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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 6

Knollys' Commentary on RevelationKnollys on Revelation

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Verse 1

Revelation 6:1

Revelation 6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as It were the noise of thunder, one of the four beast, saying, come, and see.

The Lord Jesus Christ having prevailed to open this sealed book of the Revelation, which God gave him, and he took it out of his right hand. Now John saw him open one of the seals; that is, the first in order of the seven seals of this book; It is a Hebraism, the Jews used so to express; and call the first of times, things or persons, as Genesis 1:5 one day, that is, the first day. It is also a Helenism; the Greeks used to express and call the first of Sabbaths, {Mr 16:2} prwi thv miav sabbatwn, early upon one of the Sabbaths, that is, upon the first Sabbath {Mr 16:9} For that first day of the week was the first Christian Sabbath, called the Lord’s Day. See the exposition upon Revelation 1:10. SEE KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:10 So here, by one of the seals is meant the first of the seven seals. Likewise, by one of the four living creatures, is meant the first of them, and so the second, third, and fourth. {Revelation 6:2; Revelation 6:8}

And I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four living Creatures, saying, Come, and see

This invitation was given by the first of the four living creatures unto John, whose voice is like the noise of thunder, as when a lion roareth. The voice of God revealing his secret judgements by his prophets and ministers, is compared unto a roaring of a lion. {Amos 3:7-8} The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesize?

Come and See,

that is, Come hither near to the Lamb, and look into this first vision, now opened by the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, as Mediator: Now those that are unlearned, even babes in Christ, God’s little children may see, and read, and understand, so much as Christ will reveal the mysteries thereof unto them. {Matthew 11:25; Isaiah 29:11}

Verse 2

Revelation 6:2

Revelation 6:2. And I saw, and behold, a white horse; and He that sat on him had a bow, and a Crown was given unto him, And he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

It is usual in the prophets to signify great and wonderful transactions and dispensations of God, by warlike horses. {Zechariah 6:2-3; Zechariah 6:6-7} So in this chapter. {Revelation 6:4-5; Revelation 6:8} By this white horse we may understand the ministry of the gospel of peace and grace, especially the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit in the word preached. {Hebrews 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5} Notwithstanding all the opposition and persecution of the Roman pagan emperors, and the Roman papal potentates.

And He that sat upon on the white horse;

that is the Lord Jesus Christ. {Revelation 19:11; Revelation 19:15}

had a bow and a crown;

That is, he first converted, and then crowned his converts, and made them a royal priesthood. {1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Psalms 45:1; Psalms 45:7} Thine arrows are sharp in the hearts of the kings enemies;( ride prosperously). Therefore the people fall under thee. {Psalms 45:5} So our Lord and King Jesus, did in the ministry of the gospel. Read; {Romans 15:19; Galatians 1:17; 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 5:13; Acts 15:1-22; Romans 1:15-16} Thus Christ came

forth conquering, and to conquer;

that is, as he did in the apostles days, so he will do in all generations, especially in the latter days: Who hath heard of such a thing; Shall a Nation be born in a day. {Isaiah 66:8; Isaiah 60:1-4; Isaiah 60:7; Joel 2:27-29} So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. {Acts 19:20} And so it will to the end. {Ephesians 4:11-13} Until we all come in the unity of faith unto a perfect man, &c.

Verse 3

Revelation 6:3

Revelation 6:3 And when he had opened the Second Seal, I heard the second Beast say, Come, and See.

Christ having now

opened the second seal

he hath a second sort of ministers by whom he invited John to

Come, and See.

This second living creature was resembled by an ox or a calf; {see Revelation 4:7} Which was a laborious and suffering creature; whereby is signified those ministers of Christ that labor in the word and doctrine, and are faithful unto death. {Revelation 2:10}

Verse 4

Revelation 6:4

Revelation 6:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.


By this red horse we may understand the bloody sufferings of the churches, ministers, and members of Christ, by the persecutions of the Roman pagan emperors, who were called the ‘red dragon’ {Revelation 12:3} who killed many of the saints and servants of God; but yet they overcame and conquered at last, by the blood of the blessed Jesus, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death. {Revelation 12:7; Revelation 12:11}

And power was given to him that sat thereon, to take peace from the earth.

This power was two-fold, first, that dominion, rule, and authority, which the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision had given unto him of God; that is, the Roman pagan monarchy (compare Daniel 2:40 with Daniel 7:23), in all political, civil, and lawful administrations. Secondly, that tyranny and cruelty, which the Roman pagan emperors exercised over the Christians by their soldiers and magistrates, by God’s permission in matters ecclesiastical, or idol-worship (as in Hebrews 11:35-37, &c.), mystically signified by ten days. {Revelation 2:10} By the earth we may understand the churches of God on earth, and literally the inhabitants of the earth: the Roman pagan emperors took peace from the churches of God on earth, by their bloody persecutions of the primitive Christians: And they took peace from the inhabitants of the earth, by their wars in several countries, cities, and towns.

And there was given unto him a great sword.

The sword is an instrument of war and persecution. {Matthew 10:34-36} Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Where the earth is put for the disciples of Christ, his churches and ministers that were on earth; and by the sword, Christ meant the persecutions and tribulations that should be in this world. {John 16:33}

Verse 5

Revelation 6:5

Revelation 6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Here followeth another dispensation of God in the way of his divine providence; and therefore in the opening of this third seal Christ hath a third sort of his ministers; that is, the third living creature, who had his face like a man. {Revelation 4:7} The deacons who served tables. {Acts 6:2-3} They invited John to come and see.

And behold, and lo, a black horse, &c,

by this black horse, we may understand scarcity of food, some kind of famine. {As Zechariah 6:2; Job 3:1-26; La 4:8-9; 5:9-10} And with this interpretation agrees the emblem of the pair of balances in the hand of the rider. {as Ezekiel 4:16} And they shall eat bread by weight, &c. {Leviticus 26:25-26} And they shall deliver you your bread by weight. But yet they might buy both wheat and barley with money, as appears in the next verse.

Verse 6

Revelation 6:6

Revelation 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

In this part of the vision, John

heard a Voice say;

that is, some edict or proclamation of magistrates or justices, crying,

A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny,

though bread corn was dear, yet not so scarce; but that the Roman penny, which was the laboring man’s day wages, for his days work would buy him so much as would serve and satisfy him for his day’s food.

And see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

So that there was plenty of oil and wine, though some scarcity of wheat and barley. In the midst of judgement God remembered mercy; the oil and wine was spared and preserved. When God gives scarcity of some kind of food for the poor laboring men and women, who have only what they can earn, and are supplied from hand to month yet he usually gives plenty of the other needful things for daily supply.

Verse 7

Revelation 6:7

Revelation 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

The fourth living creature, {Revelation 4:7} was the eagle-eyed teachers in the church of God, who did foresee another dispensation of God, and said,

Come, and See

Verse 8

Revelation 6:8

Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

And I looked, and behold,

that is, John looked and called upon the others to behold, to consider, and take special notice of this fourth dispensation of God, both in his church, and in the world.

A pale horse; and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him, &c..

This pale horse (by a metonymy of the effect) doth signify the several kinds of death, which effected by the sword, the famine, the pestilence, and the wild beasts. For by what judgements of God forever men are killed, it is named or called death. And Death’s companion is hell, that is adhv, the place of the dead; that is, the grave, which followed the death of them that were killed by there judgments, in the fourth part of the habitable earth; that is Europe. The geometers divide the inhabited earth (where men and women dwell) into four parts, Africa, Asia, America, and Europe; and all historians tell us, that these judgments of God were executed upon the European empire, and kingdoms thereof, in the days of the Roman pagan emperors. See Sympson’s Ecclesiastical History, and Fox’s Tables of the Tortures of Christians.

Verse 9

Revelation 6:9

Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

under the altar

It was not for treason against the emperors, but for the testimony of Jesus; and they loved not their lives unto death. {Revelation 12:11} The place where John saw them, was under the altar: the altar here may not be understood literally; for there was then no material temple, that in Jerusalem being destroyed, and the Jewish worship abolished; but this altar, metaphorically taken, doth signify the happy state, and blessed condition of the martyrs of Jesus. The altar stood in the most holy place of the temple, as being a type of Christ, who is our altar. {Hebrews 13:10} This altar was typed out by the golden altar of incense, place before the Ark of the Testimony in the tabernacle. {Exodus 40:5-6; Exodus 40:10}

The Souls of them that were slain;

that is, the martyrs of Jesus, whose bodies were killed, murdered and slain,

for the word of God, and for the Testimony which they held.

The testimony which those martyrs held, was two fold; first, negative; they would not worship idols. {as Daniel 3:16-18} Positive; they did worship the only living God in Spirit and in truth. {John 4:22-24; Daniel 6:13-16} Both Eusebius and Mr. Fox, in their Histories of the Church, testify, that thousands in a day were killed for professing themselves Christians; and in that some places of Roman Empire whole churches full of Christians were burned together, and whole cities where burned for refusing to worship idols, and whole legions of soldiers were destroyed for being Christians, and worshipping God. The primitive Christians, in those times of the ten bloody persecutions of the Roman pagan tyrants, would not give their soldiers, who were sent to kill them, any xczola; that is, any old cast cloth or rag to save their lives; and when any soldier pulled or plucked any cloth of rag from them by force; they would follow the solders, crying out, and saying, they were Christians; I am a Christian, etc.

Verse 10

Revelation 6:10

Revelation 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

The blessed martyrs did not cry, as being sensible of any suffering, in their bodies; for their bodies being killed, did rest from their labors, {as Revelation 14:13} and cry no more for their suffering in the body; that earthly tabernacle being dissolved, their souls were translated into eternal glory. {2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:18} Where there is no sin, no sorrow, no tears, no fights, no groans, no crying for grief or pain. {Revelation 21:14} Nor was this cry

with a loud voice

raised by any desire of revenge, and vengeance against those particular persons, soldiers, or others, who killed their bodies: For a revengeful frame of mind doth not become saints on earth, {Romans 12:19-21} much less saints in glory. But as the voice of the blood of Abel cried unto God from the ground, {Genesis 4:10} so those blessed martyrs of Jesus

cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Holy, and True, does thou not judge and avenge our blood,

as David did. {Psalms 35:23} Stir up thy self, and awake to judgement, even unto my cause, my God, and my Lord. And {Psalms 94:1; Psalms 94:7} upon them that dwell on the earth; that is upon the inhabitants of the earth. {Revelation 8:13} The men of the earth, {Psalms 10:18} even the wicked of the earth, {Psalms 75:8} particularly upon the Roman pagan powers, empires, and tyrannical Caesars as follows. {Revelation 6:14-17}

Verse 11

Revelation 6:11

Revelation 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.


white robes,

we may understand, first, those garments of salvation, and robe of Christ’s righteousness. {Isaiah 61:10} Secondly, the bride’s attire, white clean (without spot, Song of Solomon 4:7), which is the righteousness of the saints. {Revelation 19:8} Thirdly the martyrs integrity and innocency in all their sufferings: having washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. {Revelation 7:14}

And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season;

that is, their bodies shall rest from all their labors, troubles, sorrows, and sufferings (as before said). {Revelation 14:13} There remains a rest unto the people of God, {Hebrews 4:11} and a spiritual rest in heaven to eternity.

For a little season;

the martyrs of Jesus cry, How long Lord? the answer is,

For a little season,

but a short time;

until their follow-servant’s also, and their brethren,

that is, other ministers and members of Christ, His mystical body, their companions; {Revelation 1:9} SEE KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:9 and {Hebrews 10:33}

That should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled;

to be killed, as they were; that is martyred and murdered; should be fulfilled; that is accomplished and finished. This set time was appointed of God, first, because of the work of persecution was not yet over. Secondly, because the sin of the persecutors was not yet full. Thirdly, because the time proposed and decreed of God was not yet come.

Verse 12

Revelation 6:12

Revelation 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

In this Vision of the

sixth Seal

St. John had the revelation of the great revolution of the Roman pagan empire, which should put an end unto the bloody persecutions of the heathen emperors, and all their tyrannical torturing of the Christians by cruel deaths; which revolution is there set forth in a prophetical style and manner of speaking. For when the Prophets did foretell the destruction of Kingdoms, or some great changes and revolutions therein they used such figurative and metaphorical terms, words and expressions, as are in the following verses; viz.

a great earthquake, the Sun black, the Moon blood, &c..

{Read Isaiah 26:6; Matthew 24:7; Joel 3:16; Haggai 2:6-7; Haggai 2:21-22; Isaiah 2:19-22; Isaiah 13:10; Jeremiah 15:9; Joel 2:10-11; Ezekiel 32:7; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 24:13}

Verse 13

Revelation 6:13

Revelation 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.



here, we are to understand the Roman pagan empire in its glorious state, with their temples, altars, idols, and worship. {Isaiah 34:4-5}

And by the stars of that heaven,

is meant, the kings, princes, dukes and earls (who wear a golden Star), also the arch-clams, clams, and all the orders of the pagan priests (Revelation 6:14-15; Read Ezekiel 32:7-8; Joel 2:10; Jeremiah 13:9-11; Matthew 24:29). The fall and ruin of the Roman kings and priests, are here fitly resembled by

a fig-tree that casteth her untimely figs when it is shaken with a mightily wind;

that is the dispensation of the wrath of almighty God. {Daniel 2:34-35; Daniel 2:44-45}

Verse 14

Revelation 6:14

Revelation 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The departing of the


signifies the total revolution, and final destruction of the pagan sate of the Roman Empire; by Constantine the Great.

And every mountain,

that is their high places on which they worshipped their idols. {Read Ezekiel 18:6; Isaiah 57:7; Ezekiel 6:13} Then shall ye know that I am JEHOVAH, when their slain men shall be among their idols, round about their altars, upon every high hill in all the tops of the mountains-The place where they did offer sweet savours unto all their idols. And by every island, we may understand every separated place (as islands are from the land) so all their consecrated temples, altars, &c. were dedicated unto their idol gods, and separated from there common places, and were removed; that is taken away and abolished. Their panyeon and all the rest of their idol temples, were taken away by the Christian emperors; and the worship of Christ set up gradually throughout the whole Roman Empire, by the edicts, decrees, and government of Constantine; {as Zephaniah 2:10-11} JEHOVAH will famish all the gods of the earth, and destroy the idols and the heathen.

Verse 15

Revelation 6:15

Revelation 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;


the kings of the earth,

we are to understand the chief rulers of the whole Roman pagan empire, called the whole world. {Lu 2:1}

And the great men;

that is, their nobles and honorable persons, and their princes. {Nahum 3:10} And her great men (honorable men) were bound in chains. This honor have all the saints. {Psalms 149:7-9}

And the rich men;

that is, their rich merchants. {Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 23:11; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:15}

And the chief Captains;

that is, the chief generals, and all the great commanders in the imperial armies. {Acts 25:23}

And every bondman, and every freeman

(that had been persecutors of the Christians)

hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains;

as, {Job 29:8} They were terrified, and frightened, yes, amazed at this dispensation of God, and wrath of the Lamb our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is no darkness nor shadow of death, where the workers of Iniquity may hide themselves. {Job 34:22}

Verse 16

Revelation 6:16

Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

These idolatrous potentate kings, priests, and captains, in the day of God vengeance (his temple vengeance) seek for hiding places, but find none. They had rather the rocks and mountains should have fallen on them and destroyed them, than to be brought before the judgment of seat of God and Jesus Christ, whose name they have blasphemed, whole churches, ministers, and members, they had persecuted, imprisoned, martyred and murdered, by their edicts, decrees, laws, and soldiers, and by the judges, juries, and the false witnesses. {Amos 9:1-3}

Verse 17

Revelation 6:17

Revelation 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

This great day of God, and the Lamb’s wrath, was at last acknowledged and confessed by those persecutors. This dreadful dispensation of God’s wrath happened in the days of the 10th and last bloody persecution of the Christians, when Diocelsian was Emperior; as all historians testify.

Bibliographical Information
Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 6". "Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hkc/revelation-6.html.
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