6:1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four animals say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”6:2Suddenly there was a white horse. Its rider held a bow and wore a victor’s crown, and went out conquering with the intent to keep on conquering.1
6:3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second animal say “Come!”6:4And out came another horse, a fiery one. Its rider was given a large sword and granted the power to take peace from the earth so that people would slaughter each other.2
6:5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third animal say “Come!” Suddenly there was a black horse whose rider held a pair of scales.36:6And I heard a voice from the center of the four animals saying, “A day’s ration of wheat for a day’s wages, and three days’ ration of barley for a day’s wages… and don’t damage the olive oil and the wine!”
6:7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth animal say “Come!”6:8Suddenly there was a green horse whose rider was labeled Death, accompanied by Hades.4 They were given jurisdiction over a fourth of the earth to kill with the sword, with famine, with other causes, and with the wild animals of the earth.
6:9When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw at the base of the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered on account of the Word of God and the testimony they held.6:10They shouted in a loud voice, “How long, holy and true Master, until you judge the earth dwellers and avenge our blood?”6:11Then each of them was given a white robe and told to be patient for a little longer for their fellow slaves, their brothers and sisters, who were about to be killed as they were.
6:12I watched the Lamb open the sixth seal, and there was a great disturbance; the sun became black as goat hair cloth and the whole moon became like blood.6:13Then the stars fell from the sky to the earth, something like when a strong wind shakes a fig tree and causes it to cast its overripe figs.6:14The sky recoiled as when a scroll is rolled up, and every mountain and island was shifted from its place.
6:15Then the kings of the earth, the great ones, the military commanders of thousands, the rich, the strong, the slave and the free all hid themselves in caves and in crevices in the mountains.6:16And they’re saying to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one sitting on the throne and from the fury of the Lamb!6:17For the day of their great fury has arrived, and who is able to stand?”
- 1Though the color white in Revelation typically represents purity, it can also symbolize indifference or peace. Perhaps the meaning here with the rider’s unarmed bow (no arrows) is that though the rider promises peace, the intent is clearly conquest.
- 2If the appearance of this horse is literal fire, it probably symbolizes that which consumes and destroys, whereas red symbolized death in ancient Greece. How this differs from the horses to come may be that it marks the beginning or act of slaughter, while the others mark the results of the slaughter.
- 3The black color could symbolize wealth and prosperity (or the lack of it) or mourning, though the meaning here is clearly linked with economic disaster.
- 4The color green symbolized fear in the ancient Greek culture, while in modern English culture fear is symbolized by being pale. The rendering preference here is for the actual color and not its figurative meaning, since that is not clear. And as with the fiery/red horse, we cannot know whether these were to be understood as natural horse colors such as chestnut or pale/mottled.