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The Seven Spirits of God Are God
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:4-5)
I. The Truth
Right smack in the middle of God ("Him who is and who was and who is to come") and God ("Jesus Christ") is God, who is declared to be "the seven Spirits who are before His throne."
In Revelation 1:4-5 John proclaims grace and peace from the Godhead (Romans 1:20) in a very detailed way. He declares grace and peace from "Him who is and who was and who is to come." This is clearly the Almighty (Revelation 1:8; 11:17; 16:5). He pronounces grace and peace from Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh (Luke 24:39; Colossians 2:9). Then, sandwiched between these, John declares grace and peace from "the seven Spirits who are before His throne."
Throughout the New Testament similar greetings are given as in Revelation 1:4-5, and they are always from God (e.g. Romans 1:7; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2). Why is this significant? Because this greeting is no different, except in this, in declaring grace and peace from these seven Spirits, John reveals "the seven Spirits who are before His throne" are God Himself.
How could they be before God's throne and be God at the same time? Just as the Son of Man is before His throne in Daniel 7:13 and He is God (John 8:28, 58). Just as the Word is with God, yet also God Himself (John 1:1). Just as the Lord God and His Spirit sent the Lord ("Me" Isaiah 48:16).
Isaiah declares there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:6, 21-22; 46:9). Deuteronomy 6:4 (and Zechariah 14:9 and Mark 12:29) announces about this one God, "The Lord is one." Yet, Genesis 1:26-27 reveals this oneness is in the plural form. There is more to God than just one being.
Likewise, Ephesians 4:4 declares there is one Spirit. Yet, there is the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20) and the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6), and there are the seven Spirits (Revelation 1:4). All of these describe the one Holy Spirit of God.
We may well see the Spirit of the Father as the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:20/Mark 13:11), and the Spirit of His Son as the Holy Spirit (John 7:39; 14:16-18; Romans 8:9), but the seven Spirits are the Holy Spirit? Yes indeed, and this is no new news.
In the Old Testament in the tabernacle of God, the Lord told Moses to make things that were a "copy and shadow of the heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23). One of those things Moses was instructed to make was a lampstand with seven lamps (Exodus 25:31-37; 37:17-23). This lampstand represented the Holy Spirit (see below).
In the tabernacle, there was one lampstand, and this one lampstand had seven lamps (Exodus 25:37; 37:23). This was a copy, a shadow, of the one Holy Spirit (lampstand), who has seven Spirits (seven lamps). Moses made the divinely instructed man-made copy (shadow). John saw the heavenly reality.
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)
John saw the "everlasting burnings" (i.e. God, Isaiah 33:14), seven lamps of fire, and tells us they are the seven Spirits of God.
Zechariah also writes of the lampstand, seven lamps, and seven Spirits of God.
And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he answered and said to me:
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts." (Zechariah 4:2-6)
Later in the chapter, in verses 11-14 the two olive trees are described as representing "the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth" (see Revelation 11:4). So verses 11-14 explain who the two olive trees are. Verse 10 describes the lampstand with the seven lamps:
For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. (Zechariah 4:10)
"These seven" in the context are the seven lamps of the lampstand of verse 2, and they are here described as the "eyes of the Lord" (i.e. part of God). Jesus Christ, who is God, is seen in Revelation as having these same eyes:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6; see also Zechariah 3:9; Revelation 3:1)
The seven "sent out into all the earth" (Revelation 5:6) and the seven "which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:10) are the same seven eyes of the Lord which are the seven Spirits of God. Thus, when Zechariah is compared with Revelation, it is evident that the lampstand with the seven lamps represent the Holy Spirit with the seven Spirits of God.
Moreover, if someone were to argue that the Seven Spirits of God were seven "qualities," as opposed to seven literal spirits, that is, seven spiritual beings, then Zechariah 4:10 removes that argument. Because, in Zechariah 4:10 "these seven rejoice." They "rejoice to see." In other words, they respond to what is happening. These seven also "scan to and fro throughout the whole earth." These are all things that spiritual beings are capable of doing and qualities are not. Qualities cannot rejoice. Qualities cannot see. Qualities cannot respond to things. Qualities cannot "scan to and fro." The Seven Spirits of God are Seven literal Spirits (i.e. seven spiritual beings). They are not seven qualities.
Zechariah also reveals that the lampstand with the seven lamps, that is, the Holy Spirit with the seven Spirits, is the Lord Himself. Zechariah 4:14 declares the two anointed ones "stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." In the context, what are they standing beside? They are standing by the lamp with the seven lamps (Zechariah 4:2-3). In other words, the lamp with the seven lamps is the Lord. Therefore, the Holy Spirit with the seven Spirits is God.
II. The Lies
Sadly, these seven Spirits of God that describe the Holy Spirit are typically rejected by the false Christian world and reasoned away to be something Scripture never describes them to be. For example, The Master's Seminary professor (as of 2006), Robert L. Thomas, in his commentary on Revelation 1-7, An Exegetical Commentary, writes on page 393 that these seven Spirits are a "symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit." Thomas admits they refer to the Holy Spirit, but making them symbolic is folly and the doctrine of men (Matthew 15:8-9).
There is no Biblical reason to believe these seven Spirits are anything other than God, that is God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), and is clearly declared to be seven Spirits (Revelation 1:4). There is no reason to believe these seven Spirits are anything other than just that, seven literal Spirits, who are all the one God, the one Holy Spirit.
Throughout the book of Revelation the number seven always means seven, that is, a plural number with a cumulative total of 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5, 6, - 7. Moreover, there is no reason to believe the seven Spirits are symbolic, since;
1) In Revelation 1:4 "Him who is and who was and who is to come" is not symbolic. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth" is not symbolic (Revelation 1:5). And so, neither is "the seven Spirits who are before His throne" symbolic (Revelation 1:4). Nothing in the text dictates they are symbolic.
2) In Revelation 4:5 the seven lamps of fire John sees are explained to be "the seven Spirits of God." They are not obfuscated to be symbolic of something. The text clarifies them to be "the seven Spirits of God."
3) Likewise, in Revelation 5:6 the seven eyes are explained to be "the seven Spirits of God," and there is no hint to these seven Spirits being symbolic of anything.
4) In Revelation 3:1 Christ says He "has the seven Spirits of God," which is consistent with what is seen in Revelation 5:6. There in Revelation 5:6, Christ, the Lamb, has seven eyes and the text makes known what these seven eyes are - they are the seven Spirits of God. Therefore, the seven Spirits in Revelation 3:1 are the same identical seven Spirits of Revelation 5:6. In both passages the seven Spirits are not symbolic of anything. They are simply declared ("who has the seven Spirits of God," Revelation 3:1) and explained ("which are the seven Spirits of God," Revelation 5:6).
Furthermore, the typical false interpretation of these seven Spirits reasons away the plain meaning of the text into a mush of deceit that is nothing more than great swelling words of emptiness (2 Peter 2:18). For a few examples, note the following:
So the "seven spirits" of Revelation 1:4 are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in His sevenfold completion, perfection, and fullness. (God's Final Word, Understanding Revelation, by Ray C. Stedman, p. 7, copyright 1991)
The seven Spirits do not mean seven different Spirits, but the seven characteristics of the one Holy Spirit. (Revelation - Illustrated and Made Plain, by Tim LaHaye, tenth printing, July 1978)
These are not seven different spirits, but rather the sevenfold fullness and completeness of the Holy Spirit's omniscience and omnipotence." (Revelation, by Lehman Strauss, p. 134, copyright 1965)
Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, and these are stated to be the seven Spirits of God. We have already seen in earlier passages that there is but one Holy Spirit, but that He is in a sevenfold perfection of activity in carrying out the purposes of God. (Revelation An Exposition Commentary, by Donald Grey Barnhouse, p. 92-93, copyright 1971)
Following out the symbolism of the tabernacle, seven lamps of fire are seen burning before the throne, as the seven-branched lampstand burned just outside the veil, before God's throne on earth - the ark of old. These lamps are said to be "the seven Spirits of God," a figure which we have already seen (in chapter 1:4) sets forth, not seven distinct Spirits, but the one Holy Spirit in the sevenfold plenitude of His power." (Revelation, by Henry Allan Ironside, p. 84, 1930 edition)
All of these men reject the true God, who has declared Himself to be "seven Spirits" (Revelation 1:4). Even though they all readily admit the seven Spirits are a reference to the Holy Spirit, they all attempt to thwart the reader away from taking the text of Scripture for what it says. Not a single one of the passages in Revelation support what these men purport. There is no word or implication regarding a "sevenfold"ness, but rather seven Spirits, which these men speak against. By saying these are not seven "different" or "distinct" Spirits, they divert people away from the plain declaration of the text, that is, that it is speaking of seven Spirits; and they attempt to make seven, not mean seven, as it is used in every instance in Revelation. Every time the book of Revelation uses the term "seven," it clearly means seven distinct or different (i.e. not the same) things, and the seven Spirits are no exception (see Revelation 1:11-13, 16, 20; 2:1; 3:1; 4:5; 5:1, 5-6; 8:2, 6; 10:3-4; 11:13; 12:3; 13:1; 15:1, 6-8; 16:1; 17:1, 3, 7, 9-11; 21:9). This does not mean that the seven Spirits are not one, as God is one (Mark 12:29), as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:22). Calling them distinct or different simply points to the fact that they are literally seven Spirits; a fact the false teachers above deny.
Another common lie regarding the seven Spirits and consistent with the above lies is the claim that Isaiah 11:2 somehow supports the symbolic interpretation of the seven Spirits. Charles Caldwell Ryrie writes in his commentary on Revelation,
The "seven Spirits" likely represent the sevenfold ministry of the Spirit as depicted in Isaiah 11:2. (Revelation - Everyman's Bible Commentary, p. 14)
Isaiah 11:2 reads,
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
The typical break down of this passage goes like this:
1. The Spirit of the Lord
2. The Spirit of Wisdom.
3. The Spirit of Understanding.
4. The Spirit of Counsel.
5. The Spirit of Might.
6. The Spirit of Knowledge.
7. The Spirit of Fear of the Lord.
There you have the one Spirit in the seven-fold plenitude of His power. (Revelation, by H. A. Ironside, p. 15-16)
This is simply dishonest! What is written above is not what is written in the text of Scripture (Proverbs 30:5-6). First of all, there are not even seven "Spirit"s mentioned in Isaiah 11:2 as Ironside lays out. The passage begins with "The Spirit of the Lord." Then, describing this Spirit He declares, "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding," and so forth. It does not say, as Ironside explains above, "the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of understanding." Ironside perverts the entire passage putting in "Spirit"s where there are none. That is how he can come up with seven Spirits, by adding them, but even in this he is perverted; because the latter 6 describe the first. Therefore, even if we were to follow his scheme there would only be six (unless the Septuagint was followed, which adds an extra "Spirit" ["the spirit of the fear of God"] and adds an extra "and godliness"). But, in reality, the passage only has 3 (or 4 with the LXX).
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
1. the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
2. the Spirit of counsel and might,
3. the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Secondly, even if there were "Spirit"s in the text where Ironside explains, this would not prove any "seven-fold plenitude" in opposition to a literal seven Spirits of God as Ironside claimed in his commentary on page 84 above. His scheme is simply ungodly and adds to the text of Scripture (Proverbs 30:5-6). And again, even if it were true, it would not prove his point, that is, that the seven Spirits are "not seven distinct Spirits." Isaiah 11:2 says no such thing.
All of this is an attempt to get away from the awesome truth of Scripture, that there is indeed, as Scripture reveals, seven literal Spirits in the Godhead.
III. The Math
Now, if there are seven literal Spirits in the Godhead, what is the total number in the Godhead? Scripture never explicitly says. The Catholic church, along with the Protestant church, typically hold fast to the term "Trinity" (three in one) which is a term that is found nowhere in holy writ. Although the concept of three in one is certainly found (e.g. Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 28:19), it is not as is taught in the Catholic and Protestant Athanasian Creed (see He Is Holy Gods, under point V). Consequentially, those who hold to a "Trinity" typically reject the literal seven Spirits of God of Scripture, because they have fallen prey to the traditions of men (Colossians 2:8-10). In so doing, as the above illustrates, they reject the true God.
If the seven Spirits are accepted, then it becomes apparent that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (who is seven Spirits). Adding this up equals 9, and that is the number of "Holy"s found in the Majority of Greek manuscripts in Revelation 4:8.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! (Majority Text; see also Isaiah 6:3 for a similar statement with three "Holy"s)
This statement is made in the context of the One who sat on the Throne (Revelation 4:2-3), the seven Spirits of God (Revelation 4:5), and the Lamb (Revelation 5:6). Indeed, there is no explanation given, but it is an interesting statement in the light of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (who is seven Spirits), all being the one Lord God Almighty.
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