Compared with references to God and Christ, references to the Spirit in Revelation are comparatively few, but the Spirit’s role is crucial. The Spirit plays an essential role in the divine activity of establishing God’s kingdom in the world. References to the Spirit fall into two major categories: those which refer to “the seven Spirits” (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6) and those which refer to “the Spirit” (1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
The Spirit functions as the prophetic voice of God and the Lamb. John refers to his witness “prophecy,” which is understood to be a message sent from God through an inspired messenger (1:3). John received visions through the Spirit (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). God’s Spirit speaks through the text of Revelation (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The Spirit conveys words from God and the glorified Christ directly, using the first person singular (1:8; 2:1–3:22; 21:5–8)
The Spirit prophetically calls the churches to play our appropriate role in the unfolding drama: to abandon idolatry and be faithful to God, especially during times of suffering. Together the Spirit and the Bride call people to experience the life that only God gives (22:17). In other words, the Spirit is not only prophetic but also missional, sent out into the world (5:6).
The prophetic-missional Spirit calls the church to bear witness in the world (19:10). In a sense, the whole Christian community is appointed to make prophetic witness (11:3–10). However, John indicates that he and others have a distinctive vocation as prophets, who were inspired in ways that other people are not (22:6, 9).
The Spirit brings the saints into the presence of God for worship (1:10; 4:2).
The Spirit reassures the church that faithful witness will result in ultimate rest and reward, not defeat (14:13).
Michael J. Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 122.
Richard Bauckham, Theology of Revelation (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993), 109-110.
Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 224.