What are the Seven Spirits of God?

We take a look at a reference in one of the Bible's most mysterious books.

The availability of the Bible is an amazing gift to us. There have been movements with leaders that discouraged people from reading the Bible, emphasizing the dangers of misunderstanding God. However, the Bible is full of encouragement to know God’s Word and to spend time with it. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." And Jesus says in John 16:13 says "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” The Holy Spirit will be at work in you as you read the Bible, leading you to truth and understanding.

That said, there are sections of the Bible that can be mysterious. Revelation is a book filled with symbolic numbering and imagery, and rich in references to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition.  

The phrase "the seven spirits of God" appears in Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6. The spirits are not identified, so we can't say what they are with complete certainty. It's possible that they are one of the groups of 7 angels seen in heaven. Revelation uses the number seven very often to mean completion and perfection, so we could also say it's possible that it's a reference to the complete and perfect Holy Spirit. I think the most satisfying answer would be apparent to those readers of the book with Jewish heritage, which was the primary audience John had in mind when writing Revelation:

Isaiah 11:2, 3

And 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 the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

Here we have the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, and of the fear of the lord. Bringing the number to 7 could be the Holy Spirit. In this case, the seven spirits of God could be understood as “facets” or "characteristics" rather than "beings". It's possible John had another set of characteristics in mind that would have been well known to the churches he was addressing.

Keep reading the Bible, keep appealing to the Holy Spirit for understanding, and enjoy getting to know God in the revelation of His Word!