1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
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.
I. 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.
II. 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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;