Revelation 4:5: The Holy Spirit in Ministry


In Revelation 4:5 John is describing his vision of the throne of God in heaven. Out of the throne come flashes of lightening and sounds and peals of thunder. John saw seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. These seven lamps represent the seven spirits of God.

The phrase "seven Spirits of God" occurs four times in the Book of Revelation: 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6. Scholars put forward several views concerning the meaning of this title. Each of these views has something worthwhile to say. Today, we will draw from these views to present the Holy Spirit in Ministry.

One, let us stand in awe at the display of God's power!

Our text describes an awesome display of sight and sound! The lightening and thunder proceed from the throne of God. God shows His power in various places and with different purposes. Here, many writers are reminded of how God manifested Himself at Sinai in thunder and lightening (Exodus 19:16 and 20:18) at the time of the giving of the Law. Thunder and lightening symbolize the divine power and glory.

Whatever the Spirit does, let us be in awe. In both the Old Testament and New Testament the Spirit is connected with whatever God is doing. Many times an incredible display of His power is involved. The only thing for us to do is to exalt God's incredible power. His manifested power calls for the deepest respect on our part. Along with being in awe, we can actively praise God for all that He is and does.

Two, the Holy Spirit empowers for mission!

John sees seven lamps of fire, which he says are the "seven Spirits of God." Elsewhere (see Revelation 1:4 and 3:1), I have presented several views about the seven Spirits. Along with others, my position is that this expression refers to the Holy Spirit. Some authors go further and emphasize various aspects of the presence and work of the Spirit.

According to Lenski, the seven Spirits of God represent the Holy Spirit in His divine mission. We are not surprised by this. The Holy Spirit, in the Scriptures, if often connected with mission. It is He who empowers all believers to accomplish the Great Commission, which is the mission of Christ. The "seven Spirits of God" empower many aspects of the mission.

Those who believe in Christ are mission oriented! As believers, we know that our destiny is to work with Christ to establish His Kingdom in the hearts of men. When Christ returns, the Kingdom will be established on earth as well. The mission is clear; our obedience ought to be full and complete.

Three, the Holy Spirit's ministry and presence is full!

Another view is presented by Ladd who thinks the seven Spirits of God represent the fullness of the Spirit. He writes: "We have already met the symbolism of seven to denote the fullness of God's Spirit (1:4). Here, the Holy Spirit is mentioned probably not so much with reference to his regenerative and sanctifying work as to his work in the creation and preservation of the natural world (Gen. 1:2; 2:7; Ps. 104:29f.)."

Horton says that this phrase is ''probably a reference to the sevenfold Spirit on the Messiah prophesied in Isaiah 11:2 as well as to the sevenfold lamp in Zechariah 4:2, 6, 10." In Isaiah 11:2 we read:

And 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."

As believers, we have the privilege of being "filled" with the Spirit. The Spirit will manifest Himself in all aspects of His ministry. He will touch all aspects of our lives and will work fully through us.

Four, the Holy Spirit ministers to each of us individually.

Another author by the name of Swete gives a different explanation. He holds that the spirits are seven because the churches are seven. He knows that the Spirit is One but the spirits are seven in the sense that the Spirit is in relationship with each of the seven churches. He says that the Spirit manifests Himself to the churches according to the needs of each.

As far as we are concerned, this suggests that the Spirit relates to each of us individually as well as to all of us corporately. The Spirit knows our need and deals with us according to our need. The Spirit knows your name, your heart, your spiritual needs, and all the rest of your needs. He works divinely in our lives for the benefit of us and the world.


John saw an awesome sight in his vision of the throne in heaven. There were flashes of lightening and sounds and peals of thunder. And he saw seven lamps of fire burnng before the throne. These lamps represented the seven spirits of God.

All agree that the Spirit of God is One, but He is represented here by the term "seven Spirits of God." Scholars have different views about the meaning of this term, but we can learn from each view. We have learned that this term can represent the Spirit in His manifold mission. Also, it can represent the fullness of the Spirit. Finally, we see in this term the fact that the Spirit relates to us individually as well as collectively. No wonder that we stand in awe when we are in the presence of God. Exalt Him today!