Exegetical look into Revelation 6: 1-4

  • I watched. John serves as a witness, an important position in legal “testate” renderings then and now. A witness points to the validity of the contents of a document (Deut. 30:19; Psalm 50:4).
  • Opened the first of the seven seals. A document could not be opened until it was ready for the seals to be broken, such as in a will, the death of the testator, or the decedent (person who wrote or leaves the will). When all the seals are broken in chapter eight, then the contents are read. At this point, in chapters five to six, symbols and themes are used, pronouncing its power, scope, and coming judgment (Rev. 8:1). 
  • Come means a summons to come and see.
  • White horse. White represents conquest, and along with a horse, symbolizes the conquering king and subjugation. Some commentators argue that this represents Christ; others say the antichrist. However, these arguments are from human reasoning and not from Scripture. In ancient cultures, a white horse was a common symbol usually meaning dire subjugation, calamity, or something to be feared. The color white and/or a horse do not necessarily represent Christ in Hebrew thinking or in the Early Church. The white horse as Christ was a symbol from the Middle Ages. Many commentators from the mid 19th century and on mistakenly think of this as being Jewish or Roman, but it is not. “White,” in this context, meant “Judgment” in biblical times. White meant “purity” in midlevel times or referring to priestly dress in biblical times; this is a category mistake. It is also contradictory, as Christ is the One who opens the seal and is the Lamb. How can he also be the horseman? Also, in the fact that Christ’s reign brings peace, and not war or famine, understanding this as referring to Christ here is a major contradiction to His character and purpose. He conquers sin but does not bring pestilence (Zech. 1:8-17; 6:1-8; Rev. 19:11).
  • Held a bow was a symbol of conquest and war. This was an image of sheer terror as one is being conquered. Everything is lost, perhaps even one’s life. The biggest enemy to the Romans in Asia Minor then was the “Parthians” who were archers on white horses and invoked utter fear and chaos to the villages. Bow in the Old Testament was also a symbol of Judgment (Job. 30:11; Psalm 7:10-14; Isa. 21:15; 41:2; Jer. 6:23; 50:14, Ezek. 39:3; Zech. 10:4).
  • Conqueror…conquest proves the point that Revelation interprets Revelation. If you keep reading, observe the context, and know your Old Testament, it will tell you what the images mean, not a newspaper, a madman, or a false teacher!
  • Another horse … fiery red one. Red is a color that meant bloodshed and war, as Mars is the red planet and god of war (Zech. 1:8; 6:2).
  • Power to take peace, meaning the times will be harsh.
  • Make men slay. Chaos begets chaos; violence has the tendency to escalate itself.
  • Large sword was a symbol for judgment and war; large perhaps referred to its eminence and veracity.
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2 thoughts on “Exegetical look into Revelation 6: 1-4

  1. Verse 4 – great sword will be nuclear causing the third and fourth seal to come to pass as we read in verse 8. So I looked and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with hunger, and by the beasts of the earth. We will see an increase in Mad cow, West Nile & Ebola type viruses drastically increase fulfilling Revelations 9:15 another one third of mankind will be killed.

  2. Very exciting time to be living in. Just remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:22 – and unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

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