The Geneva Bible Translation Notes, , at sacred-texts.com
rev 6:1And (1) I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
(1) This is the second part of this first history (which I said was common and of the whole world) of the works of God in the government of all things. There are generally three parts to this: the forewarning, the caution, and the execution of all the evils which God sends on this world, which was scarcely postponed by him. The forewarning is set down in this chapter, the caution for preserving the Church is in the next chapter, and the execution is described in (Rev 8:9) In each part of the forewarning, there are three points: the distinct and express calling of John to prepare himself to take knowledge of the things that are to be showed to him in the opening of the seals, the sign, and the word expounding the sign. Though the express calling of John is used in only four of the signs, yet the same is also to be understood in the rest that follow. The author of the forewarnings is the Lamb as that word of the Father made the Mediator, opening the seals of the book. The instruments are the angels in most of the visions, who explain the sign and the words of it. Now this first verse contains an express calling of John to record the opening of the first seal.
rev 6:2And (2) 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.
(2) The first sign, joined with a declaration, is that because of the sins and horrible rebellion of the world, God will invade the world: and first of all will suddenly, mightily, and gloriously, as if with arrows of pestilence from a distance, beat down the same as Judge, and triumph over it as conqueror.
rev 6:3And (3) when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
(3) The second sign joined with words of declaration (after the express calling of John as before) is, that God being provoked to wrath by the obstinacy and hard heartedness of the world, not repenting for the former plague: as setting on the same at hand, will cause disputes among men, and will destroy the inhabitants of this world, by the swords of one another.
rev 6:5(4) 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.
(4) The third sign with declaration is that God will destroy the world with famine, removing all food: which is by Synecdoche comprehended in wheat, barley, wine and oil.
rev 6:6And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A (a) measure of wheat for a penny, (5) and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
(a) It is here signified how little grain there was, for the word used here is a unit of measure for dry things, about an eighth of a bushel, which was a typical daily ration given to servants. (5) I would rather interpret and read the words this way, "And the wine and the oil you will not distribute unjustly." In this sense likewise the wine and the oil will be sold a very little for a penny. You will not distribute unjustly, namely, when you measure out a very little for a great price: so are the times evident: otherwise it would be true, as the wise man says, that whoever withholds the grain will be cursed by the people; (Pro 11:26).
rev 6:7(6) And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
(6) The fourth sign joined with words of declaration is, that God will devote a quarter of the world to death and hell, or the grave, by all those methods at once, who individually and in order he had summoned to change their minds. To these are also added the wild and cruel beasts of the earth (Lev 16:22). Thus according to his wisdom, God dispenses the treasures of his power, justly towards all, mercifully towards the good, and with patience or longsuffering towards his enemies.
rev 6:9(7) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
(7) The sixth sign is that the holy martyrs who are under the altar, by which they are sanctified, that is, received into the trust and teaching of Christ (into whose hands they are committed) shall cry out for the justice of God, in a holy zeal to advance his kingdom, and not from any private disturbance of the mind, in this and the next verse, and that God will comfort them in deed, sign and word; (Rev 6:10).
rev 6:11And (8) white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be (b) fulfilled.
(8) As before (Rev 3:4).
(b) Until their number is completed
rev 6:12(9) And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as (c) sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
(9) The sixth sign, a narration, has two parts: the sign and the event. The sign is that the earth, heaven, and the things that are in them, for the horror of the sins of the world after those most heavy warnings from God, and complaints of the saints shall be shaken most severely, trembling in horrible manner, and losing their light, in this verse: things falling from heaven (Rev 6:13) withdrawing themselves and fleeing from the greatness of the trouble (Rev 6:14). So completely do all creatures depend on the will of God, and content themselves in his glory.
(c) So they called in old time those woven works that were of hair.
rev 6:15(10) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
(10) The event of the sign before: that there is no man who will not be amazed at that worldwide upheaval, fly away in fear and hide himself in this verse, and wish to die, because of the exceeding horror of the wrath of God, and of the Lamb, at which before he was amazed. Now this confusion is not on the part of the godly but of the wicked, whose portion is in this life; (Psa 17:14). Not that sorrow which is according to God, which works repentance to salvation, of which a man shall never repent him, but that worldly sorrow that brings death; (Co2 7:9) as their wishes declare: for this history of the whole world, is separated from the history of the Church, as I have showed before. See Rev 4:1
rev 6:16And said to the mountains and rocks, (11) Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
(11) These are words of those who despair of escape: of the cause of this despair there are two arguments, the presence of God and the Lamb provoked to wrath against the world, in this verse: and the awareness of their own weakness, feeling that they are not able to survive the day of the wrath of God (Rev 6:17) as it is said in (Isa 14:27).