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What does “intercession” mean in this context? Does it mean prayer?

25 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. KJV, ©1769

Related: In Romans 8:34, what does it mean that Jesus "intercedes"?

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Intercession: the role of the high priest

The letter to the Hebrews was addressed specifically to those members of the early Christian community who were also Hebrews, or descendants of Abraham. Much of this letter draws on Hebrew scripture to explain why this new community does not appoint priests, provide sacrifices, etc.

Priesthood is explored in great detail, and the author continually refers to Jesus as high priest - both in fulfilling the tasks required of the order of Aaron and as an eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek, appointed by God 'not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life' (Hebrews 7:16).

Melchizedek is considered as 'priest of the Most High God' eternally because this is the only piece of information about him that 'lives on' in scripture:

He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever. (Hebrews 7:3)

The role of 'intercession' is explained earlier in the same letter:

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Hebrews 5:1)

The high priest in Hebrew culture was primarily a go-between, a connection between God and man. This task was performed initially by Moses, who relayed the words of God to the Hebrew people and also interceded on their behalf in preventing God's wrath. In some instances it was in the form of 'prayer' (Numbers 11: 1-3), while other times the scriptures describe Moses communicating face to face with God (Numbers 14).

Aaron and his descendants were later appointed priests to perform administrative or symbolic functions of this role such as offering gifts and sacrifices for sins, effectively acting on behalf of those who needed to placate God's anger, and the Levite lineage became law. To the Hebrew people, the priest was their 'source of salvation' - he alone was able to perform the sacrifices through which they were reconciled with God for their sins.

So the author makes a direct link between Jesus' actions and the role of priest:

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz′edek. (Hebrews 5: 7-10)

In comparing Jesus' priestly role to that of the Levites and of Melchizedek, the author sets up Christ as eternal priest, whose ultimate sacrifice on the cross serves as an ongoing intercession:

He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:27)

Conclusion

Christ makes intercession for 'those who draw nearer to God through him', not through prayer or supplications (which could only be performed 'in the days of his flesh'), but 'once and for all' by his perpetual sacrifice on the cross. In the gospel of John, Jesus' words clarify that one's faith in the basis of this eternal intercession (that he directly comes from and returns to God) effectively removes the need for a priest to physically 'act on behalf of men in relation to God':

In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16: 25-27)

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I would not translate G1793 as "intercede" in the complete English sense, which is primarily seen as prayer. G1793 en-tugchanó literally means "in union with" + "hit the target". So in looking at the Greek, I would translate it as ..."through means of Himself to God always living into (a direction) to hit the mark in union with (and) for them / or for their benefit. I understand this to mean that Jesus does not miss the mark like we do as "miss-the-mark-people" = sinners. To sin is to "miss the mark". Jesus always hits the mark. This is how He is able to save those coming to this goal - or moving towards - into the utter and full purposed aim.

I would say that Heb 7:25 relates all the way back to 1:3, where I once again need to make my own translation of the last part of the verse, which says...having brought forth the purging of sins (by being Himself as just described in the prior sentence), He sat down... IOW, because Jesus always hits the mark and never falls short of the glory of God, He brought forth an end to sin and can share that same end with us through union and abiding (1Pe 2:24).

In John 3:14, Jesus said the picture of the cross was Num 21:4-8. All the people were dying from the fiery serpents. So Moses made a serpent that was fiery bronze, but did not move. That is the key - it petrified the movement and the poison. Then Moses put it up on a wood pole, up on a hill suspended between heaven and earth. All the people needed to do, was look and see the still, immobile bronze snake, and then the fiery serpents lost their poisonous hold and power of death. It is a picture of the cross. It is also a picture of the mystery in beholding the cross with your heart and abiding with Him and trusting in His finished work (2Co 3:18).

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Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

In this context "intercession" means that no-one comes to the father or Lord except via Jesus Christ. That Christ intercedes means, "through me". This does not refer to Jews only, as Jesus states "no one". JPC.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

  • I appreciate your answer but my question relates to the significance of Christ's intercession for the believers. I know our access to the Father is solely via Christ but we already accessed Our Father's presence through our belief in Christ's death for us and His resurrection. So, again, what does Christ interceding for us really signifies? Why and under what circumstances do we still need intercession? – Sergiu May 29 '18 at 15:49
  • We are encouraged to do the "works" of the father that Jesus said we can do if we follow his example. I think this is said because Jesus was going to the father/god and we can follow his path which will lead us to the father also. So through his example, he intercedes and probably we have to be passed by him in fact. However, Christ will ask the father and he will give us another "advocate" to help us. John 14:16 In this he intercedes. "whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing" John 14.12. – Jeremy May 29 '18 at 19:59
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Most of the scriptures are not directly directed to the Body of Christ but are instead directed to Jews across their long history from the calling of Abraham through to the end of the Israel-centric age which occurred in 70AD. The only scriptures written specifically for the "Church age" are the letters of Paul (Romans to Philemon). The OT and the rest of the NT are essentially history and do not faithfully describe the current dispensation that began mid-Acts.

For this reason many are confused as they try to take instruction from the following:

  • the OT
  • the gospels
  • the first part of Acts
  • the letters of the apostles to the circumcision (Peter, James, John, Jude and Hebrews)

Reading these Israel-specific writings as if they were normative for the current age results in being led astray to these doctrines:

  • law keeping
  • works salvation
  • justification by the name of Jesus rather than his death
  • repentance and water baptism for remission of sins
  • lordship salvation
  • loseable salvation
  • etc.

In addition, because "To the Hebrews" is about the new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah it contains features that do not apply to gentiles including the priesthood of Christ. So, the new covenant supplies a great high priest, forgiveness based on covenant, threat to those who sin against the covenant blood, etc.

So "intercession" in Hebrews 7:25 refers to Jesus' role in administering the new covenant on behalf of faithful Jews in the same manner described by John where law keeping is indispensable, an advocate is required and justification is conditional:

1Jn 1:5  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  1Jn 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1Jn 1:10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  1Jn 2:1  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:  1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.  1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  1Jn 2:4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  1Jn 2:5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.  1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

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    I am not sure I fully agree with your point but it is an interesting one nevertheless! – Sergiu May 26 '18 at 18:19
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    @Sergiu The thrust of my view is commonly referred to as "rightly dividing" or "mid-acts dispensationalism". Some say "hyper-dispensationalism". It is in opposition to "reformed" teaching that attempts to unify the whole of scripture as essentially teaching the same thing. For more info you might start with youtube.com/… or youtube.com/user/GraceAmbassador/playlists – Ruminator May 26 '18 at 19:06

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