“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.”
In 19:11-21, we come to the climax of the book of Revelation — the Second Coming of Christ. In verses 11-13, we have the rider on the white horse.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.
The Second Coming of Christ is not the same as the Rapture of the church. In the rapture, Jesus comes in the clouds (1 Th 4:17). In the Second Coming, He comes to terra firma itself. There is nothing in chapter nineteen about the translation of living believers to heaven. On the contrary, the saints of the Tribulation remain on earth when Christ comes back.
In this passage, the rider on the white horse is not the same as the rider on the white horse in 6:2. The rider in chapter six is the ruler of the Revived Roman Empire. The rider in this verse comes from heaven.
The idea of a rider on a white horse in the first century was a victorious conqueror. Triumphant Roman Generals rode on white horses into the city of Rome, coming back from war. As the General came into Rome on the Via Sacra [a main street of Rome], wagons filled with booty and captives tramping on foot preceded him (2 Co 2:14; Co 2:15). His army, friends, and relatives followed him. This is a march of triumph on a white horse from the Forum to the Temple of Jupiter on Capitoline Hill. Jesus, in our passage, marches against the ruler of the Revived Roman Empire and his cohorts.
And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
This sentence calls the rider on the white horse “Faithful and True.” The reason for this is that Jesus makes a judgment and makes war “in righteousness.” He is faithful because He will fulfill His promise to return and deal with evil in the world. Everything He does is perfect justice. They will find no perversion of justice in Him.
A “faithful” person is someone on whom we can rely (1:5). We can count on Jesus because He is true to His word and character. He will flawlessly fulfill His promises. We can trust Him absolutely to be fair. He is fair because He always must be true to Himself.
Jesus is also “true.” He is genuine as over against false (Jn 14:6; Ep 4:21). No one will find any falsehood of any kind in Him. He is true to His word. Many people promise peace, but Jesus delivers on His promises. Jesus is true because He is the truth, the absolute truth. He is the utmost veracity. It is impossible for Him to lie. He can never go back on a promise.
Jesus will judge and make war with the armies of the world ready for war on the plains of Megiddo. When Jesus comes as the judge, no one will bribe Him. He will know all the facts. He will overlook no detail in His judgment because He is omniscient. He will infallibly, “in righteousness” mete out verdicts (Is 11:1-5).
Is 9:6-7, “For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
2 Ti 4:1, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom…”
Jesus will also “make war.” His war will end all wars.
God is faithful and fair.
God is always free to relate to a believer, no matter how bad he might be. God is never free to fellowship with an unbeliever because he does not accept the demands of His character met at the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is the only resolution to the sin problem.
A person who rejects Christ and His work on the cross violates the standards God holds for Himself. If a person does not accept the judgment of Jesus for his sins, he must bear the judgment himself in eternal hell. God always stays consistent with His righteousness and judgment. He must comply with the standards of His own being.
Sin brought pain into the world. God, to be consistent with Himself, must punish sin. His immutability demands that He be absolutely consistent with Himself. God never changes. God’s relation to us is a faithful relationship. He always loves us with infinite love. He can never change that.
We have difficulty in accepting this because we are so fickle. We all tend to live our lives toward other people based on their attitude toward us. God knew from eternity every sin that we would ever commit; yet, He still loves us.
The fact that Christians are still alive demonstrates His faithful love to us. Each of us deserves to be in our plot six feet under. We have been unfaithful to Him, but no matter what we do, He continues to love us because He is faithful to His own love for us. No matter how we fail, He persists and insists on loving us.
1 Co 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2 Ti 2:13, “If we are faithless,
He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
1 Jn 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God’s faithfulness to us may demonstrate itself in disciplining us (He 12:6-11). He may demote us or even kill us. If He does, He does it for our good. He never changes His attitude toward us. Although we face duress and pain, God always designs suffering for our blessing.
Thank you so much for your commentary. I would be most grateful if you would tell me if you think Jesus and believers will actually return on literal horses. I am currently of the opinion that John is describing a vision which God gave him, and the white horse is meant to indicate that Jesus will return as a conquering King. Do you think my interpretation is correct, or should I interpret the horses in an absolutely literal way?
I look forward to your comment.
Mary, there does not seem to be analogical or figurative language in this context, therefore, this appears to be literal. It appears that believers will come on horses as well (Re 19:12f).