Many of us have heard of the white horse in Revelation inside and outside of the Bible. Often, the reference relates to the four horses or horseman of the apocalypse. These are the four horses that John saw in his visions, recorded in Revelation 6:1-8. To understand the symbolism of the white horse in Revelation, we need to understand the meaning of Revelation 6:2.
Revelation 6:2 says, “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.” This verse is a result of Jesus opening the first of seven seals. He is securing a scroll that contains God’s judgment on sin. The vision of the four horses was the first that John witnessed after the scene in heaven. In Revelation 5:1-14, John describes the first horseman riding a white horse and carry a bow. The passage also points out that the Lamb was the only one found worthy to open the book and break its seals.
The identity of this rider has been a great source of debate. Some believe that the rider is Christ. This could make sense because He rides a white horse and wears a crown. Yet, the surrounding context removes this possibility. Let’s look again at the rider of the white horse. We know from scripture that he conquers the earth. We know that he is a great dictator and a great deceiver.
The rider on the white horse is typically associated with the Anti-Christ. He isn’t a machine but a man. He is the devil’s demonic messiah, reference in Daniel 8:24. Another thing that points to the rider not being Jesus is the Greek text in Revelation 6. This text reveals that the crown that is worn by the rider is referred to as “stephanos.” This is the kind of crown typically worn by a military conqueror. The Greek word associated with the crown of Jesus, also referenced in Revelation 19, is “diadema.” This is a crown of royalty. The rider of the white horse referenced in Revelation 6 is a great deceiver, so it can’t be Jesus.
Another important point. When Christ makes His final return, He will do so at the end of the Tribulation period, not at the beginning. He will also introduce a thousand years of security and peace. The conditions that follow the rider are not calm but chaotic.
Revelation 4:7 references four living creatures, covered with eyes, in front and in back. The verse says, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.” Then, in chapter six, we the Lamb begins to open the book's seals, which represents the gospel of Christ. The seals referenced in the passage represent that the gospel is the revelation of the mystery which has been a secret kept for ages past (Romans 16:25). Given each creature allows John to see a certain horse and its rider, we can also see correlation between what a living creature represents and what the horse and the horseman represent.
The first rider was on a white horse. This specific rider with bow and crown stands for the rule of kings and lords on earth, like the Roman Caesars. The bow represents conquering the, and the crown represents dominion. Ultimately, the white horse and its rider represent earthly rule, dominion, and authority.
Matthew 24:7 says, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Jesus is ultimately telling us that nations will rise against nations. This is a tribulation that will be seen throughout history and will continue until Jesus returns.
Revelation speaks on Jesus’ return extensively. Revelation 19-11-21 describes the Second Coming of Jesus and a white horse. The passage begins, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, He judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh, He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).
During Jesus’ ministry, He actively spoke of His return. Jesus tells us that the purpose of His ascent into heaven was so that He could receive the kingdom from His Father and also return with authority to have dominion throughout the earth. We also know from Matthew 25:31 that Jesus will not make His return alone. Matthew 25:31 says, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne.” He will not just sit with a few angels either, but with thousands upon thousands of angels that will accompany Him.
Ultimately, the Second Coming of Jesus references the future return of Jesus to Earth, after His ascension, He will defeat the enemy. The person riding on the white horse is the Anti-Christ, and Jesus will defeat him and his armies. Our Lord and Savior will also destroy evil and establish His millennial kingdom. Many prophecies will be fulfilled when this day comes. In the Bible, we are also told that Jesus’ return will be majestic, with great glory and power. On this magnificent day, the entire world will see and know who our Lord and Savior Jesus really is.