A mysterious topic. I can’t help be feel there’s something that I’m missing; something I should understand. I thought I would re-examine the subject and see what I come up with. So, I will to explore this a litte further. It’ll be a learn as I go study, and I hope you’ll come along. No doubt this will be a longer article than usual as I explore different ideas.
I’m familiar that the First Book of Enoch refers to seven angels that are watching over creation. That may be an interesting read, but I’ve always found that scripture defines scripture. I’ll stay with the canonized scriptures. If I can’t find it in the Bible, I don’t worry about it. Someday all things will be made known, and I’ve gotten this far without having all the answers. I wouldn’t be surprised that when I die, I still won’t know everything. 🙂
I’m also familiar with Isaiah 11:2 that says, “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” This scripture is the go to scripture to explain the “seven spirits of God,” and this may very well be true. I accepted this interpretation though the sentence structure, in my non-English major thinking, seemed to describe six characteristics of the Spirt. The Spirt of the Lord being the subject of the characteristics and not one of the characteristics.
Yet, I can understand how someone can see seven spirits in this verse:
- The Spirit of the Lord.
- The Spirit of wisdom.
- The Spirit of understanding.
- The Spirit of counsel.
- The Spirit of might.
- The Spirit of knowledge.
- The Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
As I said, this may very well be true. It makes a lot of sense, but I’m not convinced it’s the end all. There’s that “scratching inside” that says there’s more to this that I should know. I’ve learned to followed this intuition, and it’s been extremely helpful and reliable. I’ll often pray about this “gut feeling” and ask the Lord for wisdom and understanding, and then let Him reveal His word to me. I’ll study, but if nothing happens, I’ll let it go and not worry about it. God’s big enough to communicate with me. I’ve done my part.
If this verse in Isaiah describes the seven Spirits, no harm, no foul. Maybe we’ll get a deeper meaning.
Jesus And The Seven Spirits of God
I’d like to start with Revelation 5:6, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
For me, this scripture rules out “The Book of Enoch” interpretation. This directly connects (literally) Jesus and the Seven Spirits. Angels just aren’t in that class. Jesus alone can go before the Father as the Lamb of God. So whoever the Seven Spirits are, they’re in the divine class.
The Seven Spirits of God, as we see, are attached to Jesus. They’re shown here as “seven horns and seven eyes.” It seems to me that the horns represent that which is all powerful, and the eyes represent that which is all seeing and knowing. I don’t see how this can’t be the Spirit of God.
This description still fits with Isaiah 11:2.
How is the Spirit of God connected to Jesus? First, the Spirit and the Word are one, and Jesus is the Word made flesh. Second, this scripture sums it up: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
How is the Spirit of God connected to Jesus? Jesus was born of the Spirit, and Jesus is anointed with the Spirit. Revelation 5:6 describes the life and anointing of the Spirit of God upon Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, meaning “the anointed one.”
The Lamp Stands and The Spirit
The seven golden lamp stands in Revelation 1:20 are the seven churches.
Zechariah 4:1–6 reveals the relationship between the lamp stands and the Spirt. The Spirit of God flows through the Church of God giving it life.
The two olive trees in Zechariah 4:1–6 feed the lamp with olive oil. Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit and is used to anoint someone when dedicated for the work of the Lord.
It’s the Church of the Anointed One that has the Spirit of anointing. Jesus uses the Body of Christ to carry out the work of Christ in the earth. The anointing of Messiah is in the Body of Messiah.
Now the question is, “When did the anointing come on Jesus?” We know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). That means the person and character of Jesus has never and will never change. But was He always anointed when He walked on the earth? If not, when did He become anointed?
We see the Spirit coming on Jesus when He was baptized by John: “Then Jesus, when He had been baptized, came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32, 33).
Before Jesus was anointed by the Spirit, we know the person and character of Jesus was the same as after He was anointed. So what changed after He was anointed, or baptized, in the Spirit?
The first thing that happened is He started His earthly ministry. So it stands to reason that the anointing of God is manifested in the ministry gifts of (1) the apostle, (2) the prophet, (3) the evangelist, (4) the pastor, and (5) the teacher (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), so He operated in all the ministry gifts. After His resurrection, He distributed these anointings to those He placed in the various ministry offices.
But that’s only five anointings of the Seven Spirits of God. We’re still missing two.
The Fruit of The Spirit
The fruit of the spirit are not anointings — they’re fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). They’re an outward expression of an inward working. All Christians are to develop in the fruit of the spirit. These characteristics are what makes Jesus the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s the vine and we’re the branch, this is the fruit we’re to produce (John 15:1–8). The fruit of the Spirit isn’t for ministry but for character. The Spirit of God came upon Jesus, not that He would bear fruit, but to be anointed to minister.
Power To Witness
Jesus said in Acts chapter one that they shall receive “power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me” (Acts 1:8).
How did this power manifest? The first thing we see is the disciples speaking in unknown languages. Often referred to speaking in tongues and praying in the spirit. The Bible says this is how we “edify” ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4), pray in the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15), give perfect thanks (1 Corinthians 14:17), build ourselves up in our faith (Jude 20), and pray about things we don’t know how to pray about (Romans 8:26).
The next manifestation of power in the Acts of the Apostles was the preaching of Peter, and the other apostles. They preached the Word with power and many came to the Lord. They were also anointed to be in the office of the apostle.
Later we see Philip anointed for the office of the evangelist (Acts 8:4-8; 21:8).
Then we have Stephen (Acts 6–7). He was just a helper in the church and it’s not recorded that he was called to the five-fold ministry (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher). Yet he preached with wisdom and power and mighty signs and wonders were done through him. So there has to be more to receiving “power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” than the ministry gifts. This power has to be available for all of us to witness with.
If we stopped here, we would see the Spirit manifesting in tongues and the five-fold ministry gifts. Still, that would only equal six of the Seven Spirits of God. Yet, even at this point we see something happening beyond the these six manifestations. We see some miracles happening. I have to ask myself, “Does that fit in somehow?”
The Manifestation Of The Spirit
We also find in the Bible what is referred to as the “manifestation of the Spirit” also referred to as “the gifts of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7–11).
There are nine manifestations. We can group them in three sets of three:
- Three that say something (vocal gifts): Prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
- Three do something (power gifts): [Wonder-working] faith, working of miracles, and gifts of healings.
- And three that reveal something (revelation gifts): Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits.
(This isn’t the place to go into detail about these manifestations or gifts.)
Still, there are nine manifestations of the Spirit (or anointings), and that’s more than the “seven Spirits of God.” And even if we place all the gifts into one group, that would equal six anointings and not seven.
If we go back to the Book of Acts, we see the very first thing that took place in the Church when the Holy Spirit came is the disciples began to speak in tongues (languages). So, if we were to take the five-fold ministry gifts, place all the gifts of the Spirit into one group, and take the first gift given on the day of Pentecost (speaking in tongues), it would equal seven.
- The five-fold ministry gift anointings = 5
- Speaking in tongues = 1
- Manifestations of the Spirit = 1 (?)
- Equals 7 (?)
Honestly, I think this is stretching things a bit, and it’s too easily defeated as an argument. If I’m going to count the five-fold ministry gifts separately, then I can think of no reason to count the nine manifestations of the Spirit separately. It’s not a tight enough fit.
So far, Isaiah seems to remain the go-to scripture for the Seven Spirits of God.
The Spirit of Life
The Holy Spirit is also called “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Perhaps this completes and explains the scripture in Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Lord is more than the six characteristics we see in Isaiah 11:2. He has all the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, all the anointings there can ever be, and, of course He manifests in all the gifts of the Spirit. Yet, He’s more than that, He’s God Himself!
I suppose I just solidified and am satisfied that Isaiah 11:2 is the go to scripture for the meaning of the Seven Spirits of God.
Stay strong and prepared.