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Bible Commentaries

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT

Revelation 6

Verse 1

Symbols in this chapter

A. Seals - Proof of genuine, not tampered with, and official. The seals show that God has written and preserved the contents of this book, and it is definitely a message from God.

B. Horses = needed in order to wage war. The color determines the type of war being described.

C. Number 4 - Physical realm - all the wars are waged here in earth.

1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”

A. The Lamb begins to open the seals.

B. They are opened one at a time.

C. There is thunder. One of the 4 living creatures says, “Come and see.” This statement is directed toward those who read the writing of John.

D. This a way of saying, “Pay attention. Listen. Study. Seek to understand.”

Verse 2

2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

A. White horse - rider caries a bow and receives a crown.

B. The rider is Christ . The white horse is used in 19:11 where Christ is clearly identified.

C. The horse is symbolic of wars and battles . Christians will have to fight many battles here on earth.

D. Since white shows purity , this horse symbolizes righteous war. See 19:19-21.

E. In 19:14 Christians are pictured sitting upon white horses and following Christ.

Verses 3-4

3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” 4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

A. Red horse - rider with power to take peace from the earth.

B. Red shows bloodshed.

C. The rider of this horse has the ability to take peace from the earth and cause people to kill one another.

D. The rider has a great sword in his hand. This is the short sword of the Roman soldier.

Verse 5

5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

A. Black horse - rider has a balance in his hand.

B. Black symbolizes mourning or death.

C. The events described in the next verse will result in severe hardships and even death.

Verse 6

6 And I heard 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 the wine.”

A. A measure of wheat or 3 measure of barley - These measurements are the amount needed for a day’s ration.

B. A penny = a typical day’s pay . Therefore, a man’s complete wages would be needed in order to feed just himself. What about his family?

C. This is a poverty situation.

D. This seal represents more physical trials and hardships.

E. Oil and wine were items of luxury.

F. Where there is poverty , there will also be the extremely rich. While some are near starvation, others are living a life of luxury.

Verses 7-8

7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” 8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

A. Pale horse - rider is Death. Hades followed behind Death.

B. Death is symbolized by the pale color . The persecutions described here are so severe, death and Hades will result.

C. Power is given to hurt the 1/4 th part of the earth.

D. Sword (war), hunger and death.

E. We must understand the fraction - one-fourth. The fourth part points to a part of something. The earth represents the people who are killed by the sword, not the actual earth. If one makes this a literal number - there will be all kinds of difficulties. NOTE: The number 4 is the physical number. A fourth is a fraction of physical world. A third is a fraction of the divine

Summary of first four seals

The first four seals make it clear that they deal with events on the earth. These will occur during the Christian dispensation. The first seal = going out to preach the gospel. The 2 nd seal = wars fought between nations. The 3 rd seal = physical hardships. The 4 th seal = physical persecutions which people will suffer until Christ comes.

All these seals will not affect all people. Some will suffer hardship or poverty. Others will suffer war. Some will endure persecution.

The next three seals are very different. The first four dealt with humans (Christians) on earth. The next three describe events that God will set in motion.

Verse 9

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

The fifth seal - Under the altar are souls. We know some things about these souls.

1. Souls - not bodies

2. Before the throne - they are in the presence of God in heaven (8:3)

3. Killed - martyrs for the Word of God

4. Faithful - the held the testimony in time of persecution

5. Aware - knew how they died, knew that others were suffering

Verse 10

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

A. How long - is a question of pain.

B. It is also a question of faith that God is in control. God, how long before you intervene on behalf of the faithful?

C. There is an expression of understanding that God is the avenger of evil. “I will repay,” says the Lord.

D. Coffman wrote, “For Christians, upon their own behalf, to engage in acts of vengeance is indeed sinful; but for them to pray for God’s vengeance to fall upon their enemies is right, a proposition that is proved by the verse we are studying.”

Verse 11

11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

A. They are given white robes and told to wait.

B. God does not work in our time frame. They were told to wait for a little time. Others will also face hardships. Others will also suffer persecution. Others will also die in war.

C. NOTE: We do NOT get white robes when we get to heaven. We get white robes when we obey the gospel. (3:4) The white robes are the symbol of the righteousness of the saints. White robes were given to these martyrs to identify them as Christians.

D. God will avenge the blood of the saints. But He will do it in His time, not ours.

E. God does not keep us from persecutions and hardships, but the evil will be punished at judgment.

Verses 12-17

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

A. Great earthquake - The 6 th seal is a picture of the end of time. The earth will be destroyed. The description is of the Second Coming. All the world and physical things will end. Similar language is used in the Old Testament ( Joe_2:10 ; Isa_13:5-11 ).

1. The sun becomes black

2. The moon becomes as blood

3. The stars of heaven fall to the earth

4. The sky is parted and rolled up like a scroll

5. Every mountain and island are moved (earthquake)

6. Seven classes of men - kings, great, rich, chief captains, mighty, bondman, freeman

7. Try to hide from the wrath of God

8. They beg for death to escape facing God

B. The final “payday” has come and no evil person can survive.

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Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 6". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-6.html. 2021.