Intercession and Mediation

17 Nov

Since Christians don’t have prayer mastered, they need divine assistance getting their messages to God’s throne. To that end, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26, ESV). “Intercedes” in v. 26 is the Greek huperentunchano, which means to offer a request on another’s behalf. “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). “Intercedes” in v. 27 is entunchano, meaning to meet another with the purpose of bringing a request. Whatever may be said about the source of the “groanings” (cf. Rom. 8:22,23,26; 2 Cor. 5:1-5), the fact is the Holy Spirit makes intercession for the saints. Something needs communicating to God that is “too deep for words,” and the Spirit steps in to make that happen. God knows what is on the Spirit’s mind (the Spirit being, himself, God), and the Spirit knows what is on the Christian’s mind (indwelling every Christian, as he does). Thus, there is a channel whereby things even beyond words can be brought before God, thanks to the Spirit’s intercession.


But the Spirit is not alone in pleading for the Christian. “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). “Interceding” is the same Greek word found in Rom. 8:27. Jesus is in heaven; the Holy Spirit is on earth (indwelling the church); yet, both are involved in the business of intercession on behalf of saints. Jesus’ intercession is again affirmed in Heb. 7:25, where the Greek word (entunchano) is the same found in Rom. 8:27,34.


Interestingly, Paul urges “that supplications, prayers, intercessions [Gr. enteuxis], and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Tim. 2:1). So, even Christians make “intercessions” on behalf of other people in their prayers. The Spirit intercedes for Christians. Jesus intercedes for Christians. And Christians intercede for other people in their prayers. Remember, in intercession, one party approaches a second party with a request on behalf of a third party. There is nothing in either the concept of intercession or the biblical context of intercession to limit it to a single party. In point of fact, as these examples show, multiple parties are involved in interceding.


Mediation is a different story. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator [Gr. mesites] between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). A mesites is a go-between, belonging solely to neither party, but who represents at least two parties, each to the other. Think of it this way. An intercessor pleads on another’s behalf (imagine an arrow pointing one way, from the intercessor to God). But a mediator represents two parties to each other (imagine arrows pointing both directions, from saints to God and from God to saints). Being God, Jesus is perfectly qualified to present God to men. And, having become a man, Jesus is perfectly qualified to present men to God. Christ’s station is unique. He is the gateway to atonement, the door to redemption. As mediator, Jesus is the conduit of two-way representation, bringing God and redeemed man together. No one else could. This is why there can be multiple intercessors, but only a single mediator. Let us thank God for both!


Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Doctrine


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3 responses to “Intercession and Mediation

  1. J. Randal Matheny

    November 17, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Well done, nice distinction, and important one. May God multiply the intercessors among us, and enlarge those for whom Christ serves as Mediator.


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