Under Roman law, scrolls were required to be sealed seven times, and it is known that the scrolls of Roman Emperors, such as Augustus and Vespasian, were sealed seven times. The point of similarity, here, is that the content would be a secret or a mystery until it was opened following the death of the Emperor. Some of this also seems to apply to Revelation five: Only the Lion-Lamb was qualified to open the seven-sealed scroll, as only God the Son had shed His blood and died; this seems to be emphasized in the statement describing the Lion-Lamb as “though He had been slain.” Though Roman practice may have been of some influence in John’s writing, I think the Jewish background fits it better. However, it is possible that John used both concepts here.
The First Seal: Rider on a White Horse
1And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
STRONGS NT 3022: λευκός leukos (dead) white:
In ancient Egypt and ancient Rome, priestesses wore white as a symbol of purity, and Romans wore a white toga as a symbol of citizenship.
White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well.
From earliest times, white horses have been mythologised as possessing exceptional properties, transcending the normal world by having wings (e.g. Pegasus from Greek mythology), or having horns (the unicorn).
In Zoroastrianism, one of the three representations of Tishtrya, the hypostasis of the star Sirius, is that of a white stallion (the other two are as a young man, and as a bull). The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the Latin Sīrius, from the Ancient Greek Σείριος (Seirios, “glowing” or “scorcher”), although the Greek word itself may have been imported from elsewhere before the Archaic period, one authority suggesting a link with the Egyptian god Osiris.
He that sat on the horse; this rider sets forth at the beginning of the Tribulation therefore it seems best to understand this rider as representing a movement which ultimately culminates in the one whom Jesus described as the Antichrist.
STRONGS NT 5115: τόξον. Toxon: often for קֶשֶׁת, a bow:
This is the only time this Greek word is used to describe this bow.
The Hebrew word commonly used for bow means properly to tread ( 1 Chronicles 5:18 ; 8:40 ), and hence it is concluded that the foot was employed in bending the bow. The bow is a symbol of victory ( Psalms 7:12 ). It denotes also falsehood, deceit ( Psalms 64:3 Psalms 64:4 ; Hosea 7:16 ; Jeremiah 9:3 ).
They bend their tongue; their bow is a lie, and not for truth, they are grown strong in the land; for they have gone forth from evil to evil, and have not known Me (Jeremiah 9:3).
That the bow is the doctrine of falsity is plainly shown for it is said, they bend their tongue; their bow is a lie, and not for truth.
e would (. Dan. 11:21-23).
STRONGS NT 4735 stéphanos – properly, a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory NOT to be confused with 1238 /diádēma, “a royal crown”
[4735 (stéphanos) is used of a plaited wreath (“crown”), like the one made of thorns placed on the head of Christ at His trial (Mt 27:29, Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5).]
1238 /diádēma (“a royal crown”) is used three times in the NT – referring to:
- the pagan empires of ancient history which opposed God (Rev 12:3);
- the end-times coalition led by Antichrist (Rev 13:1); and
- the infinite majesty (kingship) of Christ (Rev 19:12).
- preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and
- settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration