There have been several theories as to the identity of these seven spirits.

1. Because the first appearance of this phrase comes between a reference to God as Father (i.e., Rev. 1:4) and Jesus the Messiah (i.e., Rev. 1:5), many commentators have asserted that it definitely referred to the Holy Spirit (note NASB capitalizes "Spirit").  This is possible, but not certain.  This same phrase is also used in Rev. 3:1; 4:5 and 5:6.  In these other instances it is not at all certain that it is a reference to the Holy Spirit unless an allusion from Zechariah 4 is assumed.

2. Others believe that it is an allusion from Isa. 11:2 from the Septuagint, where the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit are mentioned.  However, in the Masoretic Text there are only six gifts mentioned.

3. Those of a Jewish inter-biblical background would identify these with the angels of the presence as the seven archangels before the throne of God (cf. Rev. 8:2).

4. Others relate them to the angels or messengers of the seven churches which are mentioned in Rev. 1:20.

Notice that Rev. 1:20 identifies

1. the seven stars (cf. Rev. 1:16,20; 2:1) as the angels of the seven churches (i.e., Revelation 2-3)

2. the seven lampstands (cf. Rev. 1:12,13,20; 2:1) are the seven churches

But there is no identification of "the seven spirits."  Number 4 above is an assumption but with no specific textual support. Seven is such an important symbolic number in the Bible.  See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture.


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