Revelation 19:11

Now I saw heaven opened
Opened is ἠνεῳγμένον [ēneōgmenon] , perfect tense participle: having been opened. Heaven was now open when John saw it, having been previously opened. Just like the door which John saw by which he first ascended in his vision (Rev. Rev. 4:1+). See commentary on Revelation 4:1.

a white horse
The overcomer who rode forth at the opening of the first seal also rode a white horse (Rev. Rev. 6:2+). He was the one who was granted authority by God to overcome the saints for a season (Rev. Rev. 13:5+) and to appear initially as a peacemaker (Dan. Dan. 9:27). Now, the peace that he brought is seen to be a false peace and the time has arrived for the True Overcomer to ride forth to defeat him (Rev. Rev. 19:20+). See commentary on Revelation 6:2.

He who sat on him
This is the Lamb, riding forth as a glorified man. Previously, He stood in the midst of the throne opening the seven seals (Rev. Rev. 5:6-8+). Before that, He had been seated at the right hand of the Father (Rev. Rev. 3:21+) awaiting the time to initiate the sequence of events which would culminate in His ride.

called Faithful and True
Previously, He was called the “faithful witness” (Rev. Rev. 1:5+). His witness is faithful because it is impossible for Him to lie (Num. Num. 23:19; Rom. Rom. 3:4; Tit. Tit. 1:2; Heb. Heb. 6:18). Therefore, He alone is a reliable witness to Himself (John John 8:14). He referred to Himself as “truth” (John John 14:6). Because God alone is truly faithful, Jesus is holy—unique, like no other (Rev. Rev. 3:7+). See commentary on Revelation 1:5.

Because He is faithful [Rev. Rev. 19:11+] He must discharge His office as judge, not shrinking from the administration of discipline or punishment where it is needed. Because He is true [Rev. Rev. 19:11+] He cannot alter the standards of God which condemn sin. Favoritism and laxity cannot be found in Him, for He is the perfect administrator of justice in a world where injustice has long since reigned. . . . The meekness of Calvary and the sternness of Armageddon may seem inconsistent, but wherever sin exists, they may both be found.1

in righteousness He judges and makes war
Both are present-tense verbs: He is judging and making war. These are activities which take place at the time of His ride. Because His judgment is righteous, the Campaign of Armageddon will be a just war: “Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, with Your glory and Your majesty. And in Your majesty ride [on a horse!] prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness” (Ps. Ps. 45:3-4). The psalmist said, “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His truth” (Ps. Ps. 96:13). The horrible slaughter, unique in all history (Rev. Rev. 14:20+), will be completely just and a reflection of the absolute truth of man’s sinfulness and rebellion. Although man rationalizes his sinful condition with relativistic truth so as to deny his depravity, the judgment of God will assess his true condition. Man judges on a curve. God judges on an absolute scale. It is this difference which explains the magnitude of the slaughter as true justice.

His righteous judgment in the Campaign of Armageddon is the prelude to His righteous reign during the Millennial Kingdom to follow as the “Branch of righteousness” (Jer. Jer. 23:5-6): “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” (Isa. Isa. 9:7). “In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness” (Isa. Isa. 16:5).

Even now, our own land languishes under unjust judgment. Having rejected the cornerstone of our judicial system, we are rapidly tilting toward calling that which is evil good and that which is good evil (Isa. Isa. 5:20). By the time of the end, the earth will utterly yearn for true justice.

Makes war is πολεμεῖ [polemei] , the same root which is translated as the battle of that great day of God Almighty” [emphasis added] (Rev. Rev. 16:14+). See commentary on Revelation 16:14. See Campaign of Armageddon.

Incredibly, many preterists do not see the Second Coming of Christ in the chapter before us:

There are some fully-realized preterists who do not believe that the Bible speaks of Christ coming to earth in the future [this is heresy]. They believe that all the references to the “Second Coming” in the Bible were fulfilled in A.D. 70. . . Most preterist commentators, however, seem to expect an actual coming of Christ in the future—much as do those who take other approaches to Revelation. Even these expositors, however, do not generally see the Second Coming of Christ in the passage before us. The coming of Christ on the white horse may be thought of by many as the quintessential vision of the Second Coming at the end of the present age, but most preterists agree with Jay Adams, who believes it applies to the continuing warfare of the church through the proclamation of the gospel following the fall of Babylon in the previous chapters.2

It is difficult to know how to respond to such an unwillingness to take God’s word plainly. If most preterists don’t see the Second Coming of Christ in the passage before us, we wonder what, if anything, they do see? If the events of Revelation Rev. 19:1+ do not describe the Second Coming of Christ, then we search in vain elsewhere in Scripture for a more detailed and dramatic account of this, the second most important event in history.

[This passage] answers specifically the theme verse of Rev. Rev. 1:7+ which tells of the worldwide audience this event will have (cf. Mtt. Mat. 24:27-31). In fact, this is the only event in Revelation that corresponds to that coming narrowly construed to refer to Christ’s personal coming.3

See Preterist Interpretation.


1 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 130-131.

2 Steve Gregg, Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 448.

3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 19:11.

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