How Many Intercessors?

Posted Jan 14, 2012 by Rex Conklin in The Son of God Hits: 4,849

Was recently challenged by a pastor to study Romans 8:26 as it relates to the "Spirit itself" who makes intercession for us.  To him this verse indicated there was another intercessor besides Christ. He asked me to speak to a certain retired pastor who had an understanding of the Greek and could share with me what "itself" meant.  This I did and then began my own study of the Bible to see how many intercessors there were.  I shared my study in a letter and would appreciate any thought or comments.

Dear Pastor,

I recently remembered you suggesting I talk to our brother about Romans 8:26 pertaining to the word “itself” and how it relates to the Spirit being another intercessor besides Christ. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

He himself recently brought it up in Sabbath School while teaching the lesson, which gave me the opportunity to hear his presentation of the Greek uninterrupted.

After church I suggested to him that the Greek word for “itself” (autos) could not be counted on to only represent the 3rd person in the trinity as he taught.  I pointed out how that word could be used for other individuals beside the Spirit of the trinity.

He asked me at the time if I was sure of that.  I said I believed that is the way you will find it and that is where our conversation ended.  I wanted to be sure that what I spoke was correct. This caused me to search the Scriptures to make sure I had spoken properly. From my studies I discovered the word “itself” "is the Greek word "autos" and is used six times in the New Testament. Three of those times in the 8th chapter of Romans.  Further investigation found the word “autos” is used in the New Testament a total of 5785 times. Little did I know what a traffic jam “autos” would turn out to be.

The eSword Greek Dictionary of the New Testament defines autos: “From the particle ?? au (perhaps akin to the base of G109 through the idea of a baffling wind; backward); the reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the compound of G1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons: - her, it (-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-]) self, [your-] selves, she, that, their (-s), them ([-selves]), there [-at, -by, -in, -into, -of, -on, -with], they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which. Compare G848.”

Webster’s tells us a noun is a person, place, or thing.  Basically when a pronoun is used we need to identify the noun “it” is talking about.  When used in the Bible man has constructed in his imagination that because the word “it” and “itself” are personal pronouns of the “third person” they automatically identify the third person Being of the Trinity. Is this a proper definition? As you and our brother have pointed out to me Romans 8:26 says to you that there are two intercessors, Jesus and the Spirit. The rules of interpretation and what I understand about the work of Christ in the sanctuary deny that there are two intercessors.

Here’s an example I have heard used for “it.”  See if this is twisting Scripture.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” - (Genesis 3:15)

The marginal reading for this verse replaces “it” with “he,” so I’ve been told the Holy Spirit is the “He” who will bruise the head of the serpent because the dictionary says the word “it” is a personal pronoun of the third person. From there they move to Romans 16:20.

“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

Now as the verse we just quoted says the God of Peace is the one to bruise Satan, this means the “He” in Genesis 3:15 is now identified as the Holy Spirit, God of Peace.

It doesn’t stop there.  Because the “it” in Genesis 3:15 is actually “He” the Holy Spirit God of Peace, am told it stands to reason that “He” would also be the “King of Peace” from Hebrews chapter seven.

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;” - (Hebrews 7:1-2)

Now Melchisadek, King of peace is the Holy Spirit, God of Peace in human form because the dictionary defined “it” as a personal pronoun of the “third person.”  Have those who shared this with me used the rules of interpretation properly?

I’m a simple man and believe that the Bible is the proper interpreter of “itself.” We won’t need to wrangle and twist the verses like the above example. At the same time I realize that those who hold to trinitarian belief have been conditioned to think “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” when they come across the word “God” in the Bible because they say the word is plural, and when the word “Spirit” is capitalized it is automatically identified as the third person of the trinity.

Men as their custom is with this issue will take about four verses from Scripture that have the words God, or Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and repeat them over and over again to say this proves a plural or three person God who is one. If this is correct I need someone to show me from Scripture a body and a name for the third person of the Trinity.

Why can’t we take the Bible just as it reads? It should be so simple that even a little child can understand, but because man has spiritualized the Word and told us that God needs to be some unfathomable mystery we sometimes have to get technical to make it simple again. I’ve had to do this in my own studies because I was programmed to read the Bible this way.

In the New Testament the word “spirit” is identified as a neuter noun, the word in and of itself is too broad to arbitrarily determine that it is its own Being separate from any other person. To me that would be spiritualism bordering on the immortality of the soul doctrine with the belief that there is a spirit that lives on after a person dies. It is interesting in many popular representations of this thought that a window is opened in the room when a person dies so the spirit could wing its way to heaven. This spirit is most often pictured in art and film as a dove.  Because of our belief as Adventists in the non-immortality of the soul the rules of interpretation would indicate that we need to find a live physical body to identify the spirit with otherwise we’ve fallen into the same trap as the spiritualizers.

Let’s apply these principles to determine who the Spirit is in Romans chapter eight. The word “itself” appears in the twenty-first verse without the word “Spirit.”

“Because the creature itself (autos) also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Itself here is referring to the creature, and because creature is a neuter noun “itself” is a proper pronoun.

Now the sixteenth verse gives us another place we need to identify the noun because the pronoun “itself” is used, this time with the word “Spirit:

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” - (Romans 8:16)

The word “Spirit” here is the neuter noun, which is why “itself” is the pronoun.  We now need to find the noun that the “Spirit itself” belongs to because just as “our spirit” is a part of who we are and not a separate individual floating around out there somewhere separate from us, neither can the “Spirit itself” be a separate individual from the person it belongs to.  As mentioned previously, that would be spiritualism. So “our spirit” in this verse belongs to each individual that comprises “we…the children.” The only other person mentioned in this verse is “God.” Can we break that word down even more for a precise identification? The verse before that reads:

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” - (Romans 8:15)

Spirit and bondage are both nouns.  Does that spirit of bondage belong to an individual or is it just out there as its own person?  We will ask the same for the Spirit of adoption.  In this verse who does the Spirit of adoption originate with or belong to? The answer given in the verse is the “Father.”

The verse after Romans 8:16:

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” - (Romans 8:17)

Here we see the “Spirit itself” wedged right between the 15th and 17th verses where it plainly shows those who receive the “Spirit of adoption” would be joint heirs with God and Christ.  My conclusion is the pronoun “itself” in verse sixteen is none other than the Spirit of the Father and Son. If a third Spirit Being is meant here then He should have been included in the list of persons we would be joint heirs with.

As stated before I realize that those who hold to trinitarian belief have been conditioned to think “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” when they come across the word “God” in the Bible, and if that was applied here the verse would not make sense if it said “heirs of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and joint-heirs with Christ.  That would make four Divine Persons.

Romans 8:9-11 verifies that the Spirit is part and parcel of the Father and Son.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Once again let’s see if a trinitarian reading will hold up in verse 9.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (of the third person of the trinity), if so be that the Spirit of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

How many Spirit’s are there?

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” - (Ephesians 2:13, 18)

“Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” - (Zechariah 6:13)

Jesus knew just who the first Comforter was. Sister White sheds light on this in “Asking To Give”, chapter fourteen of Christ’s Object Lessons.

“Christ was continually receiving from the Father that He might communicate to us. "The word which ye hear," He said, "is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me." John 14:24. "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Matthew 20:28. Not for Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. "The Lord God hath given Me," He said, "the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned." Isaiah 50:4.{COL 139.1}

How precious it is to know that Jesus’ Father awakened Him daily with a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit where His soul and lips were anointed with grace that He might impart to others. This is why Jesus could testify to the disciples that when they needed the same grace it would be “the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.” – (Matthew 10:20)

John 14, the “other Comforter” chapter, begins with the words. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” The word “mansions” (Strong’s G3438) in the second verse is the same word “abode” in the 23rd verse.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (3438) with him.” - (John 14:23)

This same abiding is expanded on in the 15th chapter of John where the Father is the husbandman of the vineyard, the Son is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing.

“I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” - (John 15:5)

How is Christ able to abide with us? The same way that the Father abode in Him.

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…[L]o, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. - (John 14:18; Matthew 28:20)

Jesus would come to us in Spirit as “another Comforter” just like His Father came to Him as the first Comforter. John 14:21 verifies this:

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself (autos) to him.” - (John 14:21)

When Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth and the life”, and that no man comes unto the Father except by Him I believe He meant that literally.  The reason why spiritual formation is sweeping into the church is because the proponents say they are trying to tap into trinitarian consciousness through the Spirit because the Father and Son are in heaven and the Spirit is the one down here running things. This is a dangerous deception.

“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” - (Matthew 11:27)

Jesus is the only Being in the universe who can reveal the Father. Since He is not physically present with us now He reveals His Father to us through His Spirit.

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” - (Galatians 4:4-6)

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” - (Romans 8:5, 9-10)

The following verses give us a key to unlocking the identity of the “Spirit itself” in Romans 8:26.

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” - (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Notice these words, “the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when “it” testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ.” “It” here refers to the Spirit of Christ who testified to the prophets beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Is the Spirit of Christ someone other than our Saviour?  Is your spirit someone other than you yourself?

Read what else the Spirit of Christ itself does on our behalf.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself 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.” - (Romans 8:26-27)

Whose Spirit maketh intercession and searcheth the heart according to the will of God?

“God's people, rescued from the fire by Jesus Christ, have a sense of their sin, feel humbled and ashamed. God sees and recognizes their repentance, and notes their sorrow for sin, which they cannot remove or cancel themselves. But as they pray their prayers are heard, and this is the reason that Satan stands by to resist Christ; because He hears their prayers, He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. He regenerates the sinner, and pardon is written off against his name. This stirs Satan up to resistance. He steps in between the repenting, believing soul and Christ. He seeks to cast his hellish shadow before that soul, to dampen faith, and to make of none effect the words of God. . . .  {UL 20.3}

But Christ says, "Get thee behind me, Satan, let my light and my righteousness shine into this heart."  {7MR 203.1}

“Prayer is acceptable to God only when offered in humility and contrition and in the name of Christ. He who hears and answers prayer knows those who pray in humbleness of heart. The true Christian asks for nothing except in the name of Christ, and he expects nothing except through His mediation. He desires that Christ shall have the glory of presenting his prayers to the Father, and he is willing to receive the blessing from God through Christ.”  {8MR 195.2}
“The Spirit of God has much to do with acceptable prayer. He softens the heart; He enlightens the mind, enabling it to discern its own wants; He quickens our desires, causing us to hunger and thirst after righteousness; He intercedes in behalf of the sincere suppliant. "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26.)  {8MR 195.3}

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” - (Romans 8:34)

“[T]o us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” - (1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; Galatians 3:14)

If there were more than one intercessor or mediator I believe the Scriptures would make that clear by using the plural of those words.

This topic has become important to me and I am glad you asked me to speak to our brother and study it out for myself. We already have the Catholic church with their two intercessors, Christ and Mary. I’ve learned that because of the trinity doctrine the Adventist church says there are two intercessors, a Spirit Being and Christ. This is so because they say that Jesus is stuck in heaven because he retains His humanity and can only intercede physically before the Father. The Spirit is said to be the only entity that can be everywhere present to intercede for the saints. Please ponder prayerfully the following words from Sister White.

“Although our Lord ascended from earth to heaven, the Holy Spirit was appointed as His representative among men. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless" [John 14:15-18].  {14MR 23.2}
Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall (although unseen by you), [THIS PHRASE WAS ADDED BY ELLEN WHITE.] teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" [John 14:26]. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will come not unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" [John 16:7].  {14MR 23.3}
“Let us live for the Master, striving to help one another. "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Let us in our life-work strive constantly to answer the prayer of Christ, that we may be united with one another and with him. Let us always before undertaking anything, ask ourselves the question, Will this please my Saviour? Is it in harmony with the will of God? The consciousness that we are bringing the Christ-life into the daily experience will give a sacred dignity to the every-day duties. All that we do will be done with faithfulness, that the Master may be honored. Thus shall we show to the world what Christianity can accomplish for sinful human beings, giving them constantly increasing efficiency for service in this life, preparing them for the higher life in the world to come.” {RH, January 27, 1903 par. 16}

I need an advocate with the Father who will intercede on my behalf according to the will of God because He knows the mind of the Spirit. How precious is that mediatorial work of Christ and His Spirit in my life giving me the opportunity to have the Spirit of adoption whereby my spirit and the Spirit of the Son can cry out to God, "Abba Father."

Thank you for the opportunity to open up to you my thoughts on this subject. I pray I have made this lesson understandable and used proper methods for interpreting the Bible.  If I have erred and missed the mark I value your thoughts and appreciate your prayers.

Your brother in Christ,

Rex Conklin