The Spirit

 

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Introduction
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Exposition
  Matthew
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  John 14-16
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Gifts of the Spirit
Inter-Ecclesial Offices
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Index
Epilogue Acknowledgements
Exposition of The Spirit in Revelation
   

Revelation 1:4
"...Grace to you and peace... from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;"(RV, MARS) (cf. 4:5)

The salutation in verses 4 and 5 comes from three sources:

  1. "From him1 which is, and which was, and which is to come" (v.4) i.e. the Lord God2 Almighty (v.8).
  2. "From the seven spirits which are in the presence of the throne of him" (DIAGLOTT) mentioned in point 1.
  3. "From Jesus Christ" (v.5). i.e. the Son.

To help us understand what the seven spirits refer to, can we now look with John at the open door of chapter 4 and see as well as we can what he saw?

Inside the door was a THRONE.
Round his throne were 24 ELDERS.
Before the throne were 7 LAMPS OF FIRE.
Also before the throne were CHERUBIM.

What John saw through this open door was a temple scene, very much like what an Israelite of old might have seen had he peeped through the door of Solomon’s temple, except that this temple had no veil, and one could see right into the most Holy Place.

The THRONE was the equivalent of the MERCY SEAT.
The ELDERS were like the 24 COURSES OF PRIESTS.
The 7 LAMPS were in place of the 7 LAMPS3 of the 7 BRANCHED LAMPSTAND.
The SEA was like the SEA in Solomon’s temple.
The CHERUBIM were like the CHERUBIM over the ark.

These seven lamps are also called the "seven spirits of God". Those seven lamps stood before the throne in heaven, just as in Solomon’s temple the flames of the MENORAH burnt in the Holy Place before the veil.

You will see from the diagram that we have represented these lamps, or spirits, as Angels. This is because we find later that there were seven angels standing before God (Rev. 8:2) and because of the Psalm which connects the two ideas,

"Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flaming fire". (Psa. 104:4)

These seven spirits are seen later as belonging to the Lamb; but then they are also called ‘eyes’

"having seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth". (Rev. 5:6)

These ‘seven eyes’ remind us of the ‘seven eyes’ on the symbolic stone placed before Joshua in Zech. 3:9; and of the flames on the seven - piped lampstand, which were also called ‘eyes’ (Zech. 4:10).

All these symbols are therefore connected; and we have lamps, spirits and eyes all meaning much the same thing. But there is one more symbol in Scripture which connects with all these; in Rev. 1:20 the stars in the right hand of the One like the Son of Man are called the ‘angels of the seven churches’, the lampstands representing the ecclesias themselves. You can see that the same idea is being used here as in Zechariah, in the vision of the seven lamps before the throne, and the seven eyes belonging to the Lamb. But the burning lights on the lampstands are called stars.

So we have four connected symbols, flaming lamps, spirits, eyes and stars, all of which are the same in essence.

What we have here is, again, the same kind of heavenly symbolism we have already met with so often. The stars in the sky are, basically, part of the symbology of the rulership of the heavens over the earth. Naturally, as they run across the sky from east to west, they are like a multitude of eyes, watching over the deeds of men; and so they are a fitting symbol for the ‘eyes of the Lord’ which run through the earth. But the means of God’s rulership over the earth is as often as not the work of angels. Thus the stars of heaven are a fitting symbol for angels -in fact, in Scripture the phrase ‘host of heaven’ is used equally for stars and angels. So stars, spirits, lamps and eyes are all symbols of the rule of the angels over the earth under the hand of God.

But why are there here seven angels? We know that angels, called ‘Elohim’, were particularly concerned with. God’s seven creative acts on the earth. These seven angels, then, before the throne, are particularly symbols of angels as God’s creative force, which can also be a destructive force, pulling down the created things in seven opposite acts to those of creation. So it is these seven angels who set in motion the trumpet and vial judgments on the earth, which result in the things of the old creation being destroyed, so that God may create all things new.

In conclusion we see that "the seven spirits" are angels. (cf. Heb. 1:7, 14).


1 It is interesting to note that the Codex Vaticanus has "God" in the text.
2 "God" is in the Greek text. (NEST)
3 Thus a clear distinction is made between the lampstand and the lamps which were placed on that stand. The "lamps" provided the "light" for the "lampstands".

Revelation 1:10
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day..." (cf. also 4:2; 17:3; 21:10)

Might not these words mean that John actually received1 that2 vision3 on the ‘Day of the Lord’, i.e. the day of the Lord’s judgement on the Jewish nation in AD 70? The evidence of John 21:22 is that John tarried till Christ came in judgement. "Tarried" means "lived until". Now Christ "came" in AD 70, so John would have lived at least until after that.

There is another line of reasoning which supports the suggestion above and it hinges on the general principle expressed in Amos 3:7:

"Surely the LORD God does nothing
unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets."

The Olivet prophecy takes us up to and including AD 70. It is suggested that the Apocalyptic vision was seen at the end of the Jewish age and that (on the basis of Amos 3:7) the Apocalypse takes over where the Olivet prophecy leaves off.


1 Please note I am not suggesting here that John wrote at this time.
2 Other visions were received later.
3 through the gift of prophecy

Revelation 3:1
"... He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this ..." (cf. 5:6).

The notes on Rev. 1:4 have demonstrated that the seven Spirits are the seven stars:

i.e. Spirits are angels (Heb. 1:7, 14)
The 7 lamps are 7 angels (Rev. 8:2)
The 7 lamps are 7 Spirits(4:5) therefore
The 7 eyes are 7 Spirits (5:6)
The 7 stars are 7 Angels (1:20)

Also in 5:6 we see that the "seven horns" of the Lamb "are the seven Spirits of God". It is therefore possible that the figure hendiadys is employed here. As each noun conveys a different aspect of power, both are employed.


Revelation 16:13,14
"I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; For they are the spirits of demons working miracles..."

The interpretation of this verse will depend on how we identify the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. Some just look at the world situation and see which powers could cause Armageddon. However we must interpret this verse contextually, otherwise we may be deceived1 by these spirits.

Our only Scriptural background on frogs is in Exodus 8 where the frog plague was to teach the Egyptians that they worshipped the wrong deity. The frog was regarded as a symbol of the frog god ALLED HEQUIT, the chief deity in upper Egypt and was a symbol of pro-creative power. The frog, therefore, indicates false religion.

The only major false religion that claims to work miracles (Rev. 19:20) and causes craft to prosper (Dan. 8:21-25) is Catholicism. Since we have identified frogs with false religion, it follows that the "spirits" are the teachings or instructions of those mouths which believe this false religion that causes the action of the gathering of the nations.

We know, for example, that the Spirit is the Truth. Therefore "unclean2 spirits" in this context must be the falsehood3 that these three entities [the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet4] share. They are the spirits of demons because their policy is one of madness or insanity driving them on to the war of "the great day of God Almighty".


1 Just as the Roman Catholic counter-reformation developed Jesuit futurist interpretations to deceive protestant readers and take the heat off themselves, so they developed the deceitful diversion that Islam was the False Prophet and fought the crusades. Again this new theory was initiated by the Catholics to take the heat off Protestant expositions that claimed the Pope was the false prophet. See Bible Magazine volume 14 #2, pages 14 & 15.
2 Grk. akathartos =impure (Y) from ‘a’ (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative meaning ‘cleansed’. The word therefore, means ‘impure’ both ceremonially and morally (i.e. lewd) or especially demoniac. (S). It means in this context a religion not purged, pruned or cleansed.
3 see notes on Matt. 12:43
4 Christadelphian expositiors for decades have identified the dragon with the eastern leg of the Roman empire, the beast with Europe, and the False prophet with the Papacy. E.g. Eureka and What The Spirit Saith unto the Ecclesias, J K.

Revelation 18:2
"Fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird."

There is a double meaning to the words employed here. The context states basically that because of her immoral worship, Babylon will suffer desolation. Now we know and the Bible states that the same was true of ancient Babylon. What we see, therefore, is that the demons, evil spirits and birds represent two things:

  1. figuratively false worship then
  2. literally desolation.

The first is clearly evident in the context. Verse 3 is joined to verse 2 by "for" which means that it explains that verse. We have, therefore, the explanation that:
Verse 2 Verse 3
  1. demons =
  2. foul spirits =
  3. unclean birds =
the wine of her impure passion.
(religious) fornication.
the merchants of the "earth".

These symbols can be further defined as

  1. false teaching (idol worship) (cf. Jer. 51:7)
  2. false worship (audiences)
  3. a system in which priests cause sales of relics, souls, etc. (priestcraft).

Because of these things, Babylon the Great will suffer the same demise as ancient Babylon. Only the goat, howling desert creatures and unclean birds will dwell there.

There are 3 passages in the O. T. that speak of the end of ancient Babylon in terms equivalent or similar to this verse: Isa. 13:21; 34:14 and Jer. 50:39. (cf. Isa. 21:9.

The table will illustrate the meaning of the symbols in Rev. 18:2:
She has become a dwelling place of:
demons shaggy goats1
(demons - LXX)
hairy goat (demons - LXX) crier4 (ROTH)
mad (v. 38)
every unclean spirit howling desert creatures (hyenas, jackals) howling desert creatures (wolves?, wild dogs) howlers (ROTH) jackals (NASB)
every unclean and hateful bird3 owls, ostriches Night hog (screech owl, AV) owls, ostriches
Rev. 18:2 Isa.13:21 Isa. 34:142 Jer.50:39

In Jer. 50:38 it says:

"They are mad upon their idols." The same Hebrew word halal occurs in Jer. 25:16 and is the result of drinking wine. The same idea occurs in Jer. 51:7. Keil says the word means to act or behave like a madman, rave, or let oneself be deprived of reason. (This is almost the equivalent of the Gk. word "demon" as used in the NT.)

The punishment upon Babylon (Rome) for being drunk with the wine of the false teaching about idols which has deprived them of reason (to be mad), is destruction and the placing there of wild goats which cry much like the idol worshippers. (Jer. 50:39 ROTH). The punishment for false worship will be the howling (or wailing) of the kings of the earth (v.9) and their replacement by howling desert creatures. As for the priests that consume "flesh" like the scavenger birds,5 they will be replaced by every hateful unclean bird.

Conclusion

The Spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3), because it is the spirit of error (v.6), is an "unclean spirit" that claims to have Spirit powers. Because of its claim to infallibility and possession of the keys, Rome has succeeded in seducing the kings of the earth with her evil spirits (teachings, cf. John 6:63).


1 The LXX has demons. The AV Satyrs is misleading and unfortunate.
2 A judgement strictly speaking on Edom but surely we can see the connection with Rome.
3 Leviticus 11 defines unclean birds as the: eagle, vulture, buzzard, kite, falcon, raven, ostrich, sea gull, hawk, pelican, carrion vulture, stark, heron and bat.
4 cf. Isa. 34:14 The "hairy goat shall cry" (NASB). This is exactly what those thought to be possessed by demons do.
5 cf. Rev. 19:17,21. The Greek ‘orneon’ (bird) is probably connected with a word signifying to perceive, to hear (V). The priests of Rome cause people "to hear" by promoting idol worship in their sermons.

Revelation 19:10
"... For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"

This could mean one of two things:

  1. The real reason (spirit) of this6 prophecy is for the testimony of Jesus not the worship of Angels.
  2. The prophecy of this6 Spirit (i.e. Angel) is for the testimony of Jesus.

6 The article is present (cf. DIAG).
Revelation 22:6
"the God of the spirits of the prophets" cf. 1 Cor. 14:32.

Spirits here means "inspired utterances". This angel was the same angel that inspired the prophecies of Old Testament prophets.