2:5 Although this verse emphasizes Jesus’s humanity, Paul also affirmed Jesus’s deity in this letter. He referred to Jesus’s special relationship with the Father (1:1–2; 6:13) who grants him the divine title Lord (1:2, 12; 6:3, 14). He implied Jesus’s heavenly existence before the incarnation (3:16) and said that Jesus’s saving of sinners (1:15) is a divine activity (4:10).
2:5 The position of Christ as the one Mediator between God and men excludes all others claiming to be “priests” or mediators between God and men. A mediator, or go-between, must be able to reach both parties; therefore, He must be both God and Man. Christ’s work as Mediator is to propitiate or satisfy God (cf. Rom 3:25) and to reconcile men to God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17–21). Furthermore, He continues a ministry of intercession in behalf of men (Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1, 2).
2:5 there is one God. This is the fundamental affirmation of the Jewish religion (Deut. 6:4; cf. Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6).
one mediator between God and men. There is One who arbitrates between God and humanity and reconciles them. See theological note “Christ the Mediator.”
the man Christ Jesus. Paul’s focus is on Christ’s humanity, perhaps because the false teachers had denied that Christ was truly human. The full humanity of Christ is essential to His serving as Mediator of the covenant of grace.
2:5 one God Alludes to the Jewish prayer called the Shema (see Deut 6:4 and note; compare 1 Cor 8:6 and note). Paul draws on this prayer to highlight God’s universal reign; because there is only one God, He is the God of all people (1 Tim 2:3–4).
mediator A person who negotiates reconciliation between two parties in conflict. The need for a mediator testifies to the sinfulness of humanity, while the provision of a mediator demonstrates the kindness of God.
the man Christ Jesus Paul refers to Jesus as a “man” here to stress His full identification with humanity. Because He was fully human, Christ was able to mediate on behalf of humanity and offer Himself as a ransom for humanity. Jesus’ role in this passage recalls Paul’s description of Jesus as a second Adam (e.g., Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:45–49).
2:5 For. Verses 5–6 provide the theological basis for the preceding statement that God wants people to be saved. There is only one God, therefore this God seeks “all people” (v. 4; cf. Rom. 3:29–30; Gal. 3:20). Various people groups do not each have their own gods, though they may imagine they do; all must come to the one true God for salvation. This means that Jesus, God’s incarnate Son, Israel’s Messiah, is the one and only mediator, the only way to salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Furthermore, this verse allows no place for intermediaries between people and Jesus, such as saints or human priests. See Overview of the Bible.
2:5 there is one God. There is no other way of salvation (Ac 4:12); hence there is the need to pray for the lost to come to know the one true God (cf. Dt 4:35, 39; 6:4; Is 43:10; 44:6; 45:5, 6, 21, 22; 46:9; 1Co 8:4, 6). mediator. This refers to someone who intervenes between two parties to resolve a conflict or ratify a covenant. Jesus Christ is the only “mediator” who can restore peace between God and sinners (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). the man Christ Jesus. The absence of the article before “man” in the Gr. suggests the translation, “Christ Jesus, Himself a man.” Only the perfect God-Man could bring God and man together. Cf. Job 9:32, 33.
2:5 — For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus .…
There are not five mediators between God and man, or three, or even two. There is only one, and His name is Jesus Christ. No one else qualifies, and God accepts no one else. Only Jesus has the necessary credentials.
2:5 One God is a central truth of the Hebrew Scriptures. The only living God desires all to be saved. He is the only One to whom our prayers should be addressed. Mediator is a concept derived from the ceremonial worship prescribed in the OT. In the tabernacle and later in the temple, the priests mediated between God and the Israelites by offering animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people and by interceding to God for the nation. In their position as mediators, the priests were the only ones eligible to enter the Holy Place, the place where God had made His presence known. The one Mediator is the Man Christ Jesus (Heb. 9:11–15). There is one God from whom salvation is available. There is only one way to Him, through the Mediator, Christ Jesus, who has the full nature of God and the full nature of man. Christ has identified with us; He understands us perfectly and represents us at the right hand of God the Father (Rom. 8:34).
2:5 The connection of this verse with what precedes is not entirely clear. However, the thought seems to be this: God is one; therefore, He is the God of all men, and prayer should be addressed to Him in behalf of all men. As the one God, He desires the salvation of all men. If He were one of many gods, He might be concerned only about His own worshipers.
Secondly, One is Mediator between God and men. This being so, no man can come to God in any other way. A mediator is a go-between, a middleman who can stand between two and communicate with both. Through Christ, Himself Man, God is enabled to approach men with forgiveness of sins. Consequently any poor sinner can approach Him, and will by no means be rejected.
Paul identifies the Mediator as the Man, Christ Jesus. This does not deny the deity of the Lord Jesus. In order to be the Mediator between God and men, He must be both God and Man. The Lord Jesus is God from all eternity, but He became Man in Bethlehem’s manger. He represents the whole race of humanity. The fact that He is both God and Man is indicated in the name Christ Jesus. Christ describes Him as God’s anointed One, the Messiah. Jesus is the name given to Him in Incarnation.
The verse effectively answers the teaching so common today that the blessed Virgin Mary or angels or saints are mediators between God and man. There is only one Mediator, and His name is Christ Jesus.
Verse 5 summarizes the messages of the OT and NT. One God was the message of the OT entrusted to Israel; one Mediator—the message of the NT entrusted to the church. As Israel failed in her responsibility by worshiping idols, so the professing church has failed in her responsibility by introducing other mediators—Mary, saints, clergy, etc.
2:5. Paul then pointed to the critical claims of the gospel: there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi stood in front of his team, the Green Bay Packers, after a horrendous loss. The players expected a strong diatribe. Instead, Lombardi went to the center of the classroom and picked up a football. He held it up and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The coach took the players back to the basics.
Paul did the same for the Ephesians and us. The declaration of the exclusivity of God and Christ is basic to the Christian message. Yet it is a point on which many people stumble. Even those who agree that there is one God often refuse the claim of Jesus as the only way to knowing God.
For some people the chief virtue of the day is tolerance, and the great hope is pluralism. They discard truth for sincerity. Certainly we honor the freedom to believe whatever one wishes, as long as it does not hurt another person. That is fundamental to democratic self-rule and civility. But it is quite another matter to say that everyone is right simply because they “believe” something. That makes faith instead of objective truth the test for validity. We must go back to the basics.
The revealed, divine word through Paul is that there is only one way to forming a relationship with God, and this is through the man Christ Jesus. This underscores the universality of the gospel—all people come the same way to God. Not only must they come the same way, through Jesus, but salvation is available to all, Jew and Gentile alike.
Salvation comes through the man Christ Jesus. He is fully God and fully man. “The Word was God.… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
Jesus is not one among many. He is the one and only.
He is the answer to Job’s ancient cry about God: “He is not a man like me that I might answer him, / that we might confront each other in court./ If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, / to lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32–33).
Jesus bridges the gap between sinful humanity and the righteous God. He settles the legal demand for justice.
2:5 “there is one God” This emphasis on monotheism (cf. Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6) can be found in 1 Tim. 1:17, which reflects Deut. 6:4–6. However, Jesus the Son and God the Father seem to be separate here. It is important to remember the NT assertion that Jesus is divine (cf. John 1:1; Col. 1:14–16; Heb. 1:2, 3), but also a separate personality from the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity recognizes the unity of one divine essence and yet, the distinctiveness of the three Persons. One way to show this biblical paradox is to compare passages from John’s Gospel
- Jesus is one with the Father (1:1; 5:18; 10:30, 34–38; 14:9–10; 20:28).
- Jesus is separate from the Father (1:2, 14, 18; 5:19–23; 8:28; 10:25, 29; 14:10, 11, 12, 13, 16; 17:1–2).
- Jesus is even subservient to the Father (5:20, 30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:28; 15:10, 19–24; 17:8).
The concept of the deity of the Son and the personality of the Spirit is explicit in the NT, but not fully worked out in orthodox theology until the third and fourth centuries. The term “trinity” is not biblical, but the concept surely is (cf. Matt. 3:16–17; 28:19; John 14:26; Acts 2:32–33, 38–39; Rom. 1:4–5; 5:1–5; 8:1–4, 8–10; 1 Cor. 12:4–6; 2 Cor. 1:21–22; 13:14; 4:4–6; 1 Thess. 1:2–5; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:4–6; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20–21).
The grammar of vv. 5–6 gives the theological reasons related to God’s inclusive salvation
- There is only one God. From Gen. 1:26–27 we know that all humans are made in His image.
- There is only one way to God through the Messiah (cf. John 14:6), which was predicted in Gen. 3:15.
- There is only one means of salvation, the finished sacrificial offering of the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus (cf. John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21).
The one God has provided one way to be in fellowship with Him. Whosoever will may come, but they must come His way, through His provision, by faith in His Son as their only hope for acceptance.
© “and one mediator also between God and men” This is an example of the NT’s affirmation that faith in Jesus’ person and work is the only way to be right with the Father (cf. John 10; 14:6). This is often referred to as the “scandal of the exclusivism of the gospel.” This truth seems so out of place in our day of tolerance (with no absolutes), but if the Bible is the self-revelation of God, then believers must affirm this exclusivism. We are not saying one denomination is the only way, but we are saying that faith in Jesus is the only way to God.
The use of the term mediator has priestly connotations (cf. Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). A priest stood between a needy people and a holy God. Jesus is our High Priest (cf. Heb. 7–9).
© “the man Christ Jesus” The emphasis of this verse is that Jesus is fully human and is still the only mediator between God and mankind (cf. John 14:6). The gnostic false teachers would have denied Jesus’ humanity (cf. John 1:14; 1 John 1:1–3).
It is possible that the background is not the gnostics, but Paul’s Adam-Christ typology (cf. Rom. 5:12–21; 1 Cor. 15:21–22, 45–49; Phil. 2:6). Jesus was seen as the second Adam, the origin of a new race, not Jew, not Greek, not male, not female, not slave, not free, but Christian (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11–3:13; Col. 3:11).
It is also possible that verses 5 and 6 are a theological definition of the term “the truth,” found in v. 4.
5. The position, “God desires all men—men from every rank and station, tribe and nation—to be saved” is true, For (there is but) one God, and (there is but) one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
There is not one God for this nation, one for another; one God for slaves and one for free men; one God for rulers, one for subjects. Paul is his own best interpreter: “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Again, “or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also: if it be true (and it certainly is true) that God is one …” (Rom. 3:29). That the apostle is actually thinking of the distinction “ruler … subject” follows from the immediately preceding context (1 Tim. 2:2a). That he has in mind the distinction “Jew … Gentile” is apparent from the immediately following context (1 Tim. 2:7b).
Not only the realm of creation but also that of redemption is united under one Head. Hence, not only is there only one God; there is also only “one Mediator of (here in the sense of between) God and men.” The present is the only passage in which Paul speaks of Christ as “Mediator.” However, in Gal. 3:19, the apostle also uses the term, with probable reference to Moses, who as mediator transmitted God’s law to the people. In Gal. 3:20 he speaks in general about “a mediator.” It is the author of the epistle to the Hebrews who discusses at some length the position of Christ, our heavenly Highpriest, as Mediator (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), “the Mediator of a new covenant.” By derivation the word simply indicates someone who stands “in the middle.” The purpose for which he takes this in-between position must be derived, in each single case, from the context, or from parallel passages. In the present case it is not open to legitimate doubt that the apostle takes his point of departure in the fact that Christ is the One who has voluntarily taken his stand between the offended God and the offending sinner, in order to take upon himself the wrath of God which the sinner has deserved, thereby delivering the latter. This is clear because the entire context speaks of salvation (verse 4), and of Christ as a ransom (see on verse 6). A striking explanation is found in Gal. 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for (or over) us.” In that passage the Savior is pictured as standing over us, that is, between us and the curse of the law, so that the curse falls on him, and we are saved. However, it is clear that in the present passage (1 Tim. 2:5) the concept Mediator is even slightly broader. Not only does Christ in this capacity restore sinners to the right legal relationship to God, but he also brings them to “the knowledge of the truth” (verse 4); and causes the testimony of this glorious truth to be borne to them (verse 6). Hence, he both establishes peace and reveals it to men, persuading them to accept the good news. He stands revealed as Mediator in this twofold sense.
Note the manner in which the identity of this Mediator is revealed: “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” To think of men in this connection means to think of man, the man Jesus Christ. Hence men and man are juxtaposed. Had salvation been intended only for one particular group—say, only for the Jews—the apostle would have written, “the Jew Christ Jesus.” Since it was intended for both Jew and Gentile, that is, for men in general, without distinction of race or nationality, he writes “the man Christ Jesus.” (By no means is this a denial of Christ’s deity. That he is the object of faith and worship is clear from 1 Tim. 3:16. The word man here in 1 Tim. 2:5 is not contrasted with God but with Jew or Gentile.)
Ver. 5. One Mediator between God and man.—
The mediation of Christ:—That there has been a Mediator in this world is conceded by all except Jews and heathens. But respecting the precise nature of the work which He has undertaken and accomplished, there has not been even in those to whom the knowledge of this salvation has come, clear conceptions, nor correspondent emotions of gratitude and thanksgiving. With what distress would you gaze on the Divine power and infinity, and say, “He is not a Man as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment; neither is there any days-man betwixt us, that might lay his hand on us both”? With what anguish would you look around and inquire for some being able and ready to rescue you from perdition? But what, in such circumstances, you would look for in vain is now declared unto you. You are now taught on the authority of inspiration that there is one God and one Mediator between God and man.
- What is implied in the idea of a Mediator between God and man? The fact of a mediation between one man and another implies a difficulty which it is not easy to reconcile. This is equally implied in the employment of a government to mediate between two other nations. Such measures are never adopted in the times of peace and of mutual friendship. So of our attitude to God. The fact that there is a Mediator between God and man unquestionably proves that there is an alienation which it is exceedingly difficult to reconcile.
- Alienation does not imply criminality in both the parties which are thus brought into conflict. On this subject a proverb seems to have obtained among men, that in cases of alienation there is transgression in both the conflicting parties. “Both are to blame” is a maxim which has prevailed. It may perhaps be important to show the fallacy of the principle itself against which I am here contending. We are often asked, with a confidence amounting almost to the authority of inspiration, “Do you not believe that in all cases of alienation there is blame on both sides?” To this we reply, “We do not, we cannot believe it.” If the question still be pressed, we ask our inquirer, “Do you not know that there is an eternal alienation between sheep and wolves; and have the sheep ever committed any aggression on the wolves?” You have all heard of the warfare which goes forward between the angels which kept their first estate and those spirits which have revolted from God. And is it not to be assumed that in this controversy the angels, who have always been spotless in the eyes of Jehovah, were free from the imputation of guilt? Pre-eminently is this principle applicable to Jehovah. Of what wrong, respecting us, has He ever been guilty? Who amongst those that have in former times charged Him with injury or injustice has ever been able to sustain it? “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God,” &c. The objects around us were never created and never designed to be the cause of our transgressions. Our sins are not the result either of the example of those individuals or circumstances which God has placed around us. They are the fruit of our own hearts. There is an alienation from Him in the sons of men, and the causes of this alienation are not mutual: the criminality is altogether with us.
III. But who is there that is adequate to undertake the mediatorial work? In human affairs there are many individuals who are equally competent to settle a difficulty and remove the causes of alienation which exist between a man and his neighbour. And in a great share of the instances which occur, any individual of a multitude that can be mentioned is equally as well qualified to undertake the work as any other individual that can be selected. Not so in the work of human redemption. Here there is but one Being in the universe who is competent to be a Days-man, a Mediator between Jehovah and His offending subjects (Isa. 63:5). IV.
To inquire why no other being but Christ is qualified for this work. And here I must frankly confess that of my own unaided reason I am incompetent to tell. And I apprehend that had the family of man been left to ascertain by their own intellectual powers what Mediator is suited to their circumstances, no one of them would have been able to discover the truth. His agony for reconciliation burst forth in the affecting question, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings and calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Let us go to the Scriptures to ascertain what Christ is; and having thence derived a knowledge of His character, let us draw the only safe conclusion, that on account of the respects in which He differs from every other being in existence, He is chosen to be the Mediator between God and man.
- What, then, are the respects in which he differs from every other being? It must here be remembered that in certain respects He is God. I here refer to His original nature. Of Him, John in his Gospel says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Nor was He God only. In some respects He differed in His mediatorial office from the Father. He assumed into immediate connection with Himself a human body and a rational soul. This was done in accordance with the prophets. Isaiah in prophetic vision declared, “Unto us a Child is born,” &c. These expressions show the union of divinity with humanity in our Lord Jesus Christ, and indicate His wonderful adaptedness to the work of redeeming men from their sins and reconciling them to God. Are we, then, asked in what respects Christ differs from every other being? Is it demanded in what respect He differs from the Father? We reply, by the addition unto His own glorious nature of all the powers and faculties of man. He is at once Divine and human. Is it again demanded in what respects He differs from men? I reply, He is human and Divine. In these respects He is altogether diverse from any other being in the universe. And viewed in this attitude, we may wonder, and say in the language of the prophet, “There is none like unto Thee, O God!” Having now learned from the Scriptures the qualifications of Him who undertook to be the Mediator for us, we can see His wonderful adaptations to the work which He has undertaken. Human salvation requires a thorough acquaintance with all the wants, perplexities, and temptations of man. In this respect, such a Mediator as He who has become flesh is wonderfully suited to our condition. He did not undertake to help the angels. The work of human salvation also requires a thorough knowledge of all the causes and a complete control of all the beings who have power either to advance or retard it. And what eyes but those which run to and fro through the universe are competent to see all the wants, and all the exposures, and all the means of relief which pertain to the condition of ruined man? What hands but those which formed the universe are competent so to direct all the influences of the material and the spiritual worlds in such a manner as to subserve the welfare of His people and cause them to conspire together for the promotion of their salvation? What other Presence, except that which pervades the universe, can be co-extensive with all the wants of His people who dwell in every part of the earth, who call upon Him for aid at every hour of the day and of the night What other knowledge but that which transcends all limitation, and is strictly infinite, can be adequate to an acquaintance with the condition, the thoughts, the emotions, the feelings, and the actions of all the immortal beings who inhabit the vast regions of His Mediatorship? And what memory short of that to which all past, present, and future things are equally known is competent to bring together all the particulars of thought, of feeling, and of action, which constitute the life of a human being; and accurately to weigh in the balances the gold and the dross of his character; and not only this, but to extend the process to all the sons of men, all the apostate, and all the holy angels? Yet all this knowledge must be possessed by the Son of Man; and all the powers to which we have referred must be held by Him who undertakes the work of a Mediator between God and man. This work has commonly been regarded and taught under three separate heads. The first is His office as a Prophet. This portion of His work was referred to by Moses when he said, “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever He shall say unto you.” In this office it pertained to Him to reveal the character, the law, and the gospel of God to the children of men, and cause it to be written and preached unto them. It also pertained to His work to open the understandings of His people, that they might know the excellency of the Father and of His Son Jesus Christ. The next particular in the work of a Mediator is that of a Priest. He was a Priest, not indeed according to the order of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. As in the Mosaic history no priest is named as the predecessor of Melchizedek, so in human redemption there is no other priest but Jesus Christ. And in this Priesthood His work differed widely from that of other priests. They first offered sacrifices for their own sins, and afterwards for those of the people; but He had no occasion to offer sacrifices for Himself. “He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” He is able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. A third particular in this work is His office as the Ruler and Defender of the people of God. This is called His kingly office. In this respect the apostle declares that God “hath put all things under His feet, and given Him to be Head over all things to the Church” (Eph. 1:22). Such is the Mediator between a ruined world and the Holy One of Israel. A Mediator in some respects Divine, in other respects human. A Mediator who in the Scriptures is sometimes denominated God, at other times He is called Man. A Mediator who is set apart by Jehovah Himself to be the Prophet, the Priest, and the King of your souls; a Mediator whom, if you accept, on whom, if you rely, to whom, if you commit your immortal interests, you shall yet stand on Mount Zion with songs and eternal joy. This subject calls loudly on us to admire the wisdom and goodness of God. What could He have seen in us or any of our depraved race that induced Him to confer on us such an immense favour as this? Ah, He saw nothing but evil in our hearts, nothing but vice in our deeds. It was not owing to any righteousness in us, but of His mercy, that saved us. The subject calls on us to consider what our condition would have been had not Jesus undertaken to be Mediator between God and man. (J. Foot, D.D.)
The one Mediator:—“It is good for me,” said the Psalmist, “to draw near to God.” It is the idea of all true religion that it can be nothing but good to get near to God—the nearer the better; that he who gets near Him finds peace, blessing, satisfaction of all wants; that away from Him is darkness and unrest. But why have a Mediator at all? Why have any one standing between you and God, instead of going direct to Him, and dealing with Him, without any Mediator? Just because our nature needs the Mediator. We cannot understand the mysteries of God, which pass our understanding. Out of the limits of our capacity, and out of the infinitude of God, springs that need of One who shall stand between Him and us, revealing the Infinite to the finite, the Divine to the human. And He who does this is called here emphatically “the man Christ Jesus”; “for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” And thus, in order that the life and character of God should be understood by us, they must be revealed to us by a man; by one in human form, and living under human conditions. It is only thus you can come to a real knowledge of any person. You must learn his character. Is it hard or tender; generous or narrow; wise or foolish? And so your only true knowledge of the living God must be a knowledge of His character, of His life, of His ways. And as these, the life, the character, the ways of the infinite and eternal God are far above, out of human sight, they must be brought near enough for us to see, revealed to us by a Mediator who is Himself a man, the man Christ Jesus. A God thus revealed we can know, can understand. This is the idea of the mediation of Christ; the revealing of what otherwise would be unknown and unknowable in God; so that we, seeing His face and understanding His character, may lose the ignorance that is full of darkness, and the fear that is full of torment, and may draw nigh to Him with true hearts, and in the full assurance of faith. The end was spiritual perfectness; the Church was but the means, and only useful as it served the end, and subject to such changes as might make it serve the end better. But the belief, in which many people seem to find the essential nutriment of their spiritual life, is altogether different from this. To them the Church is all in all, while Christ recedes into the distance; and where the Church is not He is not and cannot be. They do not deny that He is the original source of Christian life and all its blessings; but to this truth they add the error, that these blessings can reach the individual soul only through one channel of sacraments and ministries. They thus interpose between God and man a certain mediation of the Church’s, apart from which they do not recognize any reality of Christian life at all, thus drawing across the Holy of Holies a veil as thick as that which was rent in twain on the day of the crucifixion. Be on your guard lest you should ever learn to regard any system, or creature, as possessing a right to come between you and your own Lord and master; or as having the power to add to or to take from what He has done, and is doing, for you as the one Mediator between you and God. Now, you may see another example of the tendency I speak of—to substitute a lower mediation for the mediation of Christ, in the idea which many have (especially persons in whom feeling is stronger than reason) as to the relations which should exist between them and those who occupy the position of their spiritual guides and instructors, and whose duty it is, as such, to guide and instruct them. There is a strong desire in all minds, and particularly in minds of that class, for sympathy where feeling is deeply stirred, for counsel where the highest interests are involved; and there is, too, a strong inclination to depend on and defer to those, with whom that sympathy and that counsel are found. Sympathy is good; but it is dangerous, when in order to evoke or to secure it, you unbare the secrets of the soul, and have to relate, even to the friendliest and justest ear, the trials and difficulties which you find besetting your inner life. A human director or guide or counsellor is safe, not because he fills a certain office and is ordained to a certain ministry; but when his character is such, that you know by the instinct of the spirit that there is in him the mind of Christ, and that communion with him is communion with one who is near the Master, and who will help to bring you near. Unless he is this, he can do nothing for you; he cannot bring you nearer to Christ, he can only stand between Christ and you. Now, in these instances (and more might be mentioned) we see the one tendency, to push Christ away, and set something of our own, a church, a system, a sacrament, a priest, a teacher, in the Mediator’s place; so that the truth becomes obscured to us that the life of every human soul is wrapped up in its direct communion with its God, through faith in God as Christ revealed Him, and service of God after the pattern of the Divine life of Christ. (R. H. Storey, D.D.)
Christ Jesus the Mediator:—
- The necessity of a mediator. But there are difficulties existing—a mighty gulf separating God and man. He cannot cross to us; we cannot cross to Him. His holiness is one obstacle. “He is of purer eyes than to behold evil.” Guilty and polluted as we are, we cannot approach that Holy Being without being at once consumed as were Korah and his companions. We at once see the necessity of a mediator. His justice is another obstacle. “Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” Maintaining the honour and dignity of His government was another obstacle. The great Legislator of heaven has enacted a law that sin must be punished, that death must be the penalty of disobedience. That peace on earth and glory to God may harmonize, there must be a mediator. Thus we have noticed the need of a mediator on the part of Jehovah. The mediator is equally necessary on the part of man. Man needed One who would descend into the depths of ruin, place underneath him the arms of omnipotent love, and raise him up—One who could enter into his dungeon, strike off his fetters, and throw open the prison door for his release—One who can reveal the Most High as a God of mercy, compassion, and love, yearning over the wandering prodigal, and anxiously watching for the first sight of a trembling penitent returning home.
- Christ Jesus through the combination of the two natures is adapted to act as mediator. 1. He is equal with God; He is “the mighty God.” 2. He is acquainted with the mind of God. Christ being human possesses three qualifications to act as mediator:—1. An affinity to our nature. 2. A sympathy with our infirmities. 3. An interest in our cause. From this subject we learn—1. To admire the wisdom of God in providing such a mediator. 2. The love of Christ in occupying such a position. 3. The folly of sinners in rejecting this mediator. (I. Watkins.)
The mediator of the covenant, described in His person, natures, and offices:—Communion with God is our only happiness; it is the very heaven of heaven, and it is the beginning of heaven here on earth. The only foundation of this communion is the covenant of grace; and it is the great excellency of this covenant of grace, that it is established in such a mediator, even Jesus Christ.
- The only way of friendly intercourse between God and man. It is through a mediator; that is implied. Whether man in the state of innocency needed a mediator, is disputed among persons learned and sober; but in his lapsed state, this need is acknowledged by all. God cannot now look upon men out of a mediator but as rebels, traitor, as fit objects for His vindictive wrath; nor can men now look up to God but as a provoked Majesty, an angry Judge, a consuming fire.
- The only mediator between God and men. “One mediator,” that is, but one. Some acknowledge one mediator of reconciliation, but contend for many of intercession. So is Christ said here to be “one mediator,” that is, but one. This mediator is here described partly by His nature—“the Man”; and partly by His names—“Christ Jesus.” 1. His nature—“the man”; that is, “That eminent man,” so some; “He that was made man,” so others. “But why is this mediator mentioned in this nature only?” (1) Negatively: not by way of diminution, as if He were not God as well as man, as the Arians argue from this Scripture; nor as if the execution of his mediatorship were either only, or chiefly, in His human nature, as some affirm. (2) Positively: to prove that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah whom the prophets foretold, the fathers expected, and who had in that nature been so frequently promised: as in the first gospel that ever was preached (Gen. 3:15), He is promised as the Seed of the woman. 2. His names—“Christ Jesus.” Jesus, this was His proper name; Christ, this was His appellative name. Jesus: that denotes the work and business for which He came into the world. Christ: that denotes the several offices, in the exercise whereof He executes this work of salvation.
III. That there is now no other way of friendly communion between God and man, but through a mediator. And, indeed, considering what God is, and withal what man is; how vastly disproportionable, how unspeakably unsuitable our very natures are to His; how is it possible there should be any sweet communion betwixt them, who are not only so infinitely distant, but so extremely contrary? God is holy, but we are sinful. In a word: He an infinitely and incomprehensibly glorious majesty, and we poor sinful dust and ashes, who have sunk and debased ourselves by sin below the meanest rank of creatures, and made ourselves the burden of the whole creation. If ever God be reconciled to us, it must be through a mediator; because of that indispensible necessity of satisfaction, and our inability to make it (Rom. 8:7). If ever we be reconciled to God, it must be through a mediator; because of that radicated enmity that is in our natures to everything of God, and our impotency to it.
- That there is no other mediator between God and man, but Jesus Christ. “And one mediator”; that is, but one. And indeed there is none else fit for so high a work as this but only He. 1. The singular suitableness of His person to this eminent employment. To interpose as a mediator betwixt God and men, was an employment above the capacity of men, angels, or any other creature; but Jesus Christ, in respect of the dignity of His person, was every way suited for this work. Which you may take in these four particulars. (1) That He was truly God, equal with the Father, of the same nature and substance. For the further confirmation, take these arguments—(a) He whom Scripture honours with all those names which are peculiar unto God, must needs be God. That Christ hath these names ascribed to Him appears from these instances: He is not only styled God—“the Word was God” (John 1:1). (b) He in whom are those high and eminent perfections, those glorious attributes, of which no creature is capable, must needs be more than a creature, and consequently God. (2) As He is truly God, so is He complete and perfect man; having not only a human body, but a rational soul; and in all things was like to us, sin only excepted. That He had a real, not an imaginary, body, appears from the whole story of the gospel. (3) He is God and man in one person.
- The singular fitness of Christ for this work of mediation arises from His being God-man in two natures, united in one person without confusion or transmutation. 1. Had He not been truly God, He had been too mean a person for so high an employment. It was God that had been offended, an infinite Majesty that had been despised; the person therefore interposing must have some equality with him to whom he interposes. Had the whole society of persevering angels interposed on man’s behalf, it had been to little purpose; one Christ was infinitely more than all, and that because He was truly God. 2. Had He not been completely man, He had been no way capable of performing that indispensably-necessary condition, upon which God was willing to be reconciled; namely, the satisfying of that righteous sentence which God had pronounced: “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). 3. Had He not been God and man in one person, the sufferings of His human nature could not have derived that infinite value from the Divine nature. We could not have called His blood “the blood of God,” as it is called (Acts 20:28): it would have been no more than the blood of a creature, and consequently as unavailable as the blood of bulls, &c. (Heb. 9:12; 10:4). 4. Had He not been God-man without confusion of natures, His Deity might either have advanced His humanity above the capacity of suffering; or His humanity might have debased His Deity below the capability of meriting, which is no less than blasphemy to imagine. And this is the first reason, the singular fitness of Christ for this work, because of the dignity of His person. The singular fitness of Christ for this employment in respect of the suitableness of His offices. There is a threefold misery upon all men, or a threefold bar to communion with God. (1) The guilt of their sins, which themselves are never able to expiate, or satisfy for. (2) The blindness of their minds, the cure whereof is too difficult for any creature-physician. (3) Their bondage and captivity to sin and Satan, which are enemies too strong for man to deal with. Suitably to these three great necessities, Jesus Christ is anointed of God to a threefold office, of a Priest, a Prophet, a King: the former of which offices he exercises on our behalf to God, and the last two from God to us. (a) The priestly office of Christ is the great, the only relief we have against the guilt of sin. The work of the priesthood consisted, under the law, chiefly of these two parts. (i) Satisfaction for the sins of the people (Lev. 4:15–19, &c.). (ii) Intercession unto God on their behalf (Lev. 16:15–17). Both which were verified in Christ our “great High Priest” (Heb. 4:14). His satisfaction, in discharging those debts which His people had run into with Divine Justice to the utmost farthing, (iii) His intercession; this is the other part of His priestly office. His satisfaction—that was performed on earth; His intercession is performed chiefly in heaven. By the former He purchased pardon and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19, compared with verse 21), by the latter He applies the benefits He hath purchased. (b) The prophetical office of Christ is the great, the only relief we have against the blindness and ignorance of our minds. He is that great Prophet of His Church whom Moses foretold, the Jews expected, and all men needed (Deut. 18:15; John 1:24, 25, 45; 6:14); that Sun of Righteousness, who by His glorious beams dispels those mists of ignorance and error which darken the minds of men; and is therefore styled, by way of eminency, “that Light” (John 1:8), and “the true Light” (John 1:9). The execution of this prophetical office is partly by revealing so much of the will of God as was necessary to our salvation; partly by making those revelations powerful and effectual. (i) In revealing the will of God. (ii) In enlightening effectually the souls of His people. In causing the blind to see, and making them who were once darkness to be “light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). Thus He instructs by His word and by His Spirit (1 Peter 1:12). (c) The kingly office of Christ is the great, the only relief we have against our bondage to sin and Satan. He to whom “all power is given in heaven, and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). (W. Whitaker, M.A.) Christ Jesus the only Mediator between God and men:—
- That God hath appointed but one mediator, or advocate, or intercessor in heaven for us, in whose name, and by whose intercession, we are to offer up all our prayers and services to God. Besides that it is expressly said here in the text, “there is but one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” and that the Scripture nowhere mentions any other: I say, besides this, we are constantly directed to offer up our prayers and thanksgivings, and to perform all acts of worship in His name, and no other; and with a promise, that the prayers and services which we offer up in His name will be graciously answered and accepted (John 14:13, 14; 16:23, 24). St. Paul likewise commands Christians to perform all acts of religious worship in the name of Christ (Col. 3:16, 17). And indeed, considering how frequently the Scripture speaks of Christ as “our only way to God, and by whom alone we have access to the throne of grace,” we cannot doubt but that God hath constituted Him our only mediator and intercessor, by whom we are to address all our requests to God (John 14:6; Eph. 2:18). And we have no need of any other, as the apostle to the Hebrews reasons (Heb. 7:24, 25). “But this person (speaking of Christ) because He continueth for ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood,” “since He abides for ever, is able to save to the uttermost all those that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
- I proceed to show that this doctrine or principle of one mediator between God and man, is most agreeable to one main end and design of the Christian religion, and of our saviour’s coming into the world, which was to destroy idolatry out of the world; which St. John calls “the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
III. It is likewise evident from the nature and reason of the thing itself, that there is but one mediator and intercessor in heaven, who offers up our prayers to God, and that there can be no more. Because under the gospel there being but one high priest, and but one sacrifice once offered for sin; and intercession for sinners being founded in the merit and virtue of the sacrifice, by which expiation for sin is made, there can be no other mediator of intercession, but He who hath made expiation of sin, by a sacrifice offered to God for that purpose; and this Jesus Christ only hath done. He is both our high priest and our sacrifice; and therefore He only, in the merit and virtue of that sacrifice, which He offered upon earth, can intercede in heaven for us, and offer up our prayers to God. (J. Tillotson, D.D.)
Only one Mediator:—Dora Greenwell’s seemed to be a kind of dual nature religiously. On one side, as it were, she was High Church to the verge of Romanism; on the other, an earnest and simple evangelical Protestant. “However much,” she said, “I may appreciate the value of great Catholic ideas.… When I kneel down to pray I am a Protestant; with Christ only between me and God, and between me and Christ—faith.” (Sunday at Home.)
- The necessity for a mediator is distinctly implied. Christ is a true mediator, because He blends two natures in His own, the Divine and the human. When a man is down in a horrible pit, a rope dangling above him would be a mockery if it were far out of his reach; and a ladder set in the miry clay beside him would be equally useless, if the ground above were at an unreachable distance from its highest rung. The only means of communication, which can bring him salvation, must reach the sunlit plain above him, and yet be within his grasp. So is it with the “one Mediator.” As the God-man He reigns in the highest, yet reaches the lowest, and as the Son of man rather than the Son of David or the Son of Abraham, He touches every man, whatever his race or condition.
- The essence of the atonement appears in the statement that He, the mediator, Christ Jesus, “gave Himself a ransom for all.” The idea of substitution, however little it commends itself to the judgment of some who have often very imperfectly considered it, is unquestionably involved in this. The Greek word translated here “ransom,” means the redemption price paid for the deliverance of a slave or captive, and when Jesus “gave Himself” (not money or power) a ransom for all, He was like one who takes the place of a prisoner that the prisoner may go free. If the captive refuses freedom he perishes, but the love of his would-be deliverer is none the less. Most of those who have rejected this great doctrine have done so because they have had pressed home upon them only one phase of it—as if that were in itself a complete and satisfactory account of a profound mystery. The atonement has sometimes been spoken of as a sort of legal transaction, having no essential bearing upon moral character, which will procure acquittal for the sinner at the bar of judgment without setting him free from the usurpation of sin. 1. The God-ward side of the atonement is as important as it is mysterious, but it is not to be insisted upon as if it were all. The Scripture asserts again and again in types and in texts that it is in virtue of the death of Christ that God can justly forgive; that except for His sacrifice the Divine love could not reach us; that by Him satisfaction was made to the law of God, and that pardon was not, and could not be, a bare act of grace. These statements are beyond proof. They concern a sphere of existence about which we know absolutely nothing except what is revealed in Scripture. They have to do with the relations between the Eternal Father and the Only Begotten Son, about which the wisest of us are profoundly ignorant. We do not understand how the law of the Father required the sacrifice of the Son, nor how the death of the God-man affected the purpose of the Father; but are we to say, therefore, that there is no connection between them? Is that the only mystery in life? Why, what do you know of your own existence in its deeper relations? Yet it has been a frequent and grievous mistake of popular theology to dwell upon this aspect of the atonement only as if it contained the whole truth. But we must also remember that Christ’s giving of Himself as a ransom for all was meant to have its influence on human hearts. This leads us to contemplate—2. The man-ward side of the atonement. The Cross of Calvary assured the world that the Divine love, even for sinners, was capable of the utmost self-sacrifice, which taught many to say, “We love Him because He first loved us.” But there is yet another phase of Christ’s atoning work which must not be lost sight of. We have seen that it vindicated Divine law, and revealed Divine love so as to touch the hearts of those who saw it, but it was meant also to exert an ethical influence over men. 3. The moral power of the atonement. Many sneer at professing Christians as men who persuade themselves that they are relieved from the punishment of sin, but who show no signs whatever of being redeemed from its power. But love such as God calls for, and the sacrifice of Calvary demands, is really a strong and active affection; indeed, we are told that “love is the fulfilling of the law.”
III. The propagation of this fundamental truth through the world is to depend upon testimony. Paul says that he himself was a living witness of it. This is our duty too. It may be that we have not any remarkable gifts like Paul’s, but we may reveal to others the power of Christ to save from sin, if only we ourselves experience that power. (A. Rowland, LL.B.)
Jesus Christ the one Mediator between God and man:—Before entering upon the discussion of our text, we would offer a few remarks on the precise meaning of the term “mediator,” in this passage. Now, by the word “mediator,” in its general meaning, we understand one who interposes between two parties, either to obtain some favour from one to the other, or to adjust and make up some difference between them. But such a mediation may be either voluntary or authorized, assumed or commissioned. Moses was a mediator in the former sense, when he showed himself to his brethren “as they strove, and would have set them at one again” (Acts 7:26). His interference was rejected, when he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler or judge over us?” It is not such a mediator that the text speaks of. It is not presumption, not unauthorized good intention in Christ when He mediates. But, again: the meaning of the term is modified by the relative condition of the parties to be brought together. These may be equal; and then each is privileged to commit his own part in the matter in hand to the care of the common arbitrator. A mediator, under such circumstances, becomes an umpire, a judge, a referee, to whom the interest of each party is committed, and by whose decision each party is bound. But this does not come up to the idea of Christ’s mediation. A further notion of a mediator is that of one interposing between unequals: one that has been appointed by a superior, who has a right to make his own terms with an offending inferior, and to depute to whomsoever he may see fit the regulation of the manner in which intercourse is to be carried on between him and those with whom he may be willing to communicate. Moses, when called of God to the direction of Israel, is an instance of this authorized mediation between unequals; and, as such, was representative of the one great Mediator of whom our text speaks. By the term “mediator,” then, we are here to understand one duly commissioned by God, with whom the power rests, to negotiate between Himself and man, in order, as God’s vicegerent, to receive man’s submission and obedience; and, as man’s representative and advocate, to propitiate God’s justice, and to procure and communicate God’s blessing.
- The parties to be reconciled are “God and man”; the Creator and the creature; the rightful Sovereign and the rebellious subject; the kind Father and the ungrateful child. Strange, it may be said, that there should be variance between such: was it always thus? No: once all was harmony and peace and love. Whence, then, did the estrangement arise? From God? No: the profusion and magnificence and beauty of Eden forbid the entertainment of such a thought. It was in man that the alienation began. But how is the estrangement perpetuated? “The carnal mind is enmity against God”: here is the sinner’s having learned to hate what he feels he has abused, and manifesting the identity of interest and feeling between himself and that evil one whose cause he now maintains. The very purity of the Being he has injured makes his hatred but the more malignant: the very lack of palliation for his disobedience confirms him in his settled purpose still to sin with a high hand. Thus, what folly and pride began, folly and pride perpetuate.
- The person mediating—“the man Christ Jesus.” 1. As to His nature, we may remark, that the expression, “the man Christ Jesus,” must not be considered as declarative of His humanity to the denial of His divinity. He is “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God”; “God over all, blessed for evermore.” But the Mediator is still the “man Christ Jesus.” Our high notions of His Divinity must not cause us to overlook or deny His humanity. As His Divinity fits Him to act with God for man, so His humanity fits Him to act with man for God. But He must be sinless man. The slightest flaw in His moral character would make Him a criminal, and not an Advocate—would make His mediation offensive. The circumstance of having a tendency to sin would imply partiality: He would be prone to palliate rather than to condemn, and have a tendency to lower the standard of the Creator’s requirements, in order to make easier terms for the creature. 2. Again, as to His commission. He is authorized and empowered by Him with whom alone the power rests. 3. His work is threefold: His atonement, intercession, and mission of the Spirit.
III. The design or end of this mediation. Now, we must bear in mind that a mediator is required to consider the interests of both parties in behalf of whom he acts, and to make terms by which the honour of the superior, and the restoration to favour of the inferior, may be most effectually secured. With regard to the Almighty Ruler, His honour and sovereignty must be maintained, and His glory acknowledged and admired. Man’s position is naturally now one of rebellion; but he must be brought to lay down his arms. Christ, in the person and place of man, has tendered and paid the penalty incurred, met the demands of offended justice, and now He tenders the submission of each individual child of man that receives Him as his Mediator by faith. The construction of man in his original form was a wonder of Divine skill: the formation of his spirit in knowledge, holiness, and happiness, bespoke a master hand; but, when all the beauty of this wondrous production had been marred by the fall, to re-construct, re-adorn, re-glorify the whole, was the act only of Him whose thoughts are not as our thoughts. Yet such is the effect of Christ’s mediation. Intelligence continually enlarging and expanding in the unclouded presence of the very Source of truth; holiness everlastingly increasing in those regions where nothing entereth that defileth; love for ever glowing with increasing intensity before Him who is its very essence; happiness continually accumulating in the presence of Him who supplies it in inexhaustible abundance—these are the prospects of the redeemed soul: this is the high perfection to which the wisdom and power and love of Jehovah will bring the frail fragile thing that Satan shivered, and sin defiled. The glory of the perfections of Jehovah, then, are acknowledged and illustrated. But another end of this mediation was the good of man. Christ came to procure the outpouring of the blessing which sin had checked and intercepted. God now can visit those who had loved Him in Christ Jesus. We would now proceed to offer a few general observations which seem to be suggested by the whole subject. 1. And, first, how great is the unfairness of those who affirm, and the folly of those who can be persuaded, that the tendency of the doctrine of justification by faith only, is to engender a careless and an antinomian spirit. 2. But another observation is this: How great are the injury and injustice done to Christ by the addition of other mediators! To endeavour to make out a necessity for the interposition of the virgin, of saints, or of any priestly mediator on earth, in order to our availing ourselves of the mediation of the Redeemer, is grounded on no warranty of Scripture, and reflects injuriously on the character of the blessed Jesus. (John Richardson, B.A.) The Man Christ Jesus.—
Christ’s—a true and proper humanity:—In whatever way God is pleased to manifest Himself, the medium of manifestation must be limited and finite. His union with our humanity, as an organ of revelation, is no more inconceivable than with any other nature which is restricted and confined. He was pleased to assume our humanity as the form through which to reveal the Divinity, and had He not been conscious of a complete participation in human nature, He never would have adopted or employed the designation—Son of Man. Having taken our nature, the man Christ Jesus followed the laws of purely human development both in body and in mind. He not only represented but passed through every successive period or stage of life. In every sense He was a child—in every sense a youth—in every sense a man. The social affections enter immediately and inseparably into the very idea of our humanity. With these social feelings our Creator has endowed us, and has fixed our abode in a world in which they are ever being called into joyous play, and in which there exists the most beautiful provision for their gratification. Nor does Christianity interfere with these social ties and relationships. We are formed to love. Nor can we conceive of any principle, human or Divine, stronger or more impressive. It is the conservative principle of families and of society at large. A world without love would be a world in which every social bond would soon be loosened and broken, and the human passions become the play of so many lawless forces, which would ultimately involve society in eternal enmity and opposition. One of the most touching scenes in the social life and history of Christ is connected with His death. Not far from His cross, and just as He was in the act of giving up His spirit into the hands of His Father, He beheld His mother standing at a distance, burdened with sorrow and bathed in tears. While His development was from first to last without sin—while He was a living and pure model of that conduct which is pleasing to God—yet His fellowship with humanity was emphatically a fellowship of suffering. In suffering He surpassed all men. In proportion to the perfection, refinement, and sensibility of His nature, was the depth and keenness of His affliction. Never was sorrow like unto His sorrow. We wonder not, therefore, that Christ should have a deep and unmistakeable sympathy with suffering and with sorrow. Not that His sympathies could flow out only amid scenes of grief and distress. The subject of the purest social affections, He could freely mingle in the intercourse of men, and share in all their human joys. In Him we behold that Spirit of liberty with which the Divine life takes hold of, and appropriates to itself the relations of the world and of society. Christianity is eminently social in its character. True piety is cheerful as the day, and sheds its radiance over every scene. That school of spiritual life in which the Saviour taught His disciples differed from every other. Instead of a sour, austere, unyielding asceticism, He trained them to a comparatively unrestrained mode of life. Nor was it with poverty only that the Saviour sympathized. Nor must we lose sight of the truth, that the sympathy of Christ sprang from the purest and most intense love—that love, which, in seeking and in blessing its objects, asks not how, or when, or where. It is true that this loving, compassionate, sympathizing Saviour, has left this lower sphere of being, and hath passed into those higher heavens, in which room is found for nothing but the most refined and the most sublime enjoyment; and yet even there is “He touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” His sympathies are still with us, whether we be in joy or in sorrow, and He can so communicate with our spirit, as to give us the consciousness of Divine succour and support. We are conscious of the fellowship of mind with mind. And what shall we say of those kindred virtues which clustered and shone like the most brilliant constellation in the life and character of the Man? Humility is the queen of graces. It is one of the rarest and the truest virtues. It is far removed from everything approaching to meanness of spirit. Having come into the world to offer himself a sacrifice for man, there was no act of hazard or of self-denial to which the Saviour was not prepared and willing to descend. Allied to this humility is meekness. Self-denial is nothing if clamorous and noisy. It does not lift up and cause its voice to be heard in the street. It is silent, unobtrusive, and retiring. If humility be not servility, neither is meekness to be looked upon as softness. Hence it is that we read of the gentleness of Christ. Not only was He harmless in life, but in death He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. Not that He can be charged with timidity and weakness. His soul was full of manly energy. A spirit so humble, and meek, and gentle, could not be wanting in forbearance; but forbearance must not be understood as involving anything of timidity or cowardice. It is the highest manifestation of self-control. It follows that this forbearance carries with it the corresponding idea of patience. In forbearance there must be the power of enduring. But patience is not to be resolved into insensibility, any more than forbearance is to be resolved into cowardice. The Saviour of man could not only face opposition and danger, but He could with calm assurance bear every species of wrong and suffering which could be inflicted on His deeply sensitive and susceptible nature. It now only remains to add, that this patience was allied to the most child-like submission—the most perfect resignation. To give up our own individual will for the will of another in circumstances of deep suffering, is the perfection of Christian virtue. Nor were these virtues embodied and exemplified in the life of Christ otherwise than as a model and example to man. Our character and life should be the mirror in which His virtues are reflected; or rather, our life should be the counterpart of His. We must copy after our great pattern. It is not forbidden us in the arrangements of infinite wisdom and love to cultivate and cherish the social affections to the highest possible point, so long as they do not withdraw the heart from God, and the sublime objects of immortality. Nor can our Christianity have its full development but amid the scenes, and friend ships, and enjoyments of our present being. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatso ever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report—if there be any force, and if there be any praise in them, think on these things, and these things do, and the God of peace shall be with you. (R. Ferguson.)
The man Christ Jesus:—To pray for all, even for those that are most hostile or most alien (ver. 3), is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. It may well be so, it must be so. For it is in accordance with His mind and will as Saviour. He is our Saviour, it is true; but not ours only (ver. 4). He will have all men—His greatest enemies, the most outcast prodigals, not excepted—He will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If there are any for whom we cannot pray directly out of sympathy with them, we can pray for them out of sympathy with the Lord, who is our Saviour, and who is willing also to be theirs. All the rather will we pray for them all, when we bear in mind that they and we are all one. Yes! all are one, they and we are one; inasmuch (ver. 5) as there is one God for all, one Mediator for all, one Saviour for all. There are not many Gods, so that one might belong to one God and some to another. There are not many Mediators, many Captains of salvation, under whose separate banners men might rank themselves at pleasure. There are not many ransoms, with blood of various hues to meet varieties of taste among the sprinkled worshippers. There is but one God, to whom all belong. One God for all. One Mediator for all. One ransom for all. And the ransom, the Mediator, Christ Jesus, is “the man.” Not a man of a particular colour, whether fair, or dark, or of Ethiopian dye. Not a man of particular race, Jew or Gentile; of Shem, of Japhet, or of Ham. Not a man of a particular class or rank, whether of royal ancestry or of lineage proper to His birth in the stable of an inn. Not a man of a particular temperament, whether sanguine or morose, grave or gay. Not a man of a particular history, walking in a path apart. He is “the man Christ Jesus”; everywhere, always, to every one, the same; the man. Therefore they who love Him, the man Christ Jesus, may well be exhorted to pray for all men.
- He is the man all through; out and out the man. In soul, body, spirit; in look, voice, carriage, walk; in mind, heart, feeling, affection. In Him—in all about Him, all He is, and all He does, you see the man; not the man of honour, the man of piety, the man of patience, the man of patriotism, the man of philanthropy; but the man. The manhood in Christ Jesus is very noble, but it is very simple. And it is because it is so simple that it is so noble. None have ever succeeded in drawing His character since. Do you ever think of Him but just as the man? Other men you think of as distinguished by their features. You remember other men by their peculiarities of manner. But by what peculiarity do you remember the man Christ Jesus? Oh! it is a blessed thing to know that Jesus Christ is the man. The man for you, brother, whoever you are—and the man also, I thank God, for me! The man for the strong—the man for the weak! The man for heroes, for who so heroic as the man Christ Jesus? The man for you who toil in the carpenter’s shop; in the like of which once He toiled, like you—the man Christ Jesus!
- He is simply man throughout; in every exigency, in every trial, simply man—the man Christ Jesus! In all His earthly and human experience, you never find Him other than man; you never find Him less than man; and you never find Him more than man. He is the Son of God, you know; the Father’s fellow. But you never think of His being the Son of God as making His manhood at all different from yours. No! For you never find Him taking shelter from the ills to which flesh is heir in any power, or privilege, or prerogative of His Divine nature and heavenly rank. Thus, as the man Christ Jesus, He lies in His mother’s bosom, and works at her husband’s trade, He is subject, all His youth, to His parents, He is weary, hungry, thirsty, He is vexed, grieved, pained, provoked, His soul is exceedingly sorrowful, and at times His anger is stirred, He cries, and groans, and weeps, He bleeds, and quivers, and dies. Man’s capacity of attainment, man’s power of endurance—what man is fit for, what man can stand, with the help of God, you learn from the human history of the man Christ Jesus!
III. He is the man exclusively, pre-eminently, par excellence, to the absolute exclusion of all others, He is the man, the only man, complete and perfect. He stands alone as man. Manhood, in its integrity, belongs to Him alone. Not otherwise, Oh, my brother sinner, could He be the man for you; the man for me. Let one gather up in himself all the fragments of the manhood which you and I share together. Let him collect in one heap, as it were, every particle of glory and beauty to be found anywhere among the ruins of humanity. Let him take every great man’s quality of greatness, every good man’s element of goodness. Take all the good, of all sorts, you can possibly discover in the records of good men of all the ages. Mix, compound, combine as you may please, you cannot get the man! For the man to meet my case, and satisfy the craving of my soul—must be no thing of shreds and patches; but complete, perfect, an unbroken round, in himself one whole. No composite will do. He must be a single and simple unity; one, like the seamless coat, woven from the top throughout. But humanity, manhood, has never been thus one, inwardly and intensely one, since the fall. Men there have been, good and great. But they have been fragmentary; a bit of manhood in each; often a very beautiful bit of manhood; but set, alas! and often well-nigh lost, in a confused, chaotic jumble of inconsistencies and incoherences! And here is the man; the man Christ Jesus. All manhood is His; manhood such as yours and mine; but untainted, incorrupt, one and indivisible, which yours and mine is not. He is holy, harmless, undefiled; and separate from sinners. Nay, even if we could fancy a man more complete still, more completely uniting in himself the excellences of all other men, and more completely excluding their infirmities and faults; we cannot reach the idea of one who would not be more to some than he might be to others; who might be everything to you, and little, if anything at all, to me. No! If we would find one who is to be the man for me, for you, for all; we must ascend the stream of time, and fetch his manhood from beyond the flood, from beyond the fall! Then, in the unbroken image of God, manhood, human nature, the very self of man, was truly and indeed one. Since then the manhood among men has been manifold and broken and fragmentary. The man who is to gather up the fragments must himself be whole. The only one who can be the head of all, because He can be the same to all, is He who takes our human nature—not as it is now, rent and torn by sin—but as it once was; one in unbroken, pure, and holy innocence, one in immaculate likeness to the Holy One. And who is this but the man Christ Jesus?
- He is the man to mediate between God and man. To be the one Mediator, He must be pre-eminently and distinctively the man; the representative man; the one man. If mediation is a reality; if it is a real transaction outside of us; not an internal process, but the adjustment of an external relation, as all Scripture teaches us that it is; the mediator must be a third party, distinct from both the parties between whom He mediates. He may and must represent both. But He is to be confounded with neither, He is to be merged in neither. A man cannot have a mediator within himself; nor can he mentally create a mediator out of himself. He cannot be his own mediator. Every man is not a mediator, nor is it any man indiscriminately who can be a mediator. Nor will an ideal man, springing, as it were, fully grown, from the thoughtful head or fond heart, the living ideal outcome and expression of those human instincts that are opposed to evil, and yearn for good, suffice. No. Not though we give it a local habitation and a name, and call it the man Christ Jesus of Nazareth. If there is to be real and actual mediation in the fair and honest sense of the term, the man who is to be mediator must be found for me, not found by me, least of all found by me in myself. He must be born, not from among us, but from above. He must be the man, not by assent or consent on the part of earth merely, but by the decree of heaven, or rather by the creative act of heaven’s Lord, doing a new thing on the earth, bringing in anew the man, the second Adam! Thus three conditions come together and coalesce as identifying the man who is to be the mediator. First, He must be the man, not as manhood exists and appears, marred and broken, among the children of the fall, but as it was in its original oneness and perfection, when man really bore the image of his Maker. Secondly, He must be the man, not as suggested by men’s own instincts, and impulses, and cravings, but as directly chosen, appointed, introduced by God Himself. And, thirdly, He must be the man, as being, in His wondrous person, one with God in the same true and real sense in which He is one with men. All these three conditions meet in the man Christ Jesus. And they meet in Him as the man who sounded the utmost depths of human experience, and in the strength of His pure and simple manhood, aided only by prayer and by the Spirit, withstood evil, mastered pain, and by suffering overcame the wicked one. Truly there is and can be but one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The man—(1) Made, as to His human nature, by special miracle, in the unbroken image and likeness of God. The man (2) Who comes forth from God, bearing His commission to negotiate peace. The man (3) Who in respect of His Divine nature, unchanged, unchangeable, is one with God—the Son dwelling evermore in the Father’s bosom.
- He is the man to give Himself a ransom for all. He who would do this—must be one who is willing to take your place, and be your substitute; and fulfil all your obligations, and meet all your responsibilities. But more than that, He must be Himself free, under no obligations, under no responsibilities of His own. He must be one who owes nothing to God on His own account; no service, or righteousness, or obedience; and one also who lies under no penalty on His own account; against whom no charge can be brought. In whom are these qualifications found combined but in the man Christ Jesus? For His willingness who can doubt it? “Lo, I come,” He says (Psa. 40:7). But willingness alone will not suffice. He who is to be your surety, your ransom, must be no common man. If He is one who, as a mere creature, is made under the law, as all intelligent creatures are made under the law, He cannot answer for others; He can but answer for Himself. Not even if He were the highest of the angelic host could He do more. Brother, thou needest a ransom, an infinite ransom, a perfect ransom, a ransom sufficient for the cancelling of all thy guilt and the perfecting of thy peace with God. No such ransom canst thou find in thyself, in me, in any angel. But God has found it.
- He is the man to be testified in due time. A testimony for fitting seasons, a great truth to be attested as a fact at the right crisis of the world’s history, to be ever afterwards preached and taught as the source of life to men doomed to die—is this marvellous constitution of the manhood of Christ Jesus; fitting Him for being the one Mediator, the one Ransom. It is the testimony for which I am ordained a preacher, an ambassador for Christ. 1. It is my ordained and appointed testimony, or rather the Lord’s by me, to thee, O sleeper—to thee, O doubter—to thee, whosoever thou art, who art living a godless, unholy life, unrenewed, unreconciled, unsanctified. It is a testimony in due time to thee. 2. It is the testimony with which I am charged to thee also, O downcast soul, who art afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, sin-laden, sorrow-laden, unable to see thy warrant for having peace and life with thy God. I testify to thee, the Lord testifies by me to thee, that all thou needest is in the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator, the Ransom, and in Him for thee. 3. It is a timely, seasonable testimony to thee also, O man of God, my son Timothy, O child of God, who hast quiet peace in believing, and art walking at liberty, having respect to all God’s commandments. The testimony to thee this day is of the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator, the Ransom. And it is for every due time, every fitting season. For thyself, I urge thy recognition always of Him of whom I testify, the man Christ Jesus. For, whatever the time, whatever the season, it is a due time, a fitting season, for His being testified to thee, by the Spirit, as being present with thee. As thou walkest the streets, or journeyest along the road, He talks with thee by the way, and opens to thee the Scriptures concerning Himself; the man Christ Jesus, who taught thus of old in Galilee and Jewry, speaking as never man spoke. As thou sittest at meat, He breaks bread with thee, the man Christ Jesus, in whose living, personal, human, and Divine fellowship, the first disciples at Jerusalem did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. As thou visitest the fatherless and widows in their affliction, He goes with thee, the man Christ Jesus, who in all their affliction is Himself afflicted. As thou art wearied among the workers of iniquity whom thou art seeking to turn to righteousness, ready to complain, “Who hath believed our report?” see, ever near thee, at thy side, the man Christ Jesus, who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, and whose prayer on the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” (R. S. Candlish, D.D.)
Christ, the mediating man:—Jesus Christ as standing for mediatorial purposes between God and man, is doing a work necessary to be done before satisfactory relations can be established between the sinner and the holy God. Our sins have separated us from God, and Christ lives to intercede, to mediate for us. Now, this fact has been so stated at times as to produce false impressions concerning God and His feelings towards men. It has been spoken of as though Jesus Christ had to stand for us in the presence of God, to offer Himself as a sacrifice, to persuade the Supreme to have pity, to take us back into His favour. God is thus represented as One who sustains a stern anger against the entire race, and who is determined to hold out in His terrible wrath against them. Now, I venture to assert that any teaching which leaves that idea of God upon the hearts of men is a gross libel of the Divine nature, utterly contrary to Scripture, and solemnly untrue. We could not feel any conscious gratitude for such compulsory pardon as that. If we realized any love or gratitude, it would not go forth to Him, but to the Mediator who had interposed to save us from the impending wrath. We should regard God as One to dread, and Christ only as One to love. If there is one clear testimony of Scripture that we are invited to receive, it is that God’s mercy is the fountain and source of the grace we receive. Christ is the expression of God’s mercy. Christ is God’s gift. Yet, it may be asked, could not God have saved and reconciled the world without the intervention of the man Christ Jesus? He is a very bold dogmatist who would say that God could not have redeemed without the aid of the appointed Mediator. That would be to shut Him up to necessity, to surround Him with limitations, to restrict Him within the sphere of a single method, forgetting that with God all things are possible. That God has arranged that this shall be, warrants us, not in saying that the end could not have been accomplished in some other way, but that this was in the Infinite Wisdom the best, and that it met a necessity which could not have been otherwise so well and adequately met. If you ask what was that necessity which resulted in the life and death of Christ, then Scripture is silent. There it stands, a sublime history, an accomplished fact, in some way unexplained to us. Our salvation depends upon that mediatorial work; the Christ has come between us and God, and so achieved our ransom; and He now appears in the presence of God for us. Yes, there it is; though, I repeat, so far as the Divine side of the work of Christ is concerned, we know nothing more than this, that it has satisfied the Divine Father, and made salvation possible to all. So we rest assured that it was the best way. When, however, we turn to the human side, we perceive how wonderfully gracious is the arrangement that the Mediator should have been what He was—a man, the man Christ Jesus. This is what we are asked to fix our attention upon as of supreme and vital importance to us. He who undertakes our case and pleads our cause is not an angel, is not to be regarded as standing in any degree aloof from us; for though He had a supernatural birth, that in no sense was meant to separate Him from the race: He is still essentially one with it. It is just what we want to realize. He is distinctively the man—the man belonging alike to all. His nationality is not prominent in our minds, and in no way estranges our sympathy from Him, or affects our feeling towards Him. The fact is, as you read the exquisite record of His life, you feel that no nation has any special claim upon Him. He lives, and acts, and speaks, and dies as One who belongs to all humanity. Then, carry the thought further. Your study of the character and conduct of Jesus Christ will have revealed to you this great truth—that He does not impress you as manifesting any particular temperament. We mark off men according to certain peculiarities of disposition which they possess: their individuality puts them into classes. We speak of the reserved and the frank, the serious and the gay. Now you find nothing of all this in Christ. He shows no one quality of mind or heart predominant over any other. There is a rounded completeness of nature in Him altogether unique. What is the consequence of this? That He repels none, and is attractive to all. Men of varying temperaments, like those who formed the first group of disciples, cluster around Him, accept Him as their guide and teacher. He is the Christ for all—the Mediator in whom all can trust. He can draw all temperaments and natures to Himself. See in this again another proof of His fitness for the office He holds, and the work He undertakes—the man Christ Jesus, the One Mediator. The world wants no other, no multiplied agency. Take notice again that He has none of the faults and flaws and imperfections of common manhood. Here indeed is His peculiarity. Yes, but even then you have proof that He is the Man. In Him you have manhood in its integrity. You have manhood in its grandest possibilities. But how does that complete manhood of our Lord help us to rejoice that He is the right One to become our Mediator? I reply that you could not conceive the idea of an imperfect one representing the case of sinners; you could not be content to trust it in his hands; you could not be sure of the result. His infirmities might interfere with and mar his grand work. It would not be to such a one that we could look hopefully to be the means of redeeming us, for he would need himself to be redeemed. He is a man, knowing us altogether, yet free from our defects and evil, and so fitted to achieve the work of reconciling us and leading us back to God. Thus the very integrity of His manhood is the reason why He should be the Mediator for all other men. You are linked to God through Him, and through Him will come every blessing that God has to give to His children. Let none fear to come to God, since the way is opened for reconciliation through the Mediator—the man Christ Jesus—and all that Christ is and all that He has accomplished are for you. (W. Braden.)
5. There are different opinions over whether this verse is a quotation from another source or whether it is the writer’s own statement. Because the idea of a mediator is prominent in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it has been suggested that this statement has been influenced by that Epistle. But Paul himself would certainly have agreed with both statements in this verse. He reasoned from the unity of God to the universalism of his mission in answering Jewish exclusivism in Romans 3:29–30. Here the appeal to the doctrine of the unity of God, common to both Judaism and Christianity, links up with the divine desire that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. The second part of the verse adds an exclusively Christian element. The doctrine of Christ as mediator is more fully expounded in the Epistle to the Hebrews in connection with the covenant. That no bond between God and man was possible apart from Christ Jesus is also fundamental to Paul’s thought. It is because a mediator must be representative that the humanity of Christ (the man Christ Jesus) is also brought into prominence.
5 Paul now elaborates even further his command in vv. 1–2, this time by specifying the nature of the gospel that must be proclaimed. The following affirmation may draw on a Christian confession (“the testimony given in its proper time,” v. 6). The existence of “one God” was affirmed by monotheistic Judaism (Dt 6:4), with important implications also for Gentiles (cf. Ac 17:23–31; Ro 3:30; 1 Co 8:6). Unfortunately, first-century Jews frequently defined their salvation-historical privilege in narrow, nationalistic terms. This ethnic presumption is firmly opposed by both Jesus and the early church, including Peter (1 Pe 2), Paul (letter to the Romans), and John (e.g., Jn 10:16; 11:51–52; 12:32). Since there are other monotheistic religions besides Christianity, the apostle proceeds to stress that there is only “one mediator” between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, “who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (see comments at v. 6).
Just as there is only one God, there is also only “one mediator” (mesitēs, GK 3542) between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus (cf. Jn 14:6b). In Hebrews, Jesus is presented as the mediator of a new covenant, replacing the old covenant mediated by Moses (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; cf. Gal 3:19–20). No other intermediaries will do, be they angels (Col 2:18; Heb 2:2), Moses (Gal 3:19; Heb 3:1–6), Jewish high priests (Heb 8:6, 9, 13.; 9:13; 12:24), or other religious figures. Here the “mediator” concept is developed in terms of the “ransom” (v. 6; antilytron, GK 519; see apolytrōsis in Ro 3:24; 8:23; 1 Co 1:30; Col 1:14) offered through Jesus’ death (cf. Tit 2:14: lytroō, GK 3390, “redeem”). This presupposes universal human sinfulness (cf. Ro 1–3). The reference to Jesus’ humanity emphasizes both his identification with the human race and his status as the man par excellence, the one who alone was in a position to provide redemption from sin (cf. Paul’s Adam/Christ theology in Ro 5:12–21; 1 Co 15:21–22, 45–49).
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