And I saw, and behold a white horse
Representing the ministration of the Gospel in the times of the apostles, which were just now finishing, John being the last of them, who saw this vision; and the "horse" being a swift, majestic, and warlike creature, and fearless of opposition and war, may design the swift progress of the Gospel in the world, the majesty, power, and authority with which it came, and opposition it met with, and which was bore down before it; and its "white" colour may denote the purity of Gospel truths, the peace it proclaims, the joy brings, and the triumph that attends it, on account of victories obtained by it, and which is afterwards suggested: white horses were used in triumphs, in token of victory F14; a white horse, in a dream, is a good sign with the Jews F15; and Astrampsychus says F16, a vision of white horses is an apparition of angels; and so one of those angels which the Jews suppose to have the care of men, and the preservation of them, is said F17 to ride by him, and at his right hand, upon a white horse; but the rider here is not an angel, but the head of all principality and power:
and he that sat on him had a bow;
with arrows; the bow is the word of the Gospel, and the arrows the doctrines of it; see ( Habakkuk 3:9 ) ( Psalms 45:5 ) ; so called for their swift motion, sudden and secret striking, piercing, and penetrating nature, reaching to the very hearts of men; laying open the secret thoughts and iniquity thereof; wounding, and causing them to fall, and submit themselves to the sceptre of Christ's kingdom:
and a crown was given unto him;
by God the Father; expressive of Christ's regal power and authority, of his honour and dignity, and of his victories and conquests:
and he went forth, conquering and to conquer;
in the ministration of the Gospel, which went forth, as did all the first ministers of it, from Jerusalem, to the several parts of the world; from the east, on which side of the throne was the first living creature, who called upon John to come and see this sight, as the standard of the tribe of Judah, which had a lion upon it, was on the east side of the camp of Israel; and out of Zion went forth the word of the Lord, which was very victorious, both among Jews and Gentiles, to the conversion of thousands of them, and to the planting of a multitude of churches among them, and to the setting up and advancing the kingdom of Christ; but inasmuch as yet all things are not made subject to him, he is represented as going forth in the Gospel, still conquering, and to conquer, what remain to be conquered: that Christ is designed by him that sat on the white horse, and is thus described, is evident from ( Revelation 19:11-13 ) ; with which compare ( Psalms 45:3 Psalms 45:4 ) , though as this emblem may respect the Roman empire, the white horse may be an emblem of the strong, warlike, and conquering state of it; and the rider which a bow and crown may design Vespasian, whom Christ made use of as an instrument to conquer his enemies the Jews, and who, in consequence thereof, had the imperial crown put upon him; and it may be further observed, that though his conquest of them was a very great one, yet they afterwards rose up in the empire, in great numbers, rebelled, and did much mischief, when they were entirely conquered by Trajan and Hadrian, who seem to be intended in the next seal.
F14 Victor Aurel. de Viris Illustr. in Fur Camill.
F15 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1.
F16 In Oneiro Criticis, apud Mede.
F17 Shaare Zion, fol. 102. 2.