Who or what are the “seven Spirits” found in Revelation?


by Shawn Brasseaux

We read about them on four occasions in the Bible, and only in the Book of the Revelation:

  • Revelation 1:4: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;….”
  • Revelation 3:1: “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”
  • Revelation 4:5: “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
  • Revelation 5:6: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

A common attempt to identify these seven Spirits is to correlate them with Isaiah 11:2: “And [#1] the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, [#2] the spirit of wisdom and [#3] understanding, [#4] the spirit of counsel and [#5] might, [#6] the spirit of knowledge and of [#7] the fear of the LORD.” However, great difficulty is encountered when linking Isaiah to Revelation. The capitalization in Revelation causes people to conclude that the seven Spirits are actually the Holy Spirit. While it is true that the Holy Spirit is often capitalized in the English Bible (that is, “Spirit”), there are some exceptions. Isaiah 11:2 (quoted earlier) contains one such exception—“the spirit of the LORD” is the Holy Spirit. There are not seven “Holy Spirits.” Neither Isaiah 11:2 nor the Holy Spirit are under discussion in the Revelation passages.

Revelation 1:4 says these seven Spirits send forth a message of grace and peace. They are living entities, beings, not inanimate or nontangible concepts such as the last six “spirits” of Isaiah 11:2. They are called “the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” in Revelation 4:5. Such could not be true of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and knowledge of the fear of the LORD. Again, the seven Spirits in the Book of Revelation are creatures of some kind, individuals with radiant bodies like burning fire (see angels described as such in Hebrews 1:7 and Psalm 104:4). Revelation 5:6 says they are, “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” This helps further identify them.

Before John the Apostle wrote the Book of the Revelation, the Old Testament had already spoken of “seven” special “Spirits.” The capitalization signifies they are not ordinary beings or common angels. They are unique angelic creatures, evidently having a distinctive purpose in God’s plan. While shrouded in mystery, we can find three references to them. They are called “the watchers.”

  • Zechariah 4:10: “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (This end-time Book links to Revelation—the Second Coming of Christ.)
  • Second Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”
  • Daniel 4:17: “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”

Also see:
» Do people become angels when they die?
» Are angels women?
» Do we have guardian angels?