressed the whole of the human race, not so much by the obligation of death, as, moreover, by the various forms of destruction and fatal mischiefs. His seven heads were the seven kings of the Romans, of whom also is Antichrist, as we have said above.

And ten horns. He says that the ten kings in the latest times are the same as these, as we shall more fully set forth there.

4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them upon the earth. Now, that he says that the dragon’s tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, this may be taken in two ways. For many think that he may be able to seduce the third part of the men who believe. But it should more truly be understood, that of the angels that were subject to him, since he was still a prince when he descended from his estate, he seduced the third part; therefore what we said above, the Apocalypse says.

And the dragon stood before the woman who was beginning to bring forth, that, when she had brought forth, he might devour her child. The red dragon standing and desiring to devour her child when she had brought him forth, is the devil — to wit, the traitor angel, who thought that the perishing of all men would be alike by death; but He, who was not born of seed, owed nothing to death: wherefore he could not devour Him — that is, detain Him in death — for on the third day He rose again. Finally, also, and before He suffered, he approached to tempt Him as man; but when he found that He was not what he thought Him to be, he departed from Him, even till the time. Whence it is here said:—

5. And she brought forth a son, who begins to rule all nations with a rod of iron. The rod of iron is the sword of persecution.

I saw that all men withdrew from his abodes. That is, the good will be removed, flying from persecution.

And her son was caught up to God, and to His throne. We read also in the Acts of the Apostles that He was caught up to God’s throne, just as speaking with the disciples He was caught up to heaven.

6. But the woman fled into the wilderness, and there were given to her two great eagle’s wings. The aid of the great eagle’s wings — to wit, the gift of prophets— was given to that Catholic Church, whence in the last times a hundred and forty-four thousands of men should believe in the preaching of Elias; but, moreover, he here says that the rest of the people should be found alive on the coming of the Lord. And the Lord says in the Gospel: Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; Luke 21:21 that is, as many as should be gathered together in Judea, let them go to that place which they have ready, and let them be supported there for three years and six months from the presence of the devil.

14. Two great wings are the two prophets— Elias, and the prophet who shall be with him.

15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a flood, that he might carry her away with the flood. He signifies by the water which the serpent cast out of his mouth, the people who at his command would persecute her.

16. And the earth helped the woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. That the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the waters, sets forth the vengeance for the present troubles. Although, therefore, it may signify this woman bringing forth, it shows her afterwards flying when her offspring is brought forth, because both things did not happen at one time; for we know that Christ was born, but that the time should arrive that she should flee from the face of the serpent: (we do not know) that this has happened as yet. Then he says:—

7-9. There was a battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon warred, and his angels, and they prevailed not; nor was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, that old serpent: he was cast forth into the earth. This is the beginning of Antichrist; yet previously Elias must prophesy, and there must be times of peace. And afterwards, when the three years and six months are completed in the preaching of Elias, he also must be cast down from heaven, where up till that time he had had the power of ascending; and all the apostate angels, as well as Antichrist, must be roused up from hell. Paul the apostle says: Except there come a falling away first, and the man of sin shall appear, the son of perdition; and the adversary who exalted himself above all which is called God, or which is worshipped. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

From the Thirteenth chapter:

1. And I saw a beast rising up from the sea, like a leopard. This signifies the kingdom of that time of Antichrist, and the people mingled with the variety of nations.

2. His feet were as the feet of a bear. A strong and most unclean beast, the feet are to be understood as his leaders.

And his mouth as the mouth of a lion. That is, his mouth armed for blood is his bidding, and a tongue which will proceed to nothing else than to the shedding of blood.

* * * * * * * *

18. His number is the name of a man, and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. As they have it reckoned from the Greek characters, they thus find it among many to be τειταν, for τειταν has this number, which the Gentiles call Sol and Phœbus; and it is reckoned in Greek thus: τ three hundred, ε five, ι ten, τ three hundred, α one, ν fifty — which taken together become six hundred and sixty-six. For as far as belongs to the Greek letters, they fill up this number and name; which name if you wish to turn into Latin, it is understood by the antiphrase DICLUX, which letters are reckoned in this manner: since D figures five hundred, I one, C a hundred, L fifty, V five, X ten — which by the reckoning up of the letters makes similarly six hundred and sixty-six, that is, what in Greek gives τειταν, to wit, what in Latin is called DICLUX; by which name, expressed by antiphrases, we understand Antichrist, who, although he be cut off from the supernal light, and deprived thereof, yet transforms himself into an angel of light, daring to call himself light. Moreover, we find in a certain Greek codex αντεμος, which letters being reckoned up, you will find to give the number as above: α one, ν fifty, τ three hundred, ε five, μ forty, ο seventy, ς two hundred — which together makes six hundred and sixty-six, according to the Greeks. Moreover, there is another name in Gothic of him, which will be evident of itself, that is, γενσήρικος, which in the same way you will reckon in Greek letters: γ three, ε five, ν fifty, σ two hundred, η eight, ρ a hundred, ι ten, κ twenty, ο seventy, ς also two hundred, which, as has been said above, make six hundred and sixty-six.

11. And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. He is speaking of the great and false prophet who is to do signs, and portents, and falsehoods before him in the presence of men.

And he had two horns like a lamb — that is, the appearance within of a man — and he spoke like a dragon. But the devil speaks full of malice; for he shall do these things in the presence of men, so that even the dead appear to rise again.

13. And he shall make fire come down from heaven in the sight of men. Yes (as I also have said), in the sight of men. Magicians do these things, by the aid of the apostate angels, even to this day. He shall cause also that a golden image of Antichrist shall be placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and that the apostate angel should enter, and thence utter voices and oracles. Moreover, he himself shall contrive that his servants and children should receive as a mark on their foreheads, or on their right hands, the number of his name, lest any one should buy or sell them. Daniel had previously predicted his contempt and provocation of God. And he shall place, says he, his temple within Samaria, upon the illustrious and holy mountain that is at Jerusalem, an image such as Nebuchadnezzar had made. Daniel 11:45 Thence here he places, and by and by here he renews, that of which the Lord, admonishing His churches concerning the last times and their dangers, says: But when you shall see the contempt which is spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place, let him who reads understand. Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27 It is called a contempt when God is provoked, because idols are worshipped instead of God, or when the dogma of heretics is introduced in the churches. But it is a turning away because steadfast men, seduced by false signs and portents, are turned away from their salvation.

From the Seventeenth Chapter:

1-6. There came one of the seven angels, which have the seven bowls, and spoke with me, saying, Come, I will show you the judgment of that great whore who sits upon many waters. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs. The decrees of that senate are always accomplished against all, contrary to the preaching of the true faith; and now already mercy being cast aside, itself here gave the decree among all nations.

3. And I saw the woman herself sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy. But to sit upon the scarlet beast, the author of murders, is the image of the devil. Where also is treated of his captivity, concerning which we have fully considered. I remember, indeed, that this is called Babylon also in the Apocalypse, on account of confusion; and in Isaiah also; and Ezekiel called it Sodom. In fine, if you compare what is said against Sodom, and what Isaiah says against Babylon, and what the Apocalypse says, you will find that they are all one.

9. The seven heads are the seven hills, on which the woman sits. That is, the city of Rome.

10. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he has come, he will be for a short time. The time must be understood in which the written Apocalypse was published, since then reigned Cæsar Domitian; but before him had been Titus his brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius, and Galba. These are the five who have fallen. One remains, under whom the Apocalypse was written — Domitian, to wit. The other has not yet come, speaks of Nerva; and when he has come, he will be for a short time, for he did not complete the period of two years.

11. And the beast which you saw is of the seven. Since before those kings Nero reigned.

And he is the eighth. He says only when this beast shall come, reckon it the eighth place, since in that is the completion. He added:—

And shall go into perdition. For that ten kings received royal power when he shall move from the east, he says. He shall be sent from the city of Rome with his armies. And Daniel sets forth the ten horns and the ten diadems. And that these are eradicated from the former ones — that is, that three of the principal leaders are killed by Antichrist: that the other seven give him honour and wisdom and power, of whom he says:—

16. These shall hate the whore, to wit, the city, and shall burn her flesh with fire. Now that one of the heads was, as it were, slain to death, and that the stroke of his death was directed, he speaks of Nero. For it is plain that when the cavalry sent by the senate was pursuing him, he himself cut his throat. Him therefore, when raised up, God will send as a worthy king, but worthy in such a way as the Jews merited. And since he is to have another name, He shall also appoint another name, that so the Jews may receive him as if he were the Christ. Says Daniel: He shall not know the lust of women, although before he was most impure, and he shall know no God of his fathers: for he will not be able to seduce the people of the circumcision, unless he is a judge of the law. Daniel 11:37 Finally, also, he will recall the saints, not to the worship of idols, but to undertake circumcision, and, if he is able, to seduce any; for he shall so conduct himself as to be called Christ by them. But that he rises again from hell, we have said above in the word of Isaiah: Water shall nourish him, and hell has increased him; who, however, must come with name unchanged, and doings unchanged, as says the Spirit.


I did find it interesting that many in the Preterist camp seem to have a fair amount in common with Victorinus’ view of the book of Revelation. However, although he obviously considered the Antichrist to be a Caesar of Rome, please be careful to note that he believed Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian, which, contrary to the Preterist view, places it after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. We know that Domitian reigned from 81 to 96 AD, thus lending further historical evidence that John wrote Revelation in the 90 AD timeframe not the supposed 65 AD timeframe held by the Preterists. Note also that according to Eusebius (260 – 340 AD), in his writings on Church History (Book III), he said Irenaeus also placed the writing of Revelation during Domitian’s reign:

Chapter 18. The Apostle John and the Apocalypse.

1. It is said that in this persecution the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word.

2. Irenæus, in the fifth book of his work Against Heresies, where he discusses the number of the name of Antichrist which is given in the so-called Apocalypse of John, speaks as follows concerning him:

3. If it were necessary for his name to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.

4. To such a degree, indeed, did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time that even those writers who were far from our religion did not hesitate to mention in their histories the persecution and the martyrdoms which took place during it.

5. And they, indeed, accurately indicated the time. For they recorded that in the fifteenth year of Domitian Flavia Domitilla, daughter of a sister of Flavius Clement, who at that time was one of the consuls of Rome, was exiled with many others to the island of Pontia in consequence of testimony borne to Christ.

Chapter 19. Domitian commands the Descendants of David to be slain.

But when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude (said to have been a brother of the Saviour according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself. Hegesippus relates these facts in the following words.

Chapter 20. The Relatives of our Saviour.

1. Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh.

2. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them.

4. And this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor.

5. Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor.

6. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.

7. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church.

8. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. These things are related by Hegesippus.

9. Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: Domitian also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished.

10. But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian’s honors should be cancelled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them.

11. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition.


Here we see both the timing of John’s banishment to Patmos under Domitian’s reign as well as the cause of his release after Domitian’s death as recorded by the Christian historian Eusebius. But he certainly was not the only one to hold this view. According to both Jerome and Eusebius, Tertullian (150 – 212 AD) did too, among others:
The above chart was taken from a blog that also provides quite a lot of other reasonable evidence for the later dating of Revelation, which if true, of course renders the entire Preterist view null and void as even some of their own strong adherents have noted:
“If the late-date of around A.D. 95-96 is accepted, a wholly different situation would prevail. The events in the mid to late 60s of the first century would be absolutely excluded as possible fulfillments.”[1] – Ken Gentry
“If the book was written after A.D. 70, then its contents manifestly do not refer to events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem—unless the book is a wholesale fraud, having been composed after the predicted events had already occurred… The burden for preterists then is to demonstrate that Revelation was written before A.D. 70.” [2] – R.C. Sproul
Indeed, the burden is on them to prove it wasn’t written in the reign of Domitian as clearly stated by so many writers of the first few centuries AD.
Here are some other strong arguments against the early dating of Revelation taken from the above mentioned website:

Internal evidences are those which come from within the book itself. In addition to the extrabiblical arguments, there are several internal evidences for the late date of Revelation.[18]

ARGUMENT #1: John’s ministry in Ephesus would overlap with Paul and Timothy.

If the early date is true, then John would have been leading in Ephesus at the same time as Paul and Timothy. Why would Paul leave Timothy in charge of this church, if the apostle John was there? Moreover, at the end of 2 Timothy, Paul mentions 17 coworkers by name, but John isn’t mentioned! Why wouldn’t he mention John? Why wouldn’t John mention Paul or Timothy in his writing to the church of Ephesus? (Rev. 2:1-7)

ARGUMENT #2: The church of Smyrna didn’t exist in the 60’s AD.

Polycarp—writing in AD 110—states that Smyrnaeans weren’t believers during the time of Paul.[19] Thus how could John write to a church that didn’t exist yet? While Acts 19:10 says that “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord,” this doesn’t mean that a substantial church existed yet. Moreover, Paul never mentions a church existing in Smyrna in any of his letters, which is a conspicuous silence.

ARGUMENT #3: Paul writes of the church in Laodicea.

We date the book of Colossians to AD 60-61. Paul mentions a thriving church in Laodicea at this time (Col. 2:2; 4:13, 16). However, if Revelation was written in AD 65, then this church must have plummeted spiritually in just a few years. In fact, they had become so bad, that Christ threatened to vomit them out of his mouth! (Rev. 3:16) Of course, spiritual decline can occur quickly (Gal. 1:6), but which is more likely? A quick decline or a slower decline?

ARGUMENT #4: Laodicea suffered a massive earthquake in AD 60.

Tacitus mentions that the Laodiceans refused all aid from the Roman Empire.[20] By the time that Revelation was written, Laodicea was completely rebuilt. This would make sense of John’s comments that they “have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:16). This fits better with the AD 95 date. In fact, Hitchcock notes, “The archaeological evidence at Laodicea points to a thirty-year rebuilding process.”[21] He cites extensive research from primary historical sources, Colin Hemer’s extensive historical research, and modern day archaeological discoveries to support this conclusion.

ARGUMENT #5: John’s banishment to Patmos.

John tells us that he was banished to Patmos (Rev. 1:9). Does this fit better with the early date or the late date? While Nero did practice banishment, he executed Peter and Paul, rather than banishing them. Nero never banishes Christians, but Domitian is said to have banished another believer: Flavia Domitilla. She was banished in AD 95 to the island of Pandeteria. She was also released by Nerva—the same as John. Craig Blomberg writes, “John’s brief exile on the island of Patmos (1:9) fits the mid-90s well, whereas there is no evidence of Christians being banished from their homelands by the government prior to this date.”[22]

Why didn’t John mention the destruction of Jerusalem?

Preterists argue that it is bizarre that John would fail to mention the destruction of Jerusalem, if he was writing in AD 95. Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem was an excellent apologetic for supporting the veracity of Christ’s claims. Preterists argue why John would fail to point this out in his letter. However, a number of counterarguments can be made:

First, the original audience was ethnically and geographically different than Jerusalem. When we look at the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, these are all Gentile churches—not Jewish believers. They were 800 miles from Jerusalem.

Second, the original audience was chronologically different than Jerusalem. If the late date is true, then the destruction of Jerusalem would’ve been 25 years in the past.

Third, John was commanded to write about prophecy (Rev. 1:3)—not apologetics. In Revelation 1:19, Jesus commands John: “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” John was a prophet who was writing about the future—not a historian or an apologist who was writing about the past. If Revelation was an apologetics text, we might expect him to mention this fulfilled prophecy. However, Revelation is a book of prophecy—not apologetics or history.

I have made some of these same arguments myself many times in the past when dealing with Preterists.
I once heard it said, “When you proceed from a false premise, your conclusions inevitably end in sheer madness.” Perhaps the biggest underlying (false) premise of those I know in the Preterist camp is that Revelation isn’t talking on a worldwide or cosmic scale – as the text seems to CLEARLY indicate. Rather, John is just using “parabolic language” to describe the horrors of the “old covenant system” being destroyed and the new era of Christianity replacing it. The idea is, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was an unimaginable cataclysm, akin in their minds to the stars falling from heaven and everything in the cosmos being burned up. So when Isaiah, Yeshua, Peter and John describe these cosmic events, we can’t take it literally. No. No. No. They didn’t really mean what they so clearly said about alllllllll the stars falling to Earth like figs. It’s just a parabolic figure of speech. What they are really saying is that the world as the Jews knew it was about to crumble. But I’ve tried to point out to them that the book of Revelation was not written to the Jews in the land of Israel. Rather, it was written to Israelites in the diaspora and formerly pagan Gentiles, both of which could care less about Jerusalem, and who never had anything to do with it or the Temple. So, why would any of this “parabolic language” even remotely apply to them? Why would they even care? I could see this being a somewhat reasonable argument if Revelation was aimed at the Jewish residents of Jerusalem who were about to see their entire world destroyed, but it wasn’t!
Clement of Alexandria, who taught Origen also gives us strong support for the later date for the book of Revelation. Citing Clement, Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved, XLII, I found a good article on-line commenting on this:

Clement of Alexandria (AD150-220) recounted a story about John shortly after his return from exile, while a very old man. “And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.”

The expression “the tyrant’s death” can only refer to the death of either Nero or Domitian, the only two “tyrants” that ruled in the first century. Eusebius related that upon the death of Domitian, the Roman senate voted to release those exiled by Domitian. This seems to parallel Clement’s statement above. However, the above statement COULD refer to Nero, except for one fact. In the story that Clement related, he clearly stated that John was a very old and feeble man.

The story is about a young new convert whom John entrusted to a certain elder to disciple in the Faith. The man had formerly been a thief and robber. Upon John’s return from exile on Patmos, he heard that this young man had returned to his old life of crime. Upon hearing this, he sharply rebuked the elder in whose custody he had left him. John immediately set out for the place where this robber and his band were known to lurk. Upon reaching the place, he was assaulted by the band of robbers. He demanded of them to take him to their leader. They brought John to the very man whom John had formerly won to Christ, and left in the custody of the elder. When the young man saw John approaching, he began to run away. John began to run after him, calling, “Why, my son, dost thou flee from me, thy father, unarmed, old? Son, pity me. Fear not; thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death, as the Lord did death for us. For thee I will surrender my life. Stand, believe; Christ hath sent me.” John then explained to him that forgiveness and restoration was still possible. Clement then stated, “And he, when he heard, first stood, looking down; then threw down his arms, then trembled and wept bitterly. And on the old man approaching, he embraced him, speaking for himself with lamentations as he could, and baptized a second time with tears, concealing only his right hand. The other pledging, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness for himself from the Savior, beseeching and failing on his knees, and kissing his right hand itself, as now purified by repentance, led him back to the church.”

From this account we see that upon John’s release from exile on Patmos, he was a feeble old man. John could have been in his teens or twenties when Jesus called him. He and his brother James were working with their father as fishermen (Matt. 4:21-22). Assuming John was in his twenties, he would have been in his eighties in AD96. If he was in his teens when Jesus called him, he would have been in his seventies at the end of Domitian’s reign. However, if the “tyrant” referred to by Clement was Nero, then John would have still been fairly young by the time of Nero’s death, perhaps in his forties, fifties, or early sixties. He would hardly be spoken of as a feeble old man by Clement.

That John lived until after the reign of Domitian is also shown by Irenaeus’ repeated references to his own mentor, Polycarp, being John’s disciple. Polycarp was born in AD65, and died in AD155. He was five years old when Jerusalem was destroyed. He was two years old when Nero died. His being tutored by John therefore must have been at least a decade after the destruction of Jerusalem, and more likely two or three decades afterward.

More than one early writer mentioned the persecution of the Apostles under Nero. They spoke of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but made no mention of John’s exile during this persecution.

As is obvious to the unbiased reader, the early external evidence that Revelation was written under the reign of Domitian is indisputable. No evidence exists, from the first three centuries of Christian tradition, placing the composition of Revelation during the reign of Nero. Nor is there any evidence (Christian or secular) that Nero exiled any Christians to Patmos.


In my opinion, there is just wayyyyyyyyy too much strong internal and external evidence in favor of a later dating (post 90 AD) of Revelation than an earlier, pre-70 AD dating. For even more evidence to support this view, please see:
OK. Back to Victorinus. As a result of doing this research, this is actually the first time I ever heard of him. Turns out his is the oldest known commentary on the book of Revelation. With this in mind, I must say, I was rather intrigued by his view of the Beast. Unlike most “Bible scholars” today, he clearly understands that the Beast comes from the Bottomless Pit (Abyss) – which obviously should tell us that he’s not coming Kenya, the E.U., Turkey, the Vatican, a U.S. President, etc.. Victorinus can read and apparently accepted Revelation 17 at face value. So at some point in his future, he apparently envisioned Nero rising from the dead…
16. These shall hate the whore, to wit, the city, and shall burn her flesh with fire. Now that one of the heads was, as it were, slain to death, and that the stroke of his death was directed, he speaks of Nero. For it is plain that when the cavalry sent by the senate was pursuing him, he himself cut his throat. Him therefore, when raised up, God will send as a worthy king, but worthy in such a way as the Jews merited. And since he is to have another name, He shall also appoint another name, that so the Jews may receive him as if he were the Christ. Says Daniel: He shall not know the lust of women, although before he was most impure, and he shall know no God of his fathers: for he will not be able to seduce the people of the circumcision, unless he is a judge of the law. Daniel 11:37 Finally, also, he will recall the saints, not to the worship of idols, but to undertake circumcision, and, if he is able, to seduce any; for he shall so conduct himself as to be called Christ by them. But that he [Nero] rises again from hell, we have said above in the word of Isaiah: Water shall nourish him, and hell has increased him; who, however, must come with name unchanged, and doings unchanged, as says the Spirit.
As I continued to dig, I found another somewhat contemporary author who shared this same view. Writing sometime in the middle of the third century, Commodianus wrote in “Fathers of the Third Century: The Instructions of Commodianus” the following quote:

XLI.—Of the Time of Antichrist.1852  211

Isaiah said:  This is the man who moveth the world and so many kings, and under whom the land shall become desert.  Hear ye how the prophet foretold concerning him.  I have said nothing elaborately, but negligently.  Then, doubtless, the world shall be finished when he shall appear.  He himself shall divide the globe into three ruling powers, when, moreover, Nero shall be raised up from hell, Elias shall first come to seal the beloved ones; at which things the region of Africa and the northern nation, the whole earth on all sides, for seven years shall tremble.  But Elias shall occupy the half of the time, Nero shall occupy half.  Then the whore Babylon, being reduced to ashes, its embers shall thence advance to Jerusalem; and the Latin conqueror shall then say, I am Christ, whom ye always pray to; and, indeed, the original ones who were deceived combine to praise him.  He does many wonders, since his is the false prophet.  Especially that they may believe him, his image shall speak.  The Almighty has given it power to appear such.  The Jews, recapitulating Scriptures from him, exclaim at the same time to the Highest that they have been deceived. 


Both Victorinus and Commodianus obviously recognized Nero’s name adding up to 666 – which was a common understanding shared by many – so living during the horrors of Christian persecutions under Roman rule, naturally their whole context of Revelation’s prophetic Antichrist Beast was that it must be talking about the Caesars of Rome. That was their understandable mindset given the times in which they lived. But as I’ve shown in my research concerning Nimrod (see: Babylon Rising: And the First Shall Be Last pages 71-73), Nimrod ben Cush’s name also adds up to 666. But for this and a whole lot of other reasons I believe him to be a far better candidate for the End Times Antichrist than any Caesar or Pope ever was/is in my opinion. Regardless, if your idea of the Antichrist doesn’t include a resurrection and an ascension out of the Bottomless Pit like the view held by John, Victorinus, Commudianus, myself and a number of other modern scholars, you are incorrect according to Scripture. Because Revelation clearly states in no uncertain terms…
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
I fail to see any reasonable explanation that a Preterist could give to justify this even remotely fitting any character concerning the events of 70 AD. Nero? Nope. His name may have added up to 666, but he certainly didn’t come up out of the Bottomless Pit. He was still alive during the events of 70 AD. And Titus doesn’t fit either. So you either have to toss this verse out the window or do quite the impressive mental gymnastic, tap dancing routine to try and explain it away. At least to the credit of characters like Victorinus and Commodianus, they understood both the number of the Beast and the place from which he would come (in their future, which was long after 70 AD).
Also of interest is the fact that there are only two people in Scripture referred to as “the son of perdition” – Judas and the Antichrist. In that regard, I think the ancient book called the Writings of Abraham seals the deal, identifying Nimrod point-blank as the son of perdition:
Chapter 39:
1. I answered the king saying, Why dost thou go on in wickedness to worship these dumb idols in
which there is no power even to save themselves?
2. Not only this, but thou hast led others to worship them and to enter into that order which is
most abominable in the eyes of the Most High God, for your father form whence it cometh is the
devil and it is full of lies and blasphemies and all manner of evil that men should lie and murder to
get gain.
3. Why wilt thou not serve the Most High God who created all things in heaven and on earth,
who hath created these and holdeth the power to sustain thy life or to destroy thee?
4. O foolish, ignorant, wicked king, woe shall be unto thee forever and ever for thou art the son
of Perdition for it is he who is thy father.
5. Thou hast corrupted the earth with thy sins and with the sins of thy people who follow thee.
6. It was for entering into this wicked combination to get gain that you ancestors were destroyed
in the flood when only eight souls were saved.
7. Wilt thou and thy people follow in their paths?
8. Then the wrath of the Most High God will descend upon thee to smite thee from before his
9. Now put away these evil ways and turn unto the Most High God and serve Him that there may
be hope for thee.
10. But behold, I see that thine heart is hardened in iniquity that there is no repentance for thee,
for the evil one hath sealed thee his; wherefore all thy ways shall come to naught and thou and thy
people shall be destroyed from off the face of the earth.
Of course, we must establish the validity of this text and deal with the fact that Joseph Smith had a hand in translating it. But that’s a topic for a whole other discussion.
Circling back around to the primary point I’m trying to make here: clearly none of the men cited in this blog, writing in the the first two hundred years following the time of Yeshua and His Apostles believed the events of 70AD constituted the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Revelation. They were quite obviously Christian “Futurists” (those who believe the End Times are still in the future). And there’s plenty more that can be found in the writings of these and other so-called Early Church Fathers. And of course, we cannot forget much later writings, such as those of the Reformers who clearly thought the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church was (and some still claim is) the Antichrist of Revelation. Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, King James, John Wyclif, William Tyndale, John Knox, Philip Melanchthon, Thomas Cranmer, Huldreich Zwingli, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Baptist Confession of Faith, Charles Spurgeon, Nicolaus Von Amsdorf, Flacius, Roger Williams and many others strongly held to this view. Indeed, there are many today who still do. It would appear after the understanding of Caesar’s as the Antichrist proved false, the mentality of Rome being his seat remained, so the attention shifted to the Papacy. There are logical arguments for all of these opinions – even if they are (in my opinion) still false.
The Beast is NOT a past Roman Caesar nor a present Roman Catholic Pope. In Revelation 17, the angel who was with John clearly stated that the Beast comes up out of the Bottomless Pit! So that’s where we need to look. Revelation 9 tells us the Bottomless Pit is opened at the 5th Trumpet. The Beast who is the “messenger” thereof is Apollyon (which is a derivative spelling of Apollo). Thus, Scripture clearly tells us exactly who the Antichrist is by name, where he comes from and when to expect him. This event has NOT happened yet. So just like the Early Church Fathers, those who followed after them, right through history to the Reformers and those looking at prophecy today, we are all looking at the signs of our times and speculating on as yet still future events. This appears to be a consistent worldview dating all the way back to the time of the Apostles and their disciples. At this point, I think the evidence is quite overwhelmingly in favor of Futurism vs Preterism.
So dear Preterist (partial or otherwise), what say you?

– Rob Skiba

PS: As for those who believe in the Pre-Trib. Rapture, it is also clear that the Early Church Fathers did NOT share this view. Clearly they believed the Church would go through the Tribulation and experience persecution at the hands of the Antichrist. Just sayin…