The Holy Spirit’s Intercessory Ministry -- By: Curtis C. Mitchell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 139:555 (Jul 1982)
Article: The Holy Spirit’s Intercessory Ministry
Author: Curtis C. Mitchell

The Holy Spirit’s Intercessory Ministry

Curtis C. Mitchell

[Curtis C. Mitchell, Professor of Biblical Studies, Biola University, La Mirada, California]

Of all the chapters in the Book of Romans, none has been more cherished by God’s people than chapter 8. But of the many wonderful promises to be found in the chapter, perhaps none is less understood and appreciated than the promise of the Spirit’s help in relation to believers’ praying (Rom 8:26–27).

No serious textual problems exist in the passage, but exegetical difficulties abound. The problems begin with the first word Ωσαύτως (“likewise”). It is a rather common adverb of comparison used quite frequently by Paul when he desires to show a close connection with the context.

Three views are held on the relationship of these verses to the context. Most feel that Ωσαύτως refers to the broad context in verses 19–25 (on “groaning”).1 Others tie Ωσαύτως in with the broader context of the Spirit’s ministry begun back in verse 14 .2 Some consider such attempts to tie the passage into the broad context as “rather fanciful.”3 They prefer to view the connection with the immediate context: As hope supports believers during suffering and enables them to wait patiently (v. 25), so (Ωσαύτως) the Spirit helps them in their weakness.4 Strange as it may seem, the contextual considerations have little or no bearing on the actual interpretation of the verses themselves.

The Need for the Spirit’s Intercession

The obvious fact of the passage is the blessed assurance that “the Spirit helps our weakness.”5 Indeed, the primary ministry of

the Spirit in this present era is to be a “Helper” (παράκλητον). Paul uses συναντιλαμβάνεται, a rich word, to convey the idea of help. It pictures a man struggling with a heavy load beyond his ability to carry it alone.6 Fortunately another person comes along and agrees to take hold of one e...

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