The Bible


Revelation 6 : The Four Horsemen


Study the Inner Meaning

1 And 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.

2 And 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.

3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 9481

Apocalypse Revealed 36, 295, 298, 299, 300, 301, 302, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 32

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 1071, 2495, 2686, 3300, 3355, 3941, 3994, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 51, 52, 53, 166, 236, 296, 297, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 76, 78

Divine Providence 134

Doctrine of the Lord 52

Sacred Scripture 12

Heaven and Hell 119

The Last Judgment 2, 61

True Christian Religion 119, 124, 179, 620, 639, 641, 691

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 30, 72, 73, 131, 186, 195, 196, ...

Canons of the New Church 27

De Verbo (The Word) 5, 15

An Invitation to the New Church 12, 35

Justification 0

The White Horse - Appendix 1

Marriage 119, 124

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 9, 11, 72

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Deuteronomy 32:43

1 Samuel 6:20

Psalms 2:12, 6:4, 76:8, 110:5

Isaiah 2:10, 19, 21, 13:10, 34:4, 50:3

Jeremiah 4:23, 29, 14:12, 15:3, 30:7

Lamentations 2:1

Ezekiel 5:12, 13, 17, 13:13, 14:21, 21:14, 16, 25:14, 32:7, 8

Hosea 10:8

Joel 2:11

Nahum 1:6

Zephaniah 14

Zechariah 8, 6:2, 3

Malachi 3:2

Word/Phrase Explanations

The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

'A lamb' signifies the good of the innocence of infancy. 'A lamb' signifies the Lord regarding His divine humanity. The lamb,' as in Revelation 8:11,...

A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

'A voice crying,' and 'the voice of a cry,' are common expressions in the Word, and are applied whenever there is a noise or disturbance,...

When the Lord speaks through the heaven, it descends into the lower spheres and is heard as thunder. As He speaks through the whole of...

The number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

Four beasts
The four beasts seen by Daniel signify successive states of the church, until it is entirely wasted as to goods and truths.

"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

white horse
'A red horse' signifies the understanding of the Word destroyed as to good, and 'a black horse' signifies the understanding of the Word destroyed as...

'White' relates to truths, because it originates in the light of the sun.

'A horse' signifies knowledges or understanding of the Word. In an opposite sense it signifies the understanding of the Word falsified by reasonings, and likewise...

A bow signifies falsity of doctrine destroying truth, and spear, the falsity of evil de­stroying good. (Jer. 6:23.)

The crown of glory in the hand of Jeho­vah (Isa 62:3) signifies wisdom which is of good, and a royal diadem in the hand of...

The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Power,' as in Revelation 4, signifies salvation, because all divine power regards this as its final purpose. A person is reformed by divine power, and...

In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

A 'sword,' in the Word, signifies the truth of faith combating and the vastation of truth. In an opposite sense, it signifies falsity combating and...

'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

Black cumin' denotes scientific ideas.

The balances mentioned in Revelation 6:5 signify the estimation of goodness and truth.

In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

'To measure' signifies knowing and exploring the quality of something.

In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

A penny,' as in Revelation 6, signifies something so small that it is barely anything.

The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

The Bible uses a somewhat dizzying array of unfamiliar measurement, leaving translators a choice between being accurate and confusing or inaccurate and clear. Since they...

'Wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and vetches,' as in Ezekiel 4:9, 12, signify various kinds of good, and their derivative truths. Bread, or a cake,...

'To hurt,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:6, signifies violation and profanation. 'To hurt' as mentioned in Revelation 9:4, signifies perverting the truths and goods of...

'The fourth watch' signifies the first state of the church at break of day, when good begins to act by truth.

Pale horse
'A pale horse' signifies all understanding of the Word destroyed utterly both as to good and truth.

It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

'Hell,' as mentioned in Jonah 2:3, signifies the earth below.

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

Fourth part
A fourth part, or quarter, signifies the same as four.

'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies evils of life. 'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies desiring good from affection, because 'bread,' in the internal sense, is the good of...

Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

The first altar mentioned in the Word was built by Noah after he came out of the ark. On that altar, he sacrificed clean animals...

The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

'The slain' when referring to the Lord, as in Revelation 5, means the separation of everything from the divine. In denial of His divinity, He...

the Word of God
In general, we tend to be very aware of how knowing what's true leads to doing what is good. That starts as children, with parents...

Word of God
'The Word of God,' as in Revelation 17:17, signifies the things foretold in the Word.

'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

As with most common verbs, the spiritual meaning of “crying” or “crying out” (meaning a shout or wail, not weeping) is highly dependent on context....

In Revelation 5:2, 'a loud' or 'great voice' signifies divine truth from the Lord, in its power or virtue.

'Long' and thence to prolong, refer to good.

The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

The internal meaning of “blood” is a little tricky, because Swedenborg gives two meanings that seem quite different. In most cases, Swedenborg links blood with...

Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

'Robes,' as in Revelation 7, signify truths of defense. Before they were washed they signified falsities. People in falsities from ignorance in the spiritual world,...

Every one
The phrase “Every one,” where it occurs in Genesis 20:7, signifies every thing or all things.

'To slumber' and 'sleep' denotes the state of a person who is not in truths, as in Jeremiah 51:39, 57, Psalm 8:3 and 76:5, and...

Brethren (Gen. 27:29) signify the affections of good.

The Lord is love itself, and that love is the ultimate source of all energy and thus of all life. It follows, then, that the...

When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

The 'sun' signifies celestial and spiritual love. The 'sun' in the Word, when referring to the Lord, signifies His divine love and wisdom. Because the...

'Being clothed in sackcloth' signifies lamentation because of the devastation of truth in the church. 'Sackcloth,' as in Revelation 6:12, relates to destroyed good.

The hair is the very outermost part of the body, and "hair" in the Bible represents the outermost expression of whatever the body represents. In...

'The moon' signifies the Lord in reference to faith, and thus faith in the Lord. 'The moon' signifies spiritual good or truth. 'The moon' signifies...

'Stars' signify the knowledge of truth and good. 'Stars' are frequently mentioned in the Word, and always signify goods and truths, but in an opposite...

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

Fig tree
A fig tree signifies natural good. A fig tree, as in Judges 9:13, signifies the external good of the celestial church.

The Writings tell us that the fig tree represents the "natural human," which is our outward life in the world, and the thoughts and feelings...

In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

Mighty,' as in Revelation 19:18, signify people who are educated about doctrine derived from the Word. By extension, 'mighty' signifies education or learning derived from...

Because a nearer and stronger divine influx through the heavens disperses truths among the wicked, 'wind' signifies this dispersion of truth and the resulting conjunction...

The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

An island,' in an abstract sense, signifies the truth of faith.

the kings of
The kings of Media and Persia' represent people who are in faith separate from charity.

The human mind is composed of two parts, a will and an understanding, a seat of loves and affections, and a seat of wisdom and...

Great men
Great men, as in Revelation 6:15, signify those who are in good, and, in an opposite sense, those who are in evil. Great men, as...

The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

When the Bible talks about riches, it is talking about spiritual wealth, not worldly wealth – ideas and knowledge about the Lord and spiritual things,...

'Officer' denotes doctrines or principles of interpretation.

'Officers' signify principles of what is false and evil.

Mighty men
'Mighty men,' as in Lamentations 1:15, denotes people who are in the good of love.

'Rocks' signify the good and truth of faith.

In Isaiah 40:12 'to weigh the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales,' signifies that the celestial aspects of love and charity are...

Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

'To hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:15, signifies being in evils and in falsities...

“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

'The Lord's throne' signifies, in general, the whole heaven, and specifically, the spiritual heaven, and by extension, divine truth proceeding, and so, everything of heaven...

'Wrath,' as in Genesis 49:7, signifies aversion from truth. 'Great wrath,' as in Revelation 12:12, signifies hatred against the new church.

great day of His wrath
'The great day of His wrath,' as in Revelation 6:17, signifies the day of the last judgment.

day of
'Day of vengeance' signifies a state of damnation.

'To stand,' and 'come forth' as in Daniel 7:10, refers to truth. In Genesis 24:13, it signifies a state of conjunction of divine truth with...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 A Great Earthquake
Color picture of the great earthquake from Revelation 6.
Picture | Ages up to 14

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 John's Vision of the Horses
Some of the horses in this story are scary but they teach us important things.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 The Black Horse
Color picture of the rider on the black horse holding a pair of scales. He was seen when the third seal was opened.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Fifth Seal: Martyrs Given White Robes
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Fifth Seal: The Souls Under the Altar
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The First Seal: First Horsemen
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The First Seal: The White Horse
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Four Horsemen
Dramatic color painting of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Picture | All Ages

 The Four Horsemen
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Four Horsemen (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Four Horsemen (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Four Horsemen (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Fourth Seal: A Pale Horse
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Opening of the Seven Seals
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Pale Horse
Color picture of the rider on the pale horse whose name is death. He was seen when the fourth seal was opened.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Red Horse
Color picture of the rider on the fiery red horse who was given a great sword to take peace from the earth. He was seen when the second seal was opened.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Second Seal: A Red Horse
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sixth Seal: A Great Earthquake
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sixth Seal: The Great Earthquake
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Souls Under the Altar
Color picture of the souls under the altar seen when the fifth seal was opened.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Third Seal: A Black Horse
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The White Horse
Color picture of the rider on the white horse who was given a bow and a crown and who went out to conquer. He was seen when the first seal was opened.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 White Horse and Rider with Crown
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14



The Meaning of the Book of Revelation: the Four Horsemen      

By Curtis Childs and Rev. Jonathan Rose

Transparency is needed to sort things out. Before big change happens, God first reveals what’s really going on.

In the Book of Revelation - the last book of the Word - the apostle John describes a series of apocalyptic visions that he experienced during his exile on the Isle of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea.

In one of these visions, he saw four horsemen, the first riding a white horse, the second a red horse, the third a black, and the fourth - named Death - riding a pale horse. These "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" - oft-pictured - are described in Revelation 6:1-8.

What do these horses, and their riders, represent? What do they have to do with us, today? Watch as Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose explore the hidden Bible meaning of the Four Horsemen in the Book of Revelation, in this video from the Swedenborg and Life Series, from the Swedenborg Foundation.

Plus, to go straight to the source, follow the links below to the places in "Apocalypse Revealed" where Swedenborg explained the inner meaning of this famous Bible story. A good place to start would be Apocalypse Revealed 298.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 262-263, 301, 306, 314, 316, 320, 322-323; The Apocalypse Explained 315)

To continue browsing while you watch, play the video in a new window.

This video is a part of the "Swedenborg and Life" web series produced by the Swedenborg Foundation (

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Revealed #262

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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262. Or to look in it. This symbolically means, not the least power.

Since to open the book means, symbolically, to know the states of life of all, to look in it means, symbolically, to see the character of this or that person's state of life. Consequently, that no one could open the book or look in it means, symbolically, that they had not the least power to do so. For the Lord alone sees the state of each person's life from its inmost qualities to its outmost ones, including what the person was like from infancy to old age and what he will be like to eternity, as well as to what place he will be assigned in heaven or in hell. Moreover, the Lord sees this instantaneously, and does so of Himself, because He is Divine truth itself or the Word. Angels and people, on the other hand, cannot do this in the least, because they are finite, and finite people see only a few, outward qualities; and even these they do not see of themselves, but from the Lord.

(References: Revelation 5:3)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 256, 295, 678

Other New Christian Commentary

The Meaning of the Book of Revelation: the Four Horsemen 1

Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.