Revelation 6

1The opening of six of the seals in order, and what followed thereupon.

1AND I saw 1when the Lamb opened 2one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, 3Come and see.

1 Gr. hote, that is, when, for which others read hoti, that is, that, both make good sense.

2 That is, the first of the seals, as right away thereafter one of the beasts, that is, the first, as appears by verses 3, 5, 7; an Hebraism. See Gen. 1:5; Mat. 28:1.

3 As one of the twenty-four elders, Rev. 5:5, had comforted the apostle when he wept, that there was not one found who was able to open this book with its seals, there comes now another, one of the four beasts, and exhorts the apostle diligent attention of the things that were to follow after the opening of the seals, as the three others did each in their turn; so that all things in these appearances, which are here exhibited in the heavens, might continue orderly and fruitfully.

24And I saw, and behold 5aa 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.

4 Some do understand by the visions, which followed upon the opening of the first four seals, the four monarchies whereof Daniel has prophesied. But this opinion is refuted from which it is said in Rev. 1:1 and 4:1, namely, that here are shown things which must shortly come to pass, therefore not such things which have come to pass long before already. Now among those who interpret of things to come, there is an opinion of two kinds. Some do understand by the appearances exhibited upon the opening of these seals, the changes and troubles which did befall the Roman Empire from this time until that of Constantine, who was the first Christian emperor; namely, thus that the white horse, with its conquering rider, would signify Christ, Who, as He had begun already by His apostles, would likewise successively by other faithful teachers and ministers subdue the pagan idolatry and other vain superstitious worships, and restore the Roman Empire in this matter into a total different state. The red horse (would signify) the effusions of blood and civil divisions, which would arise in this empire among various emperors. The black horse (represents) famine and scarcities which God have sent unto judgments among them at sundry times. The pale horse (represents) the grievous pestilences and other burning diseases and mortalities which would arise in this empire; and all that, because of those persecutions, which they raised against the Christians ten different times. Whereupon after the opening of the fifth seal, the souls of the slain Christians would cry to God for vengeance, which after the opening of the sixth seal were heard before God; after which Constantine was raised, who subdued under his feet the tyrannical emperors and persecutors of the church, Maxentius, Maximianus, Licinius and others, their equals, whereby he took away all the repute of their idols, and brought their worshippers into utter desperation. This opinion about this chapter does agree with the properties of these visions, and with the histories of those times. Yet in regard that Christ is here properly spoken of, as a Lamb slain, Who with His blood has purchased His church, and only the four beasts and the twenty-four elders are mentioned as being leaders of the church of Christ, as is explained in the previous chapter, it seems more probable, that in this and all the ensuing visions, points to the changes and troubles, as also comforts, which would happen to the church of Christ all the world over, as shall be noted in the sequel.

5 Hereby is understood the pure preaching of the Gospel, which Christ, the King of kings, Who rules this horse, (as is declared hereafter in Rev. 19:11, etc.), has made to spread abroad all over the world, being armed with the power of His Spirit as with His bow, subduing by His ministers all oppositions, so that, notwithstanding the persecutions of the pagan and other barbarian or heretical kings in the East and West, He has prevailed and kept therein the upper hand.

a Rev. 9:11.

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

4And there went out another horse that was 6red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should 7kill one another: and there was given unto him 8a great sword.

6 Or, ruddy. Gr. fiery red. Hereby is properly understood Satan with his instruments; namely the pagan and Arian emperors and kings, who have filled the church of Christ with persecutions and bloodshed. During which time many thousand martyrs did seal the truth of the doctrine of Christ with their blood; whereof mention shall be made in verse 9.

7 Gr. slay.

8 Namely, therewith to slay or to behead the true professors of Christ.

5And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo 9a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of 10balances in his hand.

9 Hereby is properly understood the false doctrines and heresies which Satan with his instruments have sought from this very time to introduce against the pure doctrine of the Holy Gospel, such as were the Cerinthians, the Ebionites, the Marcionites, the Manichees, Samosatenians, Arians, Pelagians and similarly others, who nevertheless all were at last subdued and confounded by the faithful teachers and orthodox synods.

10 Hereby many do understand the Holy Scriptures, which these heretics truly pretended to hold forth, but perverted the same to their own destruction, and sought to bend it according to their human ingenuity, 2 Peter 3:16.

6And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, 11A measure of wheat for a 12penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou 13hurtb not 14the oil and the wine.

11 The Greek word chœnix signifies such a measure which might suffice a man to live upon for one day, and thereby the food was measured forth which was allowed to the slaves.

12 This was the daily wage for a laborer, as is to be seen in Mat. 20:2, 9, 10, so that here it is foretold there would come such a dearth of grains, that a man would be constrained to spend all his daily profit to maintain his life. Now the speech being properly of spiritual sustenance here, it may suitably be applied to the dearth of God’s pure Word, which would happen in one of these times through the falsehood and tyranny of some of these heresies, and through the slackness and timorousness of many teachers. See similar figurative expressions in Amos 8:11.

13 Gr. wrong not.

b Rev. 9:4.

14 Hereby is properly understood the fundamental doctrine of salvation, which revives and comforts the hearts. Herewith it is intimated that God would nevertheless always stir up some faithful teachers, even amidst this dearth and scarcity of His Word, who would understand the fundamental doctrine of salvation, and thereby encourage and cheer up the hearts of the elect, as according to the ecclesiastical histories, this has happened throughout in these sad times.

7And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

8And I looked, and behold 15a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and 16Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill 17with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

15 Or, pale green, such as the color of fading or withered leaves. Whereby is properly understood the human institutions and superstitions, which disfigures the faces of men, Mat. 6:16, etc., and bereaving by degrees the church of Christ of sound doctrine, and misleading the people from the merits of Christ to their own merits, and to other mediators and means of salvation, that is to say, to their own destruction. See Mat. 15:8, 9; 23:14; Gal. 5:4; Col. 2:8, etc.; which superstitions and human institutions did invade the church of Christ after these heresies, and have opened the way little by little to anti-Christianity.

16 Or, the grave.

17 These four plagues are those wherewith God has threatened the Israelites, Ezek. 14:21, see also Lev. 26:22, etc., which may be understood here the spiritual plagues which Satan by superstitions puts upon the souls and consciences of men.

9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw 18under the altar thec souls of them that were 19slain for the word of God, and ford the testimony which they held:

18 Namely, which stood in the holy place in the temple of heaven before the throne of God; as is expressed in Rev. 8:3; 16:17; which altar is Christ, Heb. 13:10; so called, because our prayers are not acceptable to God, unless they be presented in His name, John 16:23, and offered up to God through Him, Heb. 13:15. Therefore the souls of the saints (whose bodies were previously martyred by the unbelieving Jews, Gentiles and false Christians) have presented themselves in the presence of Christ and as under His shadow, as David speaks of the tabernacle in Psalm 27:5, etc., and John in Rev. 7:16, 17; and that these holy souls have their habitation and comfort in Christ appears clearly from 2 Cor. 5:8; Philip. 1:23, and from Rev. 7:15, 16, etc.

c Rev. 20:4.

19 Or, killed.

d Rev. 19:10.

10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 20How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

20 Gr. until when. This prayer does not proceed out of any revengefulness, but out of an holy zeal, which those holy spirits have for the advancement of God’s honor, and a desire that God would make His justice known among men, together with the good cause they professed, as David also spoke to Saul, 1 Sam. 24:13, and Paul, touching an enemy of the church of Christ, 2 Tim. 4:14 and we, all together, when we pray: but deliver us from evil.

11And 21white 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 22killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

21 Gr. stolai, see the annotation at Mark 12 on verse 38. Namely, which were washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, as is testified in Rev. 7:14; whereby is understood the perfect sanctification and victory of these souls through the blood of Christ, as also the glory is intimated which they already possess in heaven. See 2 Cor. 5:2, 3.

22 Namely, by the antichrist and his ministers, who would arise in the church of Christ soon after this, and by their spiritual tyranny oppress the church of Christ, and persecute and kill His faithful witnesses, in like manner as the Gentiles, the Jews and other false Christians had done in previous times.

12And I beheld when he had opened 23the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; ande the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

23 Upon which followed the rise, not only of the Mohammedans in the East, but especially of the Romish antichrist in the West, who by a spiritual tyranny exalts himself above all what is called God, and sets himself up in the temple of God as God on earth, under whom did happen these great and terrible changes in the church of Christ; namely, that the whole state and structure of it, is turned, as it were, out of its place; that Christ the Sun of righteousness is obscured by the sackcloth of human traditions, and the church of Christ, which, like the moon, receives all her light from Him alone, is filled with bloody persecutions and become like red altogether; that the stars, that is, the pastors and teachers, (as is declared in Rev. 1:20) have lapsed from heaven, that is, from the care of heavenly and spiritual matters into that of earthly and worldly things; that the heaven is ready to be rolled up, that is, that the Holy Scriptures and the heavenly doctrine of Christ is become as a closed book and are forbidden to and taken away from the members of the congregation; that lastly all mountains and islands, that is, all princes and nations would be terrified by his dominion. This explanation agrees well with the experience of past history, and that similar changes in the church and in the world are frequently understood by such figurative phrases in the Scriptures; this appears by comparing sundry passages in the Old Testament, from which this here in the text seems to be borrowed. See Isa. 13:10; 34:4; Jer. 4:23; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10. Others, nevertheless, keeping closer to the letter, join these three verses to the three following, which treat of the grievous punishments that shall come upon the persecutors and oppressors at the last day, and is contrasted to the comfort which the martyrs do enjoy already, of which punishments these signs in heaven and earth are likewise, as it were, forerunners of Christ’s coming to judgment, Mat. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25, etc.

e Acts 2:20.

13And 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.

14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15And 24the 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;

24 Namely, who, with their followers, have here oppressed the faithful; so that no one, whatever he be, great or small, bond or free, shall either be free or shall be spared from these punishments. For, as in the previous eleventh verse, the martyrs were comforted and having received the promise of further recompense as soon as the number of their fellow brethren shall be fulfilled, of which general comfort, more will be said in the next chapter, so here are their oppressors likewise generally forewarned of the grievous and heavy punishments which they must expect unless they repent.

16And said to the mountains and rocks, Fallf on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

f Isa. 2:19; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30; Rev. 9:6.

17For 25the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able 26to stand?

25 That is, of the heavy punishment, which God in His righteous wrath shall bring upon them.

26 Or, to abide. Gr. to stand; as in Psalm 1:5.