I. Authorship, Date And Cultural Situation
The persecutions mentioned in Revelation suggest a date in Domitian's time (1:9; 2:10, 13; 6:9-11; 12:11; 13:7; 17:6). These references to persecutions should not be spiritualized by calling them exaggerated stress. They are historical references to local occasional persecutions that arose in Domitian's tenure.
Roman religion centered in the state. Other institutions (including the family, trade unions, cities, and churches) were ordered to support the state. Texts such as Ro 13:1-7 and 1Ti 2:1-2 reflect the importance to the Romans of that support. Roman citizens considered Christians to be atheists when they either claimed that pagan gods did not exist or that pagan deities were evil demons. When misfortune struck a community, citizens could blame the failure of Christians to honor local gods as the cause of the disaster. These neighbors believed their well-being required them to observe civil religious duties, including praying for the emperor. Persecution arose, not from the emperor, but at the grass-roots level when local citizens accused Christians of neglecting the ritual duties of Roman state religion. The emperor acted against Christians when citizens brought charges against them.