I’ve heard some questions about the person of the Holy Spirit in the book of Revelation. Is the Spirit in Revelation a member of the Trinity?
The Spirit plays a significant role in the book of Revelation. In fact, the book begins and ends with references to the Spirit (Rev. 1:4; 22:17). But for some, the fact that the Spirit is not described as being on the throne with the Father and the Son means that He is not a person, much less a member of the Godhead. Let’s examine the evidence.
1. Role of the Spirit in Revelation: The Spirit is called “the spirit of life” (11:11, NKJV; some translations read “breath of life”), that is to say, He is life and He gives life. In the Bible life is identified with God and Jesus. Another important role of the Spirit is to communicate messages of God and Jesus through the gift of prophecy (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 19:10; 21:10). Both Jesus and the Spirit speak to the church. Each of the messages to the churches contains the phrase “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). These messages are exhortatory and usually contain promises or revelations about God’s plan for the churches, as well as Satan’s intentions. Jesus promised His disciples that He would come to them in the person of the Spirit (John 14:15-18). In Revelation we see Jesus speaking to His church through the Spirit, the voice and presence of Christ within the church. He blesses the church (14:13), gives believers grace and peace (1:4), and is directly involved in the mission of the church (22:17). The church exists through the power and presence of the Spirit.
2. The Godhead and the Spirit: Revelation indicates that the Spirit is one of the persons of the Godhead. The Godhead did not hand the church over to an impersonal force! Demonic spirits are His counterpart, and they too are personal beings who deceive the kings of the earth (16:13, 14). It’s true that we occasionally find passages in which only the Son and the Father are mentioned (e.g., 5:13; 7:10). But silence does not prove anything.
There is a triadic formula in which the three persons of the Godhead are mentioned: “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, and from Jesus Christ” (1:4, 5). Grace and peace are gifts of God that find their origin in the members of the Godhead. The book closes with a reference to the three persons: Jesus (22:16), the Spirit (22:17), and God (22:18). We also find the three of them mentioned several times in the throne vision: the seven Spirits of God (4:5); God (4:9); and Jesus under the symbols of a Lion and a Lamb (5:5, 6).
3. The Throne and the Spirit: In Revelation the Spirit is not described as sitting on the throne of God. There are four main reasons for this. First, the emphasis placed on Christ sitting on the throne with God is based on the fact that He overcame the forces of evil. Jesus—God in human flesh—ascended to heaven and was granted the honor of sitting on the throne as coregent with God (5:12, 13). Second, the Spirit is indeed associated with the throne. He stands before it (4:5), and when the Lamb stands before the throne He is described as having the seven Spirits of God, that is to say the fullness of the Spirit (5:6). Third, even though the Spirit stands before the throne, He does not participate in the adoration of God and the Lamb. Only the four living beings and the 24 elders prostrate themselves before them and worship (4:9, 10). Fourth, in Revelation the function of the Spirit within the divine economy of salvation is not to sit on the throne, but to be present in the world and with the church. He is “the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (5:6). He has become a Servant of God, standing before Him to obey His command (1:4).