by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 Lincolnton, NC August 15, 2004
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in these verses.
A. Just as there is something really significant about monotheism in a trinitarian formulation, there is also something really significant about the issue of "one" Mediator.
1. In the larger debate, monotheism separates "God" from the "gods" and the trinitarian formulation separates "Christianity" from "Islam" and "Judaism".
2. Just so, as in the larger debate, a single legitimate "Mediator" also separates "Christianity" from other monotheisms [thus dismissing both Islam's number one "prophet" as well as Judaism's focus on Moses], but, more importantly, it begins to make clear distinctions between the various forms of divinely revealed "intermediaries" within the trinitarian monotheisms.
a. Mono-Mediatorism effectively "kills" the Roman Catholic penchant for exalting Mary and the "saints" to the level of "mediators" and seriously challenges the entire system that would promote that kind of error (any time a "system" has a glaring fault, one has to wonder how the "system" was put together: it brings everything under suspicion).
b. Mono-Mediatorism also effectively "kills" the Protestant penchant for exalting the responses of the "saints" to the level of "mediation" as that is no less an exaltation of the human to the level of the divine as is the Roman Catholic exaltation of Mary and the "saints".
B. So, What is a "Mediator"?
1. First, we must understand that "mediators" exist between two parties that are at odds with one another (there is no need for "mediation" where there is no difference of agenda or protocol) [Note Galatians 3:20: a mediator is not "of one" -- he stands between "two" (or more) -- but the promises of God are "of One"].
a. The passage in Galatians argues that the Law was "ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator" and, as such, was never intended to be the "way" into a righteous standing before God (3:18).
b. The "mediator" in this case was not a "mediator" for the accomplishment of a righteous standing before God, nor was his "law" given to achieve that end. The reason Jesus Christ is the sole mediator is that those under the "law" had turned it from its intention and made it a method for the achievement of righteousness. This created a difference between God and those of the "law" in the area of protocol: God and those under "law" wanted men to be "acceptable in righteousness" (at least at the surface) -- thus, there was no need for "mediation" regarding "agenda" -- but those under "law" wanted the protocol for the agenda to be human merit and God wanted the protocol to be faith in the merit of Another. Actually, however, any time the method is debated, the objective comes under distortion. Men under "law" said they wanted a righteous standing before God, but in reality they wanted to assume the position of "God" and have "God" yield His place to them. How so? When men insist that God accept them on the basis of their works, they are insisting that "their" view of righteousness replace "God's" view and boils down to a rejection of the "glory of God" in favor of the "glory" of "men, birds, four-footed beasts and creeping things". Any time man insists that God yield on anything, he is demanding to be the "god" in the conflict.
2. Second, we must understand that "mediators" typically exist within the framework of a mutual agreement that has become a "point of contention" in some way.
a. The references in Hebrews to the mediation of Jesus Christ in contrast to the mediation of the Levitical priesthood are all couched under the terms of "covenants".
b. The contrast in Hebrews between these "mediators" is a contrast that has a fundamental distinction in the reality that the "mediators" of the "Law" were operating as "shadows" of the heavenly reality and their covenant was focused upon this world as the "shadow realm". Jesus Christ was, however, the Reality and He functioned in respect to the Real Tabernacle in heaven.
c. The problem of the "shadow realm" was that God "found fault" with those who had entered into a covenant with Him (Hebrews 8:8) so that there came to be a difference of agenda and protocol between the parties of the covenant that could not be resolved by any "mediator" under that covenant. Thus, there had to be a "new" covenant and a new "mediator" if there was to be any harmony. Obviously, there was no need for a new covenant if God would be satisfied with simply dispensing Justice on the basis of the Legal Covenant that existed between Him and them. But, Justice would have simply destroyed the offenders and then there would not have been "two" parties because "one" of them would have been eliminated. So, if there was a divine desire to have a covenant relationship with men, there had to be a different approach than the one enacted at Sinai. Thus, Jesus became the Mediator of a New Covenant that depended upon a different approach than the Old Covenant had depended upon. This means that we must understand the flaw in the Old Covenant: it rested upon the human response. By so doing, it eliminated any long term harmony because the human response will inevitably be less than it has to be for a covenant to work between God and men unless the covenant itself makes provision for the human weakness of response. This is the reason that, under the New Covenant, man's entrance into the covenant is founded upon the righteousness of the God, Jesus Christ (so that the righteousness is actually "the righteousness of God" -- as promised in the Gospel [Romans 1:16-17]), and the outworking is rooted in the divine activity of underwriting the human response by the writing of the Law (God's desires under the covenant) in the heart so that it will be expressed by the life of the one in the covenant situation [Note Hebrews 8:10].
C. So, What About the Mediatorial Identity of Jesus Christ?
1. Since He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, in every case in which His "mediation" is required by a conflict between God and men, the only question He has to ask is the one He asked of the Jews: "in what way have I sinned?" (John 8:46). If, and I only speak as a man with a completely flawed perspective for the purpose of illustration, God is "ticked off" by the behavior of someone under the New Covenant, all Jesus has to ask Him is "Wherein have I failed failed You?" (because ALL under the New Covenant are IN His righteousness), and if some man is "ticked off" with God's behavior, all Jesus has to ask to settle the issue is "Wherein have I failed you?" (because all under the New Covenant are recipients of God's righteousness). Neither the Father, nor men, can fault the perfection of Jesus, the Man. There is no basis for complaint by either "party" in the New Covenant.
2. This reality presses the "doctrinal issues" deeper than trinitarian monotheism does. Trinitarian monotheism, technically, is a sufficient doctrine to isolate all true faith from the manifold distortions, but, practically, since man is not known to think things through logically, it takes the mono-mediatorism of Jesus, the Man, to really establish true faith from the errors of modalism and tri-theism.
a. Modalism's error is mercilessness.
b. Tri-theism's error is human collaboration for participation.
c. Mono-mediatorism establishes mercy as it is given in Jesus Christ, the Crucified, and establishes human participation without collaboration as it is given in Jesus Christ, the Last Adam. Just as the first Adam had no input from his offspring in regard to his decision and its impact (collaboration for participation), so the Last Adam did what He did in life, death, and resurrection, without His "brethren" being collaborators in His decisions and impact (participation without collaboration). There is no democracy in the Kingdom of God.