Two riders on white horses (Rev. 6:2 and Rev. 19:11)

POST OVERVIEW. This post compares the rider on the white horse of Rev. 6:2 with the Rider on the white horse of Rev. 19:11 to reveal how to interpret these two passages.


In Revelation 5, the victorious Lamb is given a scroll sealed with seven seals, and the Lamb is the only one worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals. He breaks the first seal and a rider on a white horse rides out “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). Then later, in Rev. 19:11, we encounter another Rider on a white horse who “judges and wages war.” In this post, by comparing these two riders, we will show what these two symbols represent and how beautifully they relate to one another.

As is evident from this chart, the parallels between the riders are both profound and intentional. The first rider of Rev. 6:2 represents the commissioned church as it rides out at the very start of the gospel age conquering the nations with the bow of the gospel.  Then on the last day, at the very end of the gospel age the Lord Jesus comes from heaven to judge the rebellious nations and to pour out God’s wrath on all those who oppose Him. The first rider (6:2) goes out to proclaim the gospel message, a message which is able to bring the dead to life, but the second rider (19:11-21) goes out with a sharp sword, a sword which will put the living to death.

“Behold, a white horse!” But the appearance of the different horses produces very different responses. The white horse in Rev. 6:2 carries a rider who is proclaiming the good news of the gospel, so when the shout “Behold!” is heard for this white horse and rider, joy begins to spread. Armed with the bow of the gospel, this rider is conquering the nations to bring many into the King’s army. This rider is welcome because he brings good news. This is the proclamation of the favorable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19), the announcement of “the acceptable time” and “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2). This is the opening of the gospel age, the time of the great ingathering of the elect as the Gentiles are called from every tribe and tongue to repent and believe in Jesus.

By contrast, when the nations hear “Behold, a white horse!” for this second Rider (Rev. 19:11), it will be a time of horror and despair. The Rider on this white horse “judges and wages war.” “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15). The second sounding of “Behold!” announces the end of the gospel age and declares that the time for mercy is forever past. Now there is only “a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Heb. 10:27). When the shout “Behold!” is heard to warn of this Rider’s approach, it is only a notice that all hope is to be abandoned, for “there will be delay no longer” (Rev. 10:6).


We have shown that there is an obvious parallel between the two riders on white horses who are located at the beginning and the end of the gospel age. The rider sent out at the breaking of the first seal in Rev. 6:1-2 represents the commissioned church going out to proclaim the gospel message to the nations. The Rider who rides out in Rev. 19:11-21 is the Lord Jesus coming “to judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1) on the last day as He “strikes down the nations” (Rev. 19:15).

The interpretation that we have proposed emerges entirely from these two texts, but there are other passages in Revelation which connect with these riders and which strengthen and clarify other points of interpretation. A future post will explore those connections.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/25/2023                   #628

What happens after we ‘meet the Lord in the air’? 1 Thess. 4:17

POST OVERVIEW. A brief exegesis of 1 Thess. 4:17 and the phrase “meet the Lord in the air.” What does the Scripture teach about this phrase? What happens after we “meet the Lord in the air?”

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thess. 4:17


The fourth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians contains some of the apostle’s clearest teaching about the coming of the Lord and the Resurrection of the saints, but Bible students can still have questions about these events. One of the points of confusion can be about what happens after the glorified saints “meet the Lord in the air” (4:17), but the Bible is not unclear about this. The saints meet the descending Lord Jesus in the air and then we come with Him to earth as “He judges and wages war” (Rev. 19:11). Let’s explore what the Scripture says about this event.


First, the nature of Jesus’ mission at His coming requires that He come to earth after the saints meet Him in the air. When Jesus comes, He is coming to “strike down the nations and to rule them with a rod of iron and to tread out the wine press of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). “There will be delay no longer” (Rev. 10:6). At His first advent, Jesus came to be a Savior and to be a sacrifice for sin, but when He comes at the end of the age, He will come as a judge to punish all sin. The time for mercy and grace will be over. Then Jesus “judges and wages war.” His mission will be to render recompense, and so we see Him throwing the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20) and then we see Him rendering punishment on all unredeemed mankind. “And the rest (‘of the kings of the earth and their armies’ 19:19) were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:21). At the end of Revelation 19, Jesus has killed all those who oppose Him. (See also Rev. 14:19-20.) Therefore, because of the nature of His mission, Jesus must continue to earth after the saints meet Him in the air.


But second, we also have the clear teaching of the Scriptures that tells us that the saints meet the Lord in the air and then come with Him back to earth. In 1 Thess. 3:13, Paul says that “we will be without blame in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus WITH all His saints.” In 4:14, again Paul says, “God will bring WITH Him (with Jesus) those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” In Rev. 19:14, a verse that describes the Lord Jesus as He descends from heaven to judge the nations, we read, “The armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him (Jesus) on white horses.” The glorified saints, by their resurrection, have joined their King’s army and now come with their King as He judges the nations.


Thus, from Scripture’s clear teaching, after the saints “meet the Lord in the air,” they proceed to come to earth with the descending Lord Jesus as He comes to judge and wage war.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 2/22/2023                   #625