From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The word ἔντευξις, translated ‘intercession’ ( 1 Timothy 2:1;  1 Timothy 4:5), means literally ‘drawing close to God in free and familiar intercourse.’ But the modern use of the Word, which limits the meaning to prayer for others, need not obliterate the original meaning. It is in proportion as the person praying for others is able to enlarge his own intercourse with God that he can be, like Moses, Samuel, Elijah, able to uphold others.

In the NT human capacity for this work is seen to be immeasurably increased through the example and teaching of the Lord Jesus, and by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, who intercedes ‘with groanings which cannot be uttered’ and ‘according to the will of God’ ( Romans 8:26-27). We may expect, therefore, to find that the work of intercession will grow as the Church grows, with great widening of experience and influence. The enlarged teaching of St. Paul in his later letters corresponds with the facts narrated in the Acts, where intercessory services are quoted at all great crises. The apostles and brethren pray for guidance in the appointment of a successor to Judas ( Acts 1:24), as when they appoint the Seven ( Acts 6:6; cf.  Acts 13:3), or pray for the deliverance of St. Peter from prison ( Acts 12:5). The farewell prayers with the elders of Ephesus ( Acts 20:36), and the whole congregation of Tyre ( Acts 21:5-6), are typical in all probability of many similar services.

The teaching and the practice of the mother Church in Jerusalem are reflected in the Epistle of James ( James 5:14), where the prayers of the elders of the Church on behalf of the sick are definitely enjoined; nor is sickness of the soul forgotten in prayer for forgiveness ( James 5:16).

1. The Epistles of St. Paul help our imagination to go further in reproducing the method of intercession in the Apostolic Church. Intercession is continually linked with thanksgiving. Making mention of the Thessalonians in his prayers, he refers to their faith, hope, and love ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3), and their acceptance of his message as the Word of God ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13), ‘praying exceedingly that he may see their face and may perfect that which is lacking in their faith’ ( 1 Thessalonians 3:10). So in  2 Thessalonians 1:11 he prays that God may count them worthy of His calling and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in them. In response he asks for their intercession that ‘the word of the Lord may run and be glorified,’ and he himself may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men ( 2 Thessalonians 3:1 f.). There is a striking phrase in  2 Corinthians 1:11, when he has received the good news from Corinth, and pictures their prayers for his deliverance from peril: ‘Ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf.’ J. A. Beet ( ad loc. ) translates ‘from many faces,’ a graphic word-picture of the upturned faces of the whole congregation.

To the Roman Christians, whom he has not yet seen, St. Paul writes that he makes mention of them unceasingly ( Romans 1:8-12), praising God for their faith, and praying that he may be enabled to come and impart to them some spiritual gift of grace. They can help him by mutual encouragement.

In  Ephesians 1:15 ff., rejoicing, as always, in what is fairest in the character of his friends, he prays that they may have ‘a spirit of wisdom and revelation,’ growth in that knowledge of God which alike proves our efficiency and increases it in our use of His revelation, when our eyes are opened to see the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the greatness of His power. He speaks from his own experience of knowledge issuing in power.

In his next prayer ( Ephesians 3:1;  Ephesians 3:14-19) St. Paul puts the need of Divine power first as ‘a condition of ability to apprehend “the whole range of the sphere in which the Divine wisdom and love find exercise” ’ (Chadwick, p. 290). His social teaching here is noteworthy. Every family is enabled to live its common life in proportion as the individuals live up to their personal ideal. So he prays that Christ may dwell in each heart, for the strength of Christ is conveyed only to those who are fully strong enough to know the love of Christ.

Again, writing to the Colossians ( Colossians 1:9 ff.), he prays that they may be ‘endowed with all wisdom to apprehend [God’s] verities and all intelligence to follow His processes, living in the mind of the Spirit-to the end that knowledge may manifest itself in practice’ (J. B. Lightfoot, ad loc ). Having this sure grasp of principle, he can dare to pray for them as patient and long-suffering, and always thankful despite discouragement.

In  Philippians 1:9-11 he prays that love and knowledge and discernment may inspire them to approve things that are excellent with a pure conscience that offends none, and a life filled with the fruits of righteousness.

Thus the method of St. Paul is exactly parallel to the method of our Lord’s High-Priestly prayer ( John 17:9), in which intercession is concentrated first on the needs of those given to Him out of the world. The hope of the future depends on the strengthening of Christian centres before anything is said about those ‘who shall believe through their word.’ The beauty of the Christian life is the irrefragable proof of the truth of Christian teaching; so it is to uphold the ideal of Christian character that St. Paul prays most earnestly. But this does not mean that the corporate intercessions should not take also a wider range. In  1 Timothy 2:1 f. he exhorts that ‘supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all that are in high place,’ a direction which, as we shall see presently in the letter of Clement, was fervently followed in the Church in Rome, from which city he wrote this last Epistle.

It is a strange commentary on this teaching of St. Paul that Josephus should actually ascribe the origin of the war which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem to the refusal of the Jews, at the instigation of Eleazar, to offer prayer for Gentile rulers ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. 17:2).

2. In the Epistle to the Hebrews ( Hebrews 7:25) there is an important passage on the intercession of the Lord Jesus as our High Priest. ‘In the glorified humanity of the Son of man every true human wish finds perfect and prevailing expression’ (B. F. Westcott, ad loc. ). In reliance upon Christ’s advocacy as both social and personal, the writer naturally asks for the prayers of his readers ( Hebrews 13:18 f.), and especially that he may be restored to them the sooner.

3. In 1 John ( 1 John 5:14) intercession is regarded as the expression of perfect boldness in prayer which consciousness of a Divine life brings to believers: ‘The energy of Christian life is from the first social’ (Westcott, ad loc. ). Its prevailing power is assured on behalf of all who sin a sin not unto death, sins which flow from human imperfection. In regard to sin which wholly separates from Christ, the Apostle does not forbid, though he cannot enjoin ( 1 John 5:16).

4. The teaching of the Apostolic Fathers follows the lines already laid down by the NT writers.

( a ) Clement goes to the root of the troubles at Corinth when he asks that intercession should be made ‘for them that are in any transgression, that forbearance and humility may be given them’ ( Ep. ad Cor. lvi.). And he shows what a prominent place in the eucharistic prayers of the Church was given to intercessions (lix.): ‘Save those among us who are in tribulation; have mercy on the lowly; lift up the fallen; show Thyself unto the needy; heal the ungodly; convert the wanderers of Thy people; feed the hungry; release our prisoners; raise up the meek; comfort the fainthearted. Let all the Gentiles know that Thou art God alone, and Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.’

The prayer for rulers and governors may also be quoted (lxi.): ‘Grant unto them therefore, O Lord, health, peace, concord, stability, that they may administer the government which Thou hast given them without failure.… Do Thou, Lord, direct their counsel according to that which is good and well-pleasing in Thy sight, that, administering in peace and gentleness with godliness the power which Thou hast given them, they may obtain Thy favour.’

( b ) The joy of intercession finds striking expression in Hermas ( Mand. x. 3), who teaches our need of cheerfulness and maintains that the intercession of a sad man hath never at any time power to ascend to the altar of God. He paints also in the Parable of the elm and the vine ( Sim. ii.) the difficulties of the rich man, who in the things of the Lord is poor, and his confession and intercession with the Lord are very scanty, because he is distracted about his riches. As the vine seeks the support of the elm, let him help the poor man, who is rich in intercession, and gain the support of his prayers.

( c ) Turning from the Church in Rome to the Church in Antioch, we find Ignatius on his way to martyrdom asking for intercession in the Eucharist that he may succeed in fighting with wild beasts ( Eph. i), and ‘for the rest of mankind (for there is in them a hope of repentance), that they may find God’ ( ib. 10). He requests prayer for the Church in Syria in all his letters. ‘For, if the prayer of one and another hath so great force, how much more that of the bishop and of the whole Church’ ( ib. 5). To the Romans he writes: ‘Only pray that I may have power within and without’ ( ib. 3).

These quotations may suffice to show how thoroughly the practice of intercession was carried out by the primitive Church.

( d ) Aristides in his Apology says: ‘I have no doubt that the world stands by reason of the intercession of Christians’ (ch. 16).

( e ) In the Martyrdom of Polycarp (a.d. 155), viii., it is recorded how the aged Martyr remembered ‘all who at any time had come in his way, small and great, high and low, and all the Universal Church throughout the world.’

( f ) A little later Tertullian wrote these beautiful words ( de Orat. 29): ‘[Christian prayer] has no delegated grace to avert any sense of suffering; but it supplies the suffering, and the feeling, and the grieving, with endurance: it amplifies grace by virtue, that faith may know what she obtains from the Lord, understanding what-for God’s name’s sake-she suffers.… Likewise it washes away faults, repels temptations, extinguishes persecutions, consoles the faint-spirited, cheers the high-spirited, escorts travellers, appeases waves, makes robbers stand aghast, nourishes the poor, governs the rich, upraises the fallen, arrests the falling, confirms the standing.’

Literature.-A. J. Worlledge, Prayer , 1902; W. H. Frere and A. L. Illingworth, Sursum Corda , 1905; W. E. Chadwick, The Pastoral Teaching of St. Paul , 1907; see also under Prayer.

A. E. Burn.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Old Testament The heroes of Old Testament faith are in most cases heroes of intercessory prayer. Abraham asked God not to destroy Sodom in order to save his nephew Lot. He called on the righteous character of God, asking if God would “slay the righteous with the wicked” ( Genesis 18:25 ). In so doing, Abraham acknowledged that he was not worthy to lay such claims before the holy God ( Genesis 18:27 ). Abraham also interceded for Abimelech, fulfilling a prophetic function and bringing healing ( Genesis 20:7 ,Genesis 20:7, 20:17 ).

Moses intervened between God and Pharaoh as he tried to get permission for the people to leave Egypt (for example,  Exodus 8:8 ). At Sinai the people asked Moses to represent them before God since they feared to approach the awesome God ( Exodus 20:19 ). After the people built the golden calf, Moses prayed for God's mercy, calling on God to remember His reputation among the nations and His promises to the patriarchs. As a result, God “repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people” ( Exodus 32:11-14 ). Through intercessory prayer, Moses sought to make an atonement for sin, identifying himself so completely with the people that he asked to be blotted out of God's book if God would not forgive the people's sin ( Exodus 32:30-34 ). Compare  Deuteronomy 9:25 .

In face of the people's idolatry, Samuel asked God to forgive them ( 1 Samuel 7:5 ). Even when he did not agree with the people, Samuel took their plea for a king to God ( 1 Samuel 8:1; compare  1 Samuel 12:1 ). When God rejected Saul, Samuel prayed in grief ( 1 Samuel 15:11 ). David interceded all night on behalf of his new-born baby, even knowing God had decreed the child's death because of David's sin ( 2 Samuel 12:14-18 ). After taking a census without God's direction, David asked God to punish him and not the innocent people ( 2 Samuel 24:17 ).

In dedicating the Temple, Solomon asked God to hear the prayers of the sinful people and forgive them ( 1 Kings 8:1; compare  1 Kings 3:3-14 ). Elijah accused God of bringing “evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son” ( 1 Kings 17:20 ) and prayed successfully that the child would live again. Compare  2 Kings 4:32-34 . Hezekiah took Sennacherib's letter to the Temple and opened it before God, praying for deliverance from the Assyrians ( Isaiah 37:14-20 ).

Intercession formed an important part of the prophet's task. Amos prayed that God's word would not come to pass ( Amos 7:5-6 ). Jeremiah responded to God's word of judgment on the nation with a plea for God not to be a stranger among them who could not save themselves ( Jeremiah 14:7-9 ). Lamentations is filled with prayers for the nation. The priests had intercession as part of their job description ( Joel 2:17 ). Compare  1 Samuel 2:25 . The high priest's task was to make atonement for the people ( Leviticus 16:1 ).

The prophet looked to a day when people from all nations could come to the Temple and make intercession ( Isaiah 56:7 ). The prophetic hope centered in the Suffering Servant who would bear the sin of all people, making intercession for transgressors ( Isaiah 53:6 ,Isaiah 53:6, 53:12 ).

Intercession was not always effective. God told Jeremiah to forsake the prophetic duty of intercession: “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” ( Jeremiah 7:16 ). Even the great heroes of intercession would not succeed in such situations ( Jeremiah 15:1; compare  Ezekiel 14:14 ). In the final analysis, even the most righteous of people need an intercessor with God ( Job 9:32-35;  Job 19:25;  Job 23:1-17 ).

New Testament The New Testament teaches that intercession is expected of all believers ( 1 Timothy 2:1-3 ). Intercession for the sick is particularly important ( James 5:14 ). Paul in his letters constantly referred to his prayers for the readers, and Jesus set forth the supreme example of intercession ( Luke 22:32;  Luke 23:34;  John 17:1 ).

The Bible reveals that intercession is performed by the Holy Spirit, Christ, and Christians.  Romans 8:26-27 shows that the Holy Spirit works to sustain the burdened believer, to intercede to carry even inexpressible prayers to God.   Romans 8:34 offers the truth that the risen Christ will maintain His intercession for the believer, being the Mediator between God and humanity. God accepts a believer's prayers and praises through Christ's intercession. His death secured removal of sin; His resurrection bestowed life on those who believe in Him; His ascension brought exaltation to power in heaven and on earth. Now He intercedes for us at God's throne of grace.   Hebrews 7:25 proclaims the complete deliverance that comes through salvation accomplished through Christ and notes that He is ever present in heaven to intercede for those who come to Him. See Prayer .

J. William Thompson and Trent C. Butler

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

Intercessor, Intercession

We meet with but one passage in the Bible where the word Intercessor is used, namely,  Isaiah 59:16, though by virtue of the office of interceding as our great high priest, it is a well known character of Christ. But though the name and title is but once mentioned, being implied in that of his priestly office, yet the Lord Jesus, in his sweet employment as our Advocate with the Father, is held up to the view of the church in this most endearing character every where throughout the word of God. He is said "to make intercession for the transgressors when he was numbered with them and bare their sins." ( Isaiah 53:12) And the apostle Paul as blessedly points to Jesus in his priestly office, when he encourageth the poor sinner to come to him, because "he ever liveth to make intercession for them, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him." ( Hebrews 7:25) And God the Holy Ghost is careful to shew the church how the Lord Jesus carrieth on this gracious office. First by personally appearing, "in the presence of God for us." ( Hebrews 9:24) John saith, that he saw him in the midst of a throne as "a lamb that had been slain." ( Revelation 5:6) intimating, that his wounds still appeared fresh and flowing, to denote the everlasting efficacy of it. And secondly, the Lord Jesus carrieth on this high office not only by a naked appearance in the presence of Jehovah for his people, but by pleading the merits and worth of his sacrifice and righteousness. Paul the apostle calls Christ's blood a speaking blood, (see  Hebrews 12:24) and so it certainly is; for if, as the Lord said to Cain, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground," ( Genesis 4:10) what a voice must there be in Christ's blood, crying as it cloth for mercy and salvation! Surely it speaks to God of God's faithfulness to his promises, and Christ's claim to his merits; and it speaks from God for our sure pardon, and all the blessings of redemption to JEHOVAH'S glory and Christ's and his church's triumph and happiness. Such are the blessed views of Christ in his intercessional character.

I would beg yet farther to observe, that this blessedness is abundantly heightened when we consider that he who intercedes, and he with whom intercession is made, are one in the same design and end. The divine glory is the first cause, and the final issue of all. The church, made up of redeemed sinners, is originally the Father's gift to the Son. ( John 17:6) The son hath purchased the Church with his blood. ( Acts 20:28) Hence, therefore, all the persons of the Godhead are engaged and interested in the same concern. And as Christ is God the Father's dear Son, so is the church the dear children of God in Christ: so that what our blessed Lord Jesus saith, when speaking of this very subject, comes home to the heart of the believer with the strongest and sweetest recommendation of tenderness. "At that day ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God." ( John 16:26-27) These are blessed views both of the Father's everlasting love, and Christ's unceasing intercession. And it is highly important to remark, and a point that should never be lost sight of, that Christ in all his intercessions never once prayeth for the Father's love to the church, but for the fruits and effects of that love and his own merits and death. Yea, Christ himself, with all his fulness, blessedness, and glory, is the gift of the Father; for the express doctrine of the gospel in its first and leading point is, "that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." ( John 3:16) For a farther illustration of Christ's office of Intercessor,

See Advocate

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

I. Christ's intercession:

(1) In a general sense, for transgressors:  Isaiah 53:12;  Luke 23:34, for His murderers.

(2) In a special sense, for His believing people alone: "I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me" ( John 17:9). His prayer of compassion is for self destroying sinners. His pleading as Advocate is for His believing people, claiming their justification as a matter of right, on the ground of His righteousness. "We (who walk in the light as He is in the light) have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous" ( 1 John 2:1, compare  1 John 1:7;  Romans 8:33-34;  Hebrews 7:25). He died once for all, atoning for all sin; but "He ever liveth to make intercession for them that come unto God by Him," and for them alone. As examples of His intercession compare  Isaiah 62:1, for Zion;  Zechariah 1:12;  Zechariah 1:14;  Psalms 69:6-7, "let not them that wait on Thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed, for My sake," etc.

II. The Holy Spirit's intercession:  Romans 8:26-27. Christ intercedes for us above; the Holy Spirit, in Christ's personal absence, intercedes on earth in us. Hence, the Holy Spirit has the same title as Christ, the Ρaraclete (which in KJV is translated "Advocate" in the case of Christ, "Comforter" in the case of the Holy Spirit; the original word is the same for both). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer in every one below for whom Christ pleads above. The Holy Spirit is said to intercede for us with groanings, because He makes us to "groan," or "sigh." Knowing our needs better than we, He breathes in our prayers spiritual desires which find utterance in inarticulate sighings; these the Searcher of hearts knoweth, and interprets and answers accordingly; for whatever aspirations the Holy Spirit breathes in us are "according to the will of God."

III. Man's intercession:  Romans 11:2, Elijah interceding against Israel, as elsewhere for the people ( James 5:17-18). Paul often asks the prayers of, Christians in behalf of himself and other ministers, and the extension of Christ's kingdom ( 2 Thessalonians 3:1;  Ephesians 6:18-19).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

The word is from ἐντυγχάνω, which signifies 'to meet with, to intercede.' It refers to the intercession of Christ for His saints, whilein their present state, to bring them into conformity with the place justifying forgivenesshas given them, also to raise them above their trials, and lead them on as priests into the blessed joys and occupations of the sanctuary.  Romans 8:34;  Hebrews 7:25 . The Holy Spirit also, when they know not what to pray for as they ought, makes intercession for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Romans 8:26,27 . In  1 Timothy 2:1 we are instructed to make intercession for all men. It is remarkable that a substantive (ἔντευξις) formed from the above verb is used in   1 Timothy 4:5 , where food is sanctified bythe word of God and 'prayer,' or, as it there means, reverent intercourse with Him.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

Christ's appearing before the throne in heaven as the Advocate of his people, presenting his finished work as the reason why their prayers should be heard and their persons accepted in him,  Isaiah 53:12   Romans 8:34   Hebrews 7:25   9:24   1 John 2:1 . In thus pleading for sinners as the one Mediator, his work is perfect; it precludes all help a virgin, saints, or angels; and will certainly prevail. The Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is said to intercede for them,  Romans 8:26 , when he puts words into their mouths, and holy desires into their hearts, such as they would otherwise fail of, but which are according to the will of God and acceptable to him through Christ.

King James Dictionary [7]

INTERCES'SION, n. L. intercessio, from intercedo. See Intercede.

The act of interceding mediation interposition between parties at variance, with a view to reconciliation prayer or solicitation to one party in favor of another, sometimes against another.

Your intercession now is needless grown

Retire and let me speak with her alone.

He bore the sin of many, and made intercession

for the transgressors.  Isaiah 53 .

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(n.) The act of interceding; mediation; interposition between parties at variance, with a view to reconcilation; prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of, or (less often) against, another or others.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [9]

See Prayer

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

in - ter - sesh´un ( פגע , pāgha‛ , "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" (Rth 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 ἒντευξις , énteuxis , 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; ἐντυγχάνω , entugchánō , 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 -23). 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 ,  Exodus 32:21-34;  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 (Dt 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 reëcho 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 (Jdg 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 ,  1 Samuel 8:21;  1 Samuel 10:17-25;  1 Samuel 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 Ki 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 Ch 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 (Neh 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 20:1-9 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 Ps 51 rises into a note of prayer for the city (  Psalm 51:18 ). Sometimes ( Psalm 60:1-12 , and perhaps  Psalm 67:1-7 ), the prayer is not individual but for the community, though even there it is hardly intercession. A common necessity makes common prayer. In Ps 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. Ps 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 (Ps 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 79:1-13 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 (Ps 89). It sounds faintly in Ps 106. In   Psalm 122:1-9 we seem to breathe a larger and more liberal spirit. It contains the appeal to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (  Psalm 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 125:1-5 ), there is the somewhat severely ethical prayer: "Do good, O Y ahweh, 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 6:1-13 ).  Isaiah 25:1-12; 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  Isaiah 37:6 , recall the constantly recurring service of Moses to the people. Hezekiah himself becomes an intercessor ( Isaiah 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;  Jeremiah 14:7 , Jeremiah 14:19-22 . 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 Lam 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 ,  Lamentations 5:19 ). 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 Dan 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 4:1-11 ). Even the sublime prayer of Hab 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 ,  Zechariah 7:7 ). 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 Y ahweh."  Malachi 1:9 appeals to them for intercession to God, and the graphic scene in 1 Macc 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 f, 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 f, 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 (Jn 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 ,  Acts 12:12 ); 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 ( Romans 8:27 ); Paul's prayer for his race ( Romans 10:1 ); his request for prayers ( Romans 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 ,  Philippians 1:19;  Colossians 1:3 ,  Colossians 1:9;  Colossians 4:3;  1 Thessalonians 1:2;  1 Thessalonians 5:23 ,  1 Thessalonians 5:15;  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 ,  1 Timothy 2:2 ); his prayer for Timothy ( 2 Timothy 1:3 ); for Philemon ( Philippians 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. It was natural that this striking example of intercessory prayer should be followed by other leaders, and that the gradually developed system of religious worship should furnish the conception of the priest, and especially the high priest, as the intercessor for those who came to the sacrifice. This was particularly the significance of the great Day of Atonement, when after offering for himself, the high priest offered the sacrifice for the whole people. This official act, however, does not do away with the intercessory character of prayer as offered by men. We have seen how it runs through the whole history of Israel. But it is found much more distinctly in the Christian life and apparently in the practice of the Christian assembly itself. Paul continually refers to his own intercessory prayers, and seeks for a similar service on his own behalf from those to whom he writes. Intercession is thus based upon the natural tendency of the heart filled by love and a deep sympathetic sense of relation to others. Christ's intercessory prayer is the highest example and pattern of this form of prayer. His intercessions for His disciples, for His crucifiers, are recorded, and the sacred record rises to the supreme height in the prayer of  John 17 . In this prayer the following characteristics are to be found: (1) It is based upon the intimate relation of Jesus to the Father. This gives to such prayer its justification; may it be said, its right. (2) It follows the completest fulfillment of duty. It is not the mere expression of desire, even for others. It is the crown of effort on their behalf. He has revealed God to His disciples. He has given to them God's words; therefore He prays for them ( John 17:6 ,  John 17:7-9 ). (3) It recognizes the Divine, unbroken relation to the object of the prayer: "I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep," etc. ( John 17:11 ). (4) The supreme end of the prayer is salvation from the evil of the world ( John 17:15 ). (5) The wide sweep of the prayer and its chief objects - unity with God, and the presence with Christ, and the indwelling of the Divine love. The prayer is a model for all intercessory prayer. See, further, Intercession Of Christ; Prayers Of Jesus; Offices Of Christ .

III. Intercession of the Holy Spirit

In connection with the subject of intercession, there arises a most interesting question as to whether the Holy Spirit is not presented in Scriptures as an intercessor. The text in which the doctrine seems to be taught is that of  Romans 8:26 f: "In like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; 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." By far the larger number of expositors have understood by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The older commentators, in general, refer to the Holy Spirit. Tholuck, Ewald, Philippi, Meyer, most of the American theologians and English commentators, as Shedd, Alford, Jowett, Wordsworth, interpret it in the same way. Lange and Olshausen refer it to the human spirit. Undoubtedly, the "groanings" have led to the denial of the reference to the Holy Spirit. But the very form of the word translated "helpeth" indicates coöperation, and this must be of something other than the spirit of man himself. The undoubted difficulties of the passage, which are strongly urged by Lange (see Lange's Commentary on   Romans 8:26 ), must be acknowledged. At the same time the statement seems to be very clear and definite. An explanation has been given that the Holy Spirit is here referred to as dwelling in us, and thus making intercession. The Divine Spirit is said to be a Spirit of supplication ( Zechariah 12:10 ). The distinction which is made between the intercession of Christ in heaven in His priestly office and that of the Holy Spirit interceding within the souls of believers, referred to by Shedd (see Commentary on Romans ), must be carefully used, for if pressed to its extreme it would lead to the materialization and localization of the Divine nature. Moreover, may not the intercession of our Lord be regarded as being partially exemplified in that of the Spirit whom He has declared to be His agent and representative? If Christ dwells in believers by His Spirit, His intercession, especially if subjective in and with their spirits, may properly be described as the intercession of the Holy Ghost.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

( פָּנִע , Ἔντευξις ) is the act of interposition in behalf of another, to plead for him ( Isaiah 53:12;  Isaiah 59:16;  1 Timothy 2:1). (See Advocate).