The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and What They Symbolize

The four horsemen of the apocalypse Are the main characters of the book Apocalypse , The only book of the Bible totally prophetic in content.

L The word"apocalypse"comes from the Greek Apokalupsis , what does it mean "revelation" or "discovery" . The Book of Revelations EU Written at the end of the first century, principles of the second century, during the reign of Domitian In the Roman Empire. It is important to emphasize that Domitian imposed the cult to the Emperor and demanded to be called "Son of God" Y "Lord of lords" .

The four horsemen of the apocalypse in a painting by Viktor Vasnetsov

At this time the Christians were very persecuted, A chase what Is reflected in the book of the Apocalypse. By It Scientist They consider that the descriptions of riders have a symbolic meaning and do not refer literally to riders.

The book of the Apocalypse is divided into four parts and in the last one the four horsemen are described. Specifically in Seals , The 144 thousand sealed , The crowd dressed in white clothes , The seventh seal Y The trumpet S.

Before interpreting the characters of the four horsemen, it is important to understand which are the types of interpretaci Of the Apocalypse that exist:

The Preteristos Identify the events of the Apocalypse with events and characters from the first century.

The Futurists They consider that the Apocalypse is a long historical process that happened in the future, understood as the period after the first century. The Futurists compare the characters of the Apocalypse with characters from history. Thus, for example, one might argue that the white rider is the founder of some modern religion, posing as Christ.

This position is exposed by those who consider that the first rider is the Antichrist. Proponents of this school argue that in the time of the Antichrist an ephemeral peace will reign the world.

The Idealists They conceive the apocalypse as An allegory of the struggle between good and evil. This metaphor Happens at the macro and micro level, that is, stages that suffer any Christian community or any Christian At an individual level .

The Historicists Profess That the Apocalypse applies to the history of the Church in general. This classification is explained in more detail in Scott Hahn's book, The Lamb's Supper: The Mass, Heaven on Earth .

The First Rider: White Victory Rider

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and What They Symbolize

Revelation 19: 11-13 "11 Then I saw the heavens opened; And behold a white horse, and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and quarrels. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many diadems; And had a name written that no one knew but himself. 13 He was clothed in blood-stained clothing; And his name is: THE WORD OF GOD »

According to some scientists this description of the white rider Can only refer To the Son of God. In other words, the first rider would be a representation of the Second Coming Of Jesus Christ. St. Irenaeus of Lyon Was one of the first Christian thinkers who considered that the white rider was the same Jesus Christ.

It should be noted that not all scholars of the Apocalypse consider that the rider mentioned in Book 19, 11-13 is the same as the first rider, mentioned in Book 6, 2:

Revelation 6, 2 "When he opened the first seal, I heard the first living creature saying, Come. I looked and saw a white horse, and he that sat upon it had a bow, and was given a crown, and went forth victorious, and to conquer."

On the other hand, since the rider in the Chapter 6 and 19 are described differently, some C Reen That the first rider is the TO Ntichrist, who Will deceive believers Y In the end it will only bring destruction. In that sense, we must remember that Domitian introduced the cult to the Emperor and called himself I Same" Son of God".

Other thinkers like St. Irenaeus and St. John Chrysostom Considered that the White Horse It represented The propagation of the Gospel, Which would reach all the nations of the world.

Already in the Middle Ages, the versi On the white rider representing the victory of the gospel became popular thanks to the Christianization of the Germanic and Slavic peoples. After Of the Age of Discoveries and the Christianization of America est to Version was strengthened more.

The red horse: emissary of the war

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and What Do They Symbolize 1

Apocalypse 6, 3-4" When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying,"Come." Then another horse, red; The one who rode him was granted to remove peace from the earth so that they slaughtered one another; He was given a sword big".

Recalling the historical context in which the Apocalypse was written is important in understanding why the possibility of creating a new Christian state or reign was a threat to the Roman Empire.

This one was formed by diverse ethnic groups with different religions. The idea of ​​the"Kingdom of Heaven"posed a threat to the established order. This justifies the apocalyptic image that men"slaughtered one another".

This idea has been developed by Christian thinkers of different slopes in the twentieth century. The two world wars led many to think that the prophecies of the Apocalypse were being fulfilled. At the end of the last century, many were waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

These thoughts of the beyond are characteristic of the end of the century. For example, in the Middle Ages, around the year 1000 Dynasty otoniana Or Saxon supported the Church and tried to unify Germany and Italy.

The Ottoman Renaissance, or Renaissance of the year 1000, was marked by a cultural and religious renewal of the Christian West from the beginning of the 10th century until around the year 1030. This era was greatly influenced by the expectation of the Second Coming.

In the year 1000, based on the Apocalypse, believers awaited the Last Judgment, but when Jesus Christ did not appear, events were triggered that denoted the distrust of the population towards the Church as an institution. In various cities, the people protested against the privileges of the clergy. All participants in these events were declared heretical by ecclesiastical authorities.

In the opinion of some of the interpreters of the Bible, the red rider represents the process of evangelization, which sometimes finds opposition between peoples and that is why Christians carry the Gospel with the sword in hand, as it did during the colonization from America. Also, the Holy War is related to the defense of the holy places. So, the crusades.

The red color is mentioned in other parts of the Apocalypse, and is related to blood and unbridled power. It can be seen in the fragments that refer to the"Red breastplate of angels who sow death"(9:17) or in those that allude to a"Red Dragon"(12,3).

The Black Horse: the plague, famine and death

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and What Do They Symbolize 2

Apocalypse 6, 53 « When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying,"Come." I looked, and saw a black horse. The one who rode him had a balance in his hand."

Apocalypse 6, 63 « And I heard a voice from among the four living creatures saying,"Two pounds of wheat for a denarius and six pounds of barley for a denarius, but do not harm oil or wine."

The Black Rider Is interpreted as The famine. One of the reasons why Year 1000 was considered by many as the year of the end of the world, it was famine. He horse rider and its Weighing scales Are in charge of weight R bread during The time of famine.

Unlike the others, this rider communicates with Juan and tells him to increase to N The prices of wheat and barley and the food be Scarce more Also says"but do not harm the oil or the wine."

Oil and wine are used in sacr to And symbols, may be why the rider referred to them. On the other hand, some consider that the rider Mentions them for To point out that the rich, who easily acquire oil and wine, They will eat In abundance, while the poor and marginalized will starve.

It should be remembered that Christianity emerged as a religion or doctrine of the poor and marginalized in Hebrew and Roman society.

Black color as well Is mentioned in the book 6, 12, which speaks of" Black sun Or", which can be considered as a symbol of calamity.

The bay horse (yellowish white): Death rider

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and What They Symbolize 3

Apocalypse 6, 7-8 "When the fourth seal opened, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying:"Come." I looked, and I saw a bay horse. And he that sat on it had the name of Death, and Hades followed him: and they were given power over the fourth part of the earth, to slay with sword, and with famine, and with calamity, and with the beasts of the earth. Earth".

The fourth horseman He is the rider of the death. AND S the only Which was explicitly Named . Unlike the other three, no carries Weapon or object, And is followed by Hades . The classical Greco-Roman myth of"Hades"was used by John in describing death.

The concept of" H Ades"is parallel to the Hebrew" Sheol " ("Tomb"or"dirt pit"), while Christian hell was more like the" Tartar "Greek. But in this case, the concept of"Hades"was used, so deli B Erada. It may be that this revelation was written with the Romans in mind.

He Horse of the death is color Khlôros (χλωμóς) that is to say In Greek"pale","ashy","pale green" or "yellowish green", from a color similar to Of a corpse.

The phrase "They were given power over the fourth part of the earth" Is widely discussed by Scholars Of the topic and there is no single interpretation of it.

In the Apocalypse, John speaks of the great test that believers will face. The riders, the last three at least, represent war, hunger, death, and are followed by a series of devastating plagues that cause chaos and lead to confusion and anxiety to the earth.

The drama of the sixth chapter is summed up in a single sentence: The great day of his wrath has come, and who can stand?" (6, 17).

The white rider of chapter 6: Christ or Antichrist?

The aforementioned quotations on the white rider are some of the most controversial parts of the Apocalypse, because for lack of details can not be defined if it is the same character or Christ and Antichrist.

The first description ( 6, 2 ) Speaks of a rider with a bow, which could be interpreted as an instrument of war. More the second description (19) , 11-13) Speaks of a horseman whose eyes were like flames of fire, and who judged and fought"with justice,"not with arms.

On the other hand, the description of the first rider is far from that of the other three; Chapter 6 describes the devastating action of the other three riders, but ignores the first rider.

In other parts of the Apocalypse and the Bible, the white color is associated with the divine world and the resurrection. These phrases are taken from the Apocalypse and in them white was used as an adjective:

"The Son of man with white head and hair"(1,14).

"The white stone of the victor"(2,17).

"White dresses of the faithful"(3,4,5,18; 6,11; 7,9,13; 14,14; 19,14).

"24 elders dressed in white"(4,4).

"White cloud of the Son of man"(14,14).

"White horses of the heavenly troops"(19,14).

"White Throne"(20,11).

The first white rider does not seem the exception and announces no misfortune. In addition, the conquering adjective is usually used to describe Christ. The crown is also one of the attributes of the triumph of the righteous and good over evil. The verb"to conquer"is always used to designate the resurrection of Christ and resurrected Christians.

An interesting way to interpret what was told in the Apocalypse would be to follow the idea of ​​the Preterist that the Apocapilsis tells historical facts of the first century.

In that case, the first rider could be Jesus Christ during his First Coming. In this one it left victorious since it saved to the humanity of the original sin, although its stay was ephemeral, because it went up to the sky. Already the second mention in the Apocalypse would be the Second Coming, expected in the first century by the Christians.

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