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Revelation 6:1-2

The Seven Seals

6:1 I looked on when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a thunderous voice, 1  “Come!” 2  6:2 So 3  I looked, 4  and here came 5  a white horse! The 6  one who rode it 7  had a bow, and he was given a crown, 8  and as a conqueror 9  he rode out to conquer.

1 tn Grk “saying like a voice [or sound] of thunder.”

2 tc The addition of “and see” (καὶ ἴδε or καὶ βλέπε [kai ide or kai blepe]) to “come” (ἔρχου, ercou) in 6:1, 3-5, 7 is a gloss directed to John, i.e., “come and look at the seals and the horsemen!” But the command ἔρχου is better interpreted as directed to each of the horsemen. The shorter reading also has the support of the better witnesses.

3 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of hearing the voice summon the first rider.

4 tc The reading “and I looked” (καὶ εἶδον, kai eidon) or some slight variation (e.g., ἶδον, idon) has excellent ms support ({א A C P 1611}) and its omission seems to come through the mss that have already placed “and look” (καὶ ἴδε or καὶ βλέπε [kai ide or kai blepe]) after the verb “come” (ἔρχου, ercou) as mentioned in the text-critical note on 6:1. Thus, for these copyists it was redundant to add “and I looked” again.

5 tn The phrase “and here came” expresses the sense of καὶ ἰδού (kai idou).

6 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

7 tn Grk “the one sitting on it.”

sn The one who rode it. The identity of the first rider on the white horse has been discussed at great length by interpreters. Several answers are given: (1) A number understand the rider on the white horse to be Christ himself, identifying this horse and rider with the one mentioned in 19:11, where the identification is clear (cf. 19:13, 16). It must be noted, though, that there is little in common between the two riders beyond the white horse. The word for “crown” is different, the armament is different, and the context here is different (conquest vs. retribution), with three other horsemen bringing catastrophe following. (2) Others see the rider on the white horse representing a spirit of military conquest that dominates human history and leads to the catastrophes that follow. (3) Another possibility is that the white horse rider represents the Antichrist, who appears later in Rev 11:7; 13:17, and whose similarity to Christ explains the similarity with the rider in 19:11. This interpretation has been discussed at length by M. Rissi, “The Rider on the White Horse: A Study of Revelation 6:1-8,” Int 18 (1964): 407-18. This interpretation is the most probable one.

8 sn See the note on the word crown in Rev 3:11.

9 tn The participle νικῶν (nikwn) has been translated as substantival, the subject of the verb ἐξῆλθεν (exhlqen). Otherwise, as an adverbial participle of manner, it is somewhat redundant: “he rode out conquering and to conquer.”

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