The Four Horses in the Book of Revelation
Today I would like to bring up the topic about the four horses in the Book of Revelation. Many times it is misunderstood because it is a vision. The apostle John received information about events that would occur in the future and he began to write them down out of obedience to the Lord Jesus’ request. There is quite a bit of information relating to this chapter which you can find detailed on our website under a two part series called Revelation chapter 6.
* The First Horse *
Let us begin by understanding the first horse. I would like to point out that even though there are four horses this does not mean they come out of heaven, that they appear at the same time or they should be grouped together as one scene as I have noticed in some apocalyptic images. Please keep this in mind. A vision is simply something that John saw prophetically (meaning in the future).
To get right to the point, there are four horses but there are not necessarily four different riders. There are actually two and I will begin to show you.
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. Revelation 6:2 KJV
In this first scripture he is describing a white horse and a person that sat on him had a bow. This can be confusing because it can be understood as a weapon known as a bow and arrow. But it is not a weapon even though it says he went forth conquering. I am certain no one will conquer anything with a bow an arrow. It is a rainbow. Many times in the Bible a rainbow is shown to be associated with God. Sometimes the bible used the word “bow” in the Old English to mention a rainbow. In this case and in this scripture the “bow” mentioned is showing us this is related to the Lord Jesus. He is the rider of the white horse and we can confirm this with another scripture showing us the same thing in chapter 19. Jesus also received a crown which was mentioned in the scripture as well.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Revelation 19:11 KJV
Below are some other examples that show us the word bow used refers to a rainbow.
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:13 KJV
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: Genesis 9:14 KJV
* The Second Horse *
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 great sword. Revelation 6:4 KJV
The second horse is red. The color red has often been associated with sin. This rider was given power to kill and take peace away from the earth. If Jesus is peace then the opposite person would be the devil. He is the author of confusion, lies, and causes a lack of peace. He is also the one who came to steal, kill and destroy.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 KJV
This second image of the horse and rider is therefore representative of the devil.
* The Third Horse *
The third horse is black. The color black has been associated with grief, ignorance, and even mourning. The rider on this horse had a pair of balances in his hand. Balances are usually associated with judgment. It can make you think of attorneys at law who may often use balances as their logos. When Jesus returns he will judge those who are not his.
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: John 5:22 KJV
All judgment has been committed to Jesus. Jesus has a judgment seat known as the judgment seat of Christ. This is where he will give the rewards to his faithful followers for the millennial reign. The Father will also have a time of judgment at the great white throne. He will be doing the final judgment. We find the great white throne later in the Book of Revelation.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. Revelation 20:11 KJV
So this third rider is also Jesus. Remember that a vision is not necessarily simultaneous. John is seeing things and giving us the description of what he saw. This rider is capable of handing out judgment.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV
The apostle Paul spoke of the judgment seat of Christ and this particular time will belong to the Lord’s followers to receive their rewards.
* The Fourth Horse *
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. Revelation 6:8 KJV
The last and final horse is pale. The rider on this horse is death and hell followed him. When a person is not with Christ and he dies he will go directly to hell. This is why these two (death and hell) are mentioned together in this scripture. Again, the one who brings death is the devil as we read in John 10:10.
After Jesus died on the cross anyone who dies from that time forward either goes to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord or they quickly go to hell. The apostle Paul taught this to the Corinthians in his epistles.
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV
When we are not in our earthly bodies anymore we will be in his presence. There is no waiting period or lag. It is immediate. Hopefully this little teaching has brought some clarity to you regarding the four horses and their riders.
In conclusion, according to the descriptions given there are only two riders, Jesus and the devil. For more detailed information and explanations of the rest of the chapter please visit the two part teaching on our website. Thank you and we pray this makes things more clear regarding the four horses and their riders.