Rev 6:2, KJV
“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.”
The identification of the rider on the white horse of Revelation chapter six is hotly debated. However, for the purpose of the article, he is the Antichrist: He is arriving on a world stage that has been painstakingly prepared for him; he is mounted upon a white horse which implies he is coming as savior of the world; he holds a bow which is not necessarily what most think it is; he is given a crown; and he goes forth conquering and to conquer. While this study will address each of these specifics, it will focus primarily on the bow he holds and its significance. Therefore, the intent of this article is to expound upon the identification of the rider of the white horse while identifying the means by which he, the Antichrist, conquers.
The World-Stage is Set
Paul, the apostle, warned the church through his epistles about the condition of the world in the last days. In fact, in his last letter, which was penned to Timothy, he wrote:
2 Timothy 3:1-9
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”
From this passage, one may clearly ascertain the fact that mankind will be in a fallen state (just like the days of Noah and Lot, Gen 6:5-6; Luke 17:26-29) ‘in the last days’ just before the arrival of the man of sin (2 Thess 2:3). This would imply that he will assume control of a society with which he has great affinity while conquering all who oppose him. The rapture will remove all of those faithful to Christ from the planet. Therefore, the Antichrist will appear to be dealing with the remnants of those who oppose the now dominant worldview which he will champion. This remnant is comprised of all who will be saved during the tribulation period.
One further point should be made about the condition of the world just before the arrival of the Antichrist. In the last days, the earthbound inhabitants of the world will not be the only ones who have fallen into severe moral decay. Indeed, many who claim to be holy will succumb to the wiles of the devil and become apostate. This is evidenced by additional warnings from the Apostle Paul:
1 Timothy 4:1-3
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Sadly, many in today’s church are clearly demonstrating that Paul’s prophecies were one hundred percent accurate. This is made manifest by the fact that the ways of the world are creeping into the professing church, and what was once holy and set apart is now indistinguishable from the heathen world.
This brief foray into the condition of the world at the time of the arrival of the Antichrist demonstrates that much could be said about this particular topic. However, another article will deal with this in greater specificity. For now, it is clear that preparation is underway for the arrival of the Antichrist, and many will fall for his deception, especially those who desire to maintain earth as their home. Sadly, many in the professing church are also being primed for the rider of the white horse.
The White Horse
White is generally associated with the imagery of righteousness and holiness. Therefore, when one rides a white horse, the intention is often to convey the idea that the rider is of the same nature. However, the Antichrist will only appear righteous. In fact, he will be anything but. Instead, he will merely feign righteousness as a counterfeit of the true. The reality of his deception will become very clear when Jesus also rides a white horse near the end of the Tribulation. The Second Coming of Christ will cause the ride of the imposter to pale in comparison. Incredibly, Jesus will not be the only one riding a white horse upon His return. Indeed, the armies which were in heaven will follow Him upon white horses (Rev 19:14a).
Many have mistaken the first rider as Christ, primarily because of the white horse. This is not possible for many reasons:
- First, Jesus is the one opening the seals as the Lamb (Rev 6:1); therefore, it is not possible to identify Him with the first rider.
- Second, Jesus Has on His head many crowns, whereas the first rider is given a single crown (cf. Rev 6:2; 19:12).
- Third, the Antichrist is associated with the beginning of the seal judgments, which bring calamity upon earth; therefore, it is not likely he is bringing good amidst the bad. In fact, this is the very premise of seeing the first rider as the one who is illuminated by the false light of Satan (2 Cor 11:14).
- Fourth, Jesus will come as judge, and He will not go forth conquering and to conquer. Instead, all of the remaining armies of the world will be gathered to Armageddon, where the beast and false prophet are captured and cast alive into the lake of fire, and Jesus will destroy those remaining with the sword which proceeds out of His mouth (Rev 19:19-21).
The rider of the white horse holds a bow. Cursory reading would cause one to believe this is a weapon. However, a closer look indicates this is something entirely different that, when seen for what it truly is, reveals exactly how this rider will conquer. Revelation was written in Greek, and the word John chose to identify this ‘bow’ is ‘toxon,’ which has its root in the word ‘tikto,’ which means “the simplest fabric.” Throughout the Bible, the word ‘bow’ has identified a weapon, it has also been used to identify the rainbow, and it has even been used to identify the act of bowing down. However, the word used to identify the bow in Revelation 6:2 is only used one time in the entire Bible.
This is clear evidence that John was describing something other than a weapon. In fact, this one word is crucial to understanding this rider and how he wields power.
The fact that John indicates this rider carries a bow of simplest fabric could be stated this way, “the rider carried a flag made of fabric which displayed a rainbow.” One is not hard-pressed to see how a conqueror could conquer under this banner, especially when considering how prepared the world already is for the one who rides this horse. Undoubtedly, he will be received with outstretched arms by those who now shape the narrative of the world, especially since those who opposed this lifestyle will have been removed by the rapture.
This explains how he will conquer without a physical weapon. Instead, his true weapon is deception, which is why Jesus and the Apostles fervently warned believers not to be ‘deceived,’ a word used 39 times in the New Testament alone. In fact, Jesus, in answering His disciples’ question about the last days, began His explanation with the words, “Take heed that no man deceive you (Matt 24:4).” He goes on to warn against deception three more times in this same reply (Matt 24:4-31). In fact, Jesus warned more about deception than any other single thing. This implies the last days will be marked by great deception.
Great deception is truly upon the land as many are incapable of discerning right from wrong. In fact, those who now control the narrative are turning truth on its head. However, God foretold of this particular world condition through His prophet Isaiah who had a dire warning for those who currently manipulate the masses:
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
Incredibly, the earthbound are seeing things in an upside-down manner. Ironically, their rejection of the truth is actually preparing them to accept ‘the lie’ of the great deceiver who will lead them to great suffering and eternal damnation and fire:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Essentially, Satan desires to counter what God has established. God made man and woman; Satan attempts to cause mankind to believe they are neither or can be both. What utter confusion! God established how men and women should behave; Satan attempts to thwart this by telling mankind they can be as god and rule themselves (Gen 3). This is truly the root of what is wrong with mankind; they are following the lead of the great deceiver. In so doing, they are rejecting the truth and running toward and even championing the lie. The consequence for this errant way of life is unthinkable, for God’s wrath will be poured out upon all unrighteousness. Paul warned of this when instructing the Romans:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Paul stresses his point by indicating those who reject the truth will be turned over to reprobate minds to do the laundry list of things he shared as the signs of the reprobate. Remarkably, one needs to look no further than the current-day media, in its many forms, to see each and every one of these inconveniences manifested. This indicates judgment has already begun, and the first rider is about to come forth in power not his own (Dan 9:24).
He Conquers with a Gifted Crown
Understanding the means by which this rider conquers will be greatly enhanced by the words of the prophet Daniel. Long ago, Daniel had visions that were identified by the angel ‘Gabriel’ as visions of the last of days. In one vision, Daniel sees the Antichrist as one who comes when rebellion has reached its full measure, a master of intrigue. Interestingly, this ruler will become very strong by power not his own. This alludes to the crown the first rider is given. Notice he is given the crown; this would imply that he has not earned it. Instead, he is provided a crown with which to conquer along with power from Satan (Rev 13:2). Therefore, neither his crown nor power are truly his; he is simply an emissary of Satan.
Daniel saw this rider in a vision, over twenty-five hundred years ago:
“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand (emphasis mine).
The fact that the Antichrist will destroy many by peace provides added weight to the fact that this rider will appear to a very receptive audience. He will ride in as a great champion who truly understands how to deal with the growing deception brought forth by the perversion of God’s ways. However, he will not attempt to correct the populace. Instead, he will validate their debauchery. His mission will be to come against and overwhelm those who oppose his contrary ways as he attempts to change what God has established. This mindset is already at work in the world. Daniel foresaw this also:
“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Fortunately, the Antichrist will ultimately decide that he is god, and for this, he will suffer the penalty of being captured on the battlefield called Armageddon and cast into the ever-burning lake of fire (Rev 19:20).
The first rider paves the way, through deception, for the entirety of the remaining judgments of the Tribulation. His actions will cause a great division amongst those who are left on earth after the rapture. Many will come to saving faith early on, just after the church departs. This is largely due to the fact that they had heard the truth before without embracing it. However, they did not reject Christ wholesale. Instead, they wanted to linger in the things of this world for just a bit longer. Unfortunately, Jesus will come when they least expect it, and they will lose their chance to be saved during the age of grace. Now they will have to persevere through the Tribulation and overcome the Antichrist, most likely by laying down their lives:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
The severity of the Tribulation will make it extremely unlikely to survive its entirety. In fact, those who find themselves in this awful time will be dealing with hazards from every side. For instance, the very next rider will take peace from the earth and cause men to kill one another (Rev 6:4). Imagine living in a day when neighbor is killing neighbor, and no one knows who the enemy is. This is just the next thing on a long list of dangers that will need to be navigated in order to survive. Thankfully, God always has a remnant, and those who make it through to the end of the Tribulation will populate the millennial kingdom, but that is a topic for another time.
If you are reading this article and have not taken “the mark of the beast” (Rev 13), you still have a chance. If you never have, you should call on the name of Jesus:
“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The first rider, the Antichrist, will come as the savior of the world. This sounds remarkably like the actions of Christ. However, there is one great difference. Jesus came to save men “from the world.” The Antichrist will come to “save the world” from man. In fact, he will champion the causes that unregenerate man desires; the list of these pursuits grows daily as mankind rejects God’s ways and leans unto their own understanding (cf. Prov 3:5-6). The Antichrist, through his craft and deception, will cause many to seal their fate of eternal damnation. The good news is the wise will recognize and avoid falling prey to his wiles (Dan 12:10). Instead, they will likely die for their faith which will be far greater than rejecting Christ, accepting Satan as lord, and suffering an eternity in the lake of fire.
Website: In His Commission
1 For greater understanding of the term ‘earthbound,’ see the article, “Heaven or Earth Bound?”
2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation Exegetical Commentary – 2 Volume Set (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016.), 139.
3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation Exegetical Commentary – 2 Volume Set (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2016.), 139.