“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.”
King James Version (KJV)
6:4 There went forth another horse that was red - A colour suitable to bloodshed. And to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth - Vespasian, in the year 75, had dedicated a temple to Peace; but after a time we hear little more of peace. All is full of war and bloodshed, chiefly in the western world, where the main business of men seemed to be, to kill one another. To this horseman there was given a great sword; and he had much to do with it; for as soon as Trajan ascended the throne, peace was taken from the earth. Decebalus, king of Dacia, which lies westward from Patmos, put the Romans to no small trouble. The war lasted five years, and consumed abundance of men on both sides; yet was only a prelude to much other bloodshed, which followed for a long season. All this was signified by the great sword, which strikes those who are near, as the bow does those who are at a distance.
Re 6:4 And there went out another horse [that was] red. There appears in the field of view a second horse, no longer white, but as red as blood. The horse is the symbol of war, but the changed color indicates that the conditions of war are entirely changed. It is no longer triumphant war in the dominions of their enemies, while within all is peace, but the land is drenched in blood. And [power] was given to him. Upon the horse sat one with a great sword in his hand, to whom power was given "to take peace from the earth", and to make men "that they should kill one another". To take peace from the earth. The "earth" contemplated by John was the Roman earth, or empire. From it peace shall be taken away. Nor is it to be destroyed by foreign invaders. That they should kill one another. In as plain language as symbolism can disclose, it is indicated that the next great feature of history is that the land shall be torn by civil war. During the period of the first seal the fertile provinces of the Roman Empire never saw the face of a hostile soldier, unless borne as a captive from the distant frontiers, where the Roman generals waged triumphant wars in the countries of their enemies. All was peace within. But now a period of internal war is indicated.