The Second SealCivil war
The Red Horse
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.
The character of this red horse and rider is completely different from the first. Clearly the rider, or dominating influence, controlling the horse or empire at this time brought bloodshed. The note that peace was taken from the earth (or land) indicates that the previous seal was a time of peace (internal peace within the empire). That they should now kill “one another” indicates civil war (as opposed to war “conquering” enemies in the previous seal).
The Greek word for sword here indicates a small sword. The Roman army not only used a short sword, but its legates and other officers also carried a smaller sword as a badge of authority. The “great sword” of the vision was then a greatly enlarged small sword – an indication that the power of the sword, or of those who held it, had grown disproportionately, resulting in factions and peace being taken from the Empire. The historian Gibbon discussed the “power of the sword” in reference to the period, and spoke of the things that “contributed to increase the dangerous power of the army”.