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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Identity of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Why Is the Seal, or Insignia, a Symbol of God's Spirit?

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Why Is the Seal, or Insignia, a Symbol of God’s Spirit?

The Identity of the Holy Spirit – Question 30

A seal, or insignia, is a mark of ownership. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is God’s mark of ownership of the believer. Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13, 14 TNIV).

Here the Holy Spirit is said to be that which shows we are owned by God.

Believers Are Now Owned by Jesus Christ

Paul also wrote to the Corinthians about the seal of Jesus Christ.

Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:22 NKJV).

We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit.

To Timothy Paul emphasized that the Lord knows those people which belong to Him, the true believers. He wrote.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: The Lord knows those who are His, and everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness (2 Timothy 2:19 HCSB).

Thus, those who do belong to Jesus Christ are said to be “sealed.” What exactly does this mean?

We find that the impression of a seal implies a relationship of the owner of the seal. It is a means of saying that the thing sealed belongs to the owner. Believers are God’s property with the Holy Spirit being the mark of ownership. In other words, we do not belong to ourselves. Instead we belong to Him.

In the Book of Revelation we read that God sealed believers with a mark on their foreheads. The Lord said.

Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God (Revelation 7:3 TNIV).

This is a further illustration that those who belong to Him have His seal or mark.

A Clear Illustration of What This Means

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the Holy Spirit was their “seal” the people understood His meaning. In the city of Ephesus in Paul’s day the following custom was common. A merchant would go to the harbor and then select certain timber he wanted. He would then seal the timber with his unique impression – an acknowledged sign of ownership. Later the owner would send his servant with his signet. The servant would look for the timber that had the impression of their owner’s seal. This is how he would identify the timber that belonged to the merchant.

Believers Have Been Bought at a Price

In the same manner God seals those whom He has selected with His sign of ownership – the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere Paul emphasized God’s ownership of believers.

You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 CEV).

Scripture is clear that He owns us – we do not belong to Him, not ourselves. The analogy of the sealing of the Holy Spirit emphasizes this essential biblical truth.

Summary – Question 30
Why Is the Seal, or Insignia, a Symbol of God’s Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is compared to a seal or an insignia. The seal is a sign of ownership. God seals those who believe in Jesus Christ with His Holy Spirit. Therefore, when we receive the Holy Spirit it indicates that He now owns us; we do not own ourselves any longer.

When Paul used this analogy of the “seal” it was readily understood by his readers. Ownership of property at that time was indicated by an actual seal or brand which was put on it; such as the branding of timber. Each owner would have his unique brand so there would be no doubt who owned what.

In the same manner, believers in Jesus Christ have our unique “brand” or mark of ownership. It is the Spirit of God who comes into our lives the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. He seals or brands us.

In Scripture, we find it emphasized that we are not belong to ourselves any longer once we trust Christ. We now belong to Jesus Christ because He bought us by means of His death on the cross. Therefore, it should be our desire to serve the one to whom we belong.

Consequently, the analogy of the Holy Spirit “sealing” the believer teaches us a valuable truth.

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