And I saw when the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and the one sitting on it had a bow. A victory crown was given to him and he went out conquering and in order that he might conquer. Rev 6:1-2.
The Book of Revelation is carefully structured, although many aspects of that structure elude most twenty-first century readers. The first half of the book focuses on the general realities of the whole Christian age. One finds references to the cross, the preaching of the gospel, and the kinds of events that go on all the way from Jesus' day to the end of the world. The second half of the book, on the other hand, focuses almost exclusively on the final events of earth's history.
When you see parallels between the first and second halves of the book, therefore, the first part of the parallel tends to focus on the general realities of the whole age, while the second part looks back on the Christian age from the perspective of the End. For example, in the first part of the book God is praised for creation (4:11) and for redemption (5:9,10,12,13)--events already in the past at the time Revelation was written. In Revelation 19:1-6, on the other hand, the same language of praise is lavished on God's deliverance of His people at the end of history.
In a similar fashion, white horses appear in only two places in Revelation. The white horse of Revelation 6 is parallel to the white horse of Revelation 19. Both riders wear crowns, but different Greek words are used for the respective crowns. The rider of our passage wears a stephanos crown, a crown of victory. The term is used for the "olympic gold medal," the token of victory received by olympic athletes when they win a race. The rider in chapter 19, on the other hand, wears the diadem, the royal crown of rulership. In the first half of Revelation Jesus and His people are repeatedly referred to as overcomers, like olympic athletes. The one who overcomes like Jesus will receive the crown of victory. In Revelation 19 Jesus puts an end to all opposition on the earth, He can now wear the crown of royalty.
I will never forget the Olympics of 1960. The greatest moment for me and for most Americans was the victory of the American hockey team over the Soviet Union. The high feelings elicited by the Cold War raised the excitement of the game to unimaginable proportions. On top of this was the fact that the Russian team was made up of thinly veiled professionals, while the Americans sent college boys into the fray. The "miracle on ice" will never be forgotten.