The First Horseman of Revelation 6 -- By: Daniel K. K. Wong

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 153:610 (Apr 1996)
Article: The First Horseman of Revelation 6
Author: Daniel K. K. Wong


The First Horseman of Revelation 6

Daniel K. K. Wong

[Daniel K. K. Wong is Vice-president and Academic Dean of the Chinese for Christ Theological Seminary, Rosemead, California.]

In the Book of Revelation the word νικάω (“to conquer”) is used on three occasions with reference to someone who is hostile to the saints (6:2; 11:7; 13:7). In Revelation 6:2 the figure is a rider on a white horse. “And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer.” Who is this person? What is the object and nature of his conquering? When will this take place? This article seeks to answer these questions in light of the biblical evidence.

The Setting

The reference to the victorious horseman is found in the beginning of a section that pertains to the events of the future seven-year tribulation period following the rapture (Rev 6–19). The backdrop of this reference is the heavenly scene which introduces God as the Judge, Christ as the Lamb who is worthy to open the scroll and to judge, the heavenly servants associated with God and Christ in judgment, and the songs of adoration to God and Christ because of their worthiness (Rev 4–5). As the songs of adoration cease, the Lamb of God begins to open the scroll.

The Identity of the Rider

At the breaking of the first seal (Rev 6:1–2), one of the living creatures calls forth the first rider. He is riding a white horse, carrying a bow, and is given a crown. His identity, however, has been the subject of much discussion. Corsini is of the opinion that

this rider depicts humanity in its perfection.1 Phillips claims that he represents the blasphemous philosophies of the last days.2 Robbins thinks of him as “the way of spiritual evil in history.”3 Medill believes he symbolizes the bloodless victories the king of France gained over the emperor.4 Pardini takes him to be “a personification of the Lord’s judgment.”5 Draper sees him as representing Enoch.6 Boll proposes an a...

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