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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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This word in the Epistles of the NT is the translation of the Greek word προσαγωγή (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; cf. 1 Peter 3:18, where the verb is used actively). It has been treated very thoroughly in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels (s.v.). Here we shall confine ourselves to-

1. The connotation of the word.-In classical Greek, the term προσαγωγεύς was used primarily for ‘one who brings to,’ ‘introduces to another as an intermediary,’ mainly in a derogatory sense (cf. προσαγωγεὺς λημμάτων, one who hunts for another’s benefit-a jackal [Dem. 750. 21; cf. Aristid. ii. 369, 395]; the spies of the Sicilian kings were called προσαγωγεῖς, ‘tale-bearers’ [Plut. ii. 522 D]). It was, however, used later in a technical sense, the court προσαγωγεύς being a functionary whose business it was to bring visitors or suppliants into the king’s presence, προσαγωγή came thus to mean access to the royal presence and favour. It is from this association of ideas that the word derives its religious connotation in the NT. God is conceived in the kingly relation (as frequently in the OT), as one whose favour is sought and found, and Christ as the προσαγωγεύς who introduces the sinner into the Divine presence. It is thus a form of words representing Him in the light of a Mediator between God and man; and it throws light on the relation of the three parties in the transaction.

2. The light thrown on the character and attitude of God towards man.-The kingly concept represents God as supreme, one to whom all allegiance is due, and who has the power of life and death over all His subjects. In the OT, Jahweh, especially in the Psalms, is often represented as the King of His people Israel (cf. Psalms 10:16; Psalms 24:8-10; Psalms 44:4; Psalms 47:2; Psalms 68:24 etc.) It is noticeable, however, that in most of these passages the Oriental awe in which alt potentates were habitually held is suffused with a sense of joy and pride in God as Israel’s King; His power, favour, and victorious character are mainly dwelt on. The idea which lies behind the NT references, however, is rather that of the difficulty of approach to the King’s presence, not merely on account of His loftiness and majesty, but of His alienation, which demands a process of reconciliation. It suggests that the normal relation of the King and His subjects has been disturbed by rebellion or wrong-doing. The Divine dignity has been outraged, and His claim to obedience set at defiance. There is thus no longer a right of admittance to the Divine presence unless the wrong is righted and the lost favour restored; and, till that has been secured, the protection and kindly attitude of God can no longer be relied on.

3. The light thrown on the condition and attitude of man towards God.-The suggestion is that man in conscious of being alienated from God by sin; that he has no confidence in approaching God in consequence, being uncertain of his reception; that he knows of nothing which he can do to restore the lost relation; and that he is deeply sensible of the shame and peril of his condition. The conception of the effects of evil-doing as separating God and man is one that runs through the priestly ritual of Judaism (cf. also the prophetic declaration in Isaiah 59:2 ‘your iniquities have separated between you and your God’), and corresponds to a fact in the consciousness of all awakened sinners. In the earlier experience of St. Paul this feeling was evidently poignantly emphasized; and the sense of deliverance that came to him through the gospel may be taken as the measure of the pain and sorrow from which he had been delivered.

4. The function fulfilled by Christ as the One through whom the renewal of the lost relation between God and man was accomplished.-The word προσαγωγή is insufficient to represent this function. In itself it stands for the work of a functionary whose rôle is to act as a merely official link between the two parties, having no active part in the process of reconciliation, and having therefore no claim to the gratitude of the beneficiary in the process. On the other band, the apostolic use of the word in its reference to the person and work of Christ includes the suggestion that the ‘access’ to God referred to has been accomplished by Christ Himself, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude is awakened by this fact. This appears in the four passages in which the word is used, especially in the last (1 Peter 3:18). According to this, the bringing of man to God is effected through the work of Christ in His Passion; ‘because Christ also suffered for sins once (ἅποξ, meaning here ‘once for all’ = a fact accomplished), the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us (προσαγάγῃ) to God,’ i.e. restore ns to His favour, and lead us to the benefits of the Divine reconciliation. In Romans 5:2, again, the ‘access’ receives its meaning and privilege through its consummation in and by Christ, ‘through whom we have also (καί, ‘copulat et auget’ [Toletus], ‘answering almost to our “as might be expected” ’ [Alford]) got (ἐσχήκαμεν) our (τὴν) access (introduction) by our (τῇ) faith, into this grace wherein we stand’ (see Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 13a). Here the Person of the προσαγωγεύς is chiefly thought of (‘this has come to us through Him’); and the resulting benefit is urged as a reason for holy exultation, since it means justification as a ground for ‘rejoicing in the hope of glory.’ In Ephesians 2:18 a slightly different emphasis is suggested: ‘for through Him we both (i.e. Jew and Gentile) have our access in one spirit unto the Father.’ Here that revelation of God, not as universal King but as the All-Father, which came through Jesus Christ, is included in the benefit secured by Him for mankind at large, and the reconciliation of humanity at variance with itself as well as with God is brought into the circle of mediation (cf. Ephesians 2:14 ‘for he is our peace [i.e. He is the peace-maker, the προσαγωγεύς between us, Jew and Gentile, who were once far off from each other] who hath made both one’ by His blood [Ephesians 2:13]). Through this word we are thus led into the deep places of the gospel as the reconciling agency of God to man, man to God, and man to man.

Literature.-To the literature in the Dict. of Christ and the Gospels add John Foster. Lectures, 1853, ii. 69; R. W. Dale, The Jewish Temple and the Christian Church, 1877, p. 205; A. J. Gordon, The Twofold Life, 1886, p. 175; W. M. Macgregor, Jesus Christ the Son of God, 1907, p. 175.

E. Griffith-Jones.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Access'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/a/access.html. 1906-1918.

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