Ephesus: Apostolic Age First Seal: Purity 31 CE – c. 100 CE
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you; that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” Rev. 2: 2-7
The early church, from Jesus’ ascension into heaven until the death of those who knew Jesus personally, is often called the Apostolic Age. Here they are commended for their work and tenacity that was motivated by love for Jesus. But as time went on their motivation changed and was replaced by something else, perhaps a sense of duty. Jesus’ promise to them is that they will be in paradise.
“…the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and…I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” Rev. 6: 1, 2 (see Appendix 2 for an explanation of horses in prophecy and in visions)
The white color of the horse denotes the purity of the early church, and the rider represents the apostles spreading the word and conquering paganism.
Smyrna: Martyrdom Second Seal: Roman Persecution c. 100 CE – 312 CE
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life…He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” Rev. 2: 9-11
The church during this time may have been poor when it came to money and power to protect itself, but it was rich spiritually. There was fear in the church due to the persecutions but Jesus says they will have eternal life.
“…He broke the second seal…And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” Rev. 6: 3, 4
The red color of this horse denotes the spilling of the blood of the saints. Beginning with Nero, the Roman Emperors often persecuted Christians for one reason or another. But late in the first century CE, the emperor Domitian demanded everyone within his empire to worship him as divine, but Jews and Christians refused. This began a full-scale persecution and makes it easy to identify the rider of the red horse as the office of Emperor.