This clearly exemplifies the
propitiatory nature of Christ's advocacy. It is an advocacy on behalf of a
sinful man; "if any man sin". A sinful man needs a propitiation. And the
only One who offered this propitiation is Jesus Christ the righteous. Only
he can be our advocate, through the blood He shed on our behalf.
The same intent appears in St. Paul's designation of the Lord Christ as the
only mediator between God and men: "one mediator between God and men, the
man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1Ti 2:5). He mediates
being the Redeemer who gave Himself and paid the wages of sin on our behalf.
No one would argue this unique role of the Lord Christ as sole advocate of
man_kind. Intercession of the Saints on behalf of men has nothing to do with
propitiation and redemption. It is intercession on our behalf before Christ.
2) Intercession of
the Saints is merely a prayer on our behalf, it is a supplicatory
intercession far removed from Christ's propitiatory advocacy.
The bible supports this kind of
intercession: "pray one for another"
(James 5:16). Even the Saints requested
others to pray for them. St. Paul asks the Thessalonians:
"pray for us"
(2Thes 3:1). The same he asks of the Hebrews (Heb 13:18), and of the
Ephesians "Praying always with all prayer and supplication..for all the
saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me" (Eph 6:18). Similar
requests for prayer are innumerable in the Bible. Now, if the Saints request
our prayers, shouldn't we request theirs?
And if we ask others to pray for us who are still striving, in this life and
are "subject to like passions as we are", shouldn't we rather ask for the
prayers of those who finished their course and are living in Paradise with
Have they lost their favor after departing from earth to Paradise? or is it
only lawful to ask for their prayers here on earth but not where thy are so
close to Christ in Paradise?
And if we request men to pray for us, shouldn't we rather ask the Angels to
pray for us?
often requested the intercession of the righteous on behalf of other people:
God often asked for, approved, and
allowed this to happen. We shall give some examples for intercessions that
a. The story of the Patriarch Abraham and King
Abimelech sinned in taking Sarah (Abraham's wife) unto his household, but he
did this in "the integrity of his heart" for Abraham said of her that she is
his sister. Now the Lord came to Abimelech in a dream and warned him that he
would surely die. Then the Lord said unto him:
"Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall
pray for thee, and thou shalt live." (Gen 20: 1_7)
The Lord could have forgiven him as soon as he restored the woman to her
husband, but He added the condition that Abraham pray for him that he may
live. Here we see an example of God asking specifically for the intercession
of Abraham on behalf of Abimelech.
b. The story of Job the righteous, and his three
friends (Job 42):
In a similar manner the Lord requested Job's intercession and prayer on
behalf of his three friends, as a condition for forgiving them.
The Bible records this as follows: "The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite,
My wrath is kindled against thee and against thy two friends... Therefore
take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job,
and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray
for you: for him will I accept; lest I deal with you after your folly"
In both incidents, God Himself addresses a person, and yet declines to grant
the forgiveness of a sin unless a particular Saint prays on behalf of that
person. God does so in order to exalt his Saints and honor them before
people, and He accepts, even requests such intercession.
c. The intercession of Abraham on behalf of Sodom:
The Lord could have inflicted His punishment on the city of Sodom without
involving the Patriarch Abraham in this affair. And Abraham did not
intervene of his own initiative. It was the Lord Who discussed the matter
with Abraham and thus gave him a chance to intercede on behalf of those
people, and accepted his intercession. The Lord saw fit that this incident
should be recorded in the Bible that He may exalt Abraham before the whole
world, and demonstrate to us to what extent He honors His Saints...The Bible
records this as follows: "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that
thing which I do ?!" (Gen 18:17)... And the Lord discussed the matter with
Abraham, and gave him a chance to intercede on behalf of the city in case
there were 50, or 45, or 40, or 30, or 20, or even 10 righteous people in
the city, that the Lord may spare the city for their sake.
This does not only serve to
demonstrate the favor that Abraham has with God, but also the favor that all
the righteous have with God, seeing that God would have spared a whole city
for their sakes. "And the Lord said, If I find fifty righteous within the
city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes"...."I will not do it
for the forty's sake" ..."I will not destroy it for twenty's sake", "I will
not destroy it for ten's sake". (Gen 18:26_32).
The use of the words "for the sake of..." is Theo_ logically significant,
since it exemplifies God's saving of certain people for the sake of others.
It gives a clear indication of the intercession of the righteous on behalf
of the sinners, and of God's approval of such intercession, even before such
intercession is invoked or offered...
d. The intercession of Moses on behalf of the people
God condemned the people of Israel to destruction because of the golden
calf. Nevertheless, He did not execute His Judgment immediately, but rather
discussed the matter with the Prophet Moses, thus offering him a chance to
intercede on their behalf, and indeed, accepted his intercession.
And as Abraham addressed the Lord saying: "That be far from Thee to do after
this manner", Moses say's to Him: "Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of
this evil against Thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel Thy
servants, to whom Thou swarest...". The Bible tells us after this
Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people." (Ex 32:
So far, we have cited examples of the prayer of the living on behalf of the
living. Those who departed, have even more favor with God, so much so, that
God spared people for their sakes even without their prayers. How much more
would He, had they prayed for someone:
As an example we cite God's acts of mercy and compassion for the sake of His
servant David. On account of King Solomon's sin, God decided to divide his
kingdom, however, God tells him concerning this matter:
thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it
out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom;
but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake.."
God repeats the same account when He speaks with Jeroboam:
"..behold I will
rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon...but he shall have one tribe
for my servant David's sake..." (1Kings 11:31,32)....
"...I will not take
the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days
of his life for David my servant's sake.." (1Kings 11:34).
God repeats the same expression "for David my servant's sake" 3 times in the
same chapter. On account of this the psalmist pleads with God saying:
Thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed."
If such is the favor that David has
with God, how much more would be the favor that the Virgin and the Angels
have? and the favor of John the Baptist (greatest ever born of a woman)? And
how much would be the favor of the martyrs who suffered and died for His
And since we find no fault in asking for the prayers of our fellows on
earth, why shouldn't we ask for the prayers of those who
"shine as the
brightness of the firmament" (Dan 12:3). And why shouldn't we ask for the
prayers of those who..fought the good fight, finished the course, kept the
And if intercession (which is actually prayer on our behalf) is considered
an advocacy, and as such is unacceptable, then the prayers offered by any
person on behalf of another would also be an unsolicited advocacy, since we
have only one advocate!
And if this is so, then the Apostle must have erred (God forbid), when he
said: "pray one for another" (Jas 5:16), since the relation between God and
man is a direct one, and _in view of the Divine love_ needs no body else's
It follows also, that all the prayers on behalf of others that are mentioned
in the Bible are meaningless and contrary to Divine love!! (according to
them), since God loves His children and does not need others to pray on
their behalf to remind Him of His parental care and love for them!
And then we will be at a loss when we try to explain God's purpose when He
asked for Abraham's prayers on behalf of Abimelech and of Job's prayers on
behalf of his friends.
Prayers of people (whether departed or striving) for others is a proof of
the mutual love that exists between them. It is a proof of the faith of
those living that those departed are alive and that their prayers are
acceptable before God. It is a proof of the honor that God bestows upon His
It is for the benefit of mankind that God allowed this form of intercession.
It constitutes a bridge between the inhabitants of heaven and earth.
A question often asked by those who don't believe in intercession: Do Angels
and saints know our affairs on earth and can they receive our prayers?
The answer is an emphatic yes for the following reasons:
There is no doubt that the knowledge of those in heaven is far more than
that of those on earth. Saint Paul tells us: "For now we see through a
glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I
know even as also I am known." (1Co 13:12). This means that our knowledge
will increase as we reach the "other world" and many mysteries will be
revealed to us once we shed this carnal body that restrains the spirit.
There and then our knowledge shall increase and we shall depart from the
circle of "knowledge in part" to a much wider circle of knowledge.
2. Angels know our affairs on earth as is evident from the Lord's saying:
"there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth"
(Luke 15:10). The affairs of those on earth are thus known to the
heavenly be they Angels or spirits of the righteous. They know those who
repent and they rejoice for their repentance for how can they rejoice if
they don't know?
3.Angels know our prayers because they carry our prayers to the throne of
God. The evidence for this is abundant especially in the book of revelation
where we are told that the prayers of the saints are offered before God from
the hands of the Angel and from his censer. (Rev 8:3_5) The same can be said
of the "four and twenty elders"
(priests) in Rev 5:8 "having every one of them..golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of the saints."
This is evidence of their knowledge of our prayers which they
offer to God. The same can be said of our Guardian Angel "Take heed that ye despise not one of
these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." (Mat 18:10)
Another example is the story of
the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:25, where Abraham tells the rich man:
"Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and
likewise Lazarus evil things.." How did our father Abraham know about the
lives of both Lazarus and the rich man? Again when the rich man asks Abraham
to send Lazarus to his five brothers to "testify unto them lest they also
come to this place of torment" Abraham answers: "They have Moses and the
prophets" (Luke 1628,29). How could Abraham have known about Moses and the
prophets knowing that he departed from earth hundreds of years before the
birth of Moses and the other prophets? Obviously he knew about all these
things. How could he not know when the Lord says of him:
Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad."
5. The testimony of the spirits of the martyrs: Saint John tells us in the
book of Revelations: "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were
slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they
cried with a loud voice, saying, How long O Lord, Holy and true, dost Thou
not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on earth? And white robes
were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them, that they
should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow_servants also and
their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
You see, those martyrs knew after their death, that the Lord had not yet
avenged them, and they cry unto God: How long willt Thou suffer that
iniquity be victorious on earth? And how long willt Thou suffer that the
strong in the flesh destroy thy children? And how long will they continue
shedding their blood? How could those martyrs know about these things? They
knew indeed, and when their "fellow_servants shall be fulfilled" they will
6. Another amazing incident involving Elijah the prophet is recorded in 2Ch
21. The story is told of King Jehoram who slew all his children, made high
places (for the worship of idols), and wrought that which was evil in the
eyes of the Lord.."And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet
saying thus saith the Lord....because thou hast not walked in the ways of
Jehoshaphat thy father....behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite
thy people and thy children..." This, in spite of the fact that Elijah was
taken up to heaven several years earlier! How could this happen? and how did
Elijah know after his departure from earth? and how did he manage to send
7. The departed saints live, the
Lord explains this to the Sadducees: "have ye not read that which was spoken
unto you by God saying: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the
God of Jacob. God is not a God of the dead, but of the living."
22:31,32). Those saints are living, so why consider them dead by not asking
for their prayers?
Both Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord on Mount Tabor during the
Transfiguration. Moses who died in the flesh 14 centuries earlier, was seen
with the Lord alive same like Elijah who was taken up to heaven. The spirits
of the righteous are immortal, they are in paradise, where they see and know
more than we do
Let us now consider some biblical examples of the intercession of the
The book of Zechariah tells us of an Angel interceding on behalf of
Jerusalem, "Then the angel of the Lord answered and said: O Lord of hosts,
how long willt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem..." his intercession was
indeed accepted by the Lord "thus saith the Lord: I am returned to Jerusalem
with mercies, my house shall be built in it saith the Lord of hosts"
Another example is the Angel interceding on behalf of Joshua the high
priest, when Satan was standing to resist him, we hear the Angel say
Lord rebuke thee, O Satan...is not this a brand plucked out of fire?" The
intercession of the Angel was indeed accepted for we are told concerning
Joshua: "Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said,
behold I have caused thy iniquity to pass from thee.." (Zech 3:1_4).
We are also told of Israel when he blessed the two children of Joseph his
son that he said: "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the
lads." (Gen 48:16).
Angels are described in the epistle to the Hebrews as "ministering spirits,
sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." (Heb
1:14). If they have a ministry on behalf of people here on earth, how much
more would be their ministry on our behalf in heaven where they belong?
Let us finally answer another objection that is put forward:
Some say that we should not "pray to the saints"
only to God. Indeed! for in
asking for their help we are not praying to the saints but actually asking
them to pray on our behalf.
We ask for the saints intercession because of the great favor they have with
We ask for their intercession because God allowed and accepted such
We believe in intercession because we believe in the life of the world to
come. Because we believe that the saints who departed are alive.
We ask for the intercession of the Saints to honor them for God himself
honors them by accepting their intercessions. "If any man serve me, him will
my Father honor." (Jn 12:26).
We believe in intercession because we believe in the unity of the body of
Christ (the church) we are all members of the one body whether we are here
on earth or there in heaven. We intercede for them by praying for those who
departed, and they intercede for us, and this exemplifies the true unity of
the body of Christ.
By believing in intercession we practice humility, deeming ourselves needy
for the prayers of those saints who have pleased God.