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What are the Seven Spirits of God in Revelation?

As believers in Christ, we hold dearly the truth in the Bible that our God is one, yet three–Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). How then can we reconcile this divine fact with the apostle John’s vision of the seven Spirits of God in Revelation (Rev. 1:4)?

What are the Seven Spirits in Revelation?

 

Also how can we reconcile the fact that Ephesians 4:4 speaks of “one Spirit” while Revelation 1:4 speaks of  “seven Spirits”?

This apparent contradiction unfolds a divine mystery of profound significance that affects our present Christian experience. As such, it’s worthy of our consideration.

The Seven Spirits of God in Revelation

How can the Spirit of God be both one and seven?

It’s a matter of essence and function or economy…one in His essence, yet seven in His function.

But let’s look at the context of Revelation…

The Blessing of the Divine Trinity including the seven Spirits of God

John’s opening greeting in Revelation 1:4-5 says,

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth.

The blessing to the receivers of Revelation is from the Divine Trinity. “Him who is and who was and who is coming” surely refers to God the Father. “Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth” obviously refers to God the Son.

But how do we see the Spirit?

Undoubtedly, “the seven Spirits who are before His throne” mentioned in this blessing refers to the Spirit in the Godhead. This is because the seven Spirits are ranked with God, the eternal Father and Jesus, His Son.

However, if we acknowledge that the seven Spirits here refer to the Spirit in the Godhead, we must address how the one Spirit of God, was revealed to John as being “the seven Spirits.”

Seven Spirits needed in the condition of degradation

The condition when the apostle John was writing to the seven churches in Asia was very dark. If you read the epistles to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 there was much the churches needed to overcome.

Though their condition is prophetic of the seven stages of church history, it was the actual condition of each church at the time John was writing Revelation.  They are also the degraded conditions we need to overcome today.

Ephesus – the church leaving her first love for Christ – Rev. 2:1-7

There was the leaving of the first love by the church in Ephesus (v. 4)…a condition we also face today. May the Lord recover us to our first and best love for Him. How can we be constrained to return to our first love?…through the operating of the seven Spirits.

Smyrna – the church suffering intense persecution – vv. 8-11

Then there was the church in Smyrna that received no rebuke as she was suffering severe persecution and needed to be faithful unto death (vv. 9-10). How can the church overcome such persecution?…by the empowering of the seven Spirits.

Pergamos – the church in union with the world – vv. 12-17

Then there was union with the world that pervaded the church in Pergamos (v. 13). How can the worldliness within the church be purged away?…by the exposing and operating of the seven Spirits.

Thyatira – the church full of mixture and apostasy – vv. 18-29

The deep things of Satan had corrupted the church in Thyatira (v. 24). How can the church be saved from such mixture and corruption?…only by the burning and judging of the seven Spirits of God.

Sardis – the church in deadness and incompleteness – 3:1-6

The church in Sardis had become dead with none of her works completed before God (3:1-2). She had fallen short of God’s goal. Is this not  also the condition of the church today? How can the church be saved from deadness and incompleteness? …only by the intensified operation of the seven Spirits.

Philadephia – the church in recovery needing to hold fast – vv. 7-13

The church in Philadelphia alone received the Lord’s praise. But she also needed the Lord’s strengthening to hold fast what she had so that no one might take her crown (v. 10-11). How can the church hold fast what she has received?…only by the strengthening of the seven Spirits of God.

Laodicea – the church in lukewarmness and opinions – vv. 14-22

Finally, the church in Laodicea became lukewarm and opinionated, thinking she was rich, but not realizing that she was poor, blind and naked (vv. 16-17). Christ was standing outside this church knocking to gain entrance (v. 20). How can the church be delivered from such a lukewarm, opinionated, and Christless situation?…only by the enlightening and burning of the seven spirits.

Every church needed those who would rise up to respond to the Spirit’s speaking and overcome the degraded situation to be the testimony of Jesus that God requires.

Intensified sevenfold to produce overcomers

Such a dark and degraded situation, caused God to take a particular action in order to fulfill His eternal purpose and economy. The church in general has failed God, so He needs some overcomers, those that will respond to His call and rise up to overcome the prevailing downward current of the church in this age.

To counteract this dark and degraded situation, God came in to intensify His Spirit sevenfold in order to produce overcomers.

In existence God’s Spirit is surely one (Eph. 4:4).  But in His economical function, God’s one Spirit had to become the “seven Spirits of God,” that is, the sevenfold intensified Spirit.

The seven Spirits being seven lamps of fire

Revelation 4:5 says,

“And out of the throne come forth lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

These seven Spirits are for intensified shining, like a seven-way lamp.

When there is plenty of light, you may hardly need any lamps. The darker the situation gets, the more light we need.

Depending on the light we need, we may use a three-way bulb, with three gradients of brightness. A three-way lamp may be sufficient for our home but not for God’s move in this dark age.

To overcome today’s spiritual darkness we need sevenfold intensification, that is,  the function of the sevenfold  intensified Spirit of God.

The seven Spirits being the seven eyes of the Lamb

Revelation 5:6 says,

“And I saw…a Lamb standing as having just been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into gall the earth.

In this verse the seven Spirits of God are the seven eyes of the crucified, resurrected and ascended Lamb, Jesus Christ. What an amazing vision, the intensified Spirit of God, the third of the Divine Trinity is the eyes of the Lamb, the Second of the Divine Trinity.

In The Divine and Mystical Realm Witness Lee explains this profound revelation:

“For producing the church the life-giving Spirit is sufficiently strong, but under the degradation of the church this strong Spirit has been intensified sevenfold. Thus, Christ has become not only the life-giving Spirit but also the sevenfold intensified Spirit. The seven Spirits being the seven eyes of the Lamb (Rev. 5:6) indicates that the seven Spirits and Christ are one person.” (The Divine and Mystical Realm, pp. 11-13,15-16)

This does not change the eternal coexistence of the Three of the Godhead–the Father, the Son and the Spirit. But in carrying out God’s eternal purpose, Christ had to become the life-giving Spirit in resurrection to indwell us. Then to counter the church’s degradation, this one life-giving Spirit had to be intensified sevenfold to produce us as His overcomers.

How can we apply the seven Spirits of God to our Christian experience?

First, we need to ask the Lord to open our ears.

We need to ask Him to grant us ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the churches.  Hence, at the end of each epistle to the seven churches it says,

 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

We need to pray, “Lord grant me an ear to hear what your intensified Spirit is speaking to the churches.”

Second, we need to see our desperate need to overcome.

We need to see the degradation of the church today as portrayed by the condition of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3  mentioned above. We also need to be desperate to overcome it.

Third, we need to open ourselves to the sevenfold Spirit’s intensified operation.

We need to open ourselves to the enlightening, searching, burning and infusing of the seven Spirits. His shining must become subjective to us.

We need to allow the seven Spirits which are also Christ’s seven eyes of flaming fire (Rev. 5:6) to search us, expose us, and burn away all the dross of the church’s degradation within us. We also need to allow the seven Spirits to infuse us with what God is, through His Word. For this we need to open to Him in His word every day.

Our Response and His Reward

If we respond to His speaking, the intensified operation of the seven Spirits will make us Christ’s overcomers, those who overcome the downward current of the church’s degradation and complete the building up of Christ’s Body in this age (Eph. 4:15-16).

Christ’s built up Body then becomes His beautiful bride prepared for His wedding at His coming back (Eph. 5:27). The bride prepared by such an intensified work of the seven Spirits will be the New Jerusalem as the overcomers’ reward in the millennium (Rev. 19:7-9), and the eternal portion to all God’s redeemed for eternity (21:2, 9).

May we all respond to work of the seven Spirits to become the overcomers that will bring the Lord back!

If you were helped by this post, please respond with a brief comment to share what you enjoyed.

References and Further Reading

  • This post is based on the ministry of Witness Lee especially his footnotes in the Holy Bible Recovery Version. You can read it online at online.recoveryversion.bible.
  • You can read the quote from The Divine and Mystical Realm in its context at ministrybooks.org.
  • To gain a fuller appreciation for the seven Spirits in Revelation, I also recommend a thoughtful reading of Chapters 8, 22, and 33 of the Life-study of Revelation and Chapter 1 of The Seven Spirits for the Local Churches both by the same author also at ministrybooks.org.
  • The following hymn on the seven Spirits touches the essence of this post:  In Revelation See

 

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

6 Replies

  1. Pat

    Thank you for thus explanation brother. It was nourishing and supplying to me. Oh Lord, grant us ears to hear what Your intensified Spirit is speaking!

    1. Tom Smith

      Pat,

      Glad you were nourished and supplied by the post. Yes, may the Lord grant us ears to hear what His intensified Spirit is speaking. Receiving His speaking, will bring in God’s intensified operation in us and make us the overcomers the Lord needs to be His testimony and instrument to consummate this age. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Rev. 1:4 clearly shows that the seven Spirits are in the Godhead. Also, many verses in Revelation speak of “the Spirit” (e.g. 2:7, 14:13). Thus the seven Spirits are not separated but, as this post shows, the one unique Spirit is intensified sevenfold. We have an intensified need and the Spirit is the intensified supply.

    1. Tom Smith

      Don,

      That’s right. I like what you said, “We have an intensified need and the Spirit is the intensified supply.” We need to enjoy Him in an intensified way to become those who overcome the church’s degradation. Even more, the sevenfold intensified Spirit is needed so that God can gain us to meet His need making us His golden lampstands (His shining testimony), His overcoming bride (that our Bridegroom can return), to consummate the New Jerusalem (for His and our eternal marriage). How crucial the intensification of the Spirit is in fulfilling God’s eternal purpose!

  3. Debby Rose

    Thank you for this explanation truly rewarding to hear such truths and expanding knowledge for the books that speak about what can be confusing subjects

    1. Tom Smith

      Debby, the seven Spirits of God revealed in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:4, 4:5 and 5:6) are for our experience today. We need to beseech the Lord to bring us into the experience of Himself as the seven Spirits in the stage of His intensification. Such an experience will deliver us from the degraded situation of the church today and enable us to be among those overcoming ones (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-38; 3:5, 12, 21) who meet His need today so that He may have the way to complete His eternal plan and return to end this age. Thank you for your comment.

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