Revelation 6:1-8 Bible Study Questions and Answers: The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse
Who Are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
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Revelation 6:1-8 Bible Study Questions and Answers
Revelation 6:1-8 “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. 3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”
Who is the rider on the white horse, and what does he represent?
The rider on a white horse is undoubtedly a conqueror. Some take this character to be the anti-Christ since Jesus himself will be seen on a white horse at the end of the book defeating his enemies once and for all (this also makes sense when considering that Jesus was just referred to as “the one who conquered” a few verses before).
While it is highly probable that the rider on the white horse is anti-Christ, this is not the whole picture. The important thing to understand about the rider on the white horse is what he would have signaled to a first-century audience. Parthians were known for their horses, and their cavalry was known for its formidable archers (the rider on a white horse carries a bow). They were the only group of mounted archers in the known world then (Roman cavalries did not feature archers). Further, many Mediterranean Jews at that time saw Parthians as central figures in the future eschatological war. Romans certainly would have seen an allusion to the Parthian threat in this image.
The figure on the white horse likely represents two things: the collapse of the Roman Empire (the dominant world power of the time) and its replacement with one who will rule in place of it and the true king (Jesus). As bad as Rome was, its collapse and replacement by a single individual who would rule autonomously was a frightening thought to first-century believers. It is just as terrifying for us today. World powers come and go, and every generation has a potential anti-Christ-in-waiting. The Last Days will commence with world powers being brought down and replaced with a single, all-powerful dictator masquerading as an agent of peace but who is ultimately an agent of Satan.
What does the red horse represent?
The red horse represents peace being taken from the earth. The tribulation will be a time of great distress, hardship, and widespread violence. It is important to note that Jesus mentioned turmoil and violence not just as a marker of the Great Tribulation but of the entire age in which we find ourselves: “wars and rumors of wars… nation against nation…” (Matthew 24:6-7). He said these are “but the beginning of the birth pains.”
But while violence and bloodshed have remained as commonplace on the earth since the life of Christ, these will undoubtedly ramp up and become almost unbearable during the last days. If these judgments are not chronological (more on that in future studies), it will make sense that the increasing violence and bloodshed on the earth could pave the way for the antichrist, who will masquerade as an agent of peace (the white horse).
What does the black horse represent?
The black horse represents widespread famine. As Beale notes, “Again, the decree to be executed is one of suffering, this time a famine, metaphorically represented by scales in the rider’s hand. In the ancient world, food was distributed by rationed amounts (using scales) when it became scarce.”
What does the pale horse represent?
The pale horse (which is a green horse in the original language – χλωρός/chloros in Greek) represents widespread death. So far, we’ve seen a massive uptick in violence, bloodshed, and famine. It makes sense that these two things go together; people will likely kill each other when famine breaks out. This is another example of how the church will act counter-culturally during the Great Tribulation: not by killing or hoarding, but by enduring patiently and staying faithful to the Lamb in word and deed.
It also must be noted that Zechariah, who prophecies extensively about the second coming of Christ, describes a time when 2/3 of the Jewish people will be taken from the earth, only for 1/3 to repent and finally worship the true Messiah of Israel. As has been stated in this series previously, Bible prophecy is cyclical and patterned. What happens during the Great Tribulation will resemble a more severe, drastic version of things already occurring in history. It is easy to assume that part of the “death and hades” judgment brought about by the pale horse will be genocide, executed at the command of the antichrist (white horse).
 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 380–381.