International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
in-ter-sesh'-un (pagha`, "to make intercession"; originally "to strike upon," or "against"; then in a good sense, "to assail anyone with petitions," "to urge," and when on behalf of another, "to intercede" (Ruth 1:16 Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 27:18 Job 21:15 Genesis 23:8 Isaiah 53:12 Jeremiah 36:25). A similar idea is found in enteuxis, used as "petition," and in the New Testament "intercession." The English word is derived from Latin intercedo, "to come between," which strangely has the somewhat opposed meanings of "obstruct" and "to interpose on behalf of" a person, and finally "to intercede." The growth of meaning in this word in the various languages is highly suggestive. In the Greek New Testament we find the word in 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 4:5; entugchano, is also found in Romans 8:26-34):
Etymology and Meaning of Term
I. MAN'S INTERCESSION FOR HIS FELLOW-MAN
1. Patriarchal Examples
2. Intercessions of Moses
3. The Progress of Religion, Seen in Moses' Intercessions
4. Intercessory Prayer in Israel's Later History
5. The Rise of Official Intercession
6. Samuel as an Intercessor in His Functions as Judge, Priest and Prophet
7. Intercession in the Poetic Books
8. The Books of Wisdom
9. The Prophets' Succession to Moses and Samuel
10. The Priest and Intercession
11. Intercession in the Gospels
12. Intercessory Prayers of the Church
13. Intercession Found in the Epistles
II. INTERCESSION PERFECTED IN CHRIST'S OFFICE AND IN THE CHURCH
III. INTERCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Etymology and Meaning of Term:
The meaning of the word is determined by its use in 1 Timothy 2:1, "I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all and men"; where the different kinds of prayers appear to be distinguished. Considerable discussion has arisen on the exact meaning of these words. Augustine refers them to the liturgy of the Eucharist. This seems to be importing the significance of the various parts of the ceremony as observed at a time much later than the date of the passage in question. "Supplications" and "prayers" refer to general and specific petitions; "intercessions" will then have the meaning of a request concerning others.
Intercession is prayer on behalf of another, and naturally arises from the instinct of the human heart-not merely prompted by affection and interest, but recognizing that God's relation to man is not merely individual, but social. Religion thus involves man's relations to his fellow-man, just as in man's social position intercession with one on behalf of another is a common incident, becoming, in the development of society, the function of appointed officials; as in legal and courtly procedure, so in religion, the spontaneous and affectionate prayer to God on behalf of another grows into the regular and orderly service of a duly appointed priesthood. Intercession is thus to be regarded:
(1) as the spontaneous act of man for his fellowman;
(2) the official act of developed sacerdotalism;
(3) the perfecting of the natural movement of humanity, and the typified function of priesthood in the intercession of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
I. Man's Intercession for His Fellow-Man.
1. Patriarchal Examples:
Many such prayers are recorded in Scripture. The sacrificial act of Noah may have been partly of this nature, for it is followed by a promise of God on behalf of the race and the earth at large (Genesis 8:20-22). Such also is Abraham's prayer for Ishmael (Genesis 17:18); Abraham's prayer for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33); Abraham for Abimelech (Genesis 20:17). Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons is of the nature of intercession (Genesis 48:8-22). His dying blessing of his sons is hardly to be regarded as intercessory; it is, rather, declarative, although in the case of Joseph it approaches intercession. The absence of distinct intercessory prayer from Abraham to Moses is to be observed, and shows how intensely personal and individual the religious consciousness was still in its undeveloped quality. In Moses, however, the social element finds a further development, and is interesting as taking up the spirit of the Father of the Faithful. Moses is the creator of the national spirit. He lifts religion from its somewhat selfish character in the patriarchal life to the higher and wider plane of a national and racial fellowship.
2. Intercessions of Moses:
The progressive character of the Divine leading of man is found thus in the development of the intercessory spirit, e.g. Moses' prayer for the removal of plagues (Exodus 15:25 f); for water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:4); for victory over Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16); prayer for the people after the golden calf (Exodus 32:11-14, 21-34; Exodus 33:12 f); after the renewal of the tables of stone (Exodus 34:9); at the setting forth and stopping of the Ark (Numbers 10:35 f); after the burning at Taberah (Numbers 11:2); for the healing of Miriam's leprosy (Numbers 12:13); after the return of the spies (Numbers 14:13-19); after the destruction by serpents (Numbers 21:7); for direction in the case of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27:5); for a successor (Numbers 27:15); recital of his prayer for the people for their entrance into Canaan (Deuteronomy 3:23 f); recital of his prayer for the people after the worship of the golden calf (Deuteronomy 9:18); recital of prayers for the rebellious people (Deuteronomy 9:25-29); a command to him who pays his third-year tithes to offer prayer for the nation (Deuteronomy 26:15); Moses' final blessing of the tribes (Deuteronomy 33).
3. The Progress of Religion, Seen in Moses' Intercessions:
This extensive series of the intercessory prayers of Moses forms a striking illustration of the growth of religion, represented by the founder of the national life of Israel. It is the history of an official, but it is also the history of a leader whose heart was filled with the intensest patriotism and regard for his fellows. None of these prayers are perfunctory. They are the vivid and passionate utterances of a man full of Divine enthusiasm and human affection. They are real prayers wrung from a great and devout soul on occasions of deep and critical importance. Apart from their importance in the history of Israel, they are a noble record of a great leader of men and servant of God.
4. Intercessory Prayer in Israel's Later History:
In the history of Joshua we find only the prayer for the people after the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:6-9), although the communications from God to Joshua are numerous. A faint intercessory note may be heard in Deborah's song (Judges 5:31) though it is almost silenced by the stern and warlike tone of the poem. Gideon's prayer History of seems to reecho something of the words of Moses (Judges 6:13), and accords with the national and religious spirit of the great leader who helped in the formation of the religious life of his people (see Judges 6:24), notwithstanding the evident lower plane on which he stood (Judges 8:27), which may account partially for the apostasy after his death (Judges 8:33 f). Manoah's prayers (Judges 13) may be noted.
5. The Rise of Official Intercession:
(The satisfaction of Micah at securing a priest for his house, and the subsequent story, belong rather to the history of official intercession (Judges 18; see below), as also the inquiry of the people through Phinehas at Shiloh (Judges 20:27 f), and the people's mourning and prayer (Judges 21:2 f).)
6. Samuel as an Intercessor in His Functions as Judge, Priest and Prophet:
Samuel is the real successor of Moses, and in connection with his life intercession again appears more distinct and effective. Hannah's song, though chiefly of thankfulness, is not without the intercessory spirit (1 Samuel 2:1-11). So also of Samuel's prayer at Mizpeh (1 Samuel 7:5), and the recognition by the people of Samuel's place (1 Samuel 7:8 f; see also 1 Samuel 8:6, 21; 1 Samuel 10:17-25; 12:19) (for the custom of inquiring of the Lord through a seer see 1 Samuel 9:6-10); Samuel's prayer for Saul (1 Samuel 15:11); Saul's failure to secure inquiry of God, even through intercession (1 Samuel 28:6); Saul's final appeal through the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-20); David's prayer to God (2 Samuel 7:18); David's Judge, prayer for deliverance of the people from pestilence (2 Samuel 24:17); Solomon's prayer for wisdom to govern the people (1 Kings 3:5-15); Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:12-61); Jeroboam's appeal to the man of God to pray for the healing of his hand (1 Kings 13:6); Elijah's prayer for the widow's son (1 Kings 17:20); Elijah's prayer for rain (1 Kings 18:42); Elisha's prayer for the widow's son (2 Kings 4:33); Elisha's prayer for the opening of the young man's eyes (2 Kings 6:17); Hezekiah's appeal to Isaiah (2 Kings 19:4); Hezekiah's prayer (2 Kings 19:14-19); Josiah's command for prayer concerning the "book that is found" (2 Kings 22:13). In Ch we find David's prayer for his house (1 Chronicles 17:16-27); David's prayer for deliverance from the plague (1 Chronicles 21:17); David's prayer for the people and for Solomon at the offering of gifts for the temple (1 Chronicles 29:10-19); Solomon's prayer at the consecration of the temple (2 Chronicles 6:1-42); Asa's prayer (2 Chronicles 14:11); Jehoshaphat's prayer (2 Chronicles 20:5-13); Hezekiah's prayer for the people who had not prepared to eat the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:18); Josiah's command for prayer concerning the book (2 Chronicles 34:21). In the Prophets we note Ezra's prayer (Ezra 9:5-15); Nehemiah's prayer (Nehemiah 1:5-11); the prayer of the Levites for the nation (Nehemiah 9:4-38).
7. Intercession in the Poetic Books:
The poetic books furnish a few examples of intercessory prayer: Job's intercession for his children (Job 1:5); Job's regret at the absence of intercession (Job 16:21); the Lord's command that Job should pray for his friends (Job 42:8). It is remarkable that the references to the Poetic intercession in the Psalms are few; but it must not be forgotten that the psalm is generally a lyrical expression of an intense subjective condition. This does not seem in the consciousness of Israel to have reached an altruistic development. The Psalms express very powerfully the sense of obligation to God, consciousness of sin, indignation against the sin of others. Occasionally the patriotic spirit leads to prayer for Israel; but only rarely does any deep sense of interest in the welfare of others appear to possess the hearts of Israel's singers. In Psalm 2:12 there is a hint of the intercessory office of the Son, which reflects, perhaps, the growth of the Messianic spirit in the mind of Israel; Psalm 20 is intercessional; it is the prayer of a people for their king. In Psalm 25:22 we find a prayer for the redemption of Israel, as in Psalm 28:9. In Psalm 35:13 the Psalmist refers to his intercession for others. But the "prayer returned into mine own bosom," and the final issue of the prayer becomes rather denunciatory than intercessional. The penitence of Psalm 51 rises into a note of prayer for the city (51:18). Sometimes (Psalm 60, and perhaps Psalm 67), the prayer is not individual but for the community, though even there it is hardly intercession. A common necessity makes common prayer. In Psalm 69 there is the recognition of the injury that folly and sin may do to others, and a kind of compensatory note of intercession is heard. Psalm 72 is regarded by some as the royal father's prayer for his son and successor, but the reading of the title adopted by the Revised Version (British and American) takes even this psalm from the category of intercession. In Asaph's Masehil (Psalm 74), intercession is more distinct; it is a prayer for the sanctuary and the people in their desolation and calamity. Asaph appears to have caught something of the spirit of Moses, as in Psalm 79 he again prays for the deliverance of Jerusalem; while a faint echo of the intercessory plea for the nation is heard in Ethan's psalm (Psalm 89). It sounds faintly in Psalm 106. In Psalm 122 we seem to breathe a larger and more liberal spirit. It contains the appeal to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (122:6), as if the later thought of Israel had begun to expand beyond the mere limits of personal penitence, or desire for deliverance, or denunciation of the enemy. In one of the Songs of Degrees (Psalm 125), there is the somewhat severely ethical prayer: "Do good, O Yahweh, unto those that are good." The yearning for the salvation of man as man has not yet been born. The Christ must come before the fullness of Divine love is shed abroad in the hearts even of the pious. This comparative absence of intercessory prayer from the service-book of Israel, and its collected expressions of spiritual experience, is instructive. We find continued references to those who needed prayer; but for the most part these references are descriptive of their wickedness, or denunciatory of their hostility to the Psalmist. The Book of Psalms is thus a striking commentary on the growth of Israel's spiritual life. Intense as it is in its perception of God and His claim on human righteousness, it is only when the supreme revelation of Divine love and the regard for universal man has appeared in the person of our Lord that the large and loving spirit which intercession signifies is found in the experience and expressions of the pious.
8. The Books of Wisdom:
In the Wisdom books there is little, if any, reference to intercession. But they deal rather with ethical character, and often on a merely providential and utilitarian basis. It is noticeable that the only reference to pleading a cause is said to be by the Lord Himself as against the injustice of man (Proverbs 22:23): "Yahweh will plead their (the poor's) cause." Action on behalf of others does not appear to have been very highly regarded by the current ethics of the Israelite. A kind of negative helpfulness is indicated in Proverbs 24:28: "Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause"; and it is significant that the office of advocate was not known among the Jews until they had come under the authority of Rome, when, not knowing the forms of Roman law, they were obliged to secure the aid of a Roman lawyer before the courts. Such practitioners were found in the provinces (Cic. pro Coelio c. 30); Tertullus (Acts 24:1) was such an advocate.
9. The Prophets' Succession of Moses and Samuel:
In the prophetical books the note of intercession reappears. The prophet, though primarily a messenger from God to man, has also something of the character of the intercessor (see Isaiah's call, Isaiah 6). Isaiah 25; Isaiah 26 exhibit the intercessory characteristics. The request of Hezekiah for the prayers of Isaiah (Isaiah 37:4), and the answer of the Lord implied in 37:6, recall the constantly recurring service of Moses to the people. Hezekiah himself becomes an intercessor (37:14-21). In Jeremiah 4:10 intercession is mingled with the words of the messenger. The sin of the people hinders such prayers as were offered on their behalf (Jeremiah 7:16; compare Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11). Intercessory prayers are found in Jeremiah 10:23; 14:7, 19-22. The message of Zedekiah requesting Jeremiah's help is perhaps an instance of seer-inquiry as much as intercession (Jeremiah 21:1 f; compare 1 Samuel 9:19). In Jeremiah 42:4, the prophet consents to the request of Johanan to seek the Lord on behalf of the people. The Book of Lamentations is naturally conceived in a more constantly recurring spirit of intercession. In the prophecies Jeremiah has been the messenger of God to the people. But, after the catastrophe, in his sorrow he appeals to God for mercy upon them (Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 5:1, 19). Ezekiel in the same way is rather the seer of visions and the prophetic representative of God. Yet at times he appeals to God for the people (Ezekiel 9:8; Ezekiel 11:13). In Daniel we find the intercession of his three friends sought for in order to secure the revelation of the king's dream (Daniel 2:17); and Daniel's prayer for Jerusalem and her people (Daniel 9:16-19).
In the Minor Prophets intercession rarely appears; even in the graphic pictures of Jonah, though the work itself shows the enlarging of the conception of God's relation to humanity outside of Israel, the prophet himself exhibits no tenderness and utters no pleas for the city against which he had been sent to prophesy, and receives the implied rebuke from the Lord for his want of sympathy, caring more for the perished gourd than for the vast population of Nineveh, whom the Lord, however, pitied and spared (Jonah 4). Even the sublime prayer of Habakkuk 3 has only a suggestion of intercession. Zechariah 6:13 relieves the general severity of the prophetic message, consisting of the threatenings of judgment, by the gleam of the promise of a royal priest whose office was partially that of an intercessor, though the picture is darkened by the character of the priesthood and the people, whose services had been selfish, without mercy and compassion (Zechariah 7:4, 7). Now the spirit of tenderness, the larger nature, the loving heart, are to be restored to Israel (Zechariah 8:16-23). Other nations than Israel will share in the mercy of God. In Malachi 2:7 we find the priest rebuked for the loss of his intercessory character.
10. The Priest and Intercession:
How far intercession was regarded as a special duty of the priesthood it is not very easy to determine. The priestly office itself was undoubtedly intercessory. In the Priest and offering of the sacrifice even for the individual, and certainly in the national functions, both of the regular and the occasional ceremonies, the priest represented the individual or the community. In Joel 2:17 the priests are distinctly bidden to "weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Yahweh." Malachi 1:9 appeals to them for intercession to God, and the graphic scene in 1 Maccabees 7:33-38 shows the priests interceding on behalf of the people against Nicanor.
11. Intercession in the Gospels:
In the New Testament, all prayer necessarily takes a new form from its relation to our Lord, and in this intercessory prayer shares. At the outset, Christ teaches prayer on behalf of those "which despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44 the King James Version). How completely does this change the entire spirit of prayer! We breathe a new atmosphere of the higher revelation of love. The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is of this character. Its initial word is social, domestic; prayer is the address of children to the Father. Even though some of the petitions are not original, yet their place in the prayer, and the general tone of the Master's teaching, exhibit the social and altruistic spirit, not so pervasive of the older dispensation. "Thy kingdom come" leads the Order of petitions, with its essentially intercessory character. The forgiveness of others, which is the measure and plea of our own forgiveness, brings even those who have wronged us upon the same plane as ourselves, and if the plea be genuine, how can we refuse to pray for them? And if for our enemies, then surely for our friends. In Matthew 7:11, the good things sought of the Father are to be interpreted as among those that if we desire from others we should do to them. And from this spirit the intercessory prayer cannot be absent. We find the spirit of intercession in the pleas of those who sought Christ's help for their friends, which He was always so quick to recognize: the centurion for his servant (Matthew 8:13); the friends of the paralytic (Matthew 9:2-6), where the miracle was wrought on the ground of the friends' faith. Of a similar character are the requests of the woman for her child and the Lord's response (Matthew 15:28); of the man for his lunatic son (Matthew 17:14-21). There is the suggestion of the intercessory spirit in the law of trespass, specifically followed by the promise of the answer to the prayer of the two or three, agreed and in fellowship (Matthew 18:15-20), with the immediately attached precepts of forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). A remarkable instance of intercession is recorded in Matthew 20:20-23, where the mother of Zebedee's sons makes a request on behalf of her children; the added expression, "worshipping him," raises the occasion into one of intercessory prayer. our Lord's rebuke is not to the prayer, but to its lack of wisdom.
It is needless to review the cases in the other Gospels. But the statement of Mark 6:5, that Christ could not perform mighty works because of unbelief, sheds a flood of light upon one of the important conditions of successful intercession, when contrasted with the healing conditioned by the faith of others than the healed. One of the most distinct examples of intercessory prayer is that of the Lord's intercession for Peter (Luke 22:31 f), and for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). The place of intercession in the work of Christ is seen clearly in our Lord's intercessory prayer (see INTERCESSION OF CHRIST), where it is commanded by definite precept and promise of acceptance. The promise of the answer to prayer in the name of Christ is very definite (John 16:24). Christ's high-priestly prayer is the sublimest height of prayer to God and is intercessory throughout (John 17); John 16:26 does not, as some have held, deny His intercession for His disciples; it only throws open the approach to God Himself.
12. Intercessory Prayers of the Church:
Acts introduces us to the working of the fresh elements which Christ gave to life. Hence, the prayers of the church become Christian prayers, involving the wider outlook on others and on the world at large which Christianity has bestowed on men. The prayer of the assembled believers upon the liberation of the apostles breathes this spirit (Acts 4:24-30). The consecrating prayer for the seven was probably intercessory (Acts 6:6; compare Acts 1:24). How pathetic is the plea of Stephen for his murderers (Acts 7:60)! How natural is intercession (Acts 8:24)! Peter at Joppa (Acts 9:40); the church making prayer with-out ceasing for Peter (Acts 12:5, 12); the prayer for Barnabas and Saul at Antioch (Acts 13:3); Paul and Barnabas praying for the churches (Acts 14:23); the church at Antioch commending Paul and Silas to the grace of God (Acts 15:40); Paul and the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:36), are all examples, more or less defined, of intercessory prayer.
13. Intercession Found in the Epistles:
In the Epistles we may expect to find intercession more distinctly filled with the relation of prayer through Christ. Paul gives us many examples in his Epistles: for the Romans (Romans 1:9); the Spirit's interceding (8:27); Paul's prayer for his race (10:1); his request for prayers (15:30); the help that he found from the prayer of his friends (2 Corinthians 1:11); prayer for the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 13:7); for the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:16-23; Ephesians 3:14-21; see also Ephesians 6:18 Philippians 1:3-11, 19 Colossians 1:3, 9; Colossians 4:3 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 15 2 Thessalonians 1:2); a definite command that intercession be made for all men and for kings and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1, 2); his prayer for Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3); for Philemon (1:4); and prayer to be offered for the sick by the elders of the church (James 5:14-18 see also Hebrews 13:18-21 1 John 5:14).
II. Intercession Perfected in Christ's Office and in the Church.
This review of the intercession of the Scriptures prepares us for the development of a specific office of intercession, perfectly realized in Christ. We have seen Moses complying with the people's request to represent them before God. In a large and generous spirit the leader of Israel intercedes with God for his nation.
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INTERCESSION OF CHRIST
The general conception of our Lord's mediatorial office is specially summed up in His intercession in which He appears in His high-priestly office, and also as interceding with the Father on behalf of that humanity whose cause He had espoused.
1. Christ's Intercession Viewed in Its Priestly Aspect:
The function of priesthood as developed under Judaism involved the position of mediation between man and God. The priest represented man, and on man's behalf approached God; thus he offered sacrifice, interceded and gave to the offerer whom he represented the benediction and expression of the Divine acceptance. (For the various forms of these offerings, see special articles.) As in sacrifice, so in the work of Christ, we find the proprietary rights of the offerer in the sacrifice. For man, Christ as one with man, and yet in His own personal right, offers Himself (see Romans 5; and compare Galatians 4:5 with Hebrews 2:11). There was also the transfer of guilt and its conditions, typically by laying the hand on the head of the animal, which then bore the sins of the offerer and was presented to God by the priest. The acknowledgment of sin and the surrender to God is completely fulfilled in Christ's offering of Himself, and His death (compare Leviticus 3:2, 8, 13; Leviticus 16:21; with Isaiah 53:6 2 Corinthians 5:21). our Lord's intercessory quality in the sacrifice of Himself is not only indicated by the imputation of guilt to Him as representing the sinner, but also in the victory of His life over death, which is then given to man in God's acceptance of His representative and substitute.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the intercessory character of our Lord's high-priestly office is transferred to the heavenly condition and work of Christ, where the relation of Christ's work to man's condition is regarded as being still continued in the heavenly place (see Hebrews 9:11-28). This entrance into heaven is once for all, and in the person of the high priest the way is open to the very presence of God. From one point of view (Hebrews 10:12) the priestly service of the Lord was concluded and gathered up into His kingly office (Hebrews 10:13, 14-18). But from another point of view, we ourselves are bidden to enter into the Holiest Place; as if in union with Christ we too become a kingly priesthood (Hebrews 10:19-22; and compare 1 Peter 2:9).
It must not be forgotten, however, that this right of entrance into the most Holy Place is one that depends entirely upon our vital union with Christ, He appears in heaven for us and we with Him, and in this sense He fulfills the second duty of His high-priestly office as intercessor, with the added conception drawn from the legal advocacy of the Roman court. The term translated "Advocate" in 1 John 2:2 is parakletos, which in John 14:16 is translated "Comforter." The word is of familiar use in Greek for the legal advocate or patronus who appeared on behalf of his client. Thus, in the double sense of priestly and legal representative, our Lord is our intercessor in Heaven.
Of the modes in which Christ carries out His intercessory office, we can have no knowledge except so far as we may fairly deduce them from the phraseology and suggested ideas of Scripture. As high priest, it may surely be right for us to aid our weak faith by assuring ourselves that our Lord pleads for us, while at the same time we must be careful not to deprave our thought concerning the glorified Lord by the metaphors and analogies of earthly relationship.
The intercessory work of Christ may thus be represented: He represents man before God in His perfect nature, His exalted office and His completed work. The Scripture word for this is (Hebrews 9:24) "to appear before the face of God for us." There is also an active intercession. This is the office of our Lord as advocate or parakletos. That this conveys some relation to the aid which one who has broken the law receives from an advocate cannot be overlooked, and we find Christ's intercession in this aspect brought into connection with the texts which refer to justification and its allied ideas (see Romans 8:34 1 John 2:1).
2. Christ's Intercessory Work from the Standpoint of Prayer:
In PRAYERS OF CHRIST (which see), the intercessory character of many of our Lord's prayers, and especially that of John 17, is considered. And it has been impossible for Christian thought to divest itself of the idea that the heavenly intercession of Christ is of the order of prayer. It is impossible for us to know; and even if Christ now prays to the Father, it can be in no way analogous to earthly prayers. The thought of some portion of Christendom distinctly combined prayer in the heavenly work of the Lord. There is danger in extreme views. Scriptural expressions must not be driven too far, and, on the other hand, they must not be emptied of all their contents. Modern Protestant teaching has, in its protest against a merely physical conception of our Lord's state and occupation in heaven, almost sublimed reality from His intercessory work. In Lutheran teaching the intercession of our Lord was said to be "vocal," "verbal" and "oral." It has been well remarked that such forms of prayer require flesh and blood, and naturally the teachers of the Reformed churches, for the most part, have contented themselves (as for example Hodge, Syst. Theol., II, 593) with the declaration that "the intercession of Christ includes: (1) His appearing before God in our behalf, as the sacrifice for our sins, as our high priest, on the ground of whose work we receive the remission of our sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and all needed good; (2) defense against the sentence of the law and the charges of Satan, who is the great accuser; (3) His offering Himself as our surety, not only that the demands of justice shall be shown to be satisfied, but that His people shall be obedient and faithful; (4) the oblation of the persons of the redeemed, sanctifying their prayers, and all their services, rendering them acceptable to God, through the savor of his own merits."
Even this expression of the elements which constitute the intercession of the Lord, cautious and spiritual as it is in its application to Christian thought and worship, must be carefully guarded from a too complete and materialistic use. Without this care, worship and devout thought may become degraded and fall into the mechanical forms by which our Lord's position of intercessor has been reduced to very little more than an imaginative and spectacular process which goes on in some heavenly place. It must not be forgotten that the metaphorical and symbolic origin of the ideas which constitute Christ's intercession is always in danger of dominating and materializing the spiritual reality of His intercessional office.
L. D. Bevan
CHRIST, INTERCESSION OF
See INTERCESSION OF CHRIST.