I take the preterist view that Revelation was written during the reign of Nero in the persecution of Christians that began in AD 64 (probably in December) and lasted to Nero’s death on June 9th, AD 68. By this time, the churches of Asia Minor had received at least one or more of the Gospels and were aware of Jesus’ Mount Olivet teaching on the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. The Book of Revelation was sent from Patmos to Christians in the seven churches of Asia Minor. It was most likely read as a pastoral letter in public meetings, then copied and circulated.
The hearers and readers may or may not have had access to all three texts of the Mount Olivet Discourse – sometimes called the “little apocalypse” – found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 or Luke 21. It is much more likely that the immediate hearers of Revelation were reminded of the Book of Daniel and other books of Old Testament Scripture. In fact, Revelation quotes from the Old Testament much more than any other New Testament book. Since the Book of Revelation is a letter directed at specific churches, the readers must have had some background information to interpret the symbols. The primary meaning of Revelation is what John intended his hearers to understand or “hear” (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; 13:9). To understand the meaning of Revelation, we need to look first at Daniel.
I find it unlikely that the interpretation of John’s Revelation has much to do with events later than the first century. While Daniel’s prophecy was sealed up until the “end of days,” the meaning of John’s prophecy is revealed (hence the title: Apocalypse or Revelation) to his first century audience. Daniel’s prophecy was written and then sealed. Even Daniel did not understand everything he wrote. John’s prophecy was written and sent to seven living churches. The hearers were expected to have “understanding” and “count the number of the beast” (Revelation 13:18). John’s prophecy was unsealed (Revelation 22:10) and there is no indication that John or his hearers would not understand what Revelation was about.
While there are a lot of parallels between the Mount Olivet Discourse and Revelation, it is better to first recognize Revelation’s use of images and symbols from Old Testament prophecies, such as Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and so on. Once we have done that, then it is also good to see how these symbolic images line up with Jesus’ Mount Olivet Discourse, whose immediate hearers and readers were also familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and were told to “understand” the Book of Daniel (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). Revelation was written primarily with the Old Testament Scriptures in mind. While there is not always a perfect correspondence between the two, the symbols and images are more or less consistent in meaning.