The Four Horsemen in Revelation

Who are the four horsemen in Revelation?” It’s a question that I know some people are asking.

Many people see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse depicted in popular culture and in art, yet these sources do not provide a biblical explanation of who they are.

In this article, I’ll explain who the four horsemen are and when you can expect them to arrive.

Who are the Four Horsemen

The four horsemen in Revelation are symbolic. The imagery of the four horsemen is a way to depict the coming of adverse events that will impact the earth. These events are described in Revelation 6:1-8. Here is an overview of the four horsemen in Revelation:

An Overview of the Four Horsemen in Revelation

White Horse (1st Seal): The appearance of the Antichrist on the world stage as a false messiah:

“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:2)

Red Horse (2nd Seal): The onset of global conflict (with Antichrist involved in these conflicts):

“And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Revelation 6:4)

Black Horse (3rd Seal): The arrival of extreme global famine:

“(5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5–6)

It’s worth noting that wheat prices and barley prices would need to be many times greater than they are today to achieve the type of famine described in the third seal.

Pale Horse (4th Seal): Widespread disease and death will decimate 25% of the world’s population

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)

This is not a misprint. 25% of the world’s population will die from the events of the pale horse. That’s billions of people…

It’s hard to fathom billions of people dying in such a short amount of time. That many deaths will alter families, relationships, politics, economics, societies, and much more.

The Timing of the Four Horsemen

The events of the four horsemen will occur in the first half of the tribulation (also known as the 70th week of Daniel).

The tribulation is 7 years in length. Therefore, the events of the four horsemen will take place during the first 3.5 years of the tribulation.

Preparing in the Time of the Four Horsemen

Although it will terrible time, a small window of opportunity will still exist for people to prepare for the great tribulation as the events of the four horsemen take place.

  • The Antichrist is unlikely to persecute many who oppose him on religious grounds during this time as he will be busy building his empire.
  • Also, the punitive Mark of the Beast system won’t be in place since Antichrist won’t yet have the control over the world to set it up and enforce it.

In other words, the Antichrist will focus on amassing power rather than using his power to make life miserable for those who oppose him. Once Antichrist gains control of the world he will then persecute and seek to kill his enemies with the full force of the power he’s gained.

Final Thoughts

We can safely say that it will not be a fun time on the earth when it is time of the four horsemen in Revelation. Billions of people will die at that time. However, global conditions will get even worse after the events of the four horsemen in Revelation, especially for those who will oppose the Antichrist.

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Wayne Croley
Wayne Croley

Hi! I’ve studied and written about Bible prophecy since I was a teenager. My goal is to make Bible prophecy easy for you to understand while avoiding the sensationalism seen elsewhere. I am the author of several end time books, including Prophecy Proof Insights on the End Times, a comprehensive book about the end times. I hold an M.B.A. and degrees in Managerial Economics and Political Science.


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  1. Hi
    The rider on the white horse is the conqueror bent on conquest = Jesus. See all this takes place in the spiritual realm. Read it carefully
    But prophecy can not be fully understood unless you were given answers by Jesus. Read Revelation carefully. A lot of people were misled at the first coming because of their own thinking and they missed the Messiah – we don’t want to make same mistake.

  2. I don’t believe the white horse is the Antichrist; when he comes, he will be loved by all, and will make the covenant of peace with Israel; there is death and destruction after the white horse, not peace; therefore, the white horse, having a bow without arrows, conquers through mandates, lockdowns; then comes the war, perhaps the Gog and Magog war, which is not the same as Armaggedon; the God and Magog war (Ezek 38-39) involves some nations against Israel; Armaggedon involves all nations of Israel.

  3. so will the believer be here for the Trib or does the rapture come 1st and take them you? can you give me some script on this I cant find any

      • I used to believe the white horse rider was the antichrist. Lately, my thoughts are changing. A sister wrote a compelling article presenting the view that all 4 horsemen are spirits, and align with the 4 in Zechariah. She suggests the white horse represents the many false christs who appear, since the other horses are not specific people. Since the AC is the little horn that comes from the beast, it seems less likely he would also be the white horse rider. Also, doesn’t the AC reigns for 3.5 years, not the entire last week?

        • You’re not the first one to mention a possible link between the 4 horsemen of Revelation 6 and the horsemen of Zechariah.

          An issue with linking the first seal to false Christs in general instead of Antichrist is that it becomes hard to figure out when the first seal will be opened. False Christs have existed throughout time. I believe the seals take place within the tribulation itself…

          Daniel 7 refers to Antichrist as a “little horn” and as a king when in that position. Therefore, Antichrist can be a king while not having a powerful empire yet.

  4. Wayne,
    You are probably familiar with this, but the prophet Zechariah also makes use of 4 horses in relation to judgments on the face of the earth. I believe 4 here is both literal and symbolic. 4 in the Bible is often used to represent the entirety of the earth, so these events will be global in scope and affect the entire planet.

  5. Wayne,
    Great article once again. What most people don’t understand is that the 6 seals are more of an overview of the whole 7 year period. It’s noteworthy to mention that many Roman deeds were sealed 7 times and only someone with great authority could open all of them. Likewise, Revelation can be viewed as Christ gaining back or redeeming His own possession (the world and His saints). He alone is worthy to have the authority to open these seals. Roman scrolls were written on two sides, with the opening side presenting more of an overview of what existed deeper in the scroll. You had to unroll most of the scroll in order to get to the details. This is in essence what John does in Revelation. For example, the sixth seal really points to the end when Christ comes back in the Great Harvest of the earth. By this point, Christ has claimed all of His believers.

  6. It seems to me that those who serve evil are already preparing the control grid over the planet so that when the antichrist is revealed, he won’t have to waste the short time he has, gaining the control you reference here. He knows his time is short so I believe everything is being prepared ahead of time. I also have to disagree with your belief in the pretribulation rapture. If Jesus had to suffer as much as He did, what makes us think that we won’t have to suffer as much in order to be good witnesses to His greatness? We are not more special than He because we trust Him and love Him. Because we do, we will pay for our faith with our immense suffering and our very blood. No disrespect intended with my post. I’ve listened to many people who interpret prophecy and I’ve tried understanding the Bible myself though I admit, I’m very much a lost soul, and for the reasons stated, I think you’re wrong on these matters.

      • The bible says we are not to incur the wrath of God, therefore, when the Church, thus the Holy Spirit (the great restrainer) is taken away, so begins the 70 weeks of Daniel. This might be pre-trib or mid-trib when the AC breaks the covenant, but believers aren’t here for the wrath.