Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 6:3

When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Animals;   Horse;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Remnant;   The Topic Concordance - Day of the Lord;   Seals;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Horse;   Horseman;   Number Systems and Number Symbolism;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Seal, Signet;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Eschatology;   Horse;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Seal;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The second beast - That which had the face of an ox.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-6.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And when he had opened the second seal - So as to disclose another portion of the volume. See the notes at Revelation 5:1.

I heard the second beast say - The second beast was like a calf or an ox. See the notes at Revelation 4:7. It cannot be supposed that there is any special significancy in the fact that the second beast addressed the seer on the opening of the second seal, or that, so far as the symbol was concerned, there was any reason why this living. creature should approach on the opening of this seal rather than on either of the others. All that seems to be designed is, that as the living creatures are intended to be emblems of the providential government of God, it was proper to represent that government as concerned in the opening of each of these four seals, indicating important events among the nations.

Come and see - See the notes on Revelation 6:1.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-6.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, Come. And another horse came forth, a red horse: and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

The interpretation of this and the two following horsemen is clear enough. Practically all students see this one as bloodshed, warfare, and the desolation caused by the sword. One point of difference is grounded upon a different word for "sword" being used in this passage and in Revelation 6:8. It could be that the use of a synonym in one place or another has no significance. Swords of all descriptions have been used in warfare throughout history. If a reason is sought, it probably appears in the fact of the Roman sword being in view here, the one used in the times of the apostles.

The word here means the Roman short sword, called great, not because it was disproportionate to the horse and rider, but because of the constant and terrible slaughter it symbolizes.[20]

The Roman short sword was also "great" because it was the triumphant weapon which enabled Roman armies to destroy the ingenious phalanx, the military device perfected and used by Alexander the Great in his conquest of the world. Just as the French crossbow overcame and vanquished the English long bow, the Roman short sword was supreme over every other weapon for an extended period of history.

They should slay one another ... Hendriksen applied this to "religious persecution,"[21] but we cannot so limit it. It means all warfare and bloodshed, as evident from the pronoun "they" which cannot indicate the church, and from the further fact that the slaughter of the Christians is given in this same series under the fifth seal, following. Also, there is the pattern of three and four, or four and three, as subdivisions of the numerous sevens in Revelation; and all of these first four judgments are upon the "whole world," the number four usually being applied to things of the earth and the number three usually being evident when the church is spoken of.

Again the key of understanding is in the Olivet discourse. "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." "This refers to no particular war, but to all war in general."[22] The history of mankind is hardly anything else other than a record of one brutal conflict after another. Lenski rejected the view that warfare in any sense follows the preaching of the gospel as a consequence; and, in a sense, he is correct. Wars of course existed before the gospel; but they did not exist before sin and rebellion entered Eden. In the sense, therefore, of a rejection of the gospel being a conscious choice of continuing in sin, it is morally true that wars follow.

The historicist view of Revelation continues to be attractive to many people, despite the many objections to it. Barnes' interpretation of the four seals was:[23]

1seal.....a period of great prosperity for the church until A.D. 180.

2seal.....a period of 92 years beginning with the death of Commodus.

3seal.....a period of excessive taxation prior to A.D. 248.

4th seal.....the period from A.D. 248 to 268, in which half the people on earth (Gibbon) died of famine, pestilence, etc.SIZE>

Note that the period of "great prosperity" was the period of many persecutions and martyrdoms. Is this great prosperity? In the fourth seal, is it proper to single out a mere 20 years out of nearly 2,000 years, as being entitled to an individual horse in this parade of symbols? Gibbon also wrote that in the great Black Death plague of the mid-fourteenth century, "the moity," (the majority) of mankind perished. Thus, an event well over a thousand years later is just as good a fulfillment of the fourth seal as the one chosen by Barnes.

All of the things symbolized by the four seals existed in John's current era, and they have continued to exist ever since. When was there ever a time when the red horse of war's desolation no longer ravaged the earth? This condition, like that of the continued proclamation of the gospel, will go on until the end of time. Again, from the Olivet discourse: "Wars and rumors of wars ... but the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:6).

[20] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John's Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 225.

[21] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 120.

[22] Frank L. Cox, op. cit., p. 49.

[23] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1961), pp. 142-146.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when he had opened the second seal,.... Of the sealed book; that is, the Lamb, as before:

I heard the second beast say, come and see; this living creature was the ox, whose situation was on the west side of the throne, as the standard of Ephraim, on which was an ox, was on the west of the camp of Israel; no mention is made of the noise of thunder, as before, the voice of the ox being lower than that of the lion; and this perhaps may point out a decrease in the Gospel ministry; to fix on any particular person, as, with Grotius, the Evangelist Matthew, because he says, Matthew 24:7, nation shall rise against nation, which carries in it some likeness to what is said at the opening of this seal; or, as with Brightman, Justin Martyr, whose second apology was not regarded by the emperor, is mere conjecture; the ministers of the Gospel are intended who lived under this seal, who, though they might not be strong and courageous like the lion, or their predecessors, yet were like the ox, laborious in preaching, and patient in suffering; and these are represented in this vision as inviting John to behold and observe the following hieroglyphic.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-6.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And 3 when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

(3) The second sign joined with words of declaration (after the express calling of John as before) is, that God being provoked to wrath by the obstinacy and hard heartedness of the world, not repenting for the former plague: as setting on the same at hand, will cause disputes among men, and will destroy the inhabitants of this world, by the swords of one another.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-6.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

and see — omitted in the three oldest manuscripts, A, B, C, and Vulgate.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The second seal (την σπραγιδα την δευτερανtēn sphragida tēn deuteran). “The seal the second.” The white horse with his rider vanished from the scene bent on his conquering career.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-6.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

And see

Omit.

Had opened ( ἤνοιξεν )

Rev., rendering the aorist mow literally, opened.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-6.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature — Who looked toward the west.

Saying, Come — At each seal it was necessary to turn toward that quarter of the world which it more immediately concerned.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-6.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

beast living creatures. (See Scofield "Ezekiel 1:5").

Come and see Come! Omit "and see." So Revelation 6:1; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7.

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 6:3". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-6.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

Ver. 3. Come and see] John’s better attention is called for. How dull and drowsy are the best in perceiving and receiving heavenly mysteries! A sea coal fire, if not stirred up, will die of itself, so will our spark and spunk of light. Christ calls upon those that had come far to hear him, saying, "Let him that hath an ear hear," Matthew 13:9; cf. Zechariah 4:1.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-6.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The second seal opened did represent to St. John's visionary view a red horse, of a bloody colour; denoting first the dreadful execution of God's wrath upon the Jews, embroiling the land with wars, divisions, bloodshed, unpeaceable tumults, killing and ruining one another, to which purpose he apprehended that he saw a sword in his hand that rode upon this horse, signifying the great slaughter which would be committed by the Jews upon one another.

Others, secondly, by this red horse understand the bloody Roman emperors, Nero, Trajan, &c., and the persecution which the primitive church underwent in their days. Eusebius relates, that so fierce was their rage against the poor Christians, that a man might see cities full of dead bodies, old and young, men and women, cast out naked, without any reverence of persons, or regard to sex.

From hence we may learn, What little reason the Christian church has to think strange of the fiery trial, as if some strange things happened unto them; when as we see all the rage and cruelty, all the blood and violence, which the Christian church has fallen under in the several ages of it, have been from the beginning revealed and prophetically foretold.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-6.html. 1700-1703.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The second seal; the second of those seven seals with which the book, mentioned Revelation 5:1, was sealed.

The second beast; the beast like a calf, Revelation 4:7.

Come and see; inviting John to attend.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-6.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

When the Lamb broke the second seal on the scroll, John heard the second living creature order the second horseman forward.

Beale believed the disasters represented by the opening of each seal are simultaneous throughout the church age, not sequential occurrences, for either the purification of believers or for the punishment of believers" persecutors. [Note: Beale, pp370-72.] They began, he believed, after Christ"s death, resurrection, and ascension, and they will end at His second coming. Conquest, both literal and spiritual, has led and will lead to civil unrest, which has led and will lead to famine, which has led and will lead to death.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-6.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

-4

Opened the second seal, &c. portending wars and shedding of blood, and so he is said to have power to take away peace from the earth. (Witham) --- Another red horse. This red horse signifies the cruel persecutions, which the Roman emperors carried on against the Christian religion. For this end, it is said immediately after, one sat thereon, to take peace from the earth, and kill one another; for this purpose was a great sword given to him. (Andræas; Menochius; Grotius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-6.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

had. Omit.

say = saying, Revelation 6:1.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-6.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

And see. Omitted in A B C, Vulgate.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
1; 4:7
Reciprocal: Jeremiah 15:2 - for death;  Revelation 6:7 - GeneralRevelation 8:1 - And;  Revelation 10:2 - a little

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-6.html.

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

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.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-6.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

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}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-6.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Second Seal

Revelation 6:3. And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say: Come.[Note: The words: and see, which Luther here, and in Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7, has added, hive no critical support of any importance, and are taken from Revelation 6:1, without regard to the difference between the first appearance and the others.]V

er. 4. And there went forth[Note: Several expositors: and there drew out, with reference to the ἐ ξή λθε in Revelation 6:2. But we can scarcely say of a horse what can be said of a rider. We must, therefore, understand the word here of the going forth, the in scenun prodire, an opposed to its being hitherto enclosed in the sealed book.]another horse, which was red, and it was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given him a great sword. The supposition of Vitringa, that here the rage of the heathen emperor against the innocent confessors of the truth, with their bloody martyrdom, is here represented, proceeds on an entire disregard of the connection. Here, in the contemplated judgments, which under the leadership of Christ, God suspends over the world, as opposed to Christ and his church, war takes only a subordinate place. The seven trumpets are occupied fully and at large with this. But the object of the passage before us, is a threatening of bloody discord; it is one of the chief punishments which alight upon an ungodly world; one of the chief means of Christ's victory. It breaks the might, the confidence, the security, the arrogance and fury of the antichristian world; it disposes the princes of the world to peace. Therefore the Christian should not be frightened if he sees this judgment realizing itself anew and still proceeding. It should be to him a harbinger of the victory of his Lord. When wars find terrors overspread the earth, he should see in them the dawn of the church's triumph.

On red as the colour of blood, see on ch. Revelation 12:3. To this view the whole points, and in particular the words: there was given him a great sword; so that Hoffmann's remark: it means shedding of blood and burning, is to be rejected. Only such a colour is here naturally indicated as agrees with the natural colour of the horse. The redness of the fox-coloured horse suffices for the representation of blood redness.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 6:3". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-6.html.