The Sevenfold Spirit of God EGP Blog post from November 20, 2005

“This is the message from the One who has the Sevenfold Spirit of God.” Revelation 3:1 (NLT)

Where does this concept come from?

In the book of Revelation, the term “seven spirits of God” or “sevenfold Spirit of God” is mentioned several times.

Revelation 1:4–5 (NLT)

[4] This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit° before his throne; [5] and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the commander of all the rulers of the world. All praise to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.

Revelation 1:4 Greek the seven spirits.

Revelation 3:1–2 (NLT)

[1] “Write this letter to the angel of° the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit° of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive-but you are dead. [2] Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God.

Revelation 3:1a Or the messenger for; also in 3:7, 14.
Revelation 3:1b Greek the seven spirits.

Revelation 4:4–5 (NLT)

[4] Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. [5] And from the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven lampstands with burning flames. They are the seven spirits° of God.

Revelation 4:5 See 1:4 and 3:1, where the same expression is translated the sevenfold Spirit.

Revelation 5:6 (NLT)

I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits° of God that are sent out into every part of the earth.

Revelation 5:6 See note on 4:5.

Why “seven spirits” or “Sevenfold Spirit”?

For what it’s worth, biblical numerology posits that the number seven often represents perfection, completeness, or fullness. Therefore, assuming that this is a reference to the Holy Spirit, the “sevenfold Spirit of God” could signify the Holy Spirit’s fullness and perfection. This is the most widely accepted interpretation, and is why The New Living Translation renders it this way. This is supported by Revelation 3:1 stating that, “This is the message from the One [i.e., Jesus] who has the sevenfold Spirit of God [i.e., the Holy Spirit] and the seven stars [i.e., the angels of the churches],” thus delineating the two.

However, there’s nothing explicit in these passages that say that it definitely is the Holy Spirit, as it says that they (plural) are before God’s throne. This vision could be delineating Father and Spirit, just as the Son sits at the Father’s right hand Colossians 3:1), but it’s also possible that these “spirits” are angels, as the terms are used interchangeably. (Hebrews 1:7, 13–14)

Assuming they are angels, then the question becomes: which angels? Contextually, you could be looking at “the angels of the seven churches,” since Revelation is stated to be for the seven churches in Asia. (Revelation 1:4) This makes some sense, since the seven lampstands are also “standing before God” metaphorically in this vision and Revelation 4:5 says that the “seven lampstands … are the seven spirits of God” and Revelation 1:20 says that the “seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Though, technically it says that the stars are the angels, not the lampstands. Thus, it would seem to lean toward either being the Holy Spirit or other spirits/angels that aren’t “the angels of the seven churches.”

Another view is that these are the seven archangels mentioned in The Book of Enoch. The Book of Enoch is not considered canonical scripture by most (though it is by some). It is part of the Pseudepigrapha (i.e., it is “falsely attributed,” in this case to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah). While The Book of Enoch is quoted in Jude 1:14–15 and alluded to in 2 Peter 2:4, these do not serve as endorsements for the entire book, they arguably provide some merit to it. Regardless, in the Book of Enoch, seven archangels are highlighted as particularly significant “watchers” set over various aspects of creation and play special roles in the heavenly realm:

  1. Gabriel – often portrayed as a messenger angel, Gabriel in the Book of Enoch has a particular role in the destruction of the wicked and the evil spirits
  2. Michael – one of the best-known archangels, Michael is often depicted as a warrior angel who fights against the forces of evil and protects the righteous
  3. Raguel – this angel punishes those in the celestial realms who violate God’s will
  4. Raphael – known as the “healer of God,” he is tasked with healing the Earth and the wounds of its inhabitants
  5. Remiel – sometimes called Jeremiel or Jerahmeel, he is believed to be an angel who watches over those who rise in the Judgment Day
  6. Sariel – he is known to be an angel who holds dominion over spirits who sin against God
  7. Uriel – often described as the angel over the world and Tartarus (a deep abyss), Uriel is frequently depicted as a bringer of wisdom, enlightenment, and prophecy

Ultimately, it’s not 100% clear and has been convincingly debated as being seven spirits/angels standing before God or the Sevenfold Holy Spirit standing before God the Father.

What are the seven spirits?

Another interpretation is that it is the Holy Spirit and that it’s alluding to seven specific attributes or roles carried out by Him. Some scholars attribute this to a verse from Isaiah.

Isaiah 11:2 (NASB)

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

  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 the Fear of the Lord

While this is interesting, it feels more like six to me, where the first one is an overarching term and the remaining six are breakouts. So, I did a comprehensive search for “spirit of” in the Bible, and came across exactly seven role-based results!

  1. The Spirit of Truth (a.k.a., Understanding)
  2. The Spirit of Power (a.k.a., Might)
  3. The Spirit of Love
  4. The Spirit of Self-Discipline (a.k.a., Counsel)
  5. The Spirit of Wisdom
  6. The Spirit of Judgment (a.k.a., Fear of the Lord)
  7. The Spirit of Life

I. Spirit of Truth

John 15:26 (NLT)

“But I will send you the Counselor°-the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.

John 15:26 Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Advocate. Greek Paraclete.

John 16:13 (NLT)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

1 John 4:6 (NLT)

But we belong to God; that is why those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

II. Spirit of Power

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

III. Spirit of Love

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

IV. Spirit of Self-Discipline

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The word translated as “self-discipline” here is the Greek word “sophronismos” (G4995) and is from the base of “sozo” (to save/deliver/redeem) [G4982] and “phren” (gut/mindset/instinct) [G5424]. So, it could literally be translated as “The Spirit of Saved Mindsets/Instincts.” The Holy Spirit’s goal is not to make us rely on our own will/abilities/strength for discipline, but to rely on God to rescue our minds and reclaim our instincts, knitting them to Him.

V. Spirit of Wisdom

Deuteronomy 34:9 (NLT)

Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Proverbs 1:23 (NLT)

Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.

VI. Spirit of Judgment

Isaiah 4:4 (NLT)

The Lord will wash the moral filth from the women of Jerusalem.° He will cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains by a spirit of judgment that burns like fire.

Isaiah 4:4 Hebrew from the daughters of Zion.

Isaiah 19:14 (NLT)

The LORD has sent a spirit of foolishness on them, so all their suggestions are wrong. They cause the land of Egypt to stagger like a sick drunkard.

This spirit was sent to punish the Egyptians, thus, it is of the Spirit of Judgment.

Isaiah 29:10 (NLT)

For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.

This spirit was sent to punish the enemies of Jerusalem, thus, it is the Spirit of Judgment.

VII. Spirit of Life

Revelation 11:11 (NLT)

But after three and a half days, the spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood up! And terror struck all who were staring at them.

Zechariah 12:10 (NLT)

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.

Christ died to give us eternal life.

What is the effect of this Sevenfold Spirit in our lives?

Galatians 5:22–23 (NLT)

[22] But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

It’s hard not to assume there is a correlation between The Sevenfold Spirit as defined above and the fruit of the spirit found here. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they cleanly divide out, but here’s one way to group them:

  1. Spirit of Truth – faithfulness
  2. Spirit of Power – joy
  3. Spirit of Love – love, gentleness, kindness
  4. Spirit of Self-Discipline – self-control
  5. Spirit of Wisdom – patience
  6. Spirit of Judgment – goodness
  7. Spirit of Life – peace

Either way, this fruit is more about a changed life than a theological speculation and division. So, it’s probably a better use of time to consider their deeper meanings.

Love

The quality of warm regard for and interest in another, esteem, affection, regard, love

G26 – agape (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
2) love feasts

Unlike “phileo” (G5368), which is more of a close friendship or adoration, “agape” (G26) is a true/unconditional love.

Joy

The experience of gladness, a person or thing that causes joy, joy

G5479 – chara (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) joy, gladness
1a) the joy received from you
1b) the cause or occasion of joy
1b1) of persons who are one’s joy

Peace

State of concord, peace, harmony, state of well-being

G1515 – eirene (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) a state of national tranquillity
1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
2) peace between individuals, i.e., harmony, concord
3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
4) of the Messiah’s peace
4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)
5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Patience

State of remaining tranquil while awaiting an outcome, patience, steadfastness, endurance, state of being able to bear up under provocation, forbearance

G3115 – makrothumia (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance
2) patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs

Kindness

Upright in one’s relations with others, uprightness, the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity

G5544 – chrestotes (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) moral goodness, integrity
2) benignity, kindness

Goodness

Positive moral quality characterized especially by interest in the welfare of others, goodness, generosity

G19 – agathosune (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness

Faithfulness

That which evokes trust and faith, faithfulness, reliability, fidelity, commitment, assurance, oath, troth, proof, pledge, state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted, trust, confidence, faith, that which is believed, body of faith/belief/teaching

G4102 – pistis (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
1a) relating to God
1a1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
1b) relating to Christ
1b1) a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God
1c) the religious beliefs of Christians
1d) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same
2) fidelity, faithfulness
2a) the character of one who can be relied on

Meekness

The quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness

G4236 – prautes (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) gentleness, mildness, meekness

Self-control

Restraint of one’s emotions, impulses, or desires, self-control

G1466 – egkrateia (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

1) self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)

The word translated as “self-control” here is the Greek word “egkrateia” (G1466) and is from the base of “en” (in) [G1722] and “kratos” (strength) [G2904]. So, it could literally be translated as “inner strength.” Not unlike “self-discipline” above, the the Holy Spirit’s goal is not to make us rely on our own will/abilities/strength for controlling our actions, but to rely on God to provide divine strength in core of our being.