THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD = THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said, "The spirit gives life; the flesh is worthless." (John 14:17) What does He mean? The Bible is a book about spirits, the Holy Spirit, ministering spirits, demonic spirits, personal spirits, the spirit of Truth, and many other types. But, we know little about the subject, except that each person has his own concept of what a spirit might be. Perhaps one thinks of ghosts, or of the Spirit of God which is omnipresent and invisible, or of oneís own invisible spirit. This subject is so important that Jesus might as well have said that the spirit is everything while the flesh is nothing. So, letís examine the topic.
We consider God to be of spirit-nature rather than physical. The Greek word for spirit is πνευμα/pneuma, which can also mean breath or wind. Mat 3:6 speaks of the "spirit of God." Mat 8:16 - "he cast out the spirits." Within a person, Mat 26:41 says "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." In Mark 2:8 "Jesus perceived in his spirit." Luke 1:80 says "the child grew and waxed strong in spirit." Luke 4:14 - "Jesus returned in the power of the spirit." There are many mentions of "unclean spirits." John 1:32, "I saw the spirit descending." John 4:24 says "God is spirit." John 6:63 speaks of the "spirit of truth." Hebrews 1:14 says the angels are all ministering spirits. James 2:26 says "the body without the spirit is dead." Perhaps we should think about the part which spirit plays in our lives?
Christians often speak of the Holy Spirit, but we have little understanding of what that means. The ancient church at the Council of Nicea in 325AD formulated a creed which described God as three persons in one, the Holy Spirit being one of those three. I think of the Holy Spirit as Godís own nature which then emanates forth as His personal expression. Besides the Father and the Holy Spirit, the third person is the Son, which is the Christ. I think of the members of the body of Christ as the very offspring of God, who are specially endowed with His spiritual nature, namely His divine Spirit. If Godís spiritual nature is that which empowers us children of Israel, who make up the body of Christ, then it might benefit us to examine whatever we can learn about His nature. After all, it is our destiny to return to our source as we are compelled to ever struggle our way back along the path of the prodigal on our trip home. It is the Oneness with our Father which we have walked away from, and toward which we work to return. This is our spiritual quest, and it should be helpful if we understand more about the nature of the Father whom we seek. A study of the seven spirits of God, as mentioned by John in his Revelations, might be a good place to begin.
In Revelations 4:5, we read: "And out of the throne come forth lightnings and sounds and thunders; and seven lamps of fire are burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God." These seven spirits were first mentioned in Johnís greeting to the seven churches (Rev. 1:4), as he sent grace and peace from the One God, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ. Greetings from those three, the trinity! Do these seven spirits make up that which we call the Holy Spirit, like the Elect ones make up the body of Christ?
There are many other types of spirits, too. Many are clearly presented as intelligent personal beings. Some individual unclean spirits spoke through persons in whom they dwelt. In Rev. 1:10, John says, "I was in spirit on the Lordís day." It seems that John considered himself in some way to be a spiritual being, and that he could become that self at will, probably in contrast to his physical or emotional self. In Johnís revelations, the messages to the churches began with statements like this in 2:7 "let him hear what the spirit says to the churches." Rev. 1:1 says the vision is a revelation of Jesus Christ, followed with what the "spirit says to the churches." Jesus must be the same spirit who speaks. In Rev. 3:1, "These things are spoken by the one who has the seven spirits of God." Here we see that Jesus HAS the seven spirits, besides being a spirit Himself. Then in Rev. 5:6 we see the Lamb who has "seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God." In this picture, the seven spirits are PART OF the Lamb, namely Jesus. The trinity of persons is quite confusing. On the other hand, it may be is as simple as Godís essence being Spirit, and the expression of Himself results in a body of offspring called the Christ, of whom Jesus is the Head. If this is true, then the seven spirits reveal to us the essence of Godís nature.
The seven symbols which John saw as lamps or torches of fire (4:5) represent "the seven spirits of God," but he doesnít tell us anything more about them. We find a listing of the seven in Esaias* 11:2-3 (Isaiah): "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a blossom shall come up from his root; and the Spirit of God shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom (σοφιας) and understanding (συνεσεως,) the spirit of will (βουλης) and strength (ισχυος) the spirit of knowledge (γνωσεως) and reverence (ευσεβειας) shall fill him; the spirit of fear of God (φοβου Θεου)." It appears that the Spirit of God is the sum total of the seven facets here listed. Here we see the Spirit of God separated into seven characteristics. [*Note: English Bible versions that are based on the Hebrew Masoretic text of 1,000 AD omit the Spirit of Reverence, listing only six. The Greek Septuagint Old Testament of 285 BC lists all seven. Also, I use the Septuagint (LXX) spellings and names, such as Esaias instead of Isaiah.]
In the 4th and 5th chapters of Rev., John describes the different presences around the throne by carefully describing their location, such as upon the throne or around it or before it. The rainbow/halo of verse 3 was around the throne with a greenish cast, like that of an electrical field. The twenty four thrones of verse 4 were around the throne. The four Living Beings of verse 6 were "in the midst of the throne and around the throne" as the natures of Godís Mind. But the "seven torches of fire" were "before" the throne, located specifically and not with a universal presence.
So, it seems that the Holy Spirit might be a special nature of God which has a specific location, and thereby can rest upon an individual uniquely, at Godís will, while not resting upon others. Esaias states that the Spirit of God shall rest upon the rod out of the root of Jesse. His words are a messianic prophecy pointing to Jesus. In this study, we can see that Godís Spirit is NOT something which fills and empowers the universe and all living creatures, but rather is something special which might rest upon a specific individual. In my previous work with the Revelations passage regarding the seven spirits at Godís throne, I mistakenly presumed these spirits to be the powers through which God expresses Himself, first into all four minds/natures and then into the twenty-four elders and then into the Elect, and then into all others. But, I realize that I was wrong about the universality of the presence of Godís Spirit, because Iím seeing here that it can be granted uniquely and specifically. At Pentecost, the Spirit rested on individuals. There are many other instances where the Spirit of God came upon some individual. Sometimes Godís messengers, ministering spirits called "angels," can be forces, even as forces in nature. But a study of "spirits" seems to strongly indicate that they are personal intelligent beings, and even that individual children of God are spirit-beings. God is a Spirit-being; the seven are spirit-beings; individuals are spirit-beings; angels and demons also are spirit-beings.
But, regarding the families of humans, it seems that only Godís family of Israel has such spirit-being identities. Never is there any reference to spirits of animals or of other races. Jesus once sent some of Satanís demonic spirits into a herd of pigs, but they perished. It is consistent with my general theory of the big picture that races other than Israel do not have spirit natures because they consist only of physical and emotional natures.
Regarding the seven spirits at Godís throne, we might think of them as forces which are available to Godís children, but they seem to be more than just forces, rather they are personal intelligent beings who have powers to influence our mental functions. If the seven spirits are intelligent personal beings who have the power to influence us, shouldnít we contemplate this important activity of our Father and thereby be more receptive to His will?
The following will be an examination of each of the seven spirits listed by Esaias, by studying the Greek words for them. I do not consider the common English Old Testament versions because they are translations of the so-called Hebrew text which did not exist at the time of Jesus and was not completed by the Jews until nearly 1,000 AD as what is called the Masoretic Text (MT). I have treated this subject at length in other articles on this website, but will here just briefly mention these few facts for your review. Our ancient patriarchs, like Abraham and Moses and David, spoke the Phoenician language while their neighboring races spoke Aramaic. During the captivities of the eighth and sixth centuries BC, the Israelite captives combined their Phoenician with the Aramaic of their captors and a new mongrel language resulted that came to be called the language of those Hebrews. That new "Hebrew" language did not have its own alphabet until the century before Jesus was born, when it was created as the Herodian script, the same square letter script today known as Hebrew. The translation of the Old Testament books into "Hebrew" was not completed by the Jewish masoretes until nearly 1,000 AD, when it was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as the sacred and original language of the ancient Israelites. The eastern half of Christendom, the Eastern (Russian, Greek) Orthodox church has never accepted that spurious Hebrew text as authentic, to this day, and still uses the Greek Septuagint Old Testament of 285 BC. The modern publishing houses of Bibles, all Jewish, use the Hebrew MT as the basis for the Old Testament. Even worse, no Christian theologian dares to address this subject honestly or his career will suffer. Since I am not dependent upon the approval of sectarian authorities, I am free to include the Spirit of Reverence/Godliness which the Jews omitted from their Hebrew text. So, my Septuagint Bible has SEVEN spirits listed by Esaias, which matches the number of spirits which John saw before Godís throne. Here they are.
WISDOM (σοφίας / sophias) From the early Greek period, sophia described a man who was highly experienced and adept at a specific skill or craft as an artisan. It was not just his skill that was meant, but his superiority in a matter. Various Greek legends tell how wisdom once came down from the gods to men. Originally, it was a possession of the gods alone. At the time of Plato, sophia implied knowing of the being of all that is, something man is not granted to know. In other words, they were thinking of sophia as a higher knowingness than mere superiority in an earthly matter. The four cardinal virtues included wisdom as the greatest, along with manly courage, a sane mind, and justice. Perhaps we all have a pretty good concept of wisdom if we think of it as that which causes a man to choose whatever is best in a situation. While knowledge and understanding provide support, it is wisdom which makes the judgement.
Proverbs 8:12 distinguishes wisdom from knowledge and understanding, and also from will which is another of the seven spirits. "I, wisdom, have dwelt with will and knowledge, and I have called upon understanding."
(Kittelís 10 vol Theological Dictionary of the New Testament gives 63 pages to the review of sophia in ancient Greek literature and in the Bible.)
UNDERSTANDING (συνέσεως / syneseōs) The word used in Esaias 11 is the genitive noun of σύνεσις which in its most ancient root form means Ďto bring together,í somewhat equivalent to our English word Ďsynthesis.í As a verb it meant Ďto perceive.í Its literal meaning is Ďunioní as of two rivers. To understand something is essentially to comprehend it and to have a feel for what was meant. In practice, one considers a new idea from his knowledge of similar or related materials. He brings the concepts together in a consideration that permits him to comprehend the subject, not as a new idea alone, but in light of other known material. For example, if you wish to introduce a new idea, you must first present as a basis for it some information which your hearer already possesses. You first paint him a picture of the background so that the new idea will not stand alone and unrelated. Then, your hearer will have an understanding of your topic. He may or may not have the wisdom to use his understanding for the best result, and he need not necessarily have knowledge of greater details of the topic. But he may still understand your communication in the way that you intended.
WILL (βουλς / boulťs) has Lexicon meanings of "purpose, design, determination, decree" and when used as a verb means "to be willing, to intend, to desire, to will." It does not mean anything similar to the word counsel which is its most common translation. It signifies a determination to a purpose, best translated as "will," which makes much more sense when regarding a quality of God which is a spirit force available to His offspring.
STRENGTH (ἰσχύος / ischyos) Esaias uses a form of ἰσχύς, which means strength, might, power. Certainly, we can understand what strength-of-mind might mean. Some people have weak minds, and some strong. Granted that people are born with widely varying mental potentials, one can strengthen his own mind by using it or can weaken it by unuse. This kind of power becomes meaningful when we consider that it is Godís Elect children who create our perceptible reality by thinking it into being. Godís instrument of creation is the Christ, namely the whole body of Christ, with Jesus as the vine and Israelites as the branches, who as one share beliefs about what is real and what is not. It is that process of believing which forms our time/space/matter world into our perceptions. Today, we would not be deceived by Satanís lies if we accepted the knowledge which the Bible offers, and understood the lessons which God has provided, and exercised our potential wisdom to make better judgments, and used our mental strength and will to reject the lie and adopt the truth. So, we actually do have the potential to perform Godliness; perhaps it is a proper fear of God that we lack. Most Christians will not quest for truth because that might leave them standing outside the church group and even their own families. The Truth is in real conflict with the pablum of Christianity. Preachers admonish individuals to accept by faith what they cannot understand and nothing else is necessary. Preachers are totally ignorant of the working of the Holy Spiritís seven functions, and thereby keep their followers equally ignorant.
KNOWLEDGE (γνώσεως / gnoseōs) In the lexicon, gnosis is first a seeking to know, inquiry, investigation, and only secondly it means knowledge, acquaintance. We might think of knowledge as the simple possession of information, but in the Greek dictionary its primary meaning is a seeking to know, which means an effort to investigate. There was an early Christian group who called themselves Gnostics because they valued most highly oneís personal efforts to know God and His Truth. Some of them unfortunately got carried-away and wrote fanciful mythologies about Godís creation process and the activities of sophia and Godís negative counterpart, the demiurge. The organized church rejected the Gnostics, but remnants of that movement are still active today. What we are considering here is that one of the seven Spirits of God is an influence within us that motivates us to want to know more, and to apply ourselves to that quest.
REVERENCE (εὐσεβείας /eusebeias) The word is one of many from the σεβ- stem, whose basic meaning is in the word σέβομαι. The stem means originally "to fall back before." The prefix of εὐ means good. The word seems to describe oneís response when being impressed by something lofty and sublime. Kittelís TDNT says the word has nothing to do with fear and trembling. Rather, it seems to mean simply awe, which we might view as reverence towards God or parents, piety, or filial respect. My thought is that it means a weak-kneed, unfearing, awe and admiration toward an all-powerful Father who lovingly beckons us closer while we can hardly move because of our unspeakable awe of Him.
FEAR OF GOD (φόβου Θεο / phobou Theou) The lexicon lists as a primary meaning: panic, flight, fear, terror. While the phrase is often interpreted by preachers to mean reverence, that would be a duplication of the spirit described in the paragraph above. We actually have the use of the fear word here, a word which implies terror and extreme fright.
We, as Godís Elect spirit-beings, can express these seven perfect spiritual energies of God in our lives and thereby express Godliness. So, it seems pretty clear that our task is to activate, or call upon, these forces in our lives. Godís divine pageant is all a mind-game; there is no other reality than oneís perception. So, these seven Spirits of God are essential forces which can aid us in our stage-role in the great mind-game drama. As we perfect ourselves, these qualities become our basic natures. As a result of our spiritual process, we can realize that any misery in our earth-lives is caused by us, individually, by failing to express this Godliness in our lives.
My suggestion is that you meditate on each of these Spirits, and then make a personal effort to partner with them in your life. As Jesus indicated clearly, oneís life should be a pursuit of Truth, which is a mental exercise, and which these seven spirits seem designed for. Although, the last of the seven listed above is somewhat upsetting, that may be its purpose. We should think of it as terror, which might perhaps motivate us to apply ourselves a little more faithfully to the search for Godís Truth. It appears that the quest for Truth should be PARAMOUNT for every individual. The Spirit of Terror may be one of the most valuable influences of all, to keep one motivated in his search.
Consider the seriousness of neglecting the search for Truth. II Thessalonians 2:7-12 says: "For the mystery of lawlessness is already working, but one is holding it back yet until he is gone out of our midst. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume by His breath, and will destroy him by the appearance of His coming; him, whose presence is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with every deception of unrighteousness for the ones being destroyed, because they did not accept the love of the truth, so they could be saved. And therefore God sends to them a powerful delusion for them to believe the lie, that all may be judged, the ones who did not believe the truth by having pleasure in unrighteousness."
Here is a frightful warning for every person. It is a picture of the world leader, Satan, who works all his powers to make his great lie enticing to Godís children. This material World is Satanís lie, with all its wonders. It is the God-given task of every child of God to seek the Truth in order to reject this world of lies. There is no higher calling than that. Jesus IS TRUTH, and one must give his life to follow Him, or get CULLED from Godís family. Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser. He removes every branch in me that does not bear fruit." (Jn 15:2) Here we have a warning that should strike terror into every oneís heart. If you do not love Truth so much that you will actively search for it on your own, then God will send you a powerful delusion to cause you to believe the lie, so that you will be judged. Dear reader, are you listening? Do you care about the real Truth, or are you content with what your preacher tells you? Do you realize that it is upon you, personally, to search for Truth? You canít blame your preacher for your beliefs! If you are already under Godís power of delusion, then you will not be willing to hear what this scripture is saying. If you are open to Godís Truth, then I beg you to consider the Spirits of Knowledge and Wisdom and Understanding and Will and Power and Reverence. I beg you to call to your aid the Spirit of Terror, who shall have you trembling in fright because you have neglected Godís Holy Spirit, which consists of these seven Spirits before Godís throne. Jesus said there is only one sin that is unforgivable, the sin against the Holy Spirit. If you reject these Spirits, then you may be in danger of passing the point of no return, and God will never again prompt you to seek Him, nor will He strike terror in you in order to keep you pointed in the right direction.
Very simply, the condemnation is this, that there is no afterlife for any person who rejects a personal search for the Truth. That means any person who is content with this worldly life of home, family, career, church, and the good life. One must accept for himself the personal responsibility to seek the Truth, which is Christ. (Note: no matter that you claim Christ as your own, if you don't seek Truth, then you don't have Him, and you are further deluding yourself that you are "saved." To believe in Him is to own Him in Truth.) If you neglect that intense-pursuit for Truth, then your branch (you) ceases to exist when your flesh dies and there is no life beyond the grave for you. Philosophers from ancient times and mystics through the ages have realized that the world of our senses is not the ultimate reality. Rather, there is some kind of mind, idea, thought (Logos), or designer behind this world which we hallucinate and call "real." That thought or idea is MENTAL, therefore THAT is the "real," and this visible world is just an image (chimera/figment/delusion/dream) which is then perceived by your mind. The dreamer and the perceiver are one and the same, caught in a nightmare which has no separate reality. Interestingly, during the past century particle physicists and quantum physicists have concluded that there is no such thing as a particle of matter. Rather, there is only thought which is operative as both cause and perceiver of "matter." What does this mean for you? It means that you are a spirit-being who has been deluded into believing that this world is real. You have believed (owned as your own truth) the lies of the great deluder, and you are trapped in this delusion unless you personally seek the Truth-of-Christ which alone can set you free. You are one unique character/experience of God's Mind that has the task of finding your own way out of your bondage. Jesus' redemptive payment makes it possible for you to succeed at your task, IF you undertake it. Available to assist you are seven intelligent Spirits of God, all mental/spirit-beings who as a group are called God's Holy Spirit. Should you reject the task for which you were born, you are rejecting the Holy Spirit, and that is the unforgivable sin which Jesus warned against. If you find contentment in this world-of-your-delusion, then you are neglecting the only reason for your existence and you, as a spirit-being, will cease to exist when your figmentary flesh dies. Ultimately, finding the Truth is Heaven (life during the coming ages of the Kingdom of God), while neglecting the search for Truth is hell (to perish, cease to exist).
In the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, we read about the work of the Holy Spirit: "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are different kinds of ministries, and the same Lord; and there are different kinds of operations, but it is the same God [Note the trinity here] working in all things. But to each is given the manifestation of the spirit for benefit. To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom, and to another a word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another the workings of powers, and to another prophecy, and to another discernings of spirits, to another kinds of tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues. The same Spirit works all these things, distributing individually to each one as He determines."
With this article, I pray that God will work powerfully within you who reads it, to seek the Truth for yourself, and to find the assurance that Jesus offers to us who are God's sheep.
by Roger Hathaway, May 2005
return to index of Articles