The Four Prevailing Views (This passage concludes the four prevailing views that resound from chapters four through nineteen. Chapter twenty is about the three main views of the Millennium: Post-millennium/Postmillennial, Pre-millennium/Premillennial, and Am-millennium/Amillennial (see background article) that intersect into the four views. Then, Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus non-literal interpretation of Scripture.
The Preterist view: This camp is split as full Preterists see that Christ already returned in form and/or spirit in 70 A. D. (this view is rare); the Partial-Preterist sees that all up to this point of Revelation has been fulfilled; then, as of this writing, the future events that have not been fulfilled are seen. The Preterist sees the allusion to Christ’s second coming in this passage as the start of the Church Age and the spiritual warfare with Satan and his minions. The White horse is seen as the living and conquering Jesus setting up the Church and empowering the Believers, depicted as being clothed in linen. The fall of the beast and false prophet is seen as the destruction of Rome, as the Beast, and its states as the false prophet, thus not the physical coming of our Lord. This is mainly due to the phrase, Word of God, meaning spiritual conflict, not physical. Thus, the conquering power and spread of the Gospel and the defeat of evil and the resulting growth of faith are principal aspects of the passage in this view. The Partial-Preterist sees the conquering power of the Gospel, but also sees a literal return of the King.
The Futurist view: This camp sees this passage as a quintessential opening describing the victorious Second Coming of Christ. This view is partially supported by the writings of the Early Church Fathers as well as Augustine and the Reformers. This is the first that this “end times” theory has had significant agreement with Scripture and backed up by nearly two thousand years of Church theological history. White horse is the return of Christ setting up His millennial Kingdom, depicted by His names Word, Faithful and True, and King of kings. The saints are seen as the Believers and/or angels in battle against evil nations either spiritually or actually. There are varying views in this camp, over spiritual warfare, the battle of Armageddon, the movement of the Gospel, or the conflicts in the Church over the years. And, the lake of fire is the endgame for Satan and his followers.
The Idealist view: They see this passage as the Names of Christ converging, Word, Faithful and True, and King of kings as fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, and no one knows as only God can understand Himself. Armies of heaven is seen as angels while others see them as Believers, both interlocked in spiritual warfare and the angels engaging Satan in our behalf. Winepress is seen as God’s wrath and His ferocity in dealing with sin and evil. This war is seen as literal with humanity and/or angels engaging the evil worldly persecuting powers and armies in an epic holy war. The battle ends as the Church and Christ are victors and the evil and those seduced into the world’s sin being judged and then thrown into hell.
The Historicist view: They see this passage as mostly symbolic referring to the victories of Christ accomplished through His Church to spread His Word. This is also about God’s judgment against evil and worldly ways. Others in this camp see an actual battle of Armageddon as literal or symbolic against apostasy and/or the Catholic Church versus the Protestant Church. Others see this as symbolic for spiritual warfare and how we are victorious when we are faithful in Christ. Sharp sword and Word are seen as true doctrine winning out against false teachings. Armies of heaven and saints are seen as Believers remaining faithful by following Christ and/or witnesses of His glory. Birds gorged is seen as God’s enemies destroyed by their own ways collapsing upon themselves and/or God’s direct intervention. Reformer Luther and others see this as the destruction or downfall of the apostate Catholic Church and/or the weakening of papal power. Some have seen this already accomplished by Vatican I and II.