In the second part of this series, we saw that the white horse revealed in the first seal represents the early church in its purity. It lasted from Christ's ascension into heaven in 31 A.D. to the death of John the last apostle around 100 A.D.
Click Here for Part 1 of this series: Opening of the Seals
Click Here for Part 2 of this series: The Rider on the White Horse
This note is part three.
In the second part of this series, we saw that the white horse revealed in the first seal represents the early church in its purity. It lasted from Christ's ascension into heaven in 31 A.D. to the death of John the last apostle around 100 A.D. This period of purity in the early church parallels the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. Itwas a time when the believers in the early church held no false doctrines and actually lived the life of Christ - giving to the world the most powerful witness ever seen and felt. They truly loved their fellow man, healed the diseases of the people and had God's miraculous power with them because of their genuine faith and purity. Satan was rapidly loosing the subjects of his kingdom. They left him to follow Christ. Sadly, there hasn't been this living witness to the world by most of Christianity (with few exceptions) since that time. That will change shortly before probation closes when the last message of mercy is given to the whole world - which is the Three Angel's Messages swelling into the Loud Cry (Revelation 14:6-12 and 18:1-4). Christ will pour out the Latter Rain upon His faithful few, and that will be more powerful than the witness of the early church. It will be earth's final opportunity given in infinite love, and many will take their stand with Jesus. Let us pray that we all be among those who do.
Satan suffered a near fatal blow to his evil cause from the early church. He was powerless to stop the tide turning against him, but he had two deadly responses prepared. The first was to exterminate God's people through persecution, and the second and most effective was to corrupt them from within with false doctrines, sin and the love of the world. This would destroy their purity and our text (Revelation 6:3,4) bears this out:
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 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.
And their went out another horse that was red
In part 2, we saw that when a horse (or horses) is used symbolically in prophecy, it represents those who claim to be God's people carrying His message of salvation to the whole world (see Zechariah 10:3,4 and Habakkuk 3:8,9,13 and Zechariah 1:8-10 and Matthew 28:19,20).
Remembering that the color white on the white horse represents the purity of life and doctrine among the people in the early church, we see that almost immediately after 100 A.D. the early church lost all this and its Spirit-filled witness. It quickly became corrupted with sin, false doctrines and the love of the world. The Bible represents this sinful state by the color red (or scarlet and crimson) on the horse (church) of the second seal:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Satan also is symbolized by a great red dragon in Revelation 12. His great whore in Revelation 17 and the blasphemous beast she sits on also have red/scarlet color on them. This further shows that the color red (scarlet or crimson) is a symbol of sin, corruption, abomination and disobedience to God's Law (1 John 3:4). We can now see why red is associated with Satan and his whore and the beast she rides:
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with goldand precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Jeremiah even described God's "horse" (Israel and Judah) at the time of their apostasy as clothing themselves in crimson and jewelry - like the great whore of Revelation 17 does (God's true church wears none of these things - Revelation 12):
And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
So when we see this red horse in the second seal, it is a clear description of how God's church got corrupted with sin and love of the world. They quickly began to depart from God's law. This corruption came almost immediately after John the last apostle died. By then, the "mystery of iniquity" that Paul mentioned as already working in his lifetime started to corrupt the church much more rapidly.
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4,7(1-10 for context):
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (the second coming of Christ)shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (the antichrist);
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple (or church - the christian people, not a building) of God, shewing himself that he is God.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul's concern was so great that he warned the early church for "three years" with "tears" that this would happen. He exhorted them to keep to the Word of God as their guide, but the early church (Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7) "left" Jesus their "first Love". As a result, this "mystery of iniquity" - the predicted antichrist whom John warned the early church about - was the spirit of antichrist already in the world in his day. It corrupted the purity of the early church causing the "falling away" mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10:
1 John 4:3:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
After Paul and all the apostles died by 100 A.D., the church from then until 323 A.D. became more worldly and began mixing Roman pagan rites and beliefs with Bible teachings and practices. Humbleness departed in large part, and pride and ambition followed. Instead of taking the Bible as their teacher, the people began to follow teachings from the "church fathers" - scholars and leaders called "apologists" and "polemicists". Some of the key ones were Tertullian, Marcion, Origen, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Cyprian and others. They mixed idolatrous Greek philosophy with Biblical teachings, and perhaps unwittingly influenced the church to accept error mixed with truth. For example, Tertullian of Carthage, who lived from 160 AD to 225 AD, was one of the most influential bishops in the early church. He taught that a man can reconcile himself to God by doing certain works of penance:
 ... "On whom are you lavishing all this [many works of penance]? "let him say, "I have sinned against God, and am in peril of eternally perishing: and so now I am drooping, and wasting and torturing myself, that I may reconcile God to myself, whom by sinning I have offended."
Tertullian, De Penitentia (On Repentance), Chapter XI (11). Translated to English by S. Thelwall (www.tertullian.org)
Clearly, this is not according to the Bible - which tells us that our works can't reconcile us to God or gain forgiveness. Only God's goodness leads us to repentance (or penance not of works, but of faith in Christ to forgive us our sins), and God reconciles us to Himself by Jesus Christ, not by our works of any kind:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
2 Corinthians 5:18:
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Tertullian also taught the unbiblical principle that fornicators and murderers should never be admitted into the church under any circumstance (see Specific Teachings of Tertullian, #7). It is unbiblical because God will forgive and redeem from any sin - even murder and fornication, but not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
Tertullian also taught false teaching such as praising celibacy over marriage, second marriage as adultery (even if the spouse cheated), separation of the soul from the Body, Apostolic succession (which helped develop the office of Pope), Jesus not equal to but subordinate to the Father and more. See Wikipedia: Tertulian's Moral principles and Teachings.
He also taught an eternally burning hell which he borrowed from Greek Philosophy, which got it from Egyptian idolatry, which got it from Babylon. This caused people to begin to look at God out of fear rather than love, to repent because of fear of eternal fire, rather than repent because the love of God draws us to Himself:
 If you shrink back from exomologesis (repentance), consider in your heart the hell, which exomologesis will extinguish for you; and imagine first the magnitude of the penalty, that you may not hesitate about the adoption of the remedy. What do we esteem that treasure-house of eternal fire to be, ... ... though they (those in eternal hell) start asunder, though they be devoured, yet come they never to an end.
Tertullian, De Penitentia (On Repentance), Chapter XII (12). Translated to English by S. Thelwall (www.tertullian.org)
Cyprian, another church father and a student of Tertullian, developed further false doctrines. He taught that priests were sacrificing when they offered up Christ's body and blood in Communion services. This was later developed into the Catholic mass which is a repeated sacrifice of Christ necessary for salvation, rather than Christ's dying on the cross once and for all (Hebrews 9:28 - "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many ..."). See Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, page 111.
Even the Sabbath and the Law of God came under assault. These and many other false teachings from Greek Philosophy divided the church and they still tarnish Christianity today. To get a summary of these teachings and how they corrupted the church, see pages 95-117 of Earle E. Cairn's book, Christianity Through the Centuries. This was in spite of Paul's warning that we not be spoiled by philosophy:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
As a result of all this, sin became more common. These things laid the foundation that established the Roman Catholic church particularly after 323 A.D. These historians summarize Christianity during the second, third and early fourth centuries (100 A.D. to 323 A.D.):
"Christianity began already to wear the garb of heathenism. The seeds of most of those errors that afterwards so entirely overran the church, marred its beauty, and tarnished its glory, were already beginning to take root. Ministerial parity, which had undoubtedly existed under the ministry of the apostles, was now beginning to yield to the encroachments of ambition, and that distinction of grades began to be established that ended in the Papal Heiarchy."
James Wharey, Sketches of Church History (1840 edition), page 39
"The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptized. Rome was transformed as well as converted. ... The office of Pontifex Maximus (chief pagan high priest) was continued in that of the Pope. ... Christianity could not grow up through Roman civilization and paganism, however, without in turn being coloured and influenced by the rites, festivities, and ceremonies of old polytheism. Christianity not only conquered Rome, but Rome conquered Christianity. It is not a matter of great surprise, therefore, to find that from the first to the fourth century the church had undergone many changes."
A. C. Flick, The Rise of the Medieval Church (Putnam's, 1909 edition), pages 148,149
"In the interval between the days of the apostles (100 A.D.) and the conversion of Constantine (323 A.D.), the Christian commonwealth changed its aspect. The Bishop of Rome—a personage unknown to the writers of the New Testament—meanwhile rose into prominence, and at length took precedence of all other churchmen. Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use,and then claimed the rank of divine institutions. Officers, for whom the primitive disciples could have found no place, and titles, which to them would have been altogether unintelligible, began to challenge attention, and to be named apostolic."
William Dool Killen, The Ancient Church, Preface (page xvi in original edition)
Phillip Schaff, another great historian on Christian history had this to day about this time period:
"We now descend from the primitive apostolic church to the Graeco-Roman; from the scene of creation to the work of preservation; from the fountain of divine revelation to the stream of human development; from the inspirations of the apostles and prophets to the productions of enlightened but fallible teachers."
Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, (1st paragraph of section 2 - General Character of Anti-Nicene Christianity)
This is how God's church lost its purity and worldliness came rushing in like a tsunami. We can all learn from this that the Bible and the Bible only is our safeguard from corruption. We can't afford to follow preachers, pastors, priests or any man, church or anything. We must go by the Bible without interpreting it ourselves. Scripture is to interpret scripture and must be clear from the words themselves comparing all what the Bible says about a topic.
At the same time God's church was under assault by Satan through the mixture of Greek philosophy with Bible teachings, Satan influenced the Roman Empire to persecute the church in an attempt to kill every Christian. At first, persecution was in different areas at different times throughout the Roman Empire. Christians were burned by fire, had wild animals set on them and other cruel forms of death in the Roman Colosseum. Nero and other emperors where especially cruel in these persecutions.
The worst of the persecutions during this time was by Emperor Diocletian, who issued and edict in 303 AD to wipe out every christian. This was the first and only attempt of persecution throughout the whole Roman Empire. Jesus encouraged the church at this time (corresponding to Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11):
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Remembering that a day is a year in Bible prophecy (Ezekiel 4:4-6; Numbers 14:34), we see that ten years later, Constantine was emperor and issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD that outlawed persecution of Christians and made Roman Christianity equal with other religions. It produced the beginnings of the foundations of uniting Christianity and the government - or church uniting with the state. The following years would prove that this would lead the church into further apostasy and darkness. In 323 AD, Constantine became a Catholic christian and the church-state union was much more established. Now, ambition and hunger for power was prevalent in the church in place of the humbleness of Christ who didn't seek these things, but worked to save, heal and help people.
As persecution didn't work, but actually helped many more to come to Christ, Satan decided to stop this policy and corrupt the church from within. We will see in the next part how he furthered this process as God's church didn't listen to His warnings and thereby forfeited the only way not to be deceived.
God bless you all.