In Revelation, Death comes with the opening of the fourth seal.

Rev 6:7, 8 - And when the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” Then I looked and saw a pale green horse. Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed close behind. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill by sword, by famine, by plague, and by the beasts of the earth.

Death comes riding the pale horse. Therefore, it has a physical form.

Later on, Death and Hades are cast in the lake of fire. Being cast in the lake of fire along with those who are not in the Book of Life also hints at Death being an entity.

Rev 20:14, 15 - Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

What or who is Death? An angel? A selected person? Another type of creature or entity?

  • It would be helpful to readers if the verses that you are inquiring about were to be cited so whoever comes across the question doesn't have to figure out which verses you are talking about. Please edit your question to include them. Thank you.
    – agarza
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


The usual understanding of these two passages, Rev 6:7, 8 and 20:14, 15 is that both death and hades are personifications of abstract entities. Note the comments of the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Rev 6:8:

Death—personified. Hell—Hades personified.

Similarly, the Pulpit commentary on Rev 6:8 which is more detailed:

And he who was sitting above him, his name [was] Death. Here we have it plainly stated that the vision is a personification of Death - death in general, death in any and every way, as indicated in the latter part of the verse. This supports the view taken of the first three visions of the seals (see on ver. 2). Hades follows with Death, not as a separate infliction, but as the necessary complement of Death in the completion of the vision, swallowing up and guarding, as it were, those seized by the latter. Death is personified in a similar way in Psalm 49:14, "Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them;" and Hades in Isaiah 14:9, "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming." The two are also conjoined in Revelation 1:18, "The keys of hell and of death;" and in Revelation 20:13, 14, "Death and hell delivered up the dead." Hades cannot signify the place of torment, as Hengstenberg thinks, since these trials are to be inflicted on Christians, not on the wicked merely. Nor is it consonant with the context to suppose (as Ebrard) that Hades signifies "the dwellers in Hades."

This personification of death and hades (or "she'ol" in the OT), as pointed out above, occurs several times. With this understanding, Rev 20:14, 15 simply mean that death and hades are destroyed. That is, after the events of Rev 20:14, 15, we are explicitly told in Rev 21:4 -

‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,’ and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.”

That is, the saved will live forever without the threat of death around them.

Therefore, it does not follow that "death has a physical form" in Rev 6:8 - it is only a name.

APPENDIX - Further examples of Personification

  • Ps 98:8 - Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy
  • Ps 77:16 - The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You and swirled; even the depths were shaken.
  • Isa 10:32 - Yet today they will halt at Nob, shaking a fist at the mount of Daughter Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem.
  • Isa 24:23 - The moon will be confounded and the sun will be ashamed;
  • Isa 44:23 - Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O depths of the earth. Break forth in song, O mountains, you forests and all your trees. For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and revealed His glory in Israel.
  • Isa 49:13 - Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; break forth in song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and He will have compassion on His afflicted ones.
  • Isa 51:17, 18 - Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; you who have drained the goblet to the dregs— the cup that makes men stagger. Among all the sons she bore, there is no one to guide her; among all the sons she brought up, there is no one to take her hand.
  • Isa 52:9 - Break forth in joy, sing together, O ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted His people; He has redeemed Jerusalem.
  • Isa 58:12 - You will indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
  • Micah 6:1, 2 - Hear what the LORD says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel. Gen 4:10 - “What have you done?” replied the LORD. “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.
  • Prov 8, 9 - the personification of wisdom

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