Revelation 9:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 9:17, NIV: The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.

Revelation 9:17, ESV: And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.

Revelation 9:17, KJV: And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

Revelation 9:17, NASB: And this is how I saw in my vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire, of hyacinth, and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths *came fire and smoke and brimstone.

Revelation 9:17, NLT: And in my vision, I saw the horses and the riders sitting on them. The riders wore armor that was fiery red and dark blue and yellow. The horses had heads like lions, and fire and smoke and burning sulfur billowed from their mouths.

Revelation 9:17, CSB: This is how I saw the horses and their riders in the vision: They had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

What does Revelation 9:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This passage continues to describe a military whose number John heard given specifically: two hundred million. These are part of an attack levied by four angels formerly imprisoned and prepared for this very moment in history (Revelation 9:13–15).

In this verse John describes the cavalrymen as wearing breastplates the color of fire, sapphire, and sulfur, roughly the equivalent of red, dark blue, and yellow. The heads of the horses resemble the heads of lions. This description compares with the description of the demonic creatures released earlier from the Abyss: "like horses prepared for battle…their teeth like lions' teeth" (Revelation 9:7–8).

The Bible often depicts horses in connection with war. Job 39:19–25 depicts the horse as mighty and brave enough to rush into battle. Verse 23 says, "Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear, and the javelin."

Revelation 9:17 says fire, smoke, and sulfur proceed from the invading horses' mouths. As with the creatures of verses 7–9, some Bible teachers see in this description an allusion to modern warfare. One can imagine how a resident of the ancient middle east might try to describe a vision of a modern theatre of war. The smoke and fire of cannons, tanks, helicopters, aircraft, rifles, and helmeted soldiers would evoke dramatic imagery from such a person. If this is true, then the army John sees is very literal. Whether such interpretations are correct, it is certain that the invading army is a powerful and deadly strike force.