Revelation | 1:1-3 | 1:4-8 | 1:9-16 | 1:17-20 | 2:1-7 | 2:8-11 | 2:12-17 | 2:18-29 | 3:1-6 | 3:7-13 | 3:14-22 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-15  | 16-22 | PDF |


Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

Revelation 6 Inductive Bible Study Guide Verse By Verse

Outline

I. First Seal (1-2)
II. Second Seal (3-4)
III. Third Seal (5-6)
IV. Fourth Seal (7-8)
V. Fifth Seal (9-11)
VI. Sixth Seal (12-17)

I. First Seal (1-2)

Discussion Questions

  • What effect do you see between what is happening in heaven and on earth?
  • Are the horses literal or symbolic?
  • White does the white horse represent?
  • Who do you think the rider is?
  • What do the bow and crown represent?
  • What do you see about the motive of this man?

Cross-References

Daniel 7:24-25 – As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.

Daniel 9:24-27 – “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Introduction to the tribulation period – The final events before Jesus’ 2nd coming will occur during a year year period of time. Daniel 9:24-27 lays out seventy “weeks.” Each of these “weeks” refers to a seven year period of time. The first seven “weeks” covered the period of time between the edict to “restore and build Jerusalem” given by Artaxerxes to Ezra (Ezra 7:11-26). The next sixty-two weeks cover ta time when Jerusalem will be rebuilt, but shall be in a “troubled time.” It is the time from Ezra/Nehemiah to the time when the Anointed One “shall be cut off and shall have nothing,” pointing to Jesus’ crucifixion. It was at this point that the mystery of the church age began. The time when God primarily dealt with the world through Israel was put on hold (like an intermission in a movie), and He reached out to the Gentiles across the world. At a future point in time the last of the seventy “weeks” will begin when the abomination of desolation (the antichrists) makes a seven year covenant with Israel. This will begin the seven year tribulation, which will culminate with the “great and terrible day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31).

Note that this time is decreed by God and will accomplish several very specific things. It is only when these things are accomplished that Jesus will return. These things listed are:

  • To finish the transgression
  • To put an end to sin
  • To atone for iniquity
  • To bring in everlasting righteousness
  • To seal both vision and prophet
  • To anoint a most holy place

The tribulation is also known by other names in Scripture including: The Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21), “Time of Trouble,” (Daniel 12:1), “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), “Great and Terrible/Awesome Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31).

2. The Lamb opened one of the seven seals – Each seal is opened by Jesus. For the first four seals, the four special order of creatures tell John to “Come!”

3. A white horse, bow, and crown – The rider masquerades as someone who brings peace, a noble savior. Most scholars agree that the rider is the Antichrist. Satan loves to imitate. So the Antichrist will likely come as a messiah figure. He will come promising peace and safety. The disasters befalling the world at the time will likely set the stage for him to step out with all of the answers, quickly gaining power.

But here we see his true intentions. It is not to help or save. It is to conquer and rule. The next seals show that war, famine, and death will follow. Thus Antichrist will not actually bring about the utopia he will boast of. Instead his desire to rule and conquer will be part of the spark to set off the subsequent world-wide disasters.

4. Was given to him – This phrase “was given to him” occurs multiple times in this passage (2, 4, 8). A theological term for this concept is “divine passive.” These horsemen are sinning. They are doing the works of the devil. However, ultimately God is sovereign over them. He allows them a certain leeway (like a dog on a leash) in order to accomplish His own perfect purposes. If God did not allow them to act, then they wouldn’t. And in fact they haven’t yet for that very reason, because of God’s restraint.

II. Second Seal (3-4)

Discussion Questions

  • What does the second seal unleash?
  • What does the red horse represent?
  • What do you learn from the phrase “its rider was permitted?”
  • Is the rider doing the slaying? Is this a supernatural judgment?

Cross-References

James 4:1-2 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Its rider was permitted – Again, we see that God is sovereign and allows these events to unfold in order to bring about His end time plans.

Application: The world is not at this point of chaos yet, but it is still often chaotic. It will be a comfort to us to remember that the insane things we see happening are permitted by good. And though He is not the author of sin, He will use the willful choices of people to accomplish His greater purposes.

2. The red horse and rider – The effect of this seal will be catastrophic war (a great sword). The peace that was promised by the first rider never materializes. Instead there will be war. People will turn against each other.

War is something that has basically always existed (tracing back to Cain killing Able). However, the seal judgments will bring about a more global and intensified version of it, which is far more destructive than what had ever been experienced in the world to that point.

III. Third Seal (5-6)

Discussion Questions

  • What does the black horse and its rider represent?
  • How does this judgment connect with the previous one?
  • Is it supernatural?
  • What might the scales represent?
  • What is the point of listing the costs of these items in verse 6?

Cross-References

Luke 21:11 – There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Matthew 24:7 – For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. A black horse and its rider had a pair of scales – The third seal is famine. Famine often follows closely on the heels of war. War disrupts agriculture and supply chains. Victorious armies may also steal or destroy crops. And countries that rely on export or import are often unable to trade to get the food that they need.

Historically, the invading army would often besiege a walled town. The inhabitants would be stuck inside the walls without any way to get supplies. The laws of supply and demand would cause food prices to skyrocket.

The pair of scales is for weighing food and cost.

2. Skyrocketing food prices – During the famine the cost of food will go up exponentially. It will take someone’s entire days earnings (a denarius) just to feed himself, to say nothing of the cost to feed his family. Everyone will suffer, but like in most disasters the poor will face the brunt of it. They simply won’t be able to afford food to eat. This will cause even more social unrest and panic.

IV. Fourth Seal (7-8)

Discussion Questions

  • What does the pale horse represent?
  • Who gave them this authority?
  • How many people die from this judgment?
  • Should we take the number of “over a fourth” literally?

Cross-References

Psalm 115:3 – Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

Job 42:2 – I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The pale horse and Death – The forth horsemen represents death. Here we see that in addition to war and famine, there is also pestilence. Historically plague often follows war as there are mass movements of people in unsanitary conditions. The biological capability of nations nowadays to fight with viruses should also be noted. Some of this pestilence could be the result of man-made biological warfare.

2. Wild beasts – Many people will die, perhaps even entire cities. As people die or become misplaced, animals will start to move beyond their typical territory. That will set the stage for more conflicts with wild animals that will cause even more death.

3. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth – The cumulative effect of the first four seal judgments is that over one fourth of the world’s population will be wiped out. The number “one fourth” is likely literal. It is precise and it is also a different number than is given later for future judgments.

To put this in perspective, one fourth of the earth’s population is almost 2 billion people. That is about the twenty-five times more than the total number of people who died as a result of WWI and WWII (including civilians, disease, famine, etc.).

Application: These are sobering statistics. What would God have us do? We should faithfully share the gospel to invite people to repent before it is too late.

V. Fifth Seal (9-11)

Discussion Questions

  • What does the fifth seal represent?
  • Who are these martyrs?
  • Why were they martyred?
  • Who killed them?
  • What can we learn from this about the situation for believers during the tribulation?
  • Why were they given a white robe (see Revelation 3:5)?
  • What was their petition to God? What was His answer?
  • Are you ready to be a martyr? How can you prepare for intense persecution such as this?

Cross-References

1 Peter 4:14-16 – If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Matthew 5:10 – Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Martyrs – The fifth seal reveals the martyrs who have died. They were killed because they believed in the word of God and witnessed of Christ. As a tool of Satan, the antichrist will make war against any and all believers. Believers may well be the only ones who would dare to stand up against him. Evil dictators often use scapegoats to deflect attention from their own policy failures. So it is logical that the worse the worldwide catastrophes get, the more the antichrist will stir up persecution against the saints to draw attention away from his own failures.

2. Does this indicate that the rapture has not yet occurred – This seal judgment indicates that believers will be martyred during the tribulation period. Those who believe in a post-tribulation rapture argue that this is evidence that the church is still on earth during the tribulation. Those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture argue that these are new believers who have turned to Jesus after the rapture and put them in a category which they call “tribulation saints.”

3. The martyred are under the alter – It signifies that they are safe under God’s protection. The enemy cannot touch them anymore. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

4. They cried out to God – We see their praise for God. And we see that they ask God to exercise His just judgments upon those who wrongly persecuted them. At the same time, they address Him as “Sovereign Lord,” recognizing that He is in control and holds all time in His hands.

5. They were each given a white robe –

Revelation 3,5 Bible verse

Here is the fulfillment of this promise. God’s people may suffer. They must suffer terrible torment and death at the hands of God’s enemies. During those times of trials, it is a comfort to look forward to the end result. And the end result is shown clearly here. God’s people are safe and protected by Him. They are redeemed by the blood of Christ. He gives them the clothes of righteousness that they need to be residents of heaven.

6. They were told to rest a little longer –

God has a plan to defeat His enemies and bring about justice for those who have been martyred. Until that time comes, He calls on His children to trust Him and wait.

Application: No matter what trials you are facing, waiting on the Lord can be extremely difficult. One of the reasons God allows these to us in the first place is to teach us to trust Him patiently. Know that God is sovereign. He has a perfect timetable for accomplishing His perfect plans in your life. So resolve to trust in Him completely until that time is fulfilled.

7. Until the number of their fellow servants should be complete – Still more saints were going to be martyred.

VI. Sixth Seal (12-17)

Discussion Questions

  • What happens at the sixth seal judgment? How is this different than the previous judgments?
  • What other prophesies in Scripture may relate to this judgment?
  • Did they know this was God?
  • How did people respond when they saw such a clear sign that this was God’s hand behind the judgment?
  • What kind of people reacted this way?
  • What does this show us about the people’s hearts?
  • Who can stand on the day of wrath?
  • What application can you make from this passage? How do these future events effect your life now?

Cross-References

Acts 2:20 – The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Joel 2:31 – The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

Matthew 24:29 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The first supernatural seal – Notice that the 6th seal is the first one that is clearly supernatural in nature. For the first 5, these are brought about by human activity. God is behind the scenes and is working things out according to His plan. At the same time, an unbeliever could easily attempt to explain away these things as “coincidence” or man-made.

The sixth seal is different. It is cosmic in scale. There is a great earthquake. The sun was blackened and the moon looked like blood. Mountains and islands are leveled. It is clearly a supernatural event. So mankind can no longer explain away what they are seeing as coincidence. They must come to the clear conclusion that God is the author of these things. And though they clearly recognize it is God’s wrath, they don’t repent.

2. The divine judgments –

  • Great earthquake – The earthquake is immense in scope. Every island and mountain is effected. Like the flood in Genesis 6, this is worldwide.
  • The sun became black – The terror people will experience at this judgment is hard to imagine. It will seem as if it is the end of the world.
  • The moon became like blood – Another cosmic sign will be the blood-red moon.
  • The stars of the sky fell to the earth – Likely this is a reference to meteor showers which will hit across the planet.
  • The sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up – This one is not as easy to understand since we don’t have any experiences to compare it with. (See Isaiah 34:4)

Some people equate these things with the second coming of Christ. We should note that in Joel 2:31 these things happen “before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” So these signs will occur during that time period, but perhaps not the day of His second coming.

3. People’s response – Everyone will be affected, from the rich and powerful, to the poor. When they see these signs, they clearly understand that God is behind them. However, they don’t repent. They don’t beg for forgiveness. Instead, they hide and desperately desire to kill themselves.

Reflect: A lot of people say they don’t believe in God because they don’t see Him. Here they will no longer be able to deny His existence. And they will know that He is angry with them. So why don’t they repent and beg for mercy? What does this show us about the nature of the human heart?

4. The wrath of the Lamb – God is angry. For a long time God’s judgment was held at bay by His mercy and patience. His mercy is like a dam with water collecting behind behind it getting higher and higher. When the dam of mercy is removed, the judgment will be released like a torrent.

5. Who can stand? – Many will ask the question, “who can stand?” when these things are happening.

Reflect: Let’s look at this question. Who will be able to stand?

Revelation Bible Study Guide – If this study is helpful, you can download the whole Revelation study PDF, get the paperback from Amazon, or also get the 7 Churches in Revelation study.

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