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Posted on CCPC's website 2022
The study Index page.
Again. This study is verse by verse, IMAGE by Image, IDEA by Idea, and concept by concept. Which means it is a Marathon.“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
We are using sources that John the Apostle and those mentioned as the recipients of the letter, the Seven Churches and other First Century Christians, the majority of which were Jews, would / should / could have been familiar with. We will also reference newer translations and versions of the book, beginning with the 1560 Geneva Bible (the bulk source for the 1611 KJV, which we also use) all the way up to much more current publications, and examinations of the text from various scholars, as well as beginning the analysis of the text from the Greek.
It should be said here, as we are beginning with the Greek, we are going in remembering that John was writing in an 'apocalyptic' style. It seems many translations have forgotten that and 'moderated' the language.
The Lamb from the previous chapter opens the first seal, and a creature speaks to John with a voice like thunder. This is the only description of the voices of the living creatures. However, the Greek uses a single word as a command, “Erchou” which is “come”, the “and see” is implied but not directly stated. All four creatures say the same thing in the same way. (when you're cast as a 'living creature' you don't get the best lines in the drama)
2. The White Horse
“And I looked.....”
A Four Horse Tangent
The first time we see four horses of different colors is in Zechariah 1, and then later in chapter 6. The NIV says at 1 : 8 that he saw a vision “before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.” They have already gone out into the earth on a survey and report back in verse 11. The vision he related in the beginning of chapter 6 is of horse drawn chariots, and the horses were red, black, white, and dappled (spotted) that are the “four spirits of heaven” going throughout the earth, however, it does not directly state their mission, just that they are going out.
It is worth noting that in the message in Ezekiel 14 : 21 a slightly different list of “four judgments” go out, they only visit Jerusalem, and they don't bring the horses!
Most of the horses in the Bible are seen in terms of either battle. In Job 39 beginning at 19, the horse is a symbol of power and strength. Proverbs 21: 31 has him ready for battle, but the Lord wins, as is the case in Psalm 20 and 33 and 147.
In 2 Kings 2 we see a different set of horses with a different chariot, and a different mission.
In comparison: In the Gospels. Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12, Christ rides a colt, a young horse. Later in Revelation, He gets a new horse. The White Horse seen in chapter 6 is NOT His, a clue on that is in verse 2.
“... a white horse and he that sat on him had a bow.” That's the clue we mentioned in the tangent. Christ does not use a bow, as we saw earlier, He has a 'sword'. The rider comes in holding his weapon, he is given a crown, and he goes out “nikon” to overcome/subdue and “nikese” conquer.
There is considerable debate in academic circles as to who, or what, the rider of the white horse is. The overall consensus is that this is an early appearance of some sort of false leader, perhaps not the actual Anti-Christ or False Prophet (we meet them later), but somebody who turns mankind toward him instead of toward GOD as he assumes rule of various nations. As to whether or not his conquering involves open warfare, one would answer “not immediately” as that is the next horse.
3 and 4
The action at the scroll does not pause. As the second seal is broken the second creature says “come” again, and John sees the 'red horse' and its rider. Except the horse is not just red, but “pyrros” (the color of flames). The rider was given the right to take hold of the world's “eirenen” (peace and prosperity) and to remove it, so the locals will “sphaxousin” (violently) kill each other. To do this, he was given a great sword.
5 and 6
There is no time lapse implied. He opens the third seal and the third creature speaks. This is the black horse and the rider already has a “zygon” (a set of balancing scales). Now there comes a voice from in between the creatures, but it is not the rider speaking. The voice gives the grain sales numbers, but then there is a curious addition: the “elaion” and the “oinon” (olive oil and wine), he is not to “adikeses” (injure) them.
7 and 8
Fourth seal, third creature, fourth horse. The horse isn't just pale, as you see in the artwork. It is something of a sickly pale green, “chloros”, the root of the word leads eventually to 'chlorophyll'.
This set is unusual because the rider of the ugly green horse has a name, and somebody is following him. “Thanatos” (Death) is the rider, and “Hades” (Hades (yes, the word is the same)) is following him, and “exousia” (authority) is given to them to “apokteinai” (put to death) a quarter of the population of the earth with: “rhomphaia, limo, thanato, and therion”. That is: sword, famine, plague, dangerous animals.
He opens the fifth seal and for the first time nobody says anything directly to John. He just sees what he sees, and writes it as he was told. And what he sees is something under the altar...
A Tangent to the Altar:
If you've been keeping track, we haven't seen the altar before. John talks about the throne, the elders, the creatures, the glassy sea, and all that, but the altar has been off stage or in the background, until now. Biblically the first altar we come to is the one Noah built in Genesis 8. All of the major Patriarchs built their own, Genesis 12 is one of Abraham's, Isaac made one in 26. Jacob, 33. And Moses in Exodus 17. The early ones were all of stone so they didn't burn up with the offering. The one that moved with the Tabernacle listed in Exodus 27 wasn't.
Later, including the Temple as seen in 2 Chronicles 4 and 1 Kings 8, there were two separate altars, one for the Burnt Offering, and one for Incense. The one for the burning of sacrifices was outside, for good reasons.
The Incense Altar was smaller, and inside the Tent of the Presence. The first one, from Exodus, was smaller and built to be moved, see Exodus 30 and 39, and the later one stayed put: 1 Kings 6, with the lampstand and table of showbread inside the Temple. The incense offering on it was the focus of the morning and evening worship because it was the closest to the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant. While Incense would also be burnt on the outer altar, animals and blood were never offered on the Incense Altar (which we'll talk about later).
The Altars in the Temple were part of the spoils of war carried away to Babylon (Jeremiah 52), and later rebuilt and installed in the Second Temple.
However, later, the Greeks desecrated the temple, erected a statue of Zeus in the building, and sacrificed a pig on the altar: “Now Antiochus was not satisfied either with his unexpected taking the city, or with its pillage, or with the great slaughter he had made there; but being overcome with his violent passions, and remembering what he had suffered during the siege, he compelled the Jews to dissolve the laws of their country, and to keep their infants uncircumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar”. From Josephus “Wars of the Jews” ch 1 (see Josephus link below).
Temple worship was soon restored as described in 1 Maccabees 4 : 46 and following, including 49 “They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table.”
There is no Biblical description of the furnishings inside Herod's Temple (essentially a restoration of the building), although there is no reason to believe they were substantially different. All of it was flattened by the Romans in 70 AD.
The Altar in Revelation is evidently a new version of what was in the Temple, complete with 'horns', which we'll revisit later.
... the Greek word here is “psychas” which is the word for the 'Breath of Life from God'. Every translation worth talking about calls it the “souls” or “spirits” of those “esphagmenon” (violently killed) for the "logon" (expression/ idea / Word) of God... (John says it without saying it. They were slain for the Word. Who is the Word? Nice image, well said, John.)
... and for the testimony they “eichon” (held on to).
The 1611 KJV says “they cried”, well, no, they “ekraxan” (shrieked), with a loud voice “Heos pote ho Despotes” (until when oh Master). Then there is a brace of praise terms “hagios” (sacred / holy) and “alethinos” (genuine / true). They want The Master to judge those on earth and “ekdikeis” (vindicate / retaliate as punishment) against those that still dwell on earth. Some of the newer translations, such as the New Century, do use the word 'punish'.
The source text specifies that each of them was given a “stole leuke” (long robe white). Then the Greek says “errethe autois” (it was said to them) but the one that speaks to those under the altar is NOT identified. They had 'cried out' either to GOD on the Throne, or perhaps to the Lamb who was opening the seals. It is reasonable therefore that One or the Other answers. What is said to them is “anapausontai eti chronon mikron” (relax / repose yet time little”) and their plea will be “plerothosin” (satisfied). Except what they are waiting on isn't liable to console them. They are waiting for their “syndouloi” (fellow servants 'the KJV is exactly right') and “adelphoi” (brothers) who are about to be “apoktennesthai” (put to death / be destroyed), as they were. Not the best of news for those of the faith left on Earth.
Side question: are they waiting on the Two Witnesses that we will meet in chapter eleven? There is no indication either way in the Apocalypse. It IS possible, but we do not know.
Again there is no delay, He opens the Sixth Seal. Then there was a “seismos megas” (seismic event mega), and the “Helios” became “melas” (black) “sakkos trichinos” (mourning sackcloth 'made of' hair'), and “selene hole” (moon entire) became “hos haima” (like blood) which is how the 1560 and the 1611 put it. Several translations add 'red' to the blood description, that is not in the Greek.
13 and 14
And the “asteres” (stars, the same root as before) of “ouranou” (heaven / sky) fell to the earth, 'as a fig tree drops unripe figs when shaken by a great wind'. And “ouranos” (heaven / sky) “apechoristhe” (was swept away / rent apart / separated) like a “biblion helissomenon” scroll being rolled up, and 'every mountain and island was moved out of place'.
15 and 16
And the “basileis” (rulers, same root as chapter 1) of the earth, and “megistanes” (noblemen / lords), and “chiliarchoi” (military commander of a thousand men), and “plousioi” (those with abundance / rich), and “ischyroi” (physically strong), and “doulos” (slave), and “eleutheros” (free of obligation 'not a slave'), “ekrypsan” (concealed) themselves in “spelaia” (caverns / hiding places) and the “petras” (rocks) in the mountains. And those so hiding said to the “oresin” (mountains) and rocks to “Pesete eph hemas” (fall on us) and “krypsate hemas” (hide us) from the “prosopou” (countenance / presence) of the ONE on the Throne, and the “orges” (violent passion / justified abhorrence / punishment) of the Lamb.
If you change 'wrath' to 'judicial punishment' the KJV and others are pretty close.
Selected Sources for this chapter:
Flavius Josephus: Wars of the Jews, or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem:
Free download of his complete works at: https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/index.htm#woj
1 Macabees https://sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/ma1001.htm
Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/revelation/1.htm
the Geneva Bible downloadable https://archive.org/details/TheGenevaBible1560
the 1611 KJV https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/
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NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.
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