Intercession

Interecession – sense of the OT word is used as “reaching” eg, the boarder reached unto. Something in it about allowing us to reach.

We are reaching to be in the presence of God.

If we are living in the spirit, it brings us into his presence. He can see that. Our spirit is groaning. Groaning within ourselves, waiting for adoption.

Our ability to say things is not that good. When we think about praying and the sense of praying, are we able to articulate this? – are we able to pray about the will of God. God is still able to hear our spirit groaning within us. Able is a good example, his groaning was coming up to him.

It’s tricky, but important. God understands the state we’re in, he can hear it, even when we can’t articulate it. This is a source of comfort which is the point in Rom 8.

Our groanings go before him even when we can’t articulate it.

The point is normally made that God can’t understand us, but this is the total opposite.

Lots of links with Exodus and the people crying because of their oppressors.

Follow the crying through to see how it is directly heard by God. No Jesus involved.

Ps 77 interesting, because you can’t speak, then there is a series of questions, then an answer from God.

Some sort of linkage with things being internalised.

HEb 8 v 27 – Links to Ps 139 – God can see inside our hearts and mind. Jesus also does this, being referred to in v 27 and 34.

Spirit is doing something for us, doing something beneficial for us, so is Jesus, toward us according to the will of God.

v31 is helpful with this too, because it’s saying God is FOR us.

In v34 Jesus is working FOR us, not instead of us toward God.

Rom 11 is causal, using 3 parties. Elias, Israel God. In the OT include examples with 3 parties. In Jeremiah, God would cause Neb to reach Jeremiah.

Elijah is causing Israel in this figure to come before God in terms of their behaviour and what they have done.

This is the same pattern where Jesus causes us to be in the presence of God.

This goes against the intercessor being THE mediator because here it is Elijah and he is doing it against Israel.

These notes were compiled at a Thursday Study. The below are Mark Morris’ original notes, later abridged for an article in the Testamony.

“Who also maketh intercession for us” by Brother Mark Morris

An edited version of this article was published in The Testimony, July 1985

As has been shown in a previous article, the subject of intercession is often confused with mediation.  In that article the scriptural meaning of mediation was laid out; here I investigate scripture’s use of “intercession”.  In the NT we have the doctrine of “Christ making intercession for us”, but as was found with “mediation” this teaching draws upon OT revelation, and I shall look at this first.

In Isaiah 53:12 it is recorded of Christ that “he made intercession for the transgressors.” The Hebrew word used here carries senses which are variously highlighted in the following contexts: Genesis 32:1 (“to meet”); Ruth 1:16 (“to intreat”); and I Samuel22:17-18 (“to fall upon” with malicious intent).  In the latter two examples a meeting is certainly entailed, but the additional senses are brought into focus by the contexts; in the passage in Ruth the sense of “intreaty” is very prominent, since physically Naomi and Ruth are already together.  However, not all these usages have the same form of the Hebrew word:  this observation is of key importance.  The form in Isaiah 53:12 is called the Hiphil form (denoted by “5” in Young’s concordance) and has the additional sense of “to cause” (see for example page v in Young’s).  Some of this causal sense is conveyed in the AV translation “to make intercession”, but care is needed because the translators have not been consistent with this distinction, as we shall see.  Furthermore, we don’t have to accept an uninspired opinion on this point of grammar, because scripture itself proves the distinction.

In Jeremiah 15:11 it is written “I will cause the enemy to entreat thee in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.”  This is fulfilled in Jeremiah 39:11,12 where Yahweh caused Nebuchadrezzar. through his men, to entreat Jeremiah.  As is reflected in the translation, the Hebrew form is the Hiphil. the same as in Isaiah 53:12.  There are three parties involved in this prophecy: Jeremiah and Nebuchadrezzar. who were to “meet”; and Yahweh who caused this “meeting”.  (Here I use “Nebuchadrezzar” to refer to his manifesting agents, the captain of the guard and all the king of Babylon’s princes.  Also, it is clear from the context that “meet” has the sense of “intreat”.)  Jeremiah 15:11 does not refer to the LORD “meeting” Jeremiah, nor to him “meeting” Nebuchadrezzar; it was Jeremiah and Nebuchadrezzar who “met”.  The use of the same form in Isaiah 53:6 is shown in the marginal translation “The LORD hath made the iniquity of us all to meet on him.”  The same points follow from this example as from the previous one.  In the usage in Jeremiah 36:25, two of the three roles associated with this form are filled by the same individuals:  Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah both cause the meeting and are the ones who meet.  The choice of the Hiphil here stresses the verb by showing that their action was purposeful.  How do we apply these results when interpreting Isaiah 53:12?  Two possibilities exist:

a. Jesus is being described as filling two roles, in both “meeting” and causing that “meeting”.  In this case the Hiphil is used to stress the verb and Jesus “meets” for (that is, instead of the transgressors.

b. Scripture is teaching that Jesus causes the transgressors to “meet”, he is not a substitute for them, as in a.

These two cases arise depending upon whether the usage is of the type in Jeremiah 36 or in Jeremiah 15 respectively.  In either case, we need to know who is being “met”.

The context lends suggestion to it being the LORD who is being “met”, and this is mentioned in a number of other passages where the causal form is not used: Job 21:15 (translated “to pray unto”); Jeremiah 7:16 (misleadingly rendered “to make intercession”) where it is in juxtaposition to prayer; Jeremiah 27:18 which takes up chapter 7:16.  These passages exclude interpretation a. above, if it is the LORD who is being met, because they show that men are indeed able to meet God themselves. They also prove that a “meeting” is associated with prayer.

Consider Isaiah 64:4-6.  From here we can deduce the following:  the LORD meets those who do righteousness (and therefore are righteous – 1 John 3:7).  Moreover, there exist righteous men only because of the justification (being made righteous) in Christ (Isaiah 64:6 and 53:11).  Hence it is because of Jesus, that those who have sinned can be accounted righteous and thence are able to meet the LORD: salvation (brought in Jesus’ suffering death and resurrection, as recorded in Isaiah 53) has enabled men to meet the LORD.

Therefore Yahweh is implicitly referred to in Isaiah 53:12 as the one being met.

In Isaiah 59:16 the same need for salvation is recorded; “intercessor” again translates the causal form, as we should by now expect.  This time, neither of the two parties who meet is explicitly referred to, but it is implicit that they are men and the LORD.

These scriptures reveal that men are themselves able to intreat the LORD, because of the righteousness of Jesus, and the salvation which he has brought.  It is not that men are unable to meet him because they are sinful. but that because of Christ they may be accounted righteous and so are able to meet God:  Christ does not intreat God instead of men. One application of these results is that men themselves are able to pray to Yahweh.  Christ does not do this in their stead.

Having developed the subject in the O.T. by careful attention to detail, I now move on into the NT.  In Hebrews 7:25 it is written “he ever liveth to make intercession for them”.  Is this a quotation of Isaiah 53:12?  To establish this we must show that there are senses of “meeting” and “intreaty”, and also this is the equivalent form of the Greek word.

A different form of the Greek word for “to make intercession” is used in Acts 17:17 and translated “to meet with”.  The same form is used in Acts 25:24 where it is translated “to deal”.  This “dealing” alludes to “beseeching” (v2), “desiring favour” (v3) and “desiring” (v15), so there is clearly some sense of “intreaty” associated with this usage (“besought” is translated “intreat” in 1 Timothy 5:1).  The context also indicates that the verb is being stressed:  a measure of this is given in “crying that he ought not to live any longer”.  We may also note that it was “both at Jerusalem and here” that they were doing this “dealing”, which shows the persistence of the Jews.  From these observations it follows that the usage in Acts 25:24 is the same as that in Jeremiah 36:25, which I have already considered.

Another use of “to make intercession” is in Romans 11:2:  “Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying Lord… “. Notice first that it must follow that meeting with God is entailed if addressing him since this underpins the argument here.  This use also exhibits a sense of “intreating”, as found elsewhere; indeed the usage here is again of the same type as that in Jeremiah 36:25 where the causal role is also filled by the individual who meets.  In this case Elijah fills both these roles, and so a stress is placed upon his action, reflecting his mental disposition.

Hence it follows that senses of “meeting” and “intreaty” are indeed carried by “to make intercession”; furthermore the usages in Acts 25:34 and Romans 11:2 of the same Greek form as in Hebrews 7:25 parallel a usage in Jeremiah 36:25, which itself is the same Hebrew form as in Isaiah 53:12.  So since this role of Jesus is placed alongside of the salvation in him in Hebrews 7, just as in Isaiah 53. it follows that there is a quotation here.  That there is a causal sense in Hebrews 7:25 is reflected in the word “by” in that verse; “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”  This “coming to God” is also mentioned elsewhere in Hebrews, for example Ch 10:18-22.  Following remission of sins, it is possible for us to enter into the presence of God by the blood of Jesus (which gives that remission).  We are able to “draw near” (which translates the same Greek as “come” in Ch.7:25 and alludes to this earlier use), having been washed.  Just as in Isaiah, these passages show that the salvation in Jesus, and the consequent justification, is what enables men to come to and to meet with God:  Jesus fills the causal role. Jesus has entered into the true holy place, heaven itself, where he is sat at the right hand of God (Hebrews 9:24 and 10:12).  This is what has made it possible for men to enter the presence of God themselves, namely his appearing there, “for us”, not instead of us, as the substitutionist misinterpretation of “for” would have it. (Compare with “Christ died for us” in Romans 5:8.)

In this connection we may usefully turn to Colossians 3:17; “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”.  Following the previous verse, as it does, this verse tells us how we are able to sing to God namely in the name of Jesus, by him. (Note that the Greek translated “Lord” at the end of verse 16 is the usual word for “God” as can be seen in a good Greek text.)  This brings us to the subject of asking in the name of Jesus, as recorded in John 16:23-26.  While Jesus was in the world he prayed for this disciples (John 17:9), but on leaving the world he tells them that he would no longer do this; they would pray themselves, by him, in his name.  Why the difference?  Before his ascension God alone executed all power and authority, but now that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God he has received from him this power.  Matthew 28:18, I Peter 3:22 (exemplified in chapter 2:14), Ephesians 1:20-22.)  Now is Jesus the chief shepherd and bishop of our souls, and his use of the power which has been given him is for good for them that are called.

In Hebrews 4:16 we are exhorted to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need”.  This “coming” is just the same as that in Chapter 7:25; “help” is translated “succour” in Chapter 2:18.  So we see that in coming to God we may receive help through the working of his power in the hands of his Son.  Jesus is able to give this help precisely because he knows what is required in that he himself was once tempted like as we are, yet without sin. That this “help” may be in response to prayer follows by observing a use of this same Greek in 2 Corinthians 6:2.  lf we compare this with Isaiah 49:8 we find that 2 Corinthians 6 quotes God’s response to the prayer mentioned in Psalm 69:13; the “succour” describes God’s response to the prayer.

It doesn’t follow that God is unable to do this succouring himself (the usage in 2 Corinthians 6 immediately provides a counterexample to this suggestion), but that Jesus is also able to “help”. The contrast is with angels (Hebrews 2:16).

The functions which the high priest was to fulfil are outlined in Hebrews 5:1-2, which expounds Deuteronomy 33:10; they are to offer sacrifices, and to teach the people.  The aspect of teaching is reflected in Hebrews, “Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way”.  The ignorant were to be taught.  In this “compassionate” way, Jesus’ teaching was atuned to his ignorant disciples, as for example in John 16:12. In like fashion he is now able to direct our circumstances, knowing what is best for us.  (The scriptures provide a record of his teaching which is suited to every situation of course.)

All these scriptures show that Jesus has made it possible for us to intreat God ourselves, provided that we are accounted righteous in him.  Response to our requests is given through God’s power, in the hands of his Son.  There is no room for “prayer to Jesus”:  Jesus has this power only because it was given to him by his Father; it is the Father who is to be intreated and thanked in Jesus’ name.  We can as it were stand as Jesus in the presence of God, provided that we are clothed upon with Jesus’ righteousness, being sons by adoption.  This adoption follows redemption (Galatians 4:5,6) and gives the spirit of sonship.  (See also Ephesians 1:5 and the use of “by” there.)  Again in Ephesians 2:18, both Jews and Gentiles have access to the Father by Jesus, and by the spirit of adoption whereby they cry

Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).  We can only cry “Father” if we are adopted sons, that is, in Jesus Christ.

In Romans 8 there are a number of uses of “intercession”, and I shall now consider these.  I have already alluded to the providential care which is described here; in verse 34 we are reminded of the opportunity which has been afforded those who have been predestined in the foreknowledge of God to the adoption of sons, of meeting with the Father to seek his help:  “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”.  This verse is in the midst of a series of remarks which explain the extent of God’s involvement in the life of the saint, in particular in relation to the exercise of his power which he has vested in his Son.  How amazing that this power is working for good in the lives of the called, and that they may request his help in prayer to the Father, in the name of Jesus!

Verse 26:  “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.”  What is signified by “likewise”?  To answer this we need to consider the structure of the chapter:  verses 12 to 25 comprise an extended argument explaining that we ought to live after the spirit, since this leads to life, even though this requires us to partake of the sufferings of Christ now.  This section of the chapter is headed by “therefore” in verse 12 and continues with a series of occurrences of “for”, ending in verse 25.  So “likewise” follows on from verse 11 and compares what follows it with the section beginning in verse 12.  Verse 15 explains the role of the spirit of adoption in being able to address the Father; verse 26 considers how having the spirit of Christ, having the mind of the spirit, helps us even when we know not what we should pray for.  To make bare this point, we need to understand the meaning of “groanings which cannot be uttered”.  What are “groanings”?  The Greek word which this translates occurs just twice in the New Testament in this form (ie. noun), though it is worth noting a few occurrences of a very much related verb form.  This related form occurs in verse 23 of Romans 8:  “we (which have the first fruits of the spirit) ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption”.  The structure here is very similar to that in verse 26 where “the spirit itself’ parallels “we ourselves”.  Two very similar uses occur in 2 Corinthians 5:2 and 4:  those who are subject to vanity but wait the adoption, groan for immortality.  The other uses, in Mark7:34 (“sighed”), Hebrews 13:17 (“with grief”) and James 5:9 (“grudge”) are also cases where what is being described is a state of mind.  The same form as in Romans 8:26 is used in Acts 7:34.  This usage provides us with a link back to the Old Testament because it quotes Exodus 3:7 and 9; so to see the Old Testament background to Romans 8:26 I shall now consider “cry” as used in Exodus 3.

This first use is in Genesis 4:10:  “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground”.  This “cry” was “unuttered’ in the sense that this is a figurative use of “cry”.  Hebrews 11:4 tells us that by faith Abel “being dead yet speaketh”, where in the Greek “speaketh” is the un-negated form of “cannot be uttered”.  This is an allusion to Genesis 4 and again “speak” is figurative.  It was physically impossible for Abel to “speak” in a literal sense; it was Abel’s spirit of faith that cried (2 Corinthians 4:13, but notice also verses 8 – 14; Abel’s faith in the resurrection was shown in his blood, which “spoke” of that faith.  Hence “the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than Abel” is “better” in the sense that Jesus’ death fulfilled the faith of Abel, expressed in his death.)  Other examples of the use of “cry” are in Genesis 18:20.21, where the “cry” of Sodom and Gomorrah came to God.  Again, in Exodus 3:9 “the cry” “is come unto me”.  It is clear the unrighteous inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah could not “meet” God, nor come to him in the sense of Hebrews 7:25, but their wickedness did.  They could no more pray to God than dead Abel could, yet God was mindful of their spiritual states, wicked yet alive and righteous but dead respectively.  (That the spiritual state of Sodom is relevant here follows from “which is spiritually Sodom” in Revelation 11:8.)  Furthermore, associated with all these uses of “cry” is the response which he is about to make.

So “unuttered groaning” is the spirit of an individual speaking, where this use of “speaking” is of the type in Hebrews 11:4, and is figurative:  this spirit is sometimes referred to in scripture by the name of the individual, as in Hebrews 11:4 – “Abel”.  This Old Testament picture is also reflected in those New Testament passages already mentioned where a very similar Greek word to that used in Romans 8:26 occurs:  in these, “groaning” is an inward state, as it is written:  “we groan within ourselves”.  “The spirit itself maketh intercession for us” can now be understood in the light of other scriptures such as those I have mentioned.  That groanings of the spirit come into God’s presence and in a figurative way intreat him, enable us to intreat him in a figure, since in certain respects our spirit manifests us:  with Abel, his blood manifested his faith, itself a manifestation of Abel with respect to his Godliness, and referred to by “Abel”.  In the language of Romans 8, the spirit (that is, ours where this coincides with that of Christ) itself intreats God, and in so doing, figuratively causes us to intreat God.  This slightly different use of “to make intercession”, that is with unuttered groanings, is to be expected since the Greek here is slightly different and reflects this shift.

The next verse in Romans assures us that because according to Godliness he (the spirit) makes intercession for us, in the manner outlined in the previous verse, he who searches the hearts is able to see the mind of the spirit in us.  (The sense of “according to God” is brought out by looking at other uses such as 2 Corinthians 7:9, “after a Godly manner”; Ephesians 4:24, “after God” – notice also verse 23:  “the spirit of your mind”; 1 Peter 4:6, “but live according to God in the spirit”.  The spirit of Christ coincides with our spirit in accordance with our Godliness.  See also Romans 8:16 in this connection.)

The verses that follow in Romans 8 are concerned with God working in the lives of the called, which mirrors the way in which “cries” coming to God are responded to by the working of his power.  Romans 8:28-39 is expounding the same doctrine as that revealed in the Old Testament concerning God’s dealings with men, but with particular emphasis on the lives of the saints, and God’s absolute care for them.  (As previously mentioned, it is God who is at work, and this is reflected in the use of “God” in these verses, as for example in verse 31; Jesus has been given the privilege of exercising this power.  It is the purpose of a large part of the book of Hebrews to show that he is worthy of this exalted position.)  God knows the needs of the saints because of their groanings. spoken and unuttered, that come to him; their meeting God by the spirit is paralleled by God’s spirit being everywhere around the saint; that is, God responds to their presence in heaven, by his presence on Earth (Psalm 139:9-13).  There is no room for evangelical views in the interpretation of these scriptures; such a view misses the beauty and power of God’s revelation of himself in his word.

To demonstrate the application of some of the above results consider first some words of hymn 197 in the Christadelphian hymn book: “He (Jesus) … in the holy stands to plead for saints who pray” and again “who pleads his household’s cause in heaven”.  The author of this hymn has failed to observe that the role of Jesus in prayer is causal:  he enables the transgressors to intreat the Father.  He does not do this instead of them. The (Roman Catholic) view expressed here is not scriptural.

In the book “Prayer, studies in principle and in practice”, mention is made of Romans 8:26-27, and on the last page a summary is given of the author’s interpretation of these verses.  Central to these are (following his classification):

c. The spirit (Jesus) makes intercession for us.

d. The ‘strong crying and tears’ to which we cannot rise, become a part of his mediation.

A little later he says, “our pleadings will be taken up by Jesus and God will not mistake his meaning”.  Putting this remark together with point c. above shows that “maketh intercession” is reduced to “pleading”, during which transformation the causal sense has been lost.  This mistake fails to take account of details recorded in the Old Testament, which are the basis of the New Testament revelation.  Missing this important distinction leads to an entirely different view, which is not scriptural. *

Another error made in getting to this false conclusion is manifest in “the spirit (Jesus)..” where “the spirit” is taken as referring to Jesus.  The explanation given in the book for this move is that this is just what is seen in 2 Corinthians 3:17, where it is written “Now the Lord is that (Greek ‘the’) spirit”.  But this passage is not saying that the spirit is equivalent at all levels to Jesus (just as “God is light” does not imply that looking at light is seeing God; light is a divine attribute, it does not refer to God); “the spirit” does not refer to Jesus, it describes him.  The mistake of taking “mediation” out of its scriptural contexts is also made in point d. above where it is confused with the subject of “intercession”.  That this confusion so often arises suggests that the causal aspect of “to make intercession” has been largely overlooked.  In its place, Jesus has been put between God and men, thus making him a “mediator” in the modern sense of the word, namely an intermediary. a go between.  An earlier paper has shown that this is not the scriptural sense of “mediator”.  The scriptural teaching far transcends this; Jesus has prevailed to enable the saints to intreat the father directly.

These two papers have shown the importance of attention to detail in scripture. They have also shown the law-like route to fallacy which results from failing to rightly discern the word of God; such an approach is consistently wrong.  This is precisely the state of “Christianity”: one false doctrine leads to another.  Unless the brotherhood is sharp and accurate it will go the same way.  Hopefully these studies will also have shown some of the ways in which we can all study God’s word to the end that we might become wise unto salvation.

* The remark “God will not mistake his meaning” is astounding; its positioning implies that without Jesus, God could make mistakes.  So before Christ sat down at his right hand- God was capable of error!  This is fundamentally wrong.

 

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