In another question I asked if the crown in Revelation 6:2 and the crown of Ephraim's drunkards in Isaiah 29:1 were the same kind of crowns. According to Dr Peter McGowan's (in my opinion really good) answer they are both victory wreaths.

The Assyrians conquered Ephraim and were historically known as conquerors. Is the first horseman in Revelation 6:1-2 referring to one of the kings of Assyria?

YLT Revelation 6:1-2:

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as it were a voice of thunder, 'Come and behold!'

and I saw, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a bow, and there was given to him a crown, and he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome.


6 Answers 6


The horsemen described in Revelation chapter 6 are not to be taken as literal people who existed in the past.

A normal hermeneutic interpretation of Scripture means that unless the verse or passage clearly indicates the author was using figurative language, it should be understood in its normal sense. Revelation is written using figurative language involving symbols and imagery. In both biblical and non-biblical apocalyptic literature, symbols are an important means of conveying the message. For this reason, many events are described in metaphors, rather than in literal terms.

A simple outline for the book of Revelation is found in Revelation 1:19. In the first chapter, the risen and exalted Christ is speaking to John. Christ tells John to “write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The things John had already seen are recorded in chapter 1. The “things which are” (that were present in John's day) are recorded in chapters 2–3 (the letters to the churches). The “things that will take place” (future things) are recorded in chapters 4–22. Generally speaking, chapters 4–18 of Revelation deal with God's judgments on the people of the earth.

The first horseman typifies the Antichrist. He rides a white horse, which speaks of peace; at the beginning of the tribulation, the Antichrist will come under the pretense of bringing peace to the world (cf. Daniel 9:27). He is given a crown, which indicates that the Antichrist will exercise great authority (cf. Daniel 7:24–25). He holds a bow, which shows his true intentions, and he advances “as a conqueror bent on conquest” (Revelation 6:2).

  • 1
    Revelation is definitely written in metaphors and symbols, but the metaphors and symbols stand for real literal things. By the time we reach John 10:11, the angel tells John to prophecy again about many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
    – colboynik
    Nov 9, 2018 at 3:09
  • We cannot use Daniel 9 to show Revelation 6 is about the antichrist. The context of Daniel 9 shows Daniel 9:27 is about something else. See this answer to another question.
    – colboynik
    Nov 9, 2018 at 3:40
  • @Jack - I refer to Daniel to suggest how the first horseman typifies the Antichrist, who is yet to be revealed. You may suggest he typifies a king of Assyria - who may turn out to be the Antichrist. Point is, we don't know yet. But one thing is clear, the rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1-2 is NOT Christ Jesus (as has been suggested elsewhere).
    – Lesley
    Nov 9, 2018 at 8:18

Is the first horseman in Revelation 6:1-2 a king of Assyria?

No it is NOT.

The Rider of the White Horse is Jesus Christ.

The Book of Revelation identifies the Rider on th White Horse as Jesus the "Word of God".

Revelation 19:11-13 (NASB)

11" And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God."

  • There are counterfeits and just because they both have a white horse doesn’t mean they are one and the same. V1 mentions the Lamb and then a series of horsemen. It seems unusual that He would be the deal breaker and the (good) horseman Jun 1, 2019 at 3:39

Read Isaiah 7:14-23 for the bow:


Therefore the Lord Himself giveth to you a sign, Lo, the Virgin is conceiving, And is bringing forth a son, And hath called his name Immanuel,

Butter and honey he doth eat [this seems like a strange thing to point out until you read the rest of the chapter], When he knoweth to refuse evil, and to fix on good.

For before the youth doth know To refuse evil, and to fix on good, Forsaken is the land thou art vexed with, because of her two kings.

Jehovah bringeth on thee, and on thy people, And on the house of thy father, Days that have not come, Even from the day of the turning aside of Ephraim from Judah, By the king of Asshur.

And it hath come to pass, in that day, Jehovah doth hiss for a fly that is in the extremity of the brooks of Egypt, And for a bee that is in the land of Asshur.

And they have come, and rested all of them in the desolate valleys, And in holes of the rocks, and on all the thorns, And on all the commendable things.

In that day doth the Lord shave, By a razor that is hired beyond the river, By the king of Asshur, The head, and the hair of the feet, Yea, also the beard it consumeth.

And it hath come to pass, in that day, A man keepeth alive a heifer of the herd, And two of the flock,

And it hath come to pass, From the abundance of the yielding of milk he eateth butter, For butter and honey doth every one eat Who is left in the heart of the land.

And it hath come to pass, in that day, Every place where there are a thousand vines, At a thousand silverlings, Is for brier and for thorns.


Isaiah mentions the survivors will eat butter and honey because the impending Assyrian invasion will destroy all the crops, the land will be more suitable for raising animals, and dairy and foraging will become their main supply of food.

What weapon does the king leading this invasion carry?

Continue reading Isaiah 7:24-25 for the bow:


With arrows and with bow he cometh thither, because [of which] all the land is brier and thorn.

CSB - A man will go there with bow and arrows because the whole land will be thorns and briers.

ESV - With bow and arrows a man will come there, for all the land will be briers and thorns.

DBY - with arrows and with the bow shall they come thither, for the whole land shall become briars and thorns.

HNV - With arrows and with bow shall one come there, because all the land shall be briers and thorns.

NASB - People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns.

Verse 25: And all the hills that with a mattock are kept in order, Thither cometh not the fear of brier and thorn, And it hath been for the sending forth of ox, And for the treading of sheep!

Isaiah 8:1-16 calls the Assyrians conquerors:

And Jehovah saith unto me, ‘Take to thee a great tablet, and write upon it with a graving tool of man, To haste spoil, enjoy prey.’

And I cause faithful witnesses to testify to me, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah.

And I draw near unto the prophetess [Isaiah’s wife], and she conceiveth, and beareth a son; and Jehovah saith unto me, ‘Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, [which means "to take spoil, to seize prey"]

for before the youth doth know how to cry, My father, and My mother, one taketh away the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria before the king of Asshur.’

And Jehovah added to speak unto me again, saying:

‘Because that this people hath refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly, And is rejoicing with Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

Therefore, lo, the Lord is bringing up on them, The waters of the river, the mighty and the great, (The king of Asshur, and all his glory,) And it hath gone up over all its streams, And hath gone on over all its banks.

And it hath passed on into Judah, It hath overflown and passed over, Unto the neck it cometh, And the stretching out of its wings Hath been the fulness of the breadth of thy land, O Emmanu El!

Be friends, O nations and be broken, And give ear, ye far off ones of earth, Gird yourselves, and be broken, Gird yourselves, and be broken.

Take counsel, and it is broken, Speak a word, and it doth not stand, Because of Emmanu-El!

For thus hath Jehovah spoken unto me with strength of hand, and instructeth me against walking in the way of this people, saying,

‘Ye do not say, A confederacy, To all to whom this people saith, A confederacy, And its fear ye do not fear, Nor declare fearful.

Jehovah of Hosts – Him ye do sanctify, And He is your Fear, and He your Dread,

And He hath been for a sanctuary, And for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of falling, To the two houses of Israel, For a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

And many among them have stumbled and fallen, And been broken, and snared, and captured.

Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among My disciples.

Read Isaiah 28:1-5 for the crown being given and for details on the conquest:

Wo to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim [ruling tribe in the kingdom of Israel]. And the fading flower of the beauty of his glory, That is on the head of the fat valley of the broken down of wine.

Lo, a mighty and strong one is to the Lord, As a storm of hail - a destructive shower, As an inundation of mighty waters overflowing, He cast down to the earth with the hand.

By feet trodden down is the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,

And the fading flower of the beauty of his glory That is on the head of the fat valley, Hath been as its first-fruit before summer, That its beholder seeth, While it is yet in his hand he swalloweth it.

In that day is Jehovah of Hosts For a crown of beauty, and for a diadem of glory, To the remnant of His people.


Isaiah 10:5-14 calls the Assyrians conquerors too:


Wo to Asshur, a rod of Mine anger, And a staff in their hand is Mine indignation.

Against a profane nation I send him, And concerning a people of My wrath I charge him, To spoil, and to seize prey, And to make it a treading-place as the clay of out places.

And he – he thinketh not so, And his heart reckoneth not so, For – to destroy is in his heart, And to cut off nations not a few.

For he saith, ‘Are not my princes altogether kings?

Is not Calno as Carchemish? Is not Hamath as Arpad? Is not Samaria as Damascus?

As my hand hath got to the kingdoms of a worthless thing, and their graven images, Greater than Jerusalem and than Samaria,

Do I not – as I have done to Samaria, And to her worthless things, So do to Jerusalem and to her grievous things?

And it hath come to pass, When the Lord doth fulfill all His work In mount Zion and in Jerusalem, I see concerning the fruit of the greatness Of the heart of the king of Asshur. And concerning the glory of the height of his eyes.

For he hath said, ‘By the power of my hand I have wrought, And by my wisdom, for I have been intelligent, And I remove borders of the peoples, And their chief ones I have spoiled, And I put down as a mighty one the inhabitants,

And my hands as to a nest Getteth to the wealth of the peoples, And as a gathering of forsaken eggs All the earth I – I have gathered, And there hath not been one moving wing, Or opening mouth, or whispering.’


  • @ Jack – We cannot use Isaiah to show Revelation 6 is about Assyria. Isaiah chapters 7 to 12 are prophecies occasioned by the Aramean and Israelite threat against Judah. Chapter 8 shows how God uses Assyria then points to the coming deliverer. Ahaz is warned not to fear the Aramean and Israelite alliance and Isaiah 10:5-34 describes the destruction of Assyria. Yes, you may suggest that Assyria typifies the first horseman, but the link to Revelation 6 is tenuous.
    – Lesley
    Nov 9, 2018 at 8:44
  • The horseman in Revelation 6:2 has a bow and the king of Assyria is explicitly stated to carry a bow. The horseman in Revelation 6:2 is given a victory wreath and it is recorded that Ephraim's victory wreath was going to be given to a strong one that God was using (Assyria conquered Ephraim around 721 BC). The horseman in Revelation 6:2 goes forth conquering and the king of Assyria is explicitly recorded going forth conquering. That is not a tenuous link. Maybe it will turn out to be wrong - but definitely not tenuous.
    – colboynik
    Nov 9, 2018 at 13:52
  • I just don’t see how you can make Revelation 6:2 mean that a literal king of Assyria is going to turn up with his armies during the tribulation period. We must be careful to avoid falling into the trap of eisegesis which literally means “to lead into.” That is when interpreters inject their own ideas into the text, aligning the text with their own preconceived notions. Does our salvation depend upon a correct interpretation of Revelation 6:2? No, it does not. You are at liberty to read into Revelation anything you like, but that will not affect the ultimate outcome.
    – Lesley
    Nov 10, 2018 at 12:47
  • I am not saying it will happen, I am saying when John wrote Revelation it already happened and the unsealing of it (the ability to understand its significance) is the part that happened in the immediate future (from the time John wrote Revelation). Speaking of eisegisis traps and preconceived notions, where did the "tribulation period" come from? I did not say anything about a tribulation period and nothing I quoted says anything about it.
    – colboynik
    Nov 10, 2018 at 12:59
  • The “tribulation period” comes from Matthew 24:21 where Jesus says, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." In Matthew 24:29-30 Jesus continues, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Revelation chapters 6 to 18 describe how Jesus will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth. That tribulation.
    – Lesley
    Nov 10, 2018 at 15:55

White Hores.

The Book of Revelation is about the future NOT the past:-

Texts from The NWT.

Rev. 1:1 “A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. . . .”

Who is the rider? What do the symbols of the rider portray?

Rev. 6:2 “And I saw, and look! a white horse, and the one seated on it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went out conquering and to complete his conquest.

White Horse, Rider a Bow Crown, & conducts warfare, this is Jesus because the same person is show to be “The Word” (John1:1):-

Rev. 19:11-13 “I SAW HEAVEN OPENED, AND LOOK! A WHITE HORSE. And the one seated on it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. 12 His eyes are a fiery flame, and on his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself, 13 and he is clothed with an outer garment stained with blood, AND HE IS CALLED BY THE NAME THE WORD OF GOD.


John 1:1 “In the beginning was THE WORD, AND THE WORD was with God, . . .

  • What about Revelation 1:19? Not all of the book of revelation is about future events. Revelation 6 is about unsealing things (the white horseman is just one of those things). The unsealing was being done as John was writing Revelation (read Revelation 1:19). What was being unsealed could be about the past and not contradict Revelation 1:1 since the unsealing was happening right then. Also the rider in Revelation 19 has a different weapon and a different kind of crown than the rider in Revelation 6:2.
    – colboynik
    Nov 9, 2018 at 2:53
  • @Jack The 4 horsemen all ride at the same time for example the Red with the Sword, was to take "peace from the Earth" (world wide) etc., that did oit happen until the 1914-18 War; "The GREAT War."
    – user26950
    Nov 9, 2018 at 8:57
  • Where from the text does it say they all ride at the same time?
    – colboynik
    Nov 9, 2018 at 13:53
  • @Jack Rev 5:5 "But one of the elders said to me: “Stop weeping. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so as to open the SCROLL and its seven seals.” With it being 1 scrol" with 7 seals with would intermate that the events run one time. The events of the 7 seals are the same events Jesus fortold in Matt 24; Lu 21; Mk 13 the End Times. The "sign" world wide suffering & bloodshed for various reason because Satan was full control of world affers & full of "Anger" against God and pure worshiopers so all would suffer on earth as he had been kicked out of heaven
    – user26950
    Nov 9, 2018 at 15:39

Rev 6:2 is the same as Habakkah 3...read this...and see the Jesus is the rider on the white horse coming to conquere the "head of the house of the wicked"...so this one who is killed can rise from the dead while while the whole world marvels after him...

And what is the rider on the horse in Hab 3 carrying? a bow !


"When the Lamb broke one of the seven seals ... and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (Rev 6:1-2).

Jesus receives the book in Revelation 5 after He appeared as a slain Lamb (Rev 5:5-6), meaning that He received the book AFTER He was slain on the Cross. Revelation 5, therefore, describes Jesus' enthronement after He ascended to heaven. Since He only then began to break the seals, Revelation 6 cannot describe events preceding His death.


In the preterist interpretation of critical scholars, the first seal describes the Parthians, a first-century enemy of the Roman Empire, who rode on white horses. However, the seals symbolize spiritual realities; not literal things such as horses. Furthermore, this horse “went out conquering and to conquer.” This implies that it will never stop conquering. Therefore, it symbolizes events leading up to the second coming. It cannot be limited to the beginning of the church age, as the Parthian interpretation does.


For the following reasons, the white horse symbolizes the gospel:

  1. The color of the horse is white and, in Revelation, the color white always refers to the things of Christ (e.g., Rev 1:14; 2:17; 3:4-5; 6:11).

  2. This rider receives a crown. A diadem crown symbolizes a ruler’s authority (e.g., Rev 19:12) but this rider receives a stephanos crown, which is always associated with Christ and His people (e.g., Phil 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19; 2 Tim 4:8; Rev 12:1).

  3. This horse and rider "went out conquering and to conquer." In the seals, the Greek words for conquering, which are also translated as “overcome,” refer to Christ and his people (Rev 3:21 and 5:5).

  4. Furthermore, in the Greek, "conquering and in order that he might conquer" is the most continuous expression possible, meaning that the white horse will never stop conquering. Such an expression fits the gospel because God’s people will suffer but never stop testifying (cf. Rev 2:10; 12:11).

  5. In the Synoptic Apocalypse, (Matt 24) Jesus predicted that the church age would be a period of (a) gospel preaching, (b) war, (c) famine, (d) pestilence, and (e) persecution of His people. We see the same things in the seals, implying that the seals also describe the church age. But if the rider on the white horse is not the gospel, then the gospel would be missing in the seals.

  6. The other rider on a white horse in Revelation is explicitly Jesus Christ (Rev 19:12).


In the view of probably most interpreters today, the rider on the white horse is a counterfeit of Christ; mostly because all the other horses bring plagues. However, the arguments above show sufficiently that this rider symbolizes the gospel. Furthermore:

  1. When something is a counterfeit, Revelation does not leave us in doubt (cf. Rev 13:11) and there is no direct indication in the text that the rider of the white horse is evil or causes affliction.

  2. The white horse will continue conquering until everything is conquered but the Antichrist will be utterly defeated when it is destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 19:20).


The white horse represents the proclamation of the gospel, beginning with the enthronement of Christ in heaven (Revelation 5) and until He returns. That implies that the next three horsemen portray the consequences of gospel preaching.

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