GREETING THE SEVEN CHURCHES
“4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
These seven were those which lay nearest to the apostle and were more particularly under his care, though the message concerns the whole Christian world. The greeting can be seen as a “covering letter” sent with the individual letters sent to each of the seven churches.
THE 7 SPIRITS BEFORE THE THRONE
Very clearly, the first phrase refers to God the Father. He is the One who is and who was and who is to come. The last phrase specifically names Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. However, the second phrase is the subject of considerable discussion. The question is, “To whom does the expression “seven Spirits” refer?”
The “seven spirits of God” are also mentioned in Revelation 3:1; 4:5; and 5:6. The seven spirits of God are not specifically identified, so it’s impossible to be dogmatic. Revelation 1:4 mentions that the seven spirits are before God’s throne. Revelation 3:1 indicates that Jesus Christ “holds” the seven spirits of God. Revelation 4:5 links the seven spirits of God with seven burning lamps that are before God’s throne. Revelation 5:6 identifies the seven spirits with the “seven eyes” of the Lamb and states that they are “sent out into all the earth.”
The Bible, and especially the book of Revelation, uses the number 7 to refer to perfection and completion. If that is the meaning of the “seven” in the “seven spirits,” then it is not referring to seven different spirits of God, but rather the perfect and complete Holy Spirit.
Some view the seven spirits of God as referring to seven angelic beings, possibly the seraphim or the cherubim. This would fit with the numerous others angelic beings that are described in the book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6-9; 5:6-14; 19:4-5).
A third possibility is based on Isaiah 11:2, which says, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” This could possibly explain the seven spirits of God: (1) Spirit of the LORD, (2) Spirit of wisdom, (3) Spirit of understanding, (4) Spirit of counsel, (5) Spirit of power, (6) Spirit of knowledge, (7) Spirit of the fear of the Lord. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically who/what the seven spirits are, but the first interpretation, that they are the Holy Spirit, seems the most likely.
(Main source: https://www.gotquestions.org/seven-spirits-God.html )
KINGS AND PRIESTS
Revelation 1:6 says “and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” while in Revelation 5:10 we read, “And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” It also reminds us of 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
The KJV and NKJV uses the word “basileus”, translated “kings, whereas the NASB and ESV uses the word “basilian”, translated, “Kingdom.”. When it is used elsewhere in the bible and the book of Revelation it is always translated as kings, not kingdom.
For translation of the English Bible, there are two major underlying texts being used. The Textus Recpetus is used in the King James and New King James Versions. All other translations use the Critical Text. There are hundreds of variants between these two texts. These translation differences do sometimes cause a doctrinal difference.
There is a major difference between being a King and being a Kingdom. The Scripture is full of references to believers as kings who will reign with Christ, and devoid of any Scripture with reference to believers as being a kingdom currently reigning. We are kings but we are not a Kingdom. In the modern versions, however, we are presented as being a “Kingdom.” Nowhere in the New Testament is an equivalent teaching expressed. The recipients of the book of James were told that they are heirs to the Kingdom (James 2:5) and the recipients of the book of Hebrews were likewise told that they would receive a Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28), but both of these are a far cry from currently “being a Kingdom,” as the modern text teaches.
“KINGDOM NOW” THEOLOGY
Based on the “we are a Kingdom” teaching, a dangerous “Kingdom Now” theology was introduced. Kingdom Now theology is a branch of Dominion Theology which has had a following within Pentecostalism.
Kingdom Now theology states that although Satan has been in control of the world since the Fall, God is looking for people who will help him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God’s apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, being defined as all social institutions, the “kingdom” of education, the “kingdom” of science, the “kingdom” of the arts, etc.
Although we are spiritually made kings by God’s authority, we by no means have judicial authority on this earth at this present time. Being a king implies authority and legal right to a throne; being a king does not indicate a kingdom in which to exercise that authority. Paradise cannot be restored by man. The Kingdom can only be established by the Messiah. Although we have been redeemed by the Jesus’ sacrifice, our deeds cannot bring about or empower the growth of the Kingdom of God, as seen to be established by Christ himself in Revelation 19.
THE ROLES OF KINGS AND PRIESTS
Christians have the privilege of being kings and priests unto God. At this present time (before the return of Christ) we have a diminished role in this. When Christ returns, we will have a greater role to fulfill.
Currently, before the return of Christ, as kings, we are to reign over sin, the flesh, circumstances and situations, over all the power of the enemy.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Currently, before the return of Christ, as priests, we are to offer up to God, sacrifices of praise and giving and pray on behalf of others.
In future, we will take part in the Millennium as glorified spirit beings. The best example of serving as a king and priest is Jesus Christ. He practiced godly leadership His entire life and taught by His example compassionate service to others. Christ’s instruction to the apostles in Matthew 20 demonstrates that godly leadership is much different from what is generally practiced in the world today. To rule with Christ in the coming Kingdom of God, our leadership role has to be focused on service to others.
As always, we will serve God, of course, but in the sense of helping others, our serving work will be that of guiding and directing the people of the earth. The world of the Millennium will still be a physical one, though under the rule of God through Christ. Our focus will be not on pursuing our own enjoyment but on first aiding and then teaching the thousands of displaced people who survive the calamities at the end of the age.
As the Millennium progresses, the dire consequences of Satan’s influence over the world today will become a distant memory. And over the course of generations, humanity will need to be reminded and warned that Satan will be let loose at the end of the Millennium. At the end of the Millennium, when Satan is released, he will deceive vast multitudes of people, likened to the sand along the seashore in number (Revelation 20:7-10). During nearly a thousand years of godly rule, how often will we need to stir people up and warn them of the roaring lion that will seek to devour them? They will need to be taught about the coming of God the Father to His Kingdom in a new heaven and new earth.
We have an opportunity beyond our lifetime—an opportunity of an eternity. The millennial period on earth will be just the beginning. Our role as kings and priests will mirror Jesus Christ’s example.
The Christian will reign with Christ, with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12).
This is quite astonishing because the context of 2 Timothy 2:12, and of all other passages that refer to Christians reigning with Christ, are of Christians suffering at the hands of strong and powerful people and forces. Paul is saying to Timothy, “Those same people who are presently at the bottom of the ladder, who are treated as the lowest of the low, who are weak and oppressed by everyone; these same people will one day reign with Christ!” Co-regency with the King of Kings. What a reward!
We already share in Christ’s reign as office-bearers in His church: “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). Christ has delegated spiritual authority to execute His instructions on earth.
Christian believer, you are already a king and share the kingship of Christ. He has “made you a king and a priest unto God” (Rev. 1:6).
No matter how much believers reign with Christ now, the greatest experience of co-regency lies ahead, beginning with the moment of death.
Although death seems such a moment of weakness of defeat and loss, in reality it’s a moment of victory, of power, and of triumph. At death, the believer fully triumphs over sin, death, and the devil in his soul. He is not defeated by them but defeats them. Just as Christ reigns over sin, death, and the devil, so they do too in a new way. They enter into a new and powerful life; no longer a life of losses and disappointments but of gain and of triumph.
This reign climaxes at the rapture when the believer’s body is reunited with the soul and shares in the soul’s power and authority. Sin, death, the devil, and the world will be under our feet.
But there’s more. Crowned with the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8), the crown of life (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10), and the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), we will access and enjoy the King’s power, possessions, and authority, including even ruling over the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). As Christ promised, the meek shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5), and part of that will involve specific responsibilities according to our faithfulness in this world (Luke 19:17).
“But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Dan. 7:18).