Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who intercedes for us?

In my previous post on the topic of prayer, called Prayer Promises, one of the things I wrote about was this: Jesus said that we should pray directly to the Heavenly Father, and we do not even need Jesus to ask the Father on our behalf. Jesus said the reason for this is that the Father loves us because we love Jesus and we believe that Jesus came from the Father. Here's the verse I referred to in my third point of that post:

Direct Access to the Father
"In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father." (John 16:26-27).

This is so important to know and understand that believers in Jesus Christ have direct access to God's throne in Jesus' name.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede with the Father 
Yet when Jesus said this to the disciples, He didn't mention the fact that both He and the Holy Spirit entreat the Father on behalf of His followers. This is an added ministry that we as believers receive, which does not contradict the fact that we have direct access to the Father. We learn this truth in the following passages.

  • "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Rom 8:26, KJV). This means that when we pray, the Holy Spirit helps us. Even when we don't know how we should pray in a situation, the Spirit intercedes for us. As we are praying, He appeals to the Father on our behalf with sighs too deep to be expressed in words.
  • "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom 8:27, KJV). Again, the Holy Spirit intercedes for all those who have been made holy by the blood of Christ. And He intercedes in line with God's will.
  • "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom 8:34, KJV). Here we learn that Christ is the Judge who has authority to condemn a person. Yet He is the One who gave His life for us. Now He has risen from the dead! He is on the throne at God's right hand, appealing on behalf of those who love Him.
  • "Therefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Heb 7:25, KJV). Again, Jesus lives forever. He completely saves everyone who comes to God through Him. And He lives to intercede with God for those who do.

So from these passages, we find that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are making intercession for those of us who know and follow Jesus. In the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans that I have just cited, he referred to the followers of Jesus as "saints" or "holy ones," just as this term is used elsewhere in the Bible of God’s people. It’s not referring only to certain people who have died who once lived lives that were more exemplary than other disciples of Christ. When Paul wrote to the Romans, he was alive and so were they. He said at that time that Jesus Christ makes intercession for “us”, meaning himself and the Roman disciples to whom he was writing.

This English word “intercede” found in these Bible passages comes from the Greek word entugchano. It means to entreat (in favor or against): - deal with, make intercession. This word is used in Romans 8:27, 8:34, and Heb 7:25, which are all cited above. In order to understand this word better, it helps to see how it’s also used in Acts 25:24 and Romans 11:2.

All the people interceded with or appealed to Festus, the Roman governor or procurator against the apostle Paul: Festus *said, "King Agrippa, and all you gentlemen here present with us, you see this man about whom all the people of the Jews appealed to me, both at Jerusalem and here, loudly declaring that he ought not to live any longer. (Act 25:24).

Elijah interceded or pleaded with God against Israel: God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? (Rom 11:2)

There’s another Greek word that is translated “intercede”. It is huperentugchano, which means to intercede in behalf of: - make intercession for. It comes from the same root word as entugchano. This word is used only once in the Bible -- in the Romans 8:26 passage cited above.

In Acts 25, we can see that people dealt with the governor or appealed to him regarding Paul, whom they wanted executed. And in Romans 11, we read that the prophet Elijah was appealing to God against Israel, since they had departed from God to follow false gods. So in both cases, the word is used in the sense of appealing against someone. So the word can be used this way or to mean appealing in someone’s favor, depending on the context of how it is used.

Other Passages about Christ's Intercession
There are still other passages that speak of Christ's intercession for His people.

The apostle John wrote: "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." (1 Jn 2:1, NIV).  He taught us not to sin, just as Jesus did.  But in case anybody does sin, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, is our Advocate with the Father. In fact, the Good News Bible translates this part of the verse to say, "We have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf..."  Isn't it comforting to know that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself pleads with the Father on our behalf?

That is what the word Advocate means in the original Greek.  The original word is paraklētos, meaning "an intercessor, consoler: - advocate, comforter" (Strongs).

Job said, "Even now my Witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high. My intercessor is my Friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man He pleads with God as one pleads for a friend." (Job 16:19-21, NIV).  Just as Job knew that his Redeemer lives (Job 19:25), he also knew that His Intercessor was his friend, who pleaded with God on behalf of man as one pleads for a friend.

Paul wrote to Timothy, "For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." (1Ti 2:5-6).  The Greek word for Mediator is "mesites," meaning "a go between, that is, (simply) an internunciator, or (by implication) a reconciler (intercessor): - mediator" (Strongs).

There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. 

Isn’t it wonderful to know that Jesus, who is at God’s right hand, always lives to intercede for us before God? And isn’t it wonderful to know that the Holy Spirit also intercedes with the Father on our behalf? This should reassure every follower of Christ that we don’t need to pray to any other, knowing Jesus Himself and the Spirit are dealing with the Father and appealing to Him on our behalf and in our favor.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. My daughter has also written a beautiful poem called, "Our Intercessor." You may also access a collection of my most popular blogs at "Writing for the Master."

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.