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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Vol 1_ Chap 1_ Sec 3

3. Seven Ecclesias


The Apocalypse is remarkable for the number seven. The first time it is used in the Bible is in Gen. 2:2, "On the seventh day Elohim ended his work which he had made; and he rested (or ceased) on the

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seventh day from all his work which he had made." In this, the ideas connected with the number seven are completion and cessation. Anything denominated by seven, is complete; it lacks nothing to make it perfect, and beyond it nothing remains to be accomplished.

The seven ecclesias are specified by name in the eleventh verse of the chapter before us; and upon the principle of completeness, seven were selected rather than any other number, to indicate that what was written to the seven was written to all the "ONE BODY" throughout the Habitable in seven successive states thereof. No one of the ecclesias existed that could say it had no interest in the things apocalypsed.

The number seven was also associated with the ecclesias to denote their relationship to the parabolic holy place. They were the antitypical lightstands -- the heavenly things through which the darkness of the world was to be dispelled -- the Ecclesia of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

They were located !greek! in the Asia, that is, in that province of Asia Minor, or Anatolia, called Asia, where their several cities, then in a highly flourishing condition, were situated not very far distant from each other. The salutation was to these as the representatives of the saints and faithful everywhere. And how highly honorable to them, when we consider who they were, and the exalted personage whence it came. They were communities of "the poor of this world," with not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble among them. To such, and not to the princes and potentates of the world, did the Creator of the universe salute them through John with "joy and peace." He presents himself to them as Deity by the Seven Spirits in Jesus the Anointed -- THE DIVINE LOGOS IN FLESH. He styles himself !greek!, "He who is," which is equivalent to declaring that he is not dead, but "is risen, as he said;" also, "He who was" -- He that is risen is the same as He who was before Abraham, and before the crucifixion: and, "He that is coming" in power and great glory. But that they might not separate him in their minds from the anointing, the salutation is said to come from Him, "and from the Seven Spirits which is before the throne of him;" and that the source of the salutation may still stand out in bolder relief, it is said to proceed "from Jesus Anointed," who is "Deity manifested in flesh;" Jesus is the flesh, and the Seven Spirits the Deity with which the resurrected flesh is anointed so as to be omniscient and almighty. Thus combined, the salutation is from "the Lord the Spirit." He is styled "the faithful witness," because he came into the world that he might bear witness unto the truth; and did witness it before Pontius Pilate, in the face of the death which his confession brought upon him. "I AM THE KING OF

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THE JEWS," said he, and for that avowal he was put to death upon the accursed tree (John 18:33,37; 19:3,12,14,19; 1 Tim. 6:13). But though he suffered thus, he was "justified by spirit," and became "the Chiefborn from among dead ones," that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. He is also styled "the Prince of the Kings of the earth." These, however, are not the existing "crowned heads," nor the wearers of crowns in the days of John, but those kings and priests, whom he hath made such unto the Deity, his Father and theirs. He is Prince, or Chief Priest and King of these, who shall with Him rule the Habitable in righteousness, and hence his apocalyptic title, "KING of kings and LORD of lords" (Apoc. 17:14; 19:16): "to Him," says John, "be the glory and the supreme authority during the AIONS of the AIONS. Amen."

There is a peculiarity in our rendering of this salutation which deserves a little further attention than we have yet given it. The form of speech is this, "from the SEVEN SPIRITS which is before His throne." This is an ungrammatical form of words. Both Greek and English grammar require that the verb "is" should be "are", and in the English Version it is so rendered. But verbal accuracy would lead to a doctrinal mistake. It is written in the Greek, "Seven Spirits which is" -- !greek! ha estin; and the reason is, that these seven are not seven distinct and independent spirits, but the One Spirit in sevenfold or perfect manifestation. Paul says, "there is ONE SPIRIT, even as ye are called in ONE HOPE of your invitation;" and "there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit;" and "by One Spirit we were all immersed into One Body; and have been all made to drink into One Spirit" (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:4,13). Hence "seven" prefixed to "spirits" does not indicate plurality of spirits, but perfection in wisdom, knowledge, and power of one and the same spirit; so that this perfection is expressed by plurality of figure, while the oneness of the Spirit is expressed ungrammatically by the verb in the singular. The phrase therefore, "the Seven Spirits which is," is a Hebraism like that in Gen. i.1, !hebrew! bahrah Elohim, "Mighty Ones he created" -- cases in which the rules of grammarians are ignored for the convenience of the truth.

[Note that the paragraph above is greatly reduced in the Red Edition. Here, Brother Thomas appears to be basing his exposition upon the Received Text, which does have Majority Text support for ha estin.] note from logos editor



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