Revelation 6

Revelation 6

In Rev 6, there are four horses used to symbolize the events unfolding in the end times.

The first one is a white horse. From most of the commentaries I have read on this horse it represents the gospel message or the church going out over the world. A crown was given to Him, representing a king, in this case probably Jesus Christ.

Logic tells us that this horse is already out in the world spreading the gospel message as the growth of the church from the 1st century to now is evidence of this.

The second horse is a red horse and this symbolizes war upon the earth. Logic also tells us that this has and is still happening today.

The third horse is a black horse and this symbolizes famine. This is already happening and continues to happen today.

The fourth horse is a pale horse. There is a lot of speculation here that this horse symbolizes plagues. Only a few translations mention sickness. All of them mention war, famine, wild beasts. Many commentaries state that this horse relates to fear of death, by war, famine, illness, This horse seems to represent terrible judgement on the earth, he kills a fourth of the earth! :mad:

The first horse's rider is a king and probably Jesus himself, the fourth horse's rider is death. Could this relate to satan being released upon the earth causing absolute chaos? The bible states that he is being held back for a time. (cant find that scripture right now, I am sure somebody can help me).

I am doing a bit of personal study in this chapter and would like some comments. What is coming through to me now is that some of the seals have already been opened, since the ressurection and accension of Jesus Christ, this is why some of the early church fathers spoke about the end times in the presence sence.


I have seen as many interpretations of that as there are clouds in the sky.
Still it is an interesting topic.
Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible have an interesting presentation of the White Horse:

Rev 6:2
And I saw, and behold - A question has arisen as to the mode of representation here: whether what John saw in these visions was a series of pictures, drawn on successive portions of the volume as one seal was broken after another; or whether the description of the horses and of the events was written on the volume, so that John read it himself, or heard it read by another; or whether the opening of the seal was merely the occasion of a scenic representation, in which a succession of horses was introduced, with a written statement of the events which are referred to. Nothing is indeed said by which this can be determined with certainty; but the most probable supposition would seem to be that there was some pictorial representation in form and appearance, such as he describes in the opening of the six seals. In favor of this it may be observed:
(1) that, according to the interpretation of Rev_6:1, it was something in or on the volume - since he was invited to draw nearer, in order that he might contemplate it.
(2) each one of the things under the first five seals, where John uses the word “saw,” is capable of being represented by a picture or painting.
(3) the language used is not such as would have been employed if he had merely read the description, or had heard it read.
(4) the supposition that the pictorial representation was not in the volume, but that the opening of the seal was the occasion merely of causing a scenic representation to pass before his mind, is unnatural and forced.
What would be the use of a sealed volume in that case? What the use of the writing within and without? On this supposition the representation would be that, as the successive seals were broken, nothing was disclosed in the volume but a succession of blank portions, and that the mystery or the difficulty was not in anything in the volume, but in the want of ability to summon forth these successive scenic representations. The most obvious interpretation is, undoubtedly, that what John proceeds to describe was in some way represented in the volume; and the idea of a succession of pictures or drawings better accords with the whole representation, than the idea that it was a mere written description. In fact, these successive scenes could be well represented now in a pictorial form on a scroll.
And behold a white horse - In order to any definite understanding of what was denoted by these symbols, it is proper to form in our minds, in the first place, a clear conception of what the symbol properly represents, or an idea of what it would naturally convey. It may be assumed that the symbol was significant, and that there was some reason why that was used rather than another; why, for instance, a horse was employed rather than an eagle or a lion; why a white horse was employed in one case, and a red one, a black one, a pale one in the others; why in this case a bow was in the hand of the rider, and a crown was placed on his head. Each one of these particulars enters into the constitution of the symbol; and we must find something in the event which fairly corresponds with each - for the symbol is made up of all these things grouped together. It may be further observed, that where the general symbol is the same - as in the opening of the first four seals - it may be assumed that the same object or class of objects is referred to; and the particular things denoted, or the diversity in the general application, is to be found in the variety in the representation - the color, etc., of the horse, and the arms, apparel, etc., of the rider. The specifications under the first seal are four:
(1) the general symbol of the horse - common to the first four seals;
(2) the color of the horse;
(3) the fact that he that sat on him had a bow; and,
(4) that a crown was given him by someone, as indicative of victory.
The question now is, what these symbols would naturally denote:
(1) The horse. The meaning of this symbol must be drawn from the natural use to which the symbol is applied, or the characteristics which it is known to have; and it may be added, that there might have been something for which that was best known in the time of the writer who uses it, which would not be so prominent at another period of the world, or in another country, and that it is necessary to have that before the mind in order to obtain a correct understanding of the symbol. The use of the horse, for instance, may have varied at different times to some degree; at one time the prevailing use of the horse may have been for battle; at another for rapid marches - as of cavalry; at another for draught; at another for races; at another for conveying messages by the establishment of posts or the appointment of couriers. To an ancient Roman the horse might suggest prominently one idea; to a modern Arab another; to a teamster in Holland another. The things which would be most naturally suggested by the horse as a symbol, as distinguished, for instance, from an eagle, a lion, a serpent, etc., would be the following:
(a) War, as this was probably one of the first uses to which the horse was applied. So, in the magnificent description of the horse in Job_39:19-25, no notice is taken of any of his qualities but those which pertain to war. See, for a full illustration of this passage, and of the frequent reference in the classic writers to the horse as connected with war, Bochart, Hieroz. lib. ii, c. viii., particularly p. 149. Compare Virgil, Geor. 3:83, 84:
“Si qua sonum procul arma dedere,
Stare loco nescit, micat auribus, et tremit artus.”
Ovid, Metam. iii:
“Ut fremit acer equus, cum bellicus, aere canoro.
Signa dedit tubicen, pugnaeque assumit amorem.”
Silius, lib. xiii:
“Is trepido alituum tinnitu, et stare neganti,
Imperitans violenter equo.”
So Solomon says Pro_21:31, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle.” So in Zec_10:3, the prophet says, God had made the house of Judah “as his goodly horse in the battle”; that is, he had made them like the victorious war-horse.
(b) As a consequence of this, and of the conquests achieved by the horse in war, he became the symbol of conquest - of a people that could not be overcome. Compare the above reference in Zech. Thus, in Carthage the horse was an image of victorious war, in contradistinction to the ox, which was an emblem of the arts of peaceful agriculture. This was based on a tradition respecting the foundation of the city, referred to by Virgil, Aeneas i. 442-445:
“Quo primum jactati undis et turbine Poeni.
Effodere loco signum, quod regia Juno.
Monstrarat, caput acris equi: sic nam fore bello.
Egregiam, et facilem victu per Secula gentem.”
In reference to this circumstance Justin (lib. xviii. 5) remarks, that “in laying the foundations of the city the head of an ox was found, which was regarded as an emblem of a fruitful land, but of the necessity of labor and of dependence; on which account the city was transferred to another place. Then the head of a horse was found, and this was regarded as a happy omen that the city would be warlike and prosperous.” Compare Creuzer, Symbolik, vol. ii. p. 456.
(c) The horse was an emblem of fleetness, and, consequently, of the rapidity of conquest. Compare Joe_2:4; “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.” Jer_4:13; “behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles.” Compare Job_39:18.
(d) The horse is an emblem of strength, and consequently of safety. Psa_147:10; “he delighteth not in the strength of the horse.” In general, then, the horse would properly symbolize war, conquest, or the rapidity with which a message is conveyed. The particular character or complexion of the event - as peaceful or warlike, prosperous or adverse - is denoted by the color of the horse, and by the character of the rider.
(2) the color of the horse: “a white horse.” It is evident that this is designed to be significant, because it is distinguished from the red, the black, and the pale horse, referred to in the following verses. In general, it may be observed that white is the emblem of innocence, purity, prosperity - as the opposite is of sickness, sin, calamity. If the significance of the emblem turned alone on the color, we should look to something cheerful, prosperous, happy as the thing that was symbolized. But the significance in the case is to be found not only in the color - white - but in the horse that was white; and the inquiry is, what would a horse of that color properly denote; that is, on what occasions, and with reference to what ends, was such a horse used? Now, the general notion attached to the mention of a white horse, according to ancient usage, would be that of state and triumph, derived from the fact that white horses were rode by conquerors on the days of their triumph; that they were used in the marriage cavalcade; that they were employed on coronation occasions, etc. In the triumphs granted by the Romans to their victorious generals, after a procession composed of musicians, captured princes, spoils of battle, etc., came the conqueror himself, seated on a high chariot drawn by four white horses, robed in purple, and wearing a wreath of laurel (Eschenburg, “Man. of Class.” Literature, p. 283. Compare Ovid de Arte Amandi, lib. v. 214). The name of λευκιππος leukippos - leucippos - was given to Proserpine, because she was borne from Hades to Olympus in a chariot drawn by white horses (Scol. Pind. Ol. vi. 161. See Creuzer’s Symbol. iv. 253). White horses are supposed, also, to excel others in fleetness. So Horace, Sat. lib. i. vii. 8:
“Sisennas, Barrosque ut equis praecurreret albis.”
So Plaut. Asin. ii. 2, 12. So Homer, Iliad K. 437:
Λευκότεροι χιονος, θείειν δ ̓ ἀνέμοισιν ὁμοῖοι
Leukoteroi chionos, theiein d' anemoisin homoioi”Whiter than the snow, and swifter than the winds.”
And in the Aeneid, where Turnus was about to contend with Aeneas, he demanded horses:
“Qui candore nives anteirent cursibus auras.”
“Which would surpass the snow in whiteness, and the wind in fleetness” (Aeneas xii. 84).
So the poets everywhere describe the chariot of the sun as drawn by while horses (Bochart, ut supra). So conquerors and princes are everywhere represented as borne on white horses. Thus, Propertius, lib. iv. eleg. i.:
“Quatuor huic albos Romulus egit equos.”
So Claudian, lib. ii., de Laudibus Stilichonis:
“Deposits mitis clypeo, candentibus urbem.
Ingreditur trabeatus equis.”
And thus Ovid (lib. i. de Arte) addresses Augustus, auguring that he would return a victor:
“Ergo erit illa dies, qua tu, Pulcherrime rerum,
Quatuor in niveis aureus ibis equis.”
The preference of “white” to denote triumph or victory was early referred to among the Hebrews. Thus, Jdg_5:10, in the Song of Deborah:
“Speak, ye that ride on white asses,
Ye that sit in judgment,
And walk by the way.”
The expression, then, in the passage before us, would properly refer to some kind of triumph; to some joyous occasion; to something where there was success or victory; and, so far as this expression is concerned, would refer to any kind of triumph, whether of the gospel or of victory in war.
(3) the bow: “and he that sat on him had a bow.” The bow would be a natural emblem of war - as it was used in war; or of hunting - as it was used for that purpose. It was a common instrument of attack or defense, and seems to have been early invented, for it is found in all rude nations. Compare Gen_27:3; Gen_48:22; Gen_49:24; Jos_24:12; 1Sa_18:4; Psa_37:15; Isa_7:24. The bow would be naturally emblematic of the following things:
(a) War. See the passages above.
(b) Hunting. Tires it was one of the emblems of Apollo as the god of hunting.
(c) The effect of truth - as what secured conquest, or overcame opposition in the heart.
So far as this emblem is concerned, it might denote a warrior, a hunter, a preacher, a ruler - anyone who exerted power over others, or who achieved any kind of conquest over them.
(4) the crown: “and a crown was given unto him.” The word used here - στέφανος stephanos - means a circlet, chaplet, or crown - usually such as was given to a victor, 1Co_9:25. It would properly be emblematic of victory or conquest - as it was given to victors in war, or to the victors at the Grecian games, and as it is given to the saints in heaven regarded as victors, Rev_4:4, Rev_4:10; 2Ti_4:8. The crown or chaplet here was “given” to the rider as significant that he would be victorious, not that he had been; and the proper reference of the emblem was to some conquest yet to be made, not to any which had been made. It is not said by whom this was given to the rider; the material fact being only that such a diadem was conferred on him.
(5) the going forth to conquest: “and he went forth, conquering and to conquer.” He went forth as a conqueror, and that he might conquer. That is, he went forth with the spirit, life, energy, determined purpose of one who was confident that he would conquer, and who had the port and bearing of a conqueror. John saw in him two things: one, that he had the aspect or port of a conqueror - that is, of one who had been accustomed to conquest, and who was confident that he could conquer; the ether was, that this was clearly the design for which he went forth, and this would be the result of his going forth.
Having thus inquired into the natural meaning of the emblems used, perhaps the proper work of an expositor is done, and the subject might be left here. But the mind naturally asks what was this designed to signify, and to what events are these things to be applied? On this point it is scarcely necessary to say, that the opinions of expositors have been almost as numerous as the expositors themselves, and that it would be a hopeless task, and as useless as hopeless, to attempt to enumerate all the opinions entertained. They who are desirous of examining those opinions must be referred to the various books on the Apocalypse where they may be found. Perhaps all the opinions entertained, though presented by their authors under a great variety of forms, might be referred to three:
(1) That the whole passage in Rev. 6–11 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the wasting of Judaea, principally by the Romans - and particularly the humiliation and prostration of the Jewish persecuting enemies of the church: on the supposition that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. This is the opinion of Prof. Stuart, and of those generally who hold that the book was written at that time.
(2) the opinion of those who suppose that the book was written in the time of Domitian, about 95 or 96 a.d., and that the symbols refer to the Roman affairs subsequent to that time. This is the opinion of Mede, Elliott, and others.
(3) the opinions of those who suppose that the different horses and horsemen refer to the Saviour, to ministers of the gospel, and to the various results of the ministry. This is the opinion of Mr. David C. Lord and others. My purpose does not require me to examine these opinions in detail. Justice could not be done to them in the limited compass which I have; and it is better to institute a direct inquiry whether any events are known which can be regarded as corresponding with the symbols here employed. In regard to this, then, the following things may be referred to:
(a) It will be assumed here, as elsewhere in these notes, that the Apocalypse was written in the time of Domitian, about 95 a.d. or 96 a.d. For the reasons for this opinion, see the Introduction, 2. Compare an article by Dr. Geo. Duffield in the Biblical Repository, July, 1847, pp. 385-411. It will also be assumed that the book is inspired, and that it is not to be regarded and treated as a work of mere human origin. These suppositions will preclude the necessity of any reference in the opening of the seals to the time of Nero, or to the events pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem and the over throw of the Jewish persecuting enemies of the church - for the opinion that those events are referred to can be held only on one of two suppositions: either that the work was written in the time of Nero, and before the Jewish wars, as held by Prof. Stuart and others; or that it was penned after the events referred to had occurred, and is such a description of the past as could have been made by one who was uninspired.
(b) It is to be presumed that the events referred to, in the opening of the first seal, would occur soon after the time when the vision appeared to John in Patmos. This is clear, not only because that would be the most natural supposition, but because it is fairly implied in Rev_1:1; “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” See the notes on that verse. Whatever may be said of some of those events - those lying most remotely in the series - it would not accord with the fair interpretation of the language to suppose that the beginning of the series would be far distant, and we therefore naturally look for that beginning in the age succeeding the time of the apostle, or the reign of Domitian.
(c) The inquiry then occurs whether there were any such events in that age as would properly be symbolized by the circumstances before us - the horse; the color of the horse; the how in the hand of the rider; the crown given him; the state and hearing of the conqueror.
(d) Before proceeding to notice what seems to me to be the interpretation which best accords with all the circumstances of the symbol, it may be proper to refer to the only other one which has any plausibility, and which is adopted by Grotius, by the author of Hyponoia, by Dr. Keith (Signs of the Times, 1:181ff), by Mr. Lord, and others, that this refers to Christ and his church - to Christ and his ministers in spreading the gospel. The objections to this class of interpretations seem to me to be insuperable:
(1) The whole description, so far as it is a representation of triumph, is a representation of the triumph of war, not of the gospel of peace. All the symbols in the opening of the first four seals are warlike; all the consequences in the opening of each of the seals where the horseman appears, are such as are usually connected with war. It is the march of empire, the movement of military power.
(2) a horseman thus armed is not the usual representation of Christ, much less of his ministers or of his church. Once indeed Rev_19:14-16 Christ himself is thus represented; but the ordinary representation of the Saviour in this book is either that of a man - majestic and glorious, holding the stars in his right hand - or of a lamb. Besides, if it were the design of the emblem to refer to Christ, it must be a representation of him personally and literally going forth in this manner; for it would be incongruous to suppose that this relates to him, and then to give it a metaphorical application, referring it not to himself, but to his truth, his gospel, his ministers.
(3) if there is little probability that this refers to Christ, there is still less that it refers to ministers of the gospel - as held by Lord and others - for such a symbol is employed nowhere else to represent an order of ministers, nor do the circumstances find a fulfillment in them. The minister of the gospel is a herald of peace, and is employed in the service of the Prince of Peace. He cannot well be represented by a warrior, nor is he in the Scriptures. In itself considered, there is nothing more unlike or incongruous than a warrior going forth to conquest with hostile arms, and a minister of Christ.
(4) besides, this representation of a horse and his rider, when applied in the following verses, on this principle becomes most forced and unnatural. If the warrior on the white horse denotes the ministry, then the warrior on the red horse, the black horse, the pale horse, must denote the ministry also, and nothing is more fanciful and arbitrary than to attempt to apply these to teachers of various kinds of error - error denoted by the red, black, and pale color - as must be done on that supposition. It seems plain, therefore, to me, that the representation was not designed to symbolize the ministry, or the state of the church considered with reference to its extension, or the various forms of belief which prevailed. But if so, it only remains to inquire whether a state of things existed in the Roman world of which these would be appropriate symbols. We have, then, the following facts, which are of such a nature as would properly be symbolized by the horse of the first seal; that is, they are such facts that if one were to undertake to devise an appropriate symbol of them since they occurred, they would be well represented by the image here employed:
(1) It was in general a period of prosperity, of triumph, of conquest - well represented by the horseman on the white horse going forth to conquest. I refer now to the period immediately succeeding the time of John’s banishment, embracing some ninety years, anti extending through the successive reigns of Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antonines, from the death of Domitian, 96 a.d., to the accession of Commodus, and the peace made by him with the Germans, 180 a.d. As an illustration of this period, and of the pertinency of the symbol, I will first copy from an historical chart drawn up with no reference to the symbol here, and in the mind of whose author the application to this symbol never occurred. The chart, distinguished for accuracy, is that of A.S. Lyman, published 1845 a.d. The following is the account of this period, beginning at the death of Domitian: “Domitian, a cruel tyrant, the last of the twelve Caesars.” (His death, therefore, was an important epoch.) “96 a.d. Nerva, noted for his virtues, but enfeebled by age.” “98 a.d. Trajan, a great general, and popular emperor; under him the empire attains its greatest extent.” “117 a.d. Adrian, an able sovereign; spends thirteen years traveling through the empire, reforming abuses and rebuilding cities.” “138 a.d. Antonions Pius, celebrated for his wisdom, virtue, and humanity.” “161 a.d. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the Stoic Philosopher, noted for his virtues.”
Then begins a new era - a series of wicked princes and of great calamities. The next entry in the series is, “180 a.d. Commodus, profligate and cruel.” Then follows a succession of princes of the same general description. Their character will be appropriately considered under the succeeding seals. But in regard to the period now supposed to be represented by the opening of the first seal, anti the general applicability of the description here to that period, we have the fullest testimony in Mr. Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: a writer who, sceptic as he was, seems to have been raised up by Divine Providence to search deeply into historic records, and to furnish an inexhaustible supply of materials in confirmation of the fulfillment of the pro phecies, and of the truth of revelation. For:
(1) he was eminently endowed by talent, and learning, and patience, and general candor, and accuracy, to prepare a history of that period of th world, and to place his name in the very first rank of historians.
(2) his history commences at about the period supposed in this interpretation to be referred to by these symbols, and extends over a very considerable portion of the time embraced in the book of Revelation.
(3) it cannot be alleged that he was biassed in his statements of facts by a desire to favor revelation; nor can it be charged on him that he perverted facts with a view to overthrow the authority of the volume of inspired truth. He was, indeed, thoroughly skeptical as to the truth of Christianity, and he lost no opportunity to express his feelings toward it by a sneer - for it seems to have been an unfortunate characteristic of his mind to sneer at everything - but there is no evidence that he ever designedly perverted a fact in history to press it into the service of infidelity, or that he designedly falsified a statement for the purpose of making it bear against Christianity. It cannot be suspected that he had any design, by the statements which he makes, to confirm the truth of Scripture prophecies. Infidels, at least, are bound to admit his testimony as impartial.
(4) not a few of the most clear and decisive proofs of the fulfillment of prophecies are to be found in his history. They are frequently such statements as would be expected to occur in the writings of a partial friend of Christianity who was endeavoring to make the records of history speak out in favor of his religion; and if they had been found in such a writer, they would be suspected of having been shaped with a view to the confirmation of the prophecies, and it may be added also with an intention to defend some favorite interpretation of the Apocalypse. In regard to the passage before us - the opening of the first seal and the general explanation of the meaning of that seal, above given, there is a striking resemblance between that representation and the state of the Roman empire as given by Mr. Gibbon at the period under consideration - from the end of the reign of Domitian to the accession of Commodes. By a singular coincidence Mr. Gibbon begins his history at about the period supposed to be referred to by the opening of the seal - the period following the death of Domitian, 96 a.d. Thus, in the opening sentences of his work he says: “In the second century of the Christian era the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind. During a happy period of more than fourscore years the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antenines. It is the design of this and the two succeeding chapters to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and afterward, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall; a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth,” vol. i. 1.
Before Mr. Gibbon proceeds to give the history of the fall of the empire, he pauses to describe the happy condition of the Roman world during the period now referred to - for this is substantially his object in the first three chapters of his history. The titles of these chapters will show their object. They are respectively the following: Ch. i., “The Extent and Military Force of the Empire, in the Age of the Antonines”; ch. ii., “Of the Union and Internal Prosperity of the Roman Empire, in the Age of the Antonines”; ch. iii., “Of the Constitution of the Roman Empire, in the Age of the Antonines.” In the language of another, this is “the bright ground of his historic picture, from which afterward more effectively to throw out in deep coloring the successive traits of the empire’s corruption and decline” (Elliott). The introductory remarks of Mr. Gibbon, indeed, professedly refer to “the age of the Antenines” (138-180 a.d.); but that he designed to describe, under this general title, the actual condition of the Roman world during the period which I suppose to be embraced under the first seal, as a time of prosperity, triumph, and happiness - from Domitian to Commodes - is apparent from a remarkable statement which there will be occasion again to quote, in which he expressly designates this period in these words: “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name what elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus,” i. 47.
The same thing is apparent also from a remark of Mr. Gibbon in the general summary which he makes of the Roman affairs, showing that this period constituted, in his view, properly an era in the condition of the world. Thus, he says (i. 4): “Such was the state of the Roman frontiers, and such the maxims of imperial policy, from the death of Augustus to the accession of Trajan.” This was 98 a.d. The question now is, whether, during this period, the events in the Roman empire were such as accord with the representation in the first seal. There was nothing in the first century that could accord with this; and if John wrote the Apocalypse at the time supposed (95 or 96 a.d.), of course it does not refer to that. Respecting that century Mr. Gibbon remarks: “The only accession which the Roman empire received, during the first century of the Christian era, was the province of Britain. In this single instance the successors of Caesar and Augustus were persuaded to follow the example of the former rather than the precept of the latter. After a war of about forty years, undertaken by the most stupid, maintained by the most dissolute, and terminated by the most timid of all the emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the Roman yoke,” i. 2, 3.
Of course the representation in the first seal could not be applied to such a period as this. In the second century, however, and especially in the early part of it - the beginning of the period supposed to be embraced in the opening of the first seal - a different policy began to prevail, and though the main characteristic of the period, as a whole, was comparatively peaceful, yet it began with a career of conquests, and its general state might be characterized as triumph and prosperity. Thus, Mr. Gibbon speaks of Trajan on his accession after the death of Nerva: “That virtuous and active prince had received the education of a soldier, and possessed the talents of a general. The peaceful system of his predecessors was interrupted by scenes of war and conquest; and the legions, after a long interval, beheld a military emperor at their head. The first exploits of Trajan were against the Dacians, the most warlike of men, who dwelt beyond the Danube, and who, during the reign of Domitian, had insulted the majesty of Rome. This memorable war, with a very short suspension of hostilities, lasted five years; and as the emperor could exert, without control, the whole force of the state, it was terminated by an absolute submission of the barbarians. The new province of Dacia, which formed a second exception to the precept of Augustus, was about thirteen hundred miles in circumference,” i. 4.
Speaking of Trajan (p. 4), he says further: “The praises of Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him, the Roman emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of the East; but he lamented with a sigh that his advanced age scarcely left him any hopes of equalling the renown of the son of Phil Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine discord, fled before his arms. He descended the river Tigris, in triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf. He enjoyed the honor of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets ravaged the coasts of Arabia; and Trajan vainly flattered himself that he was approaching toward the confines of India. Every day the astonished senate received the intelligence of new names and new nations that acknowledged his sway.
They were informed that the kings of Bosphorus, Colchis, lberia, Albania, Osrhoene, and even the Parthian monarch himself, had accepted their diadems from the hand of the emperor; that the independent tribes of the Median and Carduchian hills had implored his protection; and that the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria were reduced into the state of provinces.” Of such a reign what more appropriate symbol could there be than the horse and the rider of the first seal? If Mr. Gibbon had been writing a designed commentary on this, what more appropriate language could he have used in illustration of it? The reign of Hadrian, the successor of Trajan (117-138 a.d.), was comparatively a reign of peace - though one of his first acts was to lead an expedition into Britain: but though comparatively a time of peace, it was a reign of prosperity and triumph. Mr. Gibbon, in the following language, gives a general characteristic of that reign: “The life of Hadrian was almost a perpetual journey; and as he possessed the various talents of the soldier, the statesman, and the scholar, he gratified his curiosity in the discharge of his duty. careless of the difference of seasons and of climates, he marched on foot, and bareheaded, over the snows of Caledonia and the sultry plains of Upper Egypt; nor was there a province of the empire which, in the course of his reign, was not honored with the presence of the monarch,” p. 5.
On p. 6, Mr. Gibbon remarks of this period: “The Roman name was revered among the remote nations of the earth. The fiercest barbarians frequently submitted their differences to the arbitration of the emperor; and we are informed by a contemporary historian that he had seen ambassadors who were refused the honor which they came to solicit, of being admitted into the rank of subjects.” And again, speaking of the reign of Hadrian, Mr. Gibbon remarks (i. 45): “Under his reign, as has been already mentioned, the empire flourished in peace and prosperity. He encouraged the arts, reformed the laws, asserted military discipline, and visited all the provinces in person.” Hadrian was succeeded by the Antonines, Antoninus Pins and Marcus Aurelius (the former from 138 a.d. to 161 a.d.; the latter from 161 a.d. to the accession of Commodus, 180 a.d.). The general character of their reigns is well known.
It is thus stated by Mr. Gibbon: “The two Antenines governed the world for 42 years with the same invariable spirit of wisdom and virtue. Their united reigns are possibly the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government,” i. 46. And after describing the state of the empire in respect to its military and naval character, its roads, and architecture, and constitution, and laws, Mr. Gibbon sums up the whole description of this period in the following remarkable words (vol. i. p. 47): “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name what elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hands of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws. Such princes deserved the honor of restoring the republic, had the Romans of their days been capable of enjoying a rational freedom.” If it be supposed now that John designed to represent this period of the world, could he have chosen a more expressive and significant emblem of it than occurs in the horseman of the first seal? If Mr. Gibbon had intended to prepare a commentary on it, could he have shaped the facts of history so as better to furnish an illustration?
(2) the particular things represented in the symbol:
(a) The bow - a symbol of war. Mr. Elliott has endeavored to show that the bow at that period was especially the badge of the Cretians, and that Nerva, who succeeded Domitian, was a Cretian by birth. The argument is too long to be abridged here, but, if well founded, the fulfillment is remarkable; for although the sword or the javelin was usually the badge of the Roman emperor, if this were so, there would be a special propriety in making the bow the badge during this period. See Elliott, vol. 1, pp. 133-140. But whatever may be said of this, the bow was so generally the badge of a warrior, that there would be no impropriety in using it as a symbol of Roman victory.
(b) The crown - στέφανος stephanos - was, up to the time of Aurelian, 270 a.d. (see Spanheim, p. 60), the distinguishing badge of the Roman emperor; after that, the diadem, set with pearls and other jewels, was adopted and worn. The crown, composed usually of laurel, was properly the badge of the emperor considered as a military leader or commander. See Elliott, 1:130. At the period now under consideration the proper badge of the Roman emperor would be the crown; after the time of Aurelian, it would have been the diadem. In illustration of this, two engravings have been introduced, the first representing the emperor Nerva with the crown, or στέφανος stephanos, the second the emperor Valentinian, with the diadem.
(c) The fact that the crown was given to the rider. It was common among the Romans to represent an emperor in this manner; either on medals, bas-reliefs, or triumphal arches. The emperor appears going forth on horseback, and with Victory represented as either crowning him, or as preceding him with a crown in her hand to present to him. The engraving below, copied from one of the basreliefs on a triumphal arch erected to Claudius Drusus on occasion of his victories over the Germans, will furnish a good illustration of this, and, indeed, is so similar to the symbol described by John, that the one seems almost a copy of the other. Except that the bow is missing, nothing could have a closer resemblance; and the fact that such symbols were employed, and were well understood by the Romans, may be admitted to be a confirmation of the view above taken of the meaning of the first seal. Indeed, so many things combine to confirm this, that it seems impossible to be mistaken in regard to it: for if it should be supposed that John lived after this time, and that he meant to furnish a striking emblem of this period of Roman history, he could not have employed a more significant and appropriate symbol than he has done.
Cross referenced with Rev 19: Description of the rider on the white horse.

Is this the same horse or is it a different horse?

Rev 19:11 And the heaven was open; and I saw a white horse, and he who was seated on it was named Certain and True; and he is judging and making war in righteousness.
Rev 19:12 And his eyes are a flame of fire, and crowns are on his head; and he has a name in writing, of which no man has knowledge but himself.
Rev 19:13 And he is clothed in a robe washed with blood: and his name is The Word of God.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which are in heaven went after him on white horses, clothed in delicate linen, white and clean.
Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword, with which he overcomes the nations: and he has rule over them with a rod of iron: and he is crushing with his feet the grapes of the strong wrath of God the Ruler of all.
Rev 19:16 And on his robe and on his leg is a name, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.