What do the colours of the horsemen in Revelation 6 symbolize?

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Readers Question / Comment - What do the colours of the horsemen in Revelation 6 symbolize?

Hi Ian,

I hope all is well. I've been reading Revelation ch 6. Through verse 8, as you know, describes as the Lamb breaks the first four seals and the horsemen and their steeds who come forth. I don't wish to ascribe greater significance than God intends, but this is where it gets strange.

The New Living Translation describes the fourth horse as "green." I had always read versions of Scripture that described it as "pale." In the Greek (I am no Greek scholar--I used the Blue Letter Bible app), the word is "chloros" and it is used in the NT 4 times. Only here is it translated as "pale" in the KJV, et al., and in the other three instances, it is translated as "green."

I have been curious for a long time what color the pale horse was, and having found it, I simply googled "white, red, black, green." Little did I realize that these are the "Pan Arab Colors." Now I don't want to use that as some sort of basis for anti-arab-ism or any other such thing. But, it does seem to hint at the possibility that in the end, the Lord may be using the Arab countries as His instrument of justice. This concept is not without precedent.

I am merely a novice and a layman. I hope this doesn't seem to childish to you. However, what do you think about the colors of the four horses? I am interested in your perspective.

Be blessed this Christmas. Thank you for your patience and kindness.


JPN Reply:

Hey Ed,

thanks for the thoughts on Rev 6. My understanding of this is that the Greek word 'kloros' used can mean green or pale.

Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon says:
1. yellowish green, light green of plants; and
2. Pale as the color of a person in sickness as contrasted with his appearance in health. So the horse ridden by death - the kloros of death - Revelation 6:8.” (page 891)

The context renders the correct translation. It is used three times as green because the context is of the grass or green plants. The only time it is rendered as pale (or ashen in the NASB) is in Rev 6:8 because the context defines it's usage and the context is death.

The colours to me are simply symbolic of the thought expressed with each horse:

White - speaks of peace (the true prince of peace, Jesus, rides the white horse in Rev 19) but this is a false peace and a false rider coming in the name of peace in Rev 6 - the antichrist.
Red - the red colour speaks of bloodshed and war which is what this rider on the horse causes.
Black - pictures famine here. Used in Lam 4:4,8-9 to speak of the effects of famine.
Pale green, Ashen - the colour of death which is what this horseman brings. John Macarthur writes: 'The Greek word from which the English word chlorophyll comes describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse.'

Certainly an interesting thought to Google the colours and see the Pan-Arab colours and flag! But the 4 horseman are four separate phases of this opening judgement... of false peace, war, famine and death. I know a lot of people see the rise of Islam in today's world and are worried and/or try to bring that into Bible Prophecy. There is no doubt that God is currently using them to bring judgment and the conditions on the Earth that are required for the rise of the Antichrist. But personally I don't see Islam in Revelation 6 or as a large factor in the book of Revelation. The Antichrist is not going to be a Muslim for the antichrist will exalt himself as God and have no regard for the gods of his fathers (Daniel 11:36-37, 2 Thes 2:4)

I believe the war of Gog and Magog where God supernaturally intervenes to wipe out the armies (largely Islamic) that come against Israel, on the mountains of Israel, will put Islam back in it's place. While Bible teachers debate the timing of this war, it could easily occur before the tribulation and lead to the time of 'peace and safety' within which the Antichrist (proclaiming to be a man of peace) will fully rise to power.

Anyway... probably gone a bit off your topic! So while it was an interesting thought, I don't personally see Islam or the Arab's in Rev 6. God allows and uses the enemies of truth for a season if necessary but then judgement comes upon them (like using Babylon and Assyria against Israel in the Old Testament, before judging them).

Anyway, again... hope you have a great Christmas/New Year period and God's blessings to you and your family.