In the Old Testament the Hebrew word tsir, meaning "one who goes on an errand," is rendered thus (Josh. 9:4; Prov. 13:17; Isa. 18:2; Jer. 49:14; Obad. 1:1). This is also the rendering of melits, meaning "an interpreter," in 2 Chr. 32:31; and of malak, a "messenger," in 2 Chr. 35:21; Isa. 30:4; 33:7; Ezek. 17:15. This is the name used by the apostle as designating those who are appointed by God to declare his will (2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20).
The Hebrews on various occasions and for various purposes had recourse to the services of ambassadors, e.g., to contract alliances (Josh. 9:4), to solicit favours (Num. 20:14), to remonstrate when wrong was done (Judg. 11:12), to condole with a young king on the death of his father (2 Sam. 10:2), and to congratulate a king on his accession to the throne (1 Kings 5:1).
To do injury to an ambassador was to insult the king who sent him (2 Sam. 10:5).
a person of high rank employed by a government to represent it and transact its business at the seat of government of some other power. The earliest examples of ambassadors employed occur in (Numbers 20:14
; Judges 11:7-19
) afterwards in that of the fraudulent Gibeonites, (Joshua 9:4
) etc., and in the instances of civic strife mentioned (Judges 11:12
) and Judg 20:12 Ambassadors are found to have been employed not only on occasions of hostile challenge or insolent menace, (1Ã‚Â Kings 20:2,6
; 2Ã‚Â Kings 14:8
) but of friendly compliment, of request for alliance or other aid, of submissive deprecation and of curious inquiry. (2Ã‚Â Kings 14:8
; 2Ã‚Â Chronicles 32:31
) Ministers are called ambassadors of Christ.
- am-bas'-a-dor (mal'akh, "messenger"; 'luts, "interpreter"; tsir, "to go"; hence a messenger; presbeuo, "to act as an ambassador," literally, to be older): An ambassador is an official representative of a king or government, as of Pharaoh (Isa 30:4
); of the princes of Babylon (2 Ch 32:31
); of Neco, king of Egypt (2 Ch 35:21
); of the messengers of peace sent by Hezekiah, king of Judah, to Sennacherib, king of Assyria (Isa 33:7
). The same Hebrew term is used of the messengers sent by Jacob to Esau (Gen 32:3
); by Moses to the king of Edom (Nu 20:14
). For abundant illustration consult "Messenger" (mal'akh) in any concordance. See CONCORDANCE
. The inhabitants of Gibeon made themselves pretended ambassadors to Joshua in order to secure by deceit the protection of a treaty ("covenant") (Josh 9:4
In the New Testament the term is used in a figurative sense. As the imprisoned representative of Christ at Rome Paul calls himself "an ambassador in chains" (Eph 6:20); and in 2 Cor 5:20 includes, with himself, all ministers of the gospel, as "ambassadors .... on behalf of Christ," commissioned by Him as their sovereign Lord, with the ministry of reconciling the world to God. The Bible contains no finer characterization of the exalted and spiritual nature of the minister's vocation as the representative of Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Saviour of the world.
Dwight M. Pratt