There are many symbols here:
The Rider ,clearly Jesus Christ, is described as faithful and
true. The word “true” in the Greek carries two meanings: the one who brings truth, and also “the real
thing.” The crowns (Greek diadems) are those of a king. The horse is symbolic of conquest (as opposed to the donkey); the white horse implies purity.
Smith sees a literal horse here. This is the opening of the great
debate: is this passage to be taken as literal return or symbolic scene
in heaven only?
The name which no one knows has caused much speculation. Here are some of the thoughts:
• Kurios, or Lord
• Maybe we’ll finally get the right vowels for
• a name which cannot be revealed until
• by being unknown, it implies no one has
power over Christ.
• it may imply that no mortal can ever fully know
Much speculation exists also about
the name on the thigh. It may be
engraved on the scabbard, or other article
of clothing; it may be on the armor
“skirt” (often done to make it easy for a
foot soldier to read), or it may be the then-common fashion with statues of writing the name of the person on the
The Robe dipped in blood is clearly
a reference to Isaiah 63:1-4, which makes this blood the blood of his enemies.
The Armies of Heaven also are disputed.
Some see this (with much justification from the Old Testament) as the heavenly host -- the
angels. Others see the (raptured) saints; or the
saints of the Old Testament period.
Talbot suggests all of the above.
The sharp sword in some sense must suggest Jesus as “The Word”; it is the most common symbolic use of the sword. Lindsey sees a literal sword (of some sort),
again as part of the Pre/Post Millennial
debate. (See verse 21 for a
justification of this view).
Post Millennial thought runs like this:
• This entire passage is highly symbolic; therefore, there is no specific requirement
to interpret it literally (e.g., Smith’s
• In particular, the symbol of the sword
implies the world wide victory of the Gospel.
• The passage itself never actually states
that Christ has returned; other
passages place his return directly before the judgment.
One last on this: the futurists are absolutely certain of
their view. The historicists unanimously proclaim their views with a great deal of
humility. This may be a very Christian attitude but it does not convince the
multitude of 20th century Christianity in America.