The persecution by emperor Domitian and the exile of John to Patmos

Domitian’s horrible cruelty struck down many victims. in Rome, he put to death large numbers of distinguished, high-born men of great achievements, without a fair trial. He banished countless other eminent men for no reason at all and seized their property.

And then at last Domitian showed himself to be an emperor who walked in the steps of Nero for his hatred and hostility towards God. Indeed, he was the second emperor to organise a persecution of us Christians, although his father Vespasian had harbored no evil designs against us.

There is abundant evidence that the apostle and Gospel-writer John was still alive at that time, and because of his testimony to God’s Word he was sentenced to exile on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9)…In fact, our faith shone out so brightly at that time, that even historians who rejected our beliefs wrote down without hesitation in their history books both the persecution and the martyrdoms it produced.

They also recorded the exact date of the persecution, that it was in the fifteenth year of Domitian (AD 96). Flavia Domitilla, who was a niece of Flavius Clemens, one of Rome’s consuls [chief magistrates] that year, was banished to the island of Pontia, along with many others, as a punishment for their testimony to Christ…

After fifteen years of Domitian’s rule, Nerva became emperor. The Roman Senate voted to strip the dead Domitian of his honors, and to return to their homes all whom he had unjustly banished, restoring their property to them. The historians of the time record this. At the same time the apostle John, after his exile on Patmos, went back to live once more in his home at Ephesus, as early Christian tradition says.

Source: This church history excerpt comes from Nick Needham’s 2000 Years of Christ’s Power Volume 1 – The Age of the Early Church Fathers pgs 60-61.

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