Q. Why does Revelation 5:6 speak of seven Spirits, when there is only one Spirit?
A. The “seven Spirits” should be regarded as “sevenfold Spirit,” rather than seven separate Spirits. In other words, John presented a symbolism here. The number seven is used many times in Scripture to denote perfection. In Revelation 5:6 this perfect number indicates the fullness, or completeness, of the Holy Spirit in spiritual activity and blessedness.
Isaiah 11:2 also represents the Spirit in a sevenfold way: (1) He will rest on the Messiah; (2) He will have wisdom; (3) He will have understanding; (4) He will have counsel; (5) He will have might; (6) He will have knowledge; and (7) He will have the fear of the Lord. The “Rod from the stem of Jesse,” in verse 1, refers to Jesus, of course. Jesus would be endued with the Holy Spirit as He conducted His earthly ministry (Matthew 3:16; Luke 4:18, 19). Likewise, believers during this Church Age are indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Interestingly at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was not symbolized by seven but by many, at least 120, flames of fire as they sat on those present (Acts 1:15; 2:3).
This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin by Norman A. Olson.