The First Six Seals
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 beasts saying, Come and see.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.
The first seal is opened and a man on a white horse is revealed.
White represents holiness and purity so it is safe to assume that this vision represents an holy
The conqueror is Jesus Christ. His bow is in His hand and He is ready to go to war.
His warfare is a spiritual one.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.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
Red almost always indicates war and bloodshed.
This horse represents the persecution that would come upon the church.
Jesus told His disciples that members of their own families would turn against them (Mt. 10:21).
2 Tim. 3:12.
The Jews persecuted Christians, Nero persecuted Christians, and Domitian persecuted them.
Just to name a few.
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.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.
Black always seems to represent great mourning.
This horse represents the grief that Christians would face because of their persecution.
It appears that they were forced to eat by weight.
A "measure" was a dry measure of less than a quart.
A penny was about a day's wage.
This did not leave anything to feed a family.
W. B. West, Jr. said in his commentary, "...we have an actual document stating that Domitian,
the contemporary emperor, issued a decree to trim the vineyards in the provinces and destroy
some of them, but he preserved he vineyards in Italy. So there goes forth his decree: 'Don't hurt
the oil and the wine."
Oil and wine were considered luxuries and could not be afforded by the poor.
The fact that they are still available shows that this shortage of food for Christians was not
because of a drought but because of political reasons.
Hailey says, "The Christian who refused to compromise his conscience by sustaining
membership in a pagan guild, as at Thyatira (2:18ff), or to bow to the emperor's image in
worship, as at Pergamum (2:12ff), or be injured in his occupation by Jewish influence, as at
Smyrna (2:8ff), would be hard-pressed to find work whereby he could earn a living."
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and
see.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.
"Pale" an ashen color.
Death is riding the horse.
Hades, the unseen spirit realm follows him.
Wherever death goes, Hades collects the souls.
Christ has the keys of Hades and death (1:18).
At the end, death and Hades will give up the dead that are in them and be cast into the lake of
Death killed by:
The sword, or war.
Pestilence (or death).
Some believe that this death is brought upon the whole world and some think that this is
referring to the persecution of the saints. Naming the various ways they died.
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: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?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.
Under the altar, John sees the souls of those who had died for (because of) the word of God and
because of their testimony.
The fact that they were under the altar shows that God considered their deaths as sacrifices at the
altar of heaven.
These souls cry for the Lord to take vengeance on those who had killed them.
They want to know how long it will be (Deut. 32:43).
God's people often make this cry (Psa. 6:3; Jer. 47:6; Hab. 1:2; Zech. 1:12).
God never tells them when He will pronounce judgment on their adversaries (Rom. 12:19).
These souls are given white robes that signified purity and victory.
They are told to rest for a little while until their fellowservants had fulfilled their path as they
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;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.14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every
mountain and island were moved out of their places.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;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:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who
shall be able to stand?
This seal brings into view a great judgment.
Not the final judgment but a judgment on the power that was persecuting the saints.
Much of the language is like that used in the Old Testament to describe the fall of a nation.
Isa. 13:10, 13 Judgment against Babylon.
Joel 2:31; Mt. 24:49 Judgment against Jerusalem.
"Star of heaven fell..." In the OT, stars often represented rulers (Num. 24:17; Isa. 14:12; Dan.
The heavens were rolled up like a scroll. When a scroll is read it is rolled up. When a nation
comes to an end, its heaven is rolled up. Comes to an end (Isa. 34:4).
The mountains and islands would be removed. These were a symbol of permanence.
This power which was about to be judged appeared as if it would never pass away.
All men of every class were going to be filled with fear when this judgment came; powerful and
weak; rich and poor.
These people would rather face death than the judgment of the Lord.
The fact that they are said to hide in caves shows that this is not talking about the second
It shall be in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
Men hiding in caves was often used when describing the falling of a nation.
The destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians (Hos. 10:8).
The destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon (Isa. 2:19).
The destruction of Jerusalem by Rome (Lk. 23:30).