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Revelation chapter 6

New International Version

1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, 'Come!' 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, 'Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages, and six pounds of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!'
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?'
English Standard Version

1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
King James Version

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?
New American Standard Bible

1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come!' 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and the one who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come!' 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that people would kill one another; and a large sword was given to him.
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, 'Come!' I looked, and behold, a black horse, and the one who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.'
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'Come!' 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and the one who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, and famine, and plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?' 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.
12 And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the eminent people, and the commanders and the wealthy and the strong, and every slave and free person hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they *said to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'
New Living Translation

1 As I watched, the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals on the scroll. Then I heard one of the four living beings say with a voice like thunder, 'Come!' 2 I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.
3 When the Lamb broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, 'Come!' 4 Then another horse appeared, a red one. Its rider was given a mighty sword and the authority to take peace from the earth. And there was war and slaughter everywhere.
5 When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, 'Come!' I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, 'A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day's pay. And don't waste the olive oil and wine.'
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living being say, 'Come!' 8 I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. 10 They shouted to the Lord and said, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?' 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters--their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred--had joined them.
12 I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. 13 Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.
15 Then everyone--the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person--all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?'
Christian Standard Bible

1 Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, "Come!" 2 I looked, and there was a white horse. Its rider held a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out as a conqueror in order to conquer.
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" 4 Then another horse went out, a fiery red one, and its rider was allowed to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And a large sword was given to him.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" And I looked, and there was a black horse. Its rider held a set of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard something like a voice among the four living creatures say, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, but do not harm the oil and the wine."
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" 8 And I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following after him. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God and the testimony they had given. 10 They cried out with a loud voice: "Lord, the one who is holy and true, how long until you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?" 11 So they were each given a white robe, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters, who were going to be killed just as they had been.
12 Then I saw him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of hair; the entire moon became like blood; 13 the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; 14 the sky was split apart like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?"

What does Revelation chapter 6 mean?

The first few chapters of Revelation present a certain level of symbolism. Chapter 6 marks something of a change, as the imagery will become more and more elaborate. This reliance on symbolism must be kept in mind when reading and interpreting John's vision. Not all of the descriptions in Revelation are meant to be understood in absolutely literal terms; not all are meant to be understood symbolically. In some cases, it seems John is describing literal events using dramatic, poetic language. Context and caution are useful in knowing which passages fall into which category.

Revelation 6 opens with Jesus—the Lamb (Revelation 5:5–7)—beginning to open the seven seals on a scroll containing God's judgment on sin (Revelation 5:1–2). The first seal is opened, and one of the four living creatures around God's throne (Revelation 4:6–8) shouts out a command. John then sees a rider on a white horse, wearing a crown and carrying a bow. His power is conquering, and this figure is most often associated with the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1–10): some sort of political leader who will drastically oppose God during the tribulation. The chaos which ensues after this rider means that this is not Jesus, who will return separately much later in the end times (Revelation 19:11–16; 20:4), establishing a kingdom of peace. The rider described here has a different role in these prophesied events (Revelation 6:1–2).

The second seal results in another shout from one of the angelic living creatures, and a second rider. This horse is red and is associated with war. This complements the first rider's power of conquering—though the warfare predicted here might be a response to this world leader, rather than the way he rises to power (Revelation 6:3–4).

The third seal again brings a command from one of the living creatures and another horseman. This horse is black, and the rider carries a set of scales: balances meant to carefully weigh things. This immediately suggests scarcity: people typically are careful to make precise measurement of things which are scarce or precious. Another voice, not identified, indicates that what is scarce is food, referring to wheat and barley. The quantities of grain and money are both typical for one day: this suggests famine, where people are struggling to make ends meet. On the other hand, finer things like oil and wine are not "harmed," implying that the rich and powerful are somewhat insulated from this particular disaster (Revelation 6:5–6). The fourth seal and command bring a horse described using the Greek word chlōros. This is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe grass and plants: a yellowish green (Mark 6:39; Revelation 8:7; 9:4). While healthy in plants, in living flesh this is the color of infection and decay. It's translated as "pale" in many English translations to distinguish it from the first, white horse, and to evoke the imagery of the rider: Death. Death is followed by Hades: in this context, a reference to the unseen spiritual world. Whether this horseman's effects are separate from the other three, or coordinated, his impact is horrific. War, famine, disease, wild animals, and so forth kill a fourth of people of earth (Revelation 6:7–8).

The fifth seal brings a contrast to the first four. There is no shout or command. There also seems to be no particular effect on earth at the opening of this particular seal. Rather, John sees martyrs at the altar of heaven; these seem to be those killed during the tribulation, making them believers who came to Christ after the rapture. Chapter 7's description of those "sealed" by God most likely includes this group. These martyrs praise and acknowledge God, while begging Him to avenge their deaths. God's response is for them to wait, since there are others yet to be martyred for proclaiming Christ (Revelation 6:9–11).

The sixth seal describes some colossal series of natural disasters. John's description here evokes earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, meteor showers, pollution or blockage of the sky, and even atmospheric disruptions. These events are so dire that even the rich and powerful cower in fear. Interestingly, the people of earth acknowledge that these events are the result of the wrath of God. The disaster is so terrifying that even those who suppress the truth of God (Romans 1:18–25) are compelled to admit what is really happening (Revelation 6:12–17).

Chapter 7 continues the events which happen after the opening of the sixth seal.