Intercessor – definition

Intercessor definition
Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

Traditional Legal Model – The intercessor, Christ, works on our behalf because we are not capable of dealing directly with the Father, the Divine Judge. Being both man and God, Jesus can bridge the gap and plead our case.

Biblical Healing Model – Christ functions as Intercessor for our benefit in a number of ways but certainly not to defend us against a strict Judge. The Father Himself is also an intercessor on our behalf.

From a Modern Dictionary:

Intercessor (noun)

a person who intercedes.

Intercede (verb)

to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition: to intercede with the governor for a condemned man.
(www.dictionary.com)

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Intercessor (noun)

A mediator; one who interposes between parties at variance, with a view to reconcile them; one who pleads in behalf of another.
(www.webstersdictionary1828.com)

Note that included in this definition of intercessor is some discussion of the similar words mediator and advocate:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Tim 2:5)

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)

Three Parties Involved

The three parties involved in the process of intercession (see intercession definition) are commonly thought of like this:

That involves Jesus acting towards the Father to get Him to change in how He regards us. But Jesus is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). They’re both on our side working with each other for our benefit. To say the Son has to convince the Father to let us off the hook is to split the Father and the Son and put a division between them. That never happens. They are in complete unity at all times.

If the Son is advocating with (not to) His Father for our benefit then they are both functioning in the role of intercessor. They are both on our side. The Son is not between us and the Father in the sense of having to influence His Father to have a favorable attitude towards us. Then to who or what is their intercession directed on our behalf?

Both Father and Son are always working, throughout our lives to intercede for us, to defend and protect us from anything that is against us:

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They hold back or intercede on (at least) three levels:

Our sinful nature via our conscience:

“And when he [the Comforter] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8)

The Spirit of Christ does this by drawing us to Himself:

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

The forces of nature, for example:

“Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought …” (Deut 8:15)

Note that many get confused about that because of this verse:

“And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” (Num 21:6)

What happened in that incident is that God was acting as intercessor in the sense of holding back or restraining the serpents that were already abundant in that area of the wilderness. When the people, through their attitude, refused God’s intercession, He complied with their wishes by ceasing His intercession with the result that the serpents were not restrained from doing what they normally did. The word “sent” is from the Hebrew “shalach” which can mean “to let go,” or “to allow.”

Another example:

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow [interceding to restrain destructive forces] on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” (Rev 7:1)

The four winds, symbolic of destruction, are held back to prevent harm (verse 3).

God is actually interceding at every moment against the force of entropy by which, according to the second law of thermodynamics, all things tend to disorder and chaos:

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb 1:3)

Satan seeking whom he may devour:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Pet 5:8)

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

So Jesus, our Intercessor is working on our behalf to protect from Satan, to protect from forces of nature and to subdue our sinful nature which can also harm us.

An Important Role of the Intercessor

There is one other important way in which He is interceding with us. That is in regard to our attitude towards God – to get us to love and trust His Father. That relates to this verse:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Tim 2:5)

Some might say “see there is only one mediator and He, Jesus, is between us and the Father.  Another verse sounds similar:

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

However, that doesn’t mean that God is not also on our side. But God’s character has been darkened by Satan’s accusations and there is one “Man” in particular Who can reconnect God and mankind through the life He lived on earth as the representative of His Father’s character.

In that case, it is the Son interceding in behalf of sinners regarding their wrong understanding of the Father’s character. Remember, intercession is directed towards someone or something on behalf of another. The intercession here is directed at our wrong understanding, attempting to change that towards the truth of His Father’s character for our benefit.

Intercessor - 5

That Jesus has been given that role is shown by this verse:

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:2-3)

“Power” there is, from the Greek word “exousia” meaning more like authority than the power of strength from the Greek work “dunamis.” One definition of “exousia” in Strong’s concordance is “the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege).” Christ was given the right and authority as His Father’s representative to show the true character of God. And how does He give eternal life? By helping people to know the only true God which knowledge the verse equates with eternal life.

“For there is only one God and one reconnecting bridge — one emissary from God to the human race–the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself to free us from the bondage of lies about God and from our own selfish natures. His sacrifice proves that God wants everyone to be healed.” (1 Tim 2:5-6, The Remedy New Testament)

Summary

I would summarize the meaning of an intercessor to be a person who works to influence someone or something else (including even a belief or understanding) for the benefit of another. Christ is our intercessor in more ways than we can know. He could also be said to be an intercessor regarding His work to change us for the benefit of His Father.

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This reflects the Father’s desire to have us come to Him

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is the way and, in the context of the verse itself, He is the way to the Father.

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself …” (2 Cor 5:19)

This is reflected in other verses such as:

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:25)

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Pet 3:18)

So there is a way in which Jesus is an intercessor between us and the Father after all. (Be sure to notice the difference between the diagram just above and the first one on this page.) However, that intercession (pleading, demonstrating, drawing etc) is towards us to get us to change our understanding of God’s character; to change our attitude and to look with favor upon God. It is we that need to change, not God.

Jesus is interceding between us and the Father but the work of intercession is on us not on the Father to get us to correctly judge the Father not to get Him to favorably judge us. The Bible tells us clearly that it is God who is being judged:

“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Rom 3:4)

Verses that sound like God is judging us are referring to:

  • His judgments in the diagnostic sense – what is wrong with them (mostly their thinking) that needs to be fixed?
  • His judgments in the therapeutic sense – what needs to be done to help them?
  • NOT to His judgments in the judicial (forensic) sense – why and how should I punish them?

We forget that there are various meanings to judging. We judge fruit at the store as we are deciding which ones to put in our shopping basket. We judge the seriousness of an injury/illness when we are deciding on a treatment option.

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