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The Church of Sardis

By Greg Rangel 

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God…” (Revelation 3:1).

The phrase about the “seven Spirits of God” has boggled the minds of many throughout history. And due to that many heretical doctrines have appeared on the scene. But to what is it meaning when it says, “…the seven Spirits which are before his throne”? you might be asking. And to Whom is it referring to? 

This is something that we have already dealt with back in Revelation 1:4. But to refresh our minds, we do know that this is a reference to the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt about that. But why does it refer to the Holy Spirit here as the “seven Spirits?” 

It is a well-known fact that much of the imagery of the book of Revelation is borrowed from the Old Testament. And I believe that the answer is also found in the Old Testament itself. In Exodus 37:17-23 the Lord commanded Moses to make a golden candlestick with six branches. Since then, and throughout Scripture, the oil that kept the branches lit came to figuratively represent the Holy Spirit. That is why even today we come to use the “anointing oil” as a figure of the “anointing of the Holy Spirit.” 

In Numbers 8:1-4 Moses was commanded to make the candlestick and everything else according to the pattern that was shown to him, and this for a very good reason. The reason being, because it was a shadow of the true tabernacle that exists in heaven, in which the true High Priest, being Jesus Christ, was going to minister at, also, where the Holy Spirit would also be at, which is being represented by the oil that keeps the lampstands burning. 

The Greek word translated as “seven” is ‘hepta’. While this word does most commonly mean “seven”, it many other times it means “sevenfold“. The “Sevenfold Spirit of God,” or as the book of Revelation says it, “the seven Spirits,” is wonderful terminology used by the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this reference to the seven Spirits which are before the throne of God, is a reference to the Holy Spirit. It is just in a characteristically symbolic language, as are many other things in the book of Revelation. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. But in reality Jesus is not literally a lamb, only symbolically. So too, the Holy Spirit is not seven literal spirits which are before the throne of God, only symbolically. 

This symbolism is brought up because as the oil was in the seven wicks of the lampstand, so too the Holy Spirit is in the seven wicks of the lampstand. And according to Revelation 1:20, the seven lampstands are the seven churches.  

When examining Scripture, it is impossible to insinuate that the Holy Spirit is seven persons, as some might believe, or that the God Head is made up of nine persons. If we were to develop a theology of the God Head as being anything other than three persons (the Holy Trinity) from the Book of Revelation, we would be violating Scripture. We have to study everything in its context (to see further arguments that support this position, you can listen to Revelation 1:14 online for free at our webpage). 

The next thing that Jesus says is, “…and the seven stars…” (Revelation 3:1c). “…The seven stars…” is something that we have already dealt with back in Revelation 1:16. This is representing the seven angels of the seven churches. And angels being the seven leaders of the seven churches (Revelation 1:20). 

The next thing that Jesus tells the church of Sardis is “…I know thy works…” Obviously this church was doing “works for the Lord,” and were actually boasting about everything that they were doing, when actuality it was nothing but dead works because they were dying themselves. 

As mentioned in our last article, the church was glorying in the past. That is why the Lord tells them, “…that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:12-2). 

This church boasted in being alive, perhaps because of the many things that it had on its bulletin. But it was about to die spiritually. To be continued. 

Greg Rangel
Borderland Calvary Chapel

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