Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Revelation 6


Questions For Revelation Chapter Six

1.What did the Lamb then do?

2.Then what kind of noise did John hear?

3.Tell what he heard one beast say.

4.What did he then see?

5.Tell what the rider had.

6.What was given to him?

7.What was it he went forth doing?

8.At opening of second seal who spoke?

9.Repeat what he said.

10.What creature then went out?

11.Was it with a rider?

12.Tell what he was empowered to take away.

13.What would people do to each other?

14.Tell what was given to this rider.

15.What was heard at opening of third seal?

16.Tell what John beheld then.

17.What was the rider carrying?

18.From where was a voice heard speaking?

19.What values were announced?

20.Tell the precaution that was given.

21.What seal was opened next1

22.At this what did John hear?

23.What did he then behold?

24.Tell the name of its rider.

25.With what was he followed?

26.What was given to him?

27.Tell what he could do with this.

28.How much of the earth could be atiect?

29.What did John see under the altar?

30.Why not their bodies?

31.For what had they been slain?

32.At what seal did this appear?

33.What were they crying with?

34.For what were they crying?

35.On whom did they wish vengeance?

36.What were given to them?

37.They were told to do what?

38.For how long must they do so?

39.Which seal was opened next?

40.What happened then?

41.How were the sun and moon atiected?

42.What happened to the stars?

43. To what was this compared?

44. What happened to the heaven?

45.And to the mountains and islands?

46.Who hid themselves?

47.Where did they hide?

4B.For what did they call?

49.Why did they wish this?

50. What day were they fearing?

Verse 1

The Lamb began to open the book (or roll), and when the first seal was broken John heard a voice like thunder. That indicated a powerful voice was sounding that would demand attention. Accordingly one of the four creatures called to John to come and see.

Verse 2

Horses were used in war and it could mean either spiritual or carnal war depending upon the connection in which it is used. The rider on the horse had both a crown and a bow, which signified that he was a person of authority and that he would engage in war. The rider represents Christ who was fighting for the truth through the instrumentality of His disciples. The white horse agrees with the phrase conqzteriny and to conquer, for the Gospel won many battles over the foe in the first years of the church.

Verse 3

At the breaking of each of the first four seals the event was announced by one of the four beasts (or creatures). Come and see means to call the attention of John to what was about to be revealed.

Verse 4

The next horse was red which denotes bloodshed. Accordingly the rider was given power to take peace from the earth. This was fulfilled by the persecutions the Roman Empire began to wage against the Christians when their teaching began to show up with greater success.

Verse 5

The third seal was broken and the announcement was made for John to come and see. This time he saw a black horse which symbolized a condition of famine or shortage of food. The same subject was further indicated by the pair of balances that the rider held in his hand. It denoted that the necessities of life would be measured out to the people.

Verse 6

Wheat and barley are necessities of life, and the great price that is indicated by the figures shows that it was to be a time of scarcity, which is generally the case after a siege of warfare. Oil and-wine are not necessary as articles of food, but are helpful as agencies of relief in times of distress. In the midst of the hardships the Lord predicted some relief would be afforded through these articles.

Verse 7

No description is given of the voice of the beasts (living creatures) after the first one. But in each case (up to the fourth) the call to attention is made to John that he would be sure to see what was about to be revealed.

Verse 8

When the fourth seal was broken John saw a pale horse which indicates death. That calmity would come first as a result of the terrible famine which the war had brought about, and it was made worse by the persecutions that were fostered by the Pagan Roman Empire. Death and hell are named in the order they would observe in their occurrence. The word hell is from Hades which is the abode of departed spirits. It was logical therefore to name them in the order as stated. Power . . . over the fourth part of the earth. God never did suffer the enemy to exterminate completely the victims attacked. The general purpose of the enemy was to k-ill. The means by which it might be accomplished we-re various, such as with the .sword and hunger. With either of these the death would be a direct result of the means used. With death might seem a meaningless phrase unless it is understood that it refers to some indirect means such as a pestilence. Another means of causing the death of the Lord"s people was to expose them to vicious beasts as was done in the arenas of Rome.

Verse 9

This verse brings to the fifth seal but nothing is said by either of the four creatures. Evidently by this time John"s interest had been so centered on the drama being enacted before him that it was not necessary to call his attention. He was shown an altar because this is a book of symbols that are used to denote some literal facts. The present symbol is drawn from the temple of the Jews in which the altar was the center of their worship. At the bottom of the altar the blood of the sacrifices was poured, the bodies having been laid on the altar to be burned. (See Leviticus 4:7.) From this imagery it was fitting to represent the Christians as victims that had been sacrificed to the cruelty of their persecutors, and also to picture their souls as being poured out at the foot of the altar. It is interesting to note that the bodies only had been put on the altar which left the souls still alive and able to speak intelligently. (See Matthew 10:28.) The word for is used twice which is from the Greek word nu. The Englishman"s Greek New Testament renders this word "because of." The point is that these Christians had been killed "because of" their defense of the word of God. It is the same word that is used in chapter1:9 where John was banished to the isle of Patmos. Hence both John and these Christians who had been slain were martyrs, because the word means one who is faithful to the word of God regardless of threatened consequences.

Verse 10

The witnesses whose souls John saw (he was able to see a soul because he himself was the Spirit--- Revelation 1:10) were calling for vengeance to be put on the ones who had caused their mistreatment.

Verse 11

Before replying to their cry with the explanation of the stituation, they were given present consolation in the form of white robes. That indicated their standing of favor with God for Revelation 3:4 shows white as a symbol of worthiness in His sight. It was then told them that they would be avenged after a while, namely, when some of their brethren should be killed. As they were means they would be killed "for" (because of) the word of God. This was fulfilled as reported in Revelation 20:4 which will be commented upon when we come to that passage.

Verse 12

Following the opening of the fifth seal John saw some of the results of persecution, and it had been brought against Christians by Pagan (heathen) Rome. But there came a change in the general conditions. The emperor Constantine professed to be converted to Christianity, and it caused him to make many reverses in the activities of men in high places. The statements through the rest of this chapter are worded as if John saw the works of creation undergo radical changes. Such is to be expected in a book written with symbols. Hence the earthquake and darkening of the heavenly lights are tokens of the disturbances in the government.

Verse 13

Stars of heaven refer to men in high places who lost much of their power by the changes that Constantine was making. Untimely figs means fruit that is not ripe, yet it was shaken loose by the revolution going on in the government.

Verse 14

The heaven refers to the region that covers the earth, used here as a symbol of the great domain in which important men ruled with selfish interests. The disappearance of this reign of selfishness is likened to a scroll that is rolled up and laid away. Mountains and isles in symbolic language means seats of government, and these began to be altered by the revolutionary work of Constantine.

Verse 15

The various great persons named in this verse are the men in high position who had been holding uninterrupted sway over their people. As they began to see the fading of their domination it filled them with terror. Such an attitude is symbolized by an attempt to find hiding places in dens and among the rocks.

Verse 16

In their state of fear they would prefer being put out of the conflict, even if the mountains would tumble down upon them. Hide us from the face of the Lamb. These men who had held sway for so long were made to realize that the change was brought about by the influence of the religion their emperor had espoused.

Verse 17

Great day of his wrath does not refer to the last great day of judgment, for the book is not that far along in the world drama. It is the day in which these overbearing men in high places in the pagan government of Rome, came to realize the effects that the religion of Christ was bringing as a punishment upon them.

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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 6". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.