by Michael Trofern
Revelation 6:1 says:
1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (6:1-2)
Another translation says, “a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (NKJ). There are three different interpretations of this rider. The International Bible Commentary, F.F. Bruce general editor, says,
One long-established interpretation understands this of the victorious progress of the gospel, the rider on the white horse being Christ, as in 19:11. (p. 1607)
The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary puts forth the dominate evangelical view today, that it is the Antichrist. The commentator admits that the symbolism of the white horse is always “associated with righteousness and Christ,” but rejects it because the other three horses clearly represent war and judgments. He goes on to say:
The references in 19:11-16 to the rider on the white horse as “Faithful and True” and as one who judges and makes war with justice stands in contrast to the rider in 6:2, who is not faithful or true and who wages war for unjust conquest. Moreover, the Lamb opens the seals and would not be one of the riders, nor would it be proper to have an angelic being call forth Christ. Again, a “bow” would most naturally be connected with the enemy of God’s people (Eze 39:3). . . . The evidence, however, seems to favor . . . the Antichrist and his forces that seek to conquer the followers of Christ. (Vol. 2, p. 1160-1161)
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary by Moody Press, first published in 1962, also says it cannot be Christ because of the other three horses and quotes another commentator saying:
“Can there be any doubt that this is the vision of antiChrist? It so resembles the real Christ that it deceives people, even many a reader of this passage!” (Thomas F. Torrance, The Apocalypse Today, p. 44).
The above opinions use enormous quantities of faulty reasoning. There is no justification for associating the first seal with the Antichrist just because of the other three seals. At no point does it say that the rider on the white horse is not faithful or true or that he wages war unjustly, NOWHERE!
The Bible contains many passages with references to many different things all mixed together. One sentence could refer to the first coming of Christ and the next sentence could be refer to his second coming. This is why we are told to rightly divide the Scriptures. The context of the surrounding verses is very important, but the other three horses do not ride out of the first seal; they are clearly separated by being placed into four separate seals. In taking the other seals into account, they are ignoring the symbolism of the first seal, the white horse. The book of Revelation is a symbolic book, to discount the symbolism in favor of anything else, is departing from any chance of understanding the passage.
Many commentators, as illustrated above, believe that the rider of the white horse is the Antichrist and that he is on a white horse because he comes with deception and claims to be Christ. READ THIS CAREFULLY. The WORD of God NEVER attempts to deceive us in any way. Satan may portray himself as an angel of light, but the Bible calls him a serpent, a red dragon, and the father of lies. THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT PORTRAY SATAN AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT, AND THEY DO NOT PORTRAY THE ANTICHRIST RIDING A WHITE HORSE!!
It violates every rule of Scriptural interpretation and good sense to suggest that the Bible does not mean “white” when it says “white.” White is and always will be a symbol of purity and righteousness throughout the Bible, and in most cultures in history. Jesus said of the righteous,
“They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.” (Rev. 3:4)
But the commentators are right when they say the rider on the white horse is not Christ, because the rider is the Holy Spirit! The first thing to happen after Christ ascended into heaven was the sending of the Holy Spirit. Peter said, “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
The Greek for “conquer” in 6:2 is nikao (3528) and means “to overcome” (VED). Strong’s says, “to subdue … conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.” The Greek for the triumph of Christ in Rev. 5:5 is the same word used for “conquer” in Rev. 6:2.
The literal translation of 6:2 reads, “and he went out overcoming, and that he might overcome” (IGENT). The Zondervan Parallel N.T. in Greek and English says, “and he went forth overcoming and in order that he might overcome.” All Christians will either overcome Satan and the world or be overcome by them, and Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to help us; in order that we might overcome. A far cry from “unjust” conquest! The New Living Translation says the rider “rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.”
The four cherubim represent the unfolding plan of God for his people, as in Ezekiel. So it is no surprise that “one of the four living creatures” calls forth this horse, because the four horses of the first four seals represent stages in God’s plan for Christians and Jews and the world. In the next seal, the second living creature says “Come!” then the third, then the fourth. Therefore, it is the first living creature that calls the white horse. The first living creature is “like a lion.” In Rev. 5 Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” The connection is unmistakable.
The crown the rider wears is not that of an earthly kingdom. The Greek is stephanos (4735), and denotes “the victor’s crown, the symbol of triumph in the games … a token of public honor for distinguished service” (VED). It is the same word used for the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. This crown is for the victory of Christ described in Rev. 5. The same Greek word appears in Rev. 2:10, where Jesus said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.” The ten kings of the ten-horned beast in Rev. 13 do not wear victors’ crowns but diadems, earthly crowns.
So the rider on the white horse is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to overcome. What is more, nothing is said in the first seal about taking peace from the Earth; nothing is said about men slaying each other; nothing is said about war. It is not in the text! The rider does not engage in physical battles, but spiritual battles.