Who rode the white horse in Revelation?
There are actually three references to riders on white horses in the book of Revelation. The first occurs as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Revelation 6:1-2). This horse is the first of the four when the first seal of the seven scrolls is opened.
There are at least a couple of different interpretations as to who the rider of this horse is. John tells us he has a bow, probably to make war, and a crown is given to him. His goal is to conquer and he fulfills that goal.
Some say this is Jesus conquering the nations as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Others say that it is someone else, perhaps representing the rollers of the nations, the kings of the earth. Jesus is given a crown when he sits on his throne. The New Testament tells us that he said at the right hand of the father after he returned from his mission on the cross (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Peter 3:22).
But because the crown is given instead of already being owned, others will say it is the kings of the earth who are only given authority for a certain time by God for his purposes. I lean toward the rider of the first course representing either a king or the kings of the earth. It is part of God’s wrath being poured out on the world.
The second rider on a white horse in Revelation is clearly Jesus (Revelation 19:11-16). After the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, he rides out of heaven (Revelation 19:11). The first name we are given is Faithful and True, names of Jesus already mentioned (revelation 3:7; 14).
He is a righteous judge, and both Psalm 96:13 and Isaiah 11:4 mention a righteous judge. Psalm 96 is a messianic Psalm, a Psalm talking about Jesus before he comes. Isaiah 11 is also messianic, prophecy about Jesus.
His eyes are like flames of fire (look at Revelation 1:14). He is wearing many diadems on his head, the golden crowns of Kings. This shows us that he is the King of Kings (Revelation 19:12). And there is a name written on him that only he knows or understands (Revelation 19:13). This may be a reference to those who overcome or conquer (Revelation 2:17).
His robe is dipped in blood, probably signifying God’s wrath against the nations (Isaiah 62:2-3). Jesus is ready to go to war against the nations and end their long-standing hatred for God and disbelief. His second name is, “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). John introduces Jesus as the Logos, the Word, in his Gospel (John 1:1).
There are also Saints in white robes on white horses, representing their purity. These are most likely those who have been martyred for Christ. In Revelation 6:9-11, there are martyrs under the altar who are asking Jesus, “How long until you judge the earth?” Their description matches these riders on white horses. A third reference in Revelation.
The rider on the white horse further as a sword coming out of his mouth to judge the nations, reminiscent of the first vision or revelation John received of Jesus (Revelation 1:16). He will rule them with a rod of iron (look at Revelation 2:27; 12:5). Psalm 2, another messianic Psalm talks about God’s chosen king rolling with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9).
Revelation 19:15 describes Jesus treading the winepress of God’s wrath against the nations, referenced earlier by the robe dipped in blood. And if none of those descriptions were enough to tell it’s Jesus, his robe and right thigh both carry the same name, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 17:14).
So there are three different riders on white horses in the book of Revelation. The first rider is the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The second is Jesus writing out of heaven to make war with the nations. And the third are the many martyrs and saints that followed Jesus into battle.