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Revelation: Chapter 6

Setting

 As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing these events of this chapter from the perspective of heaven and viewing the affects of the opening seals on earth.    This chapter shows the beginning of the seven years of tribulation by the opening of the seven seals by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Before beginning it is important to fully comprehend that Satan does not initiate the seven years of tribution, it is God.  God has set the times and seasons, Acts 1:7, 1Thessalonians 5:1, Genesis 1:14, and Daniel 2:21.  Satan is only a created being and he does not control time as God does, Ezekiel 28:13-15.  Satan and his man, the Antichrist, are waiting for Christ to open that first seal so they can commence their horrors upon the world.  Until that time, as John wrote, there are many Antichrists in the world today, but they are not "THE" Antichrist of the seven years of tribution.  Who is an Antichrist in the world today?  John points to three very important points, 1John 2:18, to pull out that distinction, and it is sad to say that these three points are prominent in the world today:

  • They deny Jesus is the Christ of Messiah, 1John 2:22
  • They do not acknoledge Christ is from God (Deity), 1John 4:3
  • They do not accept that Jesus has come in the flesh (God and man), 2John 1:7

There will only be one, “the Antichrist” who will be revealed, 2Thessalonians 2:3-10

  • The Antichrist will be revealed at the proper time, 2Thessalonians 2:6
  • The gates of hell cannot withstand the church, Matthew 16:18
  • The Holy Spirit working through the church is restraining Satan for having full control until He is taken away, 2Thessalonians 2:6

The Lord is the one to begin the tribulation when He opens the first seal to reveal “the Antichrist”, Revelation 6:1-2.  Immediately afterwards is the sign of the beginning of the Tribulation, Daniel 9:26-27.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-2 The first seal is opened - the Antichrist
3-4 The second seal is opened - war
5-6 The third seal is opened - famine
7-8 The fourth seal is opened - death and Hades
9-11 The fifth seal is opened - tribulation saints
12-17 The sixth seal is opened - the Lamb's wrath

The first seal is opened - the Antichrist     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:1, the Lamb opened the first seal (this is the beginning of the seven years of tribulation, Daniel 9:26-27). One of the four living creatures thundered out to John to “come.” As John responded to the living creature, he saw a white horse, which is symbolic of conquest. John noted that:

  • The rider of the horse held a bow
  • The rider was given a crown
  • The rider rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest

A very important note for the reader is to discriminate this rider and white horse from that revealed in Revelation 19, which describes the Lord’s return to this world as King of kings. At that time the Lord will destroy His enemies, and to establish His kingdom. The rider on the white horse in this chapter is not the Lord, but the Antichrist.

Several other important points to draw upon are the other passages in scripture that relate to this event. The first point is the rapture of the church. Prior to the opening of the first seal the church has already been raptured and afterward the Holy Spirit has been allowing THE Antichrist to be revealed, 2Thessalonians 2:5-10.  

Second, a simultaneous event will occur on earth with the opening of the first seal. That event will be the Antichrist confirming a seven year covenant with Israel, which will be broken by the Antichrist midway through that period, Daniel 9:27.  These two events, the first seal being broken and the covenant between the country the Antichrist represents (at that time he will not have ascended to sole rulership over the world, he will be part of an existing governmental entity, see Revelation 13) with Israel being confirmed, restart the prophetic calendar in Daniel, which was paused by the rejection by Israel of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.  These two simultaneous events begin the final week of the 70 weeks described in Daniel 9:24-27, and is the start of the seven years of tribulation.  

Third, there is a correlation to be drawn between this rider with the little horn of Daniel 8:23-25, which is the type of the Antichrist. The little horn described in Daniel 8 has been fulfilled in ancient history by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who is a type of the Antichrist as revealed in Revelation 6 through Revelation 19. This rider on the white horse has no arrows with his bow, which is indicative of his initial power being gained through political means. He also causes seceit to proper and considers himself superior in all respects.  The Antichrist’s ascension to power will be similar to how Antiochus IV Epiphanes achieved his reign, through subtleties and deceit, he is a master of intrigue.  Daniel had wrote of Antiochus IV Epiphanes that though bent on conquest, his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power, Daniel 8:24. This is the same characteristic as the Antichrist. The crown on the rider on the white horse was not given by the Father in heaven.  Rather, Satan, the prince of this world gives his power and authority to the Antichrist, which is revealed to John later in this book in Revelation 13:1-2.  Recall, that it was Satan who offered to the Lord all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if Jesus would only worship him, Matthew 4:8-11.  These were things that Satan could offer, and now we see that he has assembled it all behind his man, the Antichrist.

The following chart provides comparisons between Antiochus IV Epiphanes with the Antichrist as written in the Bible.

Characteristics of the little horn
in the book of Daniel

Related Verses in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation

Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Daniel 8

Antichrist in Revelation

Satanic influence

8:10

12:3-4, 13:2b, 13:4-8 (Isaiah 14:12-15)

He magnified himself

8:11

13:4

The daily sacrifice as taken away

8:11

13:6

He prospered

8:12

13:5

A set time for the desolation of the temple

8:13-14

13:5

He will have a fierce countenance, and dark understanding dark sentences

8:23

13:13-14 (the false prophet)

His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power

8:24

13:2b, 13:4

He shall destroy the mighty and the holy people

8:24

13:7

He will stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand

8:25

19:19-21

The second seal is opened - war     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:3-4, John observes the Lamb open the second seal.  Thereafter, a second of the four living creatures thundered out to John to “come.” John looked and before him was a fiery red horse, which is symbolic of war. The rider of the horse had the power to:

  • Take peace from the earth
  • To make men slay each other, as with the scene in Ezekiel 38
  • To him was given a large sword

The third seal is opened - famine     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:5-6, John sees the Lamb open the third seal. At that time a third of the four living creatures called to John to “come.” John looked and before him was a black horse, which is symbolic of famine. The rider of the horse was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then John heard a voice from among the four creatures before the throne saying:

  • A quart of wheat for a day’s wages
  • Three quarts of barley for a day’s wages
  • Do not damage the oil and the wine

The implication is that there will be great devastation among the world’s populations food stuff, with the middle and lower economic classes being hurt significantly, but the very rich will not be harmed. The preservation of the rich throughout the tribulation period can be seen in Revelation 18. At the time God judges commercial Babylon, those whose riches are invested in that city's bustling economy will cry when they all their riches destroyed in just one hour and be helpless to scavenge any portion of their wealth; all the wealth in Babylon will have evaporated, never to be recovered.

The fourth seal is opened - death and Hades     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:7-8, John observes the Lamb open the fourth seal, and the fourth of the four living creatures called to John to “come.” John looked and before him was a pale horse, which is symbolic of death, and John continues to report that Hades followed after him. The deaths of one fourth of the world’s population is reported to occur following the revealing of the white, red and black horses, and can be attributed to the actions of the white horse rider, the Antichrist. The accumulation of all mankind’s history of mass killings will pale in the numbers of deaths that the Antichrist will be directly responsible for:

  • By the sword (red horse)
  • By Famine and plague (black horse)
  • By the wild beasts of the earth

People have always been attacked by animals in isolated events, but during the tribulation the fear of man will be gone, and the attacks will be fearless and far more frequent than today.  Applying these percentages of deaths to the world population statistics will further dramatize the full impact of the Antichrist’s actions. Follow this link to another page on this site to read further information on the impact on the world's population through the tribulation at, a compressed view of the judgments.

Since Hades will be following the pale horse, which is symbolic of the terrible death rate upon the world, the inference is that the individuals numbered in these verses will be those who reject Christ. The tribulation saints are not shown in hell awaiting the final judgment before the great white throne judgment, but before the altar of God, as seen by the opening. of the next seal. As will be seen in Revelation 7, there is a separation between those who believe and confess the name of Jesus Christ and are therefore sealed with God’s seal, from the rest of the world. Many of the tribulation saints will be killed, but not by the judgments of God, but by Satan, the Antichrist, and/or the false prophet, Revelation 12:17, Revelation 13.

It was revealed to Ezekiel the types of judgment in store for Jerusalem during King Nebuchadnezzar’s 3rd and final conquest, which are similar to seals 2, 3 and 4, Ezekiel 14:21-23. However, in Ezekiel’s day these were limited to the children of Israel in the land of Judea.

The fifth seal is opened - tribulation saints     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:9, John observed the lamb open the fifth seal. It is interesting to see that at this time none of the four living creatures called to John to “come” this time. This may reveal the role of the four beasts in observing the events on earth. Here, with the opening of the fifth seal, they are silent because the events are before the throne of God. Dissimilar to previous events associated with the seal openings, John observes the souls of the tribulation saints under the altar. They were there because:

  • They were slain because of the Word of God
  • They were also slain for the testimony they maintained

As mentioned earlier, this group of saints has been separated from the judgments of God.  This forces some questions, such as who are these saints, who killed them, and are there other groups?  On earlier versions of this website it was taught that they were killed at the hands of Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. More study on this subject has shown that this is not entirely accurate.

Three Groups of Saints before the Throne of God during the Tribulation

There are three groups of saints identified during the seven years of tribulation.  First is the raptured church, which is before the throne of God, Revelation 4:4.  The second group of saints appears before the altar of God with the opening of the 5th seal, Revelation 6:9.  The third group is identified as those coming out of the Great Tribulation, or the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation, Revelation 15:2.  These are three distinct groups of saints that are identified during the seven years of tribulation.  The following table provides further contrasts between the three groups.

Who are the group of saints Church Tribulation Saints Great Tribulation saints
How they appear White linen with crowns White linen White linen
Why they appear

Raptured

Martyred Martyred
Where they appear On thrones before the Lord Under the altar Before the Lord
When did they appear Before the tribulation

After the rapture of the church through mid-tribulation

Through the 2nd half of the tribulation
What they do Serve as priests and kings, and sing songs to the Lord Ask when their blood will be avenged Sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb

In addition to the foregoing table, there are many other factors that separate these groups.  

The church, Revelation 4:4

There are many promise given to the church, such as being raptured from the hour of testing that is coming upon the whole world, Revelation 3:10, 1Thessalonians 1:10, to be kings and priests to serve God, Revelation 1:6, and the church is promised crowns of gold, Revelation 4:4, as rewards for the work done for the Kingdom of God, which are given at the judgment seat of Christ, 2Corinthians 5:10:

Of the three groups, only the church is seen with crowns, but with all three groups the saints are dressed in white linen and are in the presence of God in His throne, which is the greatest gift of all.  

The martyred saints, Revelation 6:9

Though not stated explicitly, the martyred saints appear almost immediately after the rapture of the church for several reasons.  The first reason is that once the church is raptured, they are already in the presence of the Lord and seen before the opening of the seals.  Second, since they exist following the rapture of the church, and the opening of the 5th seal there is already a number of those killed for the word of God and their testimony they maintained, there must be a reason for their unwarranted deaths that began before the beginning of the seven years of tribulation.  The tribulation does not begin with the rapture, but with the Lord opening the 1st seal to reveal the Antichrist.  Who is this source of persecution is found in Revelation 17.  It is the great harlot who sits on may waters, and she is drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus, Revelation 17:1-6.  

As soon as the rapture occurs, there is an immediate vacancy in the world of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, of His grace and any spiritual discernment of scripture, 1Corinthians 2:14, since all of the saints of Jesus were taken away in the twinkling of an eye, 1Corinthians 15:51-52.  With the removal of the church, the time when He who inhibiting Satan and his plans will come and the power of lawlessness will be revealed at the appropriate time, 2Thessalonians 2:5-6.  Afterward, the God will send them, those left behind, a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie so that there will be no excuse for those who delight in wickedness, 2Thessalonians 2:11-12.  The entity responsible for the number of saints killed before mid-tribulation is the ecumenical church, a false religion, which will quickly fill the void in Biblical knowledge and understanding, promote a lie, and kill all the newly converted saints of God who understood what the rapture was and what it means to those left behind.

The martyred saints from the great tribulation, Revelation 7:9, Revelation 15:2

The third group of saints is viewed by John after seeing the 144,000 from 12 tribes of Israel.  Unlike the group revealed to John with the opening of the 5th seal, John doe not know who this group of people is.  He does know that they are a great number from every nation, tribe, people and language before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  Here they are holding palm branches and singing to the Lord.  They are identified by the elder who pointed John’s attention to them, as coming out of the great tribulation.  This is the time that the Lord warned would be the worst ever in mankind’s history and will never be repeated again, Matthew 24:15-22.  As recorded in Matthew the timeframe the Lord is speaking of occurs at the mid-tribulation when the false prophet sets up an image in honor of the Antichrist that can both hear and talk, Revelation 13:14-15.  The reason for the great number of tribulation saints seen by John is because the Antichrist was given power to make war on the saints and conquer them for 42 months, Revelation 13:5-7, Daniel 7:21-22.

The elder showing John the third group of saints, also indicated that they are always be before the Lord who will always shepherds them, and they will serve the God day and night in His temple, Revelation 7:15-17.  Because of their position with the Lord, it is thought that the group identified in Revelation 15:2 is the same as the martyred saints from the great tribulation.  The description of the group in Revelation 15:2 follows the events that unfolded at the mid-tribulation point in time and just before the bowls of judgment were handed to the seven angels who were to pour them out on the world.  At that time they had harps given to them by God to sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb in addition to the palm branches they were seen with in Revelation 7:9.

In Revelation 6:10-11, John hears the martyred saints cry out to God to avenge their blood on those who dwell on the earth, or upon those responsible for this great slaughter of the tribulation saints.

John further observes in Revelation 6:11 that each person was given a white robe. Though many believe that the resurrection of the saints who die after the rapture of the church will not occur until the end of the tribulation period with the return of Christ, it is thought on this website that those who are killed in Christ will be immediately resurrected.  This is because they now appear in growing numbers before the throne dressed in white robes as the saints in the raptured saints as seen in Revelation 4. These slain tribulation saints were told to wait a little longer until the number of their brethren to be killed has been reached, which will not be until the battle of Armageddon with Christ’s return to establish His kingdom and destroy His enemies. It is the enemies of Christ whom the tribulation saints had pleaded vengeance upon. The number of saints slain during this period cannot be understated. As seen in the next chapter, the total number of all the saints killed following the rapture of the church on through the tribulation will swell to become a great multitude, they are innumerable, Revelation 7:9-17.

The sixth seal is opened - the Lamb's wrath     Chapter Outline     Top

In Revelation 6:12-14, the Lamb opens the sixth seal. Again, none of the four living creatures called to John to “come.” Upon the opening of this seal, John observed a number of simultaneous actions on earth:

  • A great worldwide earthquake, not a local one, but one that includes heaven,
    Hebrews 12:25-28
  • The sun turned a transparent black
  • The whole moon turned blood red
  • The stars fell to earth
  • The sky receded like a scroll
  • Every mountain and island was removed, the world’s topography is changed

In Revelation 6:15-17, the wrath of the Lamb is revealed. All mankind not belonging to Christ will seek to hide from the face of God and from the wrath of the Lamb. This is similar to when Adam and Eve when Christ appeared in the garden, Genesis 3:8-10. During this time in the tribulation period, they recognize that as rebellious people, none could stand against the Lord. As is shown in the timeline in the associated tab above, the revealing of all these events occurs at the beginning of the tribulation, though the completion of the events may not be until the end of the tribulation.  These are the times that God had warned all mankind about, Jeremiah 30:4-7, Matthew 24:21-22.


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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