Victorinus: In Apocalypsin (6.1-7)

[6.1] The unsealing of the seals is, as we have said, the opening of the Old Testament predictions and the announcement of what will happen in the end times; of which, although prophetic Scripture speaks by a single seal, yet, as all the seals are opened, the prediction has its order. Now, as he says, is opened the first seal; he saw a white horse, and the crowned rider has a bow: for this happened at first; for after our Lord ascended to heaven and opened everything, he sent the Holy Spirit, whose words, through preachers, are like arrows piercing the hearts of men, and conquering disbelief. The crown on the head of the preachers is promised by the Holy Spirit. Of the other three horses, the Lord, showing in the Gospel war, famine, and disease, plainly indicated the prediction. And therefore he says one of the animals, because all four are one. And come and see: come is said to one invited to the faith, and see is said to him who did not see. Therefore the white horse is the word of preaching sent into the world with the Holy Spirit; for the Lord says: This Gospel will be preached in all the world of the earth as a witness to all nations, and then will the end come.

[6.2] And the black horse signifies famine; for the Lord says: and there will be famine in various places. And His word is properly extended to Antichrist, which is a time when a great famine will occur, and when men will also be harmed. Scales in his hand: the books of examination, in which the merits of individuals are displayed. And he says a voice: Do not harm the wine and oil, that is, do not strike the spiritual man with plagues. This is the black horse.

A red horse, and he who sits upon it has a sword: these are wars, which are indicated will happen, as we read in the Gospel: And people will rise up against people, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be a great earthquake. This is the red horse.

[6.3] And a pale horse and he who sits upon it has the name Death. These are the same which, among other plagues, the Lord predicted: illnesses and deadly things to come. For when he says: And Hades followed him, that is, it awaits the devouring of the many souls of the impious. This is the pale horse.

[6.4] And the souls of the slaughtered were seen under the altar, that is, under the earth. And both heaven and earth are called an altar; so the Law made two altars, seeming images of the truth, one golden inside and one bronze outside. For we understand the altar is called heaven, by our Lord bringing witness to us, for He says: When you offer your gift at the altar, certainly our gifts are the prayers which we should make, and you remember there that you have something against your brother, leave your gift there. Certainly, prayers ascend to heaven. So, therefore, heaven is understood as the golden altar which was inside, for the priest who had the mandate of Christ also entered into the temple once a year, to the golden altar. The Holy Spirit signified this is to be done, that is, what is suffered (by Christ) was done once. So also by the bronze is understood the earth, under which is Hades, a region far from punishments and fires, the resting place of the saints, in which indeed the righteous are seen and heard by the impious, but they are not able to pass over to them. Therefore, these are such, that is, the souls of the slaughtered, who wait for the vindication of their blood, that is, their bodies, from those dwelling upon the earth, as He who sees all would have us know. But because in the last times, both the perpetual repayment of the saints and the damnation of the impious are coming, it is said to them to wait. And as a consolation for their bodies, they receive, he says, white robes, that is, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

[6.5] The sixth seal: There was a great earthquake: that is, the final persecution. The sun became like sackcloth: the splendor of doctrine will be darkened by unbelievers. The moon bloody: the Church of the saints is shown to shed its blood for Christ. The stars to fall: the faithful to be troubled. A shaken fig tree drops its figs: people being separated from the Church by persecution. Both mountain and islands shaken from their places: in the final persecution all were to withdraw from their places; that is, the good will be moved, escaping the persecution.

[6.6] The four angels at the four corners of the earth, or the four winds across the Euphrates River are four nations, because to every nation an angel is assigned by God, as the Law said: He established them according to the number of the angels of God. While the number of saints is being completed, the ends (of the earth) are not left by them, because in the last (times) they will come with Antichrist.

[6.7] And what he said: a great crowd from every tribe, shows the number of the chosen of all the believers, who through the blood of the lamb, those cleansed by baptism, their robes were made white, keeping the grace which they received.

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