Then I saw the [one who appeared as a] Lamb [who had been slain] open the first of the seven seals [sealing the top of the scroll, and begin to unroll the scroll, unrolling it until he came to the next seal].
[Immediately] I heard one of the four living creatures command with a voice like thunder, [This is the first of a series of seven recorded thunders, which will lead to the seven thunders of chapter 10, which John was told not to record.The thunderous voice commanded:], "Go!"
Then I looked [in a different direction], and there I saw, obediently, a white horse going out [with a rider upon it]! Its rider had a bow, and a victor's crown had been given to him. He went out as a conqueror [having already conquered, and ruling therefore, and waging war with authority. going out] to conquer [what remained to be conquered]. [This seal is the authority to govern all final judgments in the earth.]
Then the lamb opened the second seal. [When he had broken the second seal and rolled out the second section of the scroll], I heard the second living creature [being understood to have the same voice of thunder as the first living creature, (without it needing to be stated) this being, (here implicitly), the second recorded thunder in the series], command, "Go!"
And [in response to the command] a second horse went out. It was fiery red, and its rider was given permission to take [social] peace away from the earth [removing the basis of law and order], so that people began to slaughter one another [citizen against citizen, neighbour against neighbour]. So he [the rider on the red horse] was given a large sword [to provoke universal conflict and violence within society]. [This seal is the authority to govern all specific judgments upon human relations.]
Then he [the Lamb] opened the third seal [and unrolled the third section of the scroll]. I heard then the third beast [again, with a voice of thunder, — the third (implicitly) recorded thunder], command, "Go!"
[Right away] I saw a black horse; it had a rider who had a pair of balances in his hand. I heard a [still thunderous] voice coming from the midst of the four beasts saying, "A [standard] measure of wheat for one cent, and three [standard] measures of barley for one cent; [resulting in most producers being unable to earn a living from their produce], but see that you do not hurt the [price of] oil or wine". [This seal is the authority over all specific judgments in the realm of human livelihood. It is a measured authority, which will be seen to be for the sake of the servants of God.]
When the lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature command, "Go!"
[Again, immediately following the thunderous command], I looked, and [this time] there was a pale green horse! [It was made known to me that] its rider's name was Death, and Hades [always] followed him. They were given authority over one-fourth of the earth to kill people using wars, famines, plagues, and wild animals [or other natural disasters]. [This seal is the authority over judgments that involve unnaturally cutting human lives short, before repentance has opportunity to be complete. A special measure of this authority must be granted in the time of the great tribulation, but this authority is so great that it has to be precisely measured and limited, lest no flesh should be saved.]
[The fourth authority was the authority to bring history to an end and therefore had to be a restrained authority for the sake of God's choice to be gracious to the seed of Abraham. Accordingly, a new form of vision will be seen to be be appropriately to represent the authority which comes with the opening of the remaining seals].
[Now then, in a new order of vision we find]: When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw the [Temple] altar [in heaven. And it appeared that there were many] souls under the altar. [It was made known to me that these were the souls] of those who had been slain for the sake of the word of God and on account of the testimony they had given.
[And as soon as this was made known to me], They [this multitude of souls] cried out in a loud voice, "Holy and true Sovereign, how long will it be before you judge and take revenge on those living on the earth who shed our blood?" [Here in the opening of the fifth seal, like in the opening of the first four there is a great loud voice which speaks. Here, as in the previous three cases, it is not stated explicitly that this loud voice of the multitude of souls beneath the altar is thunderous, but this is understood, as the multitude is heard as one loud voice, and this thunderous sound immediately follows the opening of the seal, as did the thunderous voices of the four living creatures.]
Each of the souls under the altar was given a white robe. They were told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants, their spiritual siblings, was completed. For there were still those who would be martyred as these souls had been.
[The authority of the fifth seal is the authority to call upon and move the sovereign grace of God for the delay of the end of history, for the sake of the chosen people. The authority of the seventh seal will be like unto it, the authority to set into motion the judgments and actions that bring about the revelation of the mystery of God in and through the complete and final redemption of the chosen people of God. The authority of the sixth seal, which will now immediately be opened, is, then, the authority to set into motion the acts which will result in the end of all delay that was included under the fourth and fifth seals in the ending of history.]
Then I saw the Lamb open the sixth seal. There was a powerful earthquake. The sun [appeared] clothed [as a mourner] in black mohair sackcloth, turning the full moon as red as blood. [Day was as dark as night and night was as dark as death.]
Stars began to fall from the black sky to the earth like a fig tree drops its fruit when it is shaken by a strong wind.
Then the sky itself vanished like a scroll being rolled up, [as if the prophecies that the present heavens would pass away were about to be fulfilled] and every mountain and continent was moved from its place [as if the whole earth was about to be remade].
Then the kings of the earth, the important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, as well as common workers and all common citizens [tried to flee the cities] and conceal themselves in underground shelters and among the rocks in the mountains.
[There were multitudes who could not get into underground chambers.] They told the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
For the great day of their wrath is come, and who [on earth] is able to face it? Who will survive it? Who would not rather die immediately than live to see the terrors of such wrath?"