December 2013 • Volume XIV, Issue 20
The One Mediator Between God and Men
What is a mediator? A mediator is one who comes between two
or more parties at enmity, removes the enmity and restores
them to friendship.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is not merely a diplomatic or
political mediator (whose task is to resolve disputes
between two or more states or civil governments, or between
two or more factions within a state) or a family mediator
(who seeks to effect unity between two or more parties in a
family) or a marital mediator (who tries to restore
communion between a husband and a wife). I Timothy 2:5
speaks of a religious mediator, a mediator between the
perfectly holy God and totally depraved men: “there is one
God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ
Our religious mediator, Jesus Christ, is definitely a
covenant mediator. He removes enmity between God and men—the
fault is entirely on our side—and restores us to fellowship
with Jehovah. Since the covenant is friendship and communion
with God, the Lord Jesus is our covenant mediator.
Therefore, the book of Hebrews calls Him “the mediator of
the new testament [or covenant]” (9:15) and “the mediator of
a better covenant” (8:6; cf. 7:22).
Where is or was Christ our mediator? In heaven? Yes. On
earth also? Yes. When is or was He our mediator? Now? Yes.
And during His ministry some 2,000 years ago? Yes. I Timothy
2 clearly teaches this. It was as the mediator (5) that
Jesus Christ “gave himself a ransom” while on earth two
millennia ago (6).
This makes it crystal clear that the Lord Jesus, our
religious and covenantal mediator, brings friendship between
God and us not merely as a simple teacher (as if profound
words alone could do it) or a moral reformer (as if our
ethical transformation alone could be enough to bring us to
Jehovah) or as an earnest intercessor (as if His fervent
praying for us, all by itself, were sufficient to reconcile
us to the Most High). Our religious and covenantal mediator
restores us to fellowship with the living God by His
sacrifice for our sins on the cross, for our mediator (5)
“gave himself a ransom” (6). Thus Scripture glories in “the
blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20).
Notice the order of the two parties between whom Christ
mediates in I Timothy 2:5: “there is one God, and one
mediator between God and men.” It does not say that Christ
mediates between “men and God,” although this would be true.
It declares that our Saviour mediates “between God and men.”
If we had penned this verse, to speak hypothetically for a
moment, we would probably have written it the other way
around: “one mediator between men and God” because we,
sadly, are man-centred. But the Holy Spirit wisely wrote
“one mediator between God and men,” emphasizing the divine
initiative and grace in God’s coming to us through the
mediator whom He appointed.
In order to do justice to our need for a human mediator, I
Timothy 2:5 stresses Christ’s manhood: “there is one God,
and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Though Christ is, and needs to be, God in order to save us,
He must also be man in order to live on earth, die on the
cross and represent us in heaven.
I Timothy 2:5 highlights the singularity and uniqueness of
our mediator: “there is one God, and one mediator between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Why is this? Jesus
Christ is so great and glorious and powerful and successful
that only one mediator is needed! After all, He is both
fully God and fully man and so able to mediate between both.
By His substitutionary obedience and particular atonement
for all whom the Father gave Him, issuing in His
irresistible grace in us, He effects fellowship between the
Triune God and His church. This is the blessed union and
communion between Jehovah and each and every one of His
sheep! There is “one mediator between God and men,” who came
all the way from the living God to us and who takes us all
the way back to the heavenly Father in the loving friendship
of the covenant of grace.
Therefore, there are not two or more mediators. Mary, though
a godly woman and the mother of our Lord according to His
human nature, is not a mediatrix between God and men. The
saints, though our brothers and sisters in Christ, do not
mediate between Jehovah and us. The church, though it is
“the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15), is not a
mediator between the Most High and men. Nor are our works or
man’s supposed free will! Forging another mediator besides
Jesus Christ is mistrust of, and unbelief in, the incarnate
Son of God and a rejection of His all-sufficient mediatorial
office. Hence, it is a despising of Him and His work on the
Praying to Mary or the saints, or viewing the church or
anything else as a mediator, is polytheism. But how is that
having more than one God? The number “one” occurs twice in I
Timothy 2:5: “one God” and “one mediator.” If you have one
mediator, you worship one God. If you have two mediators,
you serve two gods. If you have three mediators, you have
three gods. And so on. Why? Because religious veneration
reserved for Jehovah, such as prayer, made to a supposed
mediator “deifies” him or her or it.
To look at it from another angle, praying to or through more
than Christ is, in reality, a sort of atheism. Whereas
polytheism is offering worship to many gods, atheism is
having no God. Those praying to, or trusting in, more than
the only mediator do not ascend to, or commune with, the
Creator and Lord of all. They do not know God!
Seeking to approach God through parties other than Christ
alone is double addition: adding other mediators and adding
other gods. This double addition is also double subtraction,
for one loses both Christ, the only mediator, and the only
Let us believe in Christ’s glorious, sole mediation and pray
through Him alone. In this way, we come to the one true and
living God and enjoy the forgiveness of our sins and
covenant fellowship with Him! Rev. Stewart
Revivals and Magistrates (1)
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for
all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that
we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and
honesty” (I Tim. 2:1-2).
In response to my article in the November 2013 issue of the
Covenant Reformed News, a reader writes, “As prayers for the
revival and Reformation of the West, given its knowledge of
the gospel and its centuries-long hatred of it and apostasy
from it, are a ‘hopeless whistling in the wind,’ what should
be our attitude to praying for our rulers? As most of our
rulers have rejected the gospel, are they ‘blasphemers
against the Holy Spirit’ and so we should not pray for them?
Am I right in thinking that we should not desire to ‘lead a
quiet and peaceable life’ anyway, as ‘lawlessness’ is
increasing at a rapid rate in our land?”
I admit that I have not heard of or read any material on
revivals that connects revivals and the rule of civil
magistrates. I do not deny that this may very well be true,
but it has escaped me. It seems that this connection that is
suggested in the question presupposes that revivals are
sometimes brought about by decree of the civil magistrate.
Or, if a revival is not decreed by a civil magistrates, it
is at least approved, promoted and encouraged by a secular
However that may be, the text in I Timothy 2 has encouraged
the questioner to ask some questions about its meaning, and
the questions are important ones and worth our attention.
Let it be stated, first of all, and with all possible
emphasis, that the admonition of the text to pray for our
rulers is a command of our Lord that we must obey. It is a
divine obligation, given us in sacred Scripture, so
obedience is required of us in our service of the Lord
Christ as citizens in His heavenly kingdom. It is my
judgment that many are fearful of praying for our
magistrates and rarely do so. One argument in support of
this failure is that civil magistrates, as the questioner
observes, are rarely Christian in the true sense of the
word. But that excuse does not justify negligence.
Let it also be emphatically stated that the Scriptures never
permit us to speak evil of our magistrates; they forbid us
to refuse to obey them (unless refusal is disobedience to
Christ); and they require of us respect, honour and even
love. This is emphatically Paul’s teaching in Roman 13 and
Peter’s teaching in I Peter 2:13-17. These words in these
two passages were inspired by the Holy Spirit in days when
men, such as the grossly depraved Nero, ruled and were
persecuting the church.
This was the godly behaviour of the three friends of Daniel
when they were threatened by the king with death in a
white-hot furnace (Dan. 3). This was Daniel’s example when
he was thrown into the lion’s den (Dan. 6). Above all, this
was the example of our Lord Himself before the Sanhedrin,
Herod and Pontius Pilate. Peter points us to our Lord’s
conduct as an example for us to follow (I Pet. 2:21-25).
Submission. We are called to submission. We are called to
submission, even when we cannot, for Christ’s sake, obey.
The fifth commandment is decisive.
The reason why we are to honour and submit to—and,
emphatically, pray for—our civil rulers is because they are
all put into office by Christ Himself. It is Christ’s work
that they rule. It is Christ who puts the robe of authority
on them, anoints them to serve in their office and calls
them to rule in His name. That is their calling. “Be wise
now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the
earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way,
when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they
[i.e., rulers] that put their trust in him” (Ps. 2:10-12).
It makes no difference whether these rulers are a
Nebuchadnezzar, a Nero, a Hitler, a Stalin, a Winston
Churchill or a Barack Obama. The commands of the Scriptures
are given us to obey. Wicked rulers will have to answer the
King of kings in the judgment day for their refusal to rule
in the name of Christ.
As Reformed believers, we confidently testify to the great
truth of God that Christ, from His throne in heaven, so
executes the Father’s will that all things He does are for
the sake and salvation of His church for which He shed His
blood. “All things work together for good to them that love
God ...” (Rom. 8:28).
Christ puts into civil office the one whom He wants in that
office because such a one is necessary for the salvation of
the church. Yes, everyone who holds such an office: even
Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Constantine the Great, Frederick the
Wise and, wonder of wonders, even the Stuarts: James I,
James II, Charles I and Charles II, along with Mary, Queen
of Scots. If Cyrus, the king of Persia, was God’s servant
(Isa. 44:28; 45:1), how much more all the kings of the
earth? Even the Antichrist is given His authority by the
absolutely sovereign God, according to His all-wise decree
executed as providence by Christ, His vice-gerent at His
When we honour them and serve them, we honour God and His
Christ. When we disobey them, speak evil of them, revolt
against them—as did the Covenanters and the American
colonists—we revolt against Christ. If the consequences of
our refusal to obey rulers results in persecution, we
receive suffering from the hand of Christ (I Pet. 2:18-25;
4:12-19), knowing that “we must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
And so, we must pray for them. Because the admonition is
addressed to Timothy, preacher in the church of Ephesus, it
is an admonition that is particularly directed to ministers
in their prayers in the divine worship services. But it does
not alter the fact that the injunction comes also to every
child of God in his family prayers and in his personal
devotions. Prof. Hanko
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