Words and Phrases
The Seven Spirits
The expression, THE SEVEN SPIRITS, occurs four times in the book of Revelation. A comparison of these usages reveals the likely interpretation of the meaning.
Rev. 1:4: shows the seven spirits BEFORE THE THRONE —a symbol of the position of SERVICE.
Rev. 3:1: points out that Jesus also has these spirits, that 1:4 showed them to be God's is here strengthened by stating that they are "OF GOD."
Rev. 4:5: "defines" these spirits by equating them with another symbol, SEVEN LAMPS OF FIRE (which also are "before the throne.") A lamp, of course, is a light source: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa. 119:105) This text testifies the meaning of the lamps. The number seven shows the totality of God's truth. These are lamps of fire because truth burns away error.
Rev. 5:6: again equates the seven spirits with a symbol —the seven eyes of the lamb (or, possibly, both the seven horns and the seven eyes.) That these eyes are "sent forth into all the earth” calls to mind 2 Chron 16:9 and Zech 4:10.
Chronicles is especially helpful in that it gives the reason these eyes (the watch care of wisdom) are sent throughout the earth: to show God’s POWER on behalf of His saints. Since HORNS symbolize POWER, the seven horns (complete Divine power) and the seven eyes (complete Divine wisdom) are combined on behalf of the Church.
CONCLUSION: If the seven spirits are, in essence, the Holy Spirit, the greeting in Rev. 1:4, 5 lists God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus.
The number seven (Divine wholeness) symbolizes the fact that the influence of God which we call the Holy Spirit is TOTAL in its ability to handle the affairs of the universe as well as the affairs of His Church. Jesus intimated the far-reaching importance of this spirit for the good of the Church when, in John 14:26 and 16:7, he pointed out that the spirit would do things for them as a group (throughout the age) that he could not accomplish for them if he were personally present.
If the number seven is also used literally to show seven specific functions of the spirit, those seven are not obvious. POWER, WISDOM, and TRUTH were specified in these verses. Four more would have to be found.
The logical initial meaning, then, of the seven spirits is that it represents the Holy Spirit of God in its myriad applications. It is quite logical that the expression simply shows the function of the Holy Spirit in each of the seven churches —having an individuality of function as needed for each Church.” (New Albany Notes on Revelation, Appendix B, #67)
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