THE SECOND SEAL -- A Red Horse
Verses 3,4. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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 6:3-4.
Review and Herald, vol 20, July 8, 1862, #6, p 44.
The red horse denotes blood and carnage, and has reference to those times of persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ, covering much of the period called the ten persecutions, the same as the Smyrna church of chap.ii,8-11.
Uriah Smith, Biblical Institute, Lesson 21, “The Seven Seals”, p 254.
The second seal introduces a red horse; and under this seal peace is taken from the earth and events of strife and confusion are introduced, represented by a great sword in the hands of him who sat on this horse. This seal is supposed to cover the time from the days of the apostles, at about the close of the first century, to the days of Constantine the Great. In his day the church had so far apostatized that peace was taken from the earth and religious strife became so intense, that, as Mosheim says, there was continual war.
Uriah Smith, Daniel and Revelation, “The Seven Seals”, p 433.
"VERSE 3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4. 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."
This is doubtless designed to be significant. If the whiteness of the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel in the period which that symbol covers, the redness of the second horse would signify that in this period that original purity began to be corrupted. The mystery of iniquity already worked in Paul's day; and the professed church of Christ, it would seem, was now so far corrupted by it as to require this change in the color of this symbol. Errors began to arise. Worldliness came in. The ecclesiastical power sought the alliance of the secular. Troubles and commotions were the result. The spirit of this period perhaps reached its climax as we come down to the days of Constantine, the first so-called Christian emperor, whose conversion to Christianity is dated by Mosheim in A.D. 323. - Ecclesiastical Commentaries.
Of this period Dr. Rice remarks: "It represents a secular period, or union of church and state. Constantine aided the clergy, and put them under obligations to him. He legislated for the church, called the Council of Nicaea, and was most prominent in that Council, Constantine, not the gospel, had the glory of tearing down the heathen temples. The state had the glory instead of the church. Constantine made decrees against some errors, and was praised, and suffered to go on and introduce many other errors, and oppose some important truths. Controversies arose; and when a new emperor took the throne, there was a rush of the clergy to get him on the side of their peculiar tenets. Mosheim says of this period, 'There was continual war and trouble.'"
This state of things answers well to the declaration of the prophet that power was given to him that sat on the horse "to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." The Christianity of that time had mounted the throne, and bore the emblem of the civil power.
James White, Signs of the Second Advent, p 18.
At the opening of the second seal, there appeared a red horse. If the whiteness of the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel in the first period, the redness of the second horse may denote that in the second period the original purity of the church began to be corrupted. The mystery of iniquity was at work in Paul's day. Errors began to arise, and the love of the world came in at an early date, which ripened into a state of things in Constantine's time, A. D. 323, described by Dr. Rice thus: "It represents a secular period, or union of church and State. Constantine aided the clergy, and put them under obligations to him. Mosheim says of this period, `There was continual war and trouble.'"