There is "one mediator between God and men, the man [Greek anthropos--human being] Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom [Greek antilutron --a corresponding price] for all."-- 1 Tim. 2:5,6.
The Greek word translated Mediator in this text is mesites, and has the significance of the English word mediator, viz., "middle man," or reconciler, or, as defined by Webster, "one who interposes between parties at variance for the purpose of reconciling them."
On this subject there are two views, both of which we believe to be very erroneous. First, we mention the view growing popular recently among so-called advanced thinkers, viz., that God, after trying to secure man's attention and love and reconciliation for four thousand years with very little success, changed his plan of operations and sent Jesus to entreat for him with mankind and to win man's love over to God, that thus reconciliation between God and men might be effected. They take this view because a false theory compels it; their theory being that God has nothing against mankind that would require a Mediator to adjust and settle, while mankind has supposed grievances against God which the Mediator was needed to dispel. This class, for the same reason, find no meaning or sense in the Scriptural statement that Jesus was a ransom for all men. They claim that God required no ransom for sinners, but was so full of love for men that he could not permit his justice to act in opposition to them; that God's love over-mastered his justice.
This theory makes void the ransom, and the atonement through it, in a most deceptive manner, because it pretends to accept all the Scriptural statements on these subjects, though it as really opposes and makes void the Scriptures on these subjects as do open infidels.
Its influence is really more misleading than theirs. But not only does such a theory make void the ransom, but it is totally unreasonable of itself, being in opposition to all the known facts.
Facts testify in hundreds of ways that "the wrath of God" rests upon the race. Sickness, pain and death, pestilence, cyclones and earthquakes are facts however we may account for them. We must either conclude (1) that our Creator cannot prevent and remedy these evils, or (2) that he is careless of our welfare, or (3) these evils are permitted by him as a penalty for sins, and as a manifestation of his just wrath and righteous indignation therefor. We are not left to conjecture as to which of these views of the facts are correct; for the Bible not only assures us (1) that God is able to prevent evil, and has all power in heaven and in earth, and (2) that he is not careless and indifferent to the welfare of his creatures, and that he loves them; but (3) that death with all its attendant miseries and troubles, is the just penalty for sin, (Rom. 6:23; Deut. 32:45; Gen. 2:17; 3:17-19; Rom. 5:17-19.) and that exposure to the disorders of nature as experienced in earthquakes, cyclones, etc., are incidental adjuncts of the curse which came upon man as the just wages or recompense for the sin of their representative Adam, and are therefore evidences of divine disfavor or opposition.
That the Scriptures clearly state these facts to be evidences of the WRATH of God, should be known to all. The apostle speaking for himself and the Church, says, We "were by nature [through the fallen nature inherited] children of wrath even as others." (Eph. 2:3.) "For the wrath of God is revealed [displayed] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18.) Not only is there the present general display of divine displeasure against the race, (death, etc.) but the Scriptures point to a "wrath to come," "a day of wrath and righteous judgment of God" (Rom. 2:5.) the great time of trouble in the end of this age. The wrath manifested in death, etc., for Adam's sin, is supplemented by that to come because of the wilfulness and perversity of Adam's fallen children.
Such as shall accept of Christ as their ransom, we are expressly told "shall be saved from wrath through him" (Rom. 5:9): while on such as believe not in the Redeemer "the wrath of God abideth" [continues]. (Jno. 3:36.) Such as now accept of Christ and become his obedient followers, are saved or delivered from wrath to come; and even now, though not delivered from present wrath and penalties of sin, they are assured of God's acceptance of the ransom and of his favor toward them and of a full release shortly from every vestige of the curse and wrath now resting on all. Thus by faith we reckon ourselves delivered or "saved from wrath through him" (Rom. 5:9.) whom God raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from wrath to come. 1 Thess. 1:10. The same word is rendered vengeance, Rom. 3:5. Is God unrighteous that taketh vengeance? Compare verses 23 to 26.
From these texts, as well as from the facts about us, slow indeed would be the mind, or obstinately obtuse the heart that would claim that the great Creator could not be angry under just and proper cause. It would be as improper for our Creator to refrain from righteous indignation and wrath when there is a just and proper cause, as it would be for him to be angry without a cause. He is angry with wickedness and sin every day (Psa. 7:11), and declares that ultimately, sin, and all who love it, shall be no more.
The same Greek word rendered "wrath" in the above texts, is rendered "angry" in Mark 3:5, "He [Jesus] looked about on them with ANGER, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." This was proper anger, a righteous indignation at hypocrisy and wilful opposition to the light.
While God announces his anger, and shows its justice, he bids us beware of it, lest, because of our fallen condition, we err in judgment. We therefore recognizing ourselves as imperfect in judgment, are admonished to leave it for him who cannot err, and who says "Vengeance is mine I will repay." Hence we are exhorted to "put off all these--anger, wrath," etc., (Col. 3:8) and let all bitterness and wrath and anger... be put away from you," (Eph. 4:31.) and to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." (James 1:19.) The Greek word used in these three illustrations referring to the Church is orge the same exactly as used above in referring to the "wrath" of Jehovah, and the "anger" of Jesus. The reason, as we have shown, is that we are not capable in our present fallen condition to judge our fallen fellow creatures; hence while God's wrath is a righteous indignation "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (Jas. 1:20.) Hence the command, "Be ye angry and sin not." There may be instances of wrong and oppression when we should be angry, when to be otherwise minded would be wrong, and would show either a sympathy with the wrong, or a lazy fear of the result of opposing it. We must remember our own weakness and liability, and be ready to cease resentment upon evidence of true repentance and reform, remembering that God has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19.) We say, therefore, that this view, which ignores and denies the wrath of God against sin and sinners, and which therefore sees no necessity for Christ as a mediator for man's sin toward God, is in direct opposition, both to the facts of life and to Scripture testimony.
But now let us look at the other distorted view of the mediation of Christ, the view generally known as orthodox. It pictures before men's minds, a God so angry as to be ferocious and cruel, whose rage against sinners pursues them not only during the present existence, but beyond the grave, and supplies them with existence for the one and only purpose of torturing them everlastingly. Then dropping for the time being their unscriptural and absurd idea that there are three Gods, "one in person," they speak of Christ Jesus as being very different from Jehovah; for whereas the one, as described, would be the personification and embodiment of hate, anger and malice, the other, they represent as love and love only. While according to this view Jehovah was engaged in hurrying off earth's millions to everlasting torture, Jesus appeared and by a sacrifice of himself, placated, or in a measure, satisfied the wrath of Jehovah.
According to this view, Jesus having finished the sacrifice for man's sins, ascended to heaven, where it is claimed he sits upon what is termed his mediatorial throne. It is claimed that Jesus will occupy the mediatorial throne until the end of all probation. Their claim is that while he sits as mediator between God and men, he will plead for the sinner, and importune God not to send him into everlasting torture, but to let him come into heaven; and that when Jesus shall leave that mediatorial throne and come a second time, there is no more hope for sinners. Then it is claimed Jesus will look again over the already fixed verdict of the just and unjust, in what they term the judgment day, and thereafter Jesus and his Church join with Jehovah in the grand (?), glorious (?) and delightful (?) work of superintending the everlasting and hopeless torture of the great majority of the human race in endless woe, either mental or physical, or as claimed by some, both.
We deeply pity the benighted mind to which this view of God's character and plan has the slightest appearance of right or truth. Such know neither the Father nor the Son.
The idea of so-called Protestants on the Mediatorship of Jesus is very closely related to that of Roman Catholics on the same subject. The Church of Rome directs the sinner to go to the priest, who will intercede for him with the Virgin [R788 : page 3] and dead saints, and these in turn intercede with Jesus, who finally intercedes with Jehovah and secures the forgiveness of sin. Protestants, leaving out the mediation of priests, dead saints, and the virgin, come directly to Jesus, as a Mediator and Intercessor. The thought presented is that of the angry Jehovah approached by the loving Jesus, who PLEADS for us, showing the wounds of Calvary, until finally the Father relents and reluctantly receives the sinner. This view is forcibly expressed in the following verse from an old and familiar hymn:
"For me he ever lives,
For me to INTERCEDE;
His all redeeming love,
His precious blood to PLEAD.
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry,
Nor let that ransomed sinner die."
Alas! that any claiming the name of Christ, and possessing the Bible, should be in such ignorance of the character of Jehovah therein revealed. Instead of repelling his ransomed creatures and requiring the pleading and interceding of a Mediator to induce him to be reconciled to us, the very reverse is true. All the mediation is in the past, so far as God is concerned; and ever since the ransom-sacrifice of Jesus was accepted as the propitiation or satisfaction for our sins and the sins of the whole world, Jehovah's attitude has been propitious [favorable --gracious] toward the sinner, ready and willing to receive all that come to him in and by the merit of that propitiatory sacrifice. And it has been the mission of the Apostles and of all who have become the children of God through faith in the finished work of Christ, to herald the fact to all men that God is now ready and willing to receive all who thus come. Therefore, as says the Apostle, it is, "As though God did beseech you by us, we PRAY YOU in Christ's stead, BE YE reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:20.) This text shows that the part of Christ's work of mediation which related to the settlement of the claims of justice against us, as sinners, was at a full end--finished, completed, and that the part remaining was the making known of this divine reconciliation to the sinners, making them aware of God's favor and willingness to receive all that come unto him through the finished work of the Mediator.
How clearly the Scriptures guard us against the two extreme theories of man. They assure us that God is love; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender compassion; that he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would that all would turn unto him and live; that he authorized Christ and all his followers to be his ambassadors and ministers, to make known the good tidings of reconciliation accomplished "by the death of [R788 : page 4] his Son, whom he set forth to be a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (Rom. 3:25, and 1 John 2:2.) They assure us also that Jehovah's love and wisdom planned the redemption, and that, in raising Christ from the dead, he gave proof of the acceptableness of the sacrifice, and of the certainty of the resultant blessing. It is not only true that in due time God sent his only begotten Son for our redemption (Rom. 5:6), and that God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8), but it is true also that this was Jehovah's original plan, and that before sin entered, even before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rev. 13:8), his wisdom and love provided, and beheld in the distance, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
So far as God is concerned, the mediation of Christ Jesus is all in the past. As the Apostle expresses it in the text under consideration, the Mediator who stood BETWEEN the just Creator and his condemned and guilty creatures, was "the man Christ Jesus," and not the exalted Jesus. He mediated by giving himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all. It is not the glorified Jesus that intercedes as mediator and prays pardon for sinners. If such were the case, the Son of God need not have come into the world to die for the sinners, but might from the first have prayed for them. But if prayers only were needed, no mediator would have been necessary, for God himself "SO LOVED the world" --"while we were yet sinners." It was because no mediation, in the sense of entreaty, was necessary, and because no such action could mediate between God's violated law and the sinner, that the mediation was accomplished in a totally different manner. The Mediator was the man Christ Jesus. He became a man that he might be the Mediator. The act of mediation consisted in the man Jesus giving himself a ransom [corresponding price] for all men, to meet the penalty of the law of God against all men, that henceforth the condemnation of sin and its penalty death being removed, there might be no obstacle hindering men from the enjoyment of God's blessing and favor. In a word, the sacrifice for sins is the mediation, and the Sacrificer at the time of the sacrifice is the Mediator.
That this is the correct idea, is not only borne out by reason, and the above statement of Scripture, but by every text in which the word Mediator, as applied to Jesus, occurs. The same word occurs as follows: Gal. 3:19,20; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15and 12:24. These refer to Jesus and Moses, both as mediators. They show that Moses, as the mediator of the Law Covenant, was a type of Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant.
The apostle, after informing us that Christ was mediator of the New Covenant, adds, (Heb. 9:15-22--Diaglott) "For where a covenant exists, the death of that which has ratified it, is necessary ...a covenant is firm [binding] over dead victims, since it is never valid when that which ratifies it [or, is to ratify it] is alive. Hence not even the first [i.e. the Law Covenant] has been [was] instituted without blood," [though the blood used in the type was not the actual blood of Moses the typical mediator of that typical covenant, but the blood of beasts representing Moses' blood]. For every commandment of the law having been spoken by Moses to all the people, taking the blood of bullocks and of goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop he sprinkled both the book [of the law, the covenant] itself, and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of [or evidence of the death, of that which ratified] the covenant which God enjoined on you."
It will be observed that the killing [shedding of the blood] of the bullocks and goats, was the mediation, their death representing the death of Moses the mediator of that covenant. In the killing of these, the mediation was completed; the covenant was ratified and in full force that very instant. The sprinkling of the blood upon the book and people was not a part of the mediating of the covenant, for the covenant had no force or binding value until the mediation was complete, finished. That which mediated for the sins of the people RATIFIED, or completed the covenant, i.e. made its provisions applicable to the people. The sprinkling of the people and book came as a result of the ratifying of the covenant; as a result of the mediation for their sins typically represented in the death of the beasts.
As in the typical, so in the real mediation for sin, which ratifies and brings into force the better covenant--the New Covenant. The man Christ Jesus mediated or came between God and man by meeting the penalty of the law against which mankind had sinned. He opened up a new and living way [a new way of life] by bringing into operation a New Covenant or new arrangement between God and man. The original arrangement entered into between God and his creatures was, that if obedient to God, man should live forever. This we failed in as a race, represented in Adam, and the penalty--death--came upon all. God could not make another contract or covenant with men whereby they could have life, while they were already under sentence of death for the violation of the original covenant or arrangement. Hence it was impossible for a new covenant or arrangement between God and man to take effect at all, until the penalty of the violation of the original engagement had been met by the payment of a ransom-- a corresponding price. The one paying that price and removing the obstruction which hindered the making of a New Covenant, is the MEDIATOR. The man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding price, did thus cancel the penalty of the violated covenant, and thus opened the way for the "New Covenant," or new contract between God and men; wherefore he is called, "The Mediator of the New Covenant." Compare Heb. 9:15.
Thus the death of Christ, by meeting our penalty, mediating for us or making "reconciliation for iniquity," RATIFIED or established the New Covenant, putting it into force, and so, immediately after Jesus' sacrifice was complete and had been formally presented to God on our behalf, came the Pentecostal blessing, marking the beginning of the New Covenant.
It may help us to appreciate the matter, if we examine the New Covenant and see what kind of an arrangement it is, and also the typical covenant of which Moses was the mediator, as represented in the dying beasts.
The New Covenant or new arrangement between God and man, is that expressed to Israel, whose sacrifices, covenants, etc., were typical of those to be instituted once for all men. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.... This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days [after a while or by-and-by], [R789 : page 4] saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord'; for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more." Jer. 31:31-34.
The new and future covenant is here compared and contrasted with the Law Covenant, under which, as a nation, they had long been. The thing to be desired was to get rid entirely of the original sin and condemnation, and to get a clear understanding of God's requirements and have a fresh trial--i.e., to be permitted each individually to stand trial for life or death according to obedience or disobedience, in hope of obtaining and retaining everlastingly the right of life.
Israel supposed that they had received virtually this, when the Law Covenant was ratified. With great pomp and solemnity, that covenant was instituted at the hands of Moses, and they were assured, as the items of the Law were announced to them, that "The man that doeth these things shall LIVE" as a consequence [have life as long as he doeth them]. Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12; Lev. 18:5. But their bright hopes were soon blighted, for one after another died, giving evidence that none of them kept their part of the covenant fully; and it soon became evident that, By the deeds of the Law [Covenant] could no flesh be justified in God's sight. Rom. 3:20.
This was God's object in giving them that typical covenant. He thus showed them their own depraved condition, to convince them that a great remedy was needed for the great malady of sin-- that a great Saviour was needed to deliver them from the enemy's power. The Law Covenant was given to teach this lesson, and to typify and illustrate the operations of the New Covenant coming after it, as well as to fill up the time intervening before the right time of the introduction of the New Covenant which it typified.
The New Covenant is like its type, the Law Covenant, except that its range will be greater; it will embrace the world represented by Israel; its provisions will be grander and deeper as an antitype is always superior to that which is used to typify it. Comparing the two, under the Apostle's direction, we can see the vast superiority of the New Covenant over its type: The typical covenant, established or ratified or mediated by the death of bulls or goats as sacrifices for original sin, was insufficient; for such sacrifices "can never take away sins"; (Heb. 10:11), their death was not a ransom--not a corresponding price, to the death of man, not equivalent in value to the penalty resting upon mankind for the violation of the original covenant by their representative, Adam, and nothing short of this could cancel the sin and remove its penalty really. That God so regarded their covenant is evident from the fact that it had to be repeatedly ratified every year by the sacrifice of more bulls and goats on the typical "Day of Atonement," thus indicating that the original guilt was not blotted out and canceled, but merely RECKONED SO for a year at a time. This process of ratifying the typical covenant yearly, and offering life to every Israelite who would live up to its requirements, was kept up for centuries, though none of them gained the coveted boon--until the man Christ Jesus, came--a perfect man whose life came not through a father of the Adamic race, but from Adam's Father, Jehovah. Thus we see another use for the Law Covenant; it pointed out and served to prove the man Christ Jesus the only perfect man, and hence the only one who could give a ransom--a corresponding price for the transgression of the first perfect man's failure to obey the first covenant.
But as the sacrifices by which the Law covenant was mediated were only typical and temporary, and hence of no lasting value to sinners, so also, the other provisions of that covenant; for instance, the law given them and which they covenanted to obey, was written in tables of stone, and their hearts being left in the depraved condition, to keep the law was an impossibility--it could only condemn them, as out of harmony with it.
Now contrast with this the New Covenant and its better conditions. The foundation of the New Covenant is sure; the mediation is thorough and complete and needs not a yearly repetition; the putting away of original sin is by "one sacrifice for sins forever" (Heb. 10:12), because the Mediator of the New Covenant mediated not with the blood of others [bulls and goats] "but by his own blood," by "better sacrifices" than those (Heb. 9:12 and 23), "when He offered up himself" (Heb. 7:27) "a ransom for all." Thus seen the security of the New Covenant rests upon the cancellation of the penalty of the original covenant violated by Adam our representative. A corresponding price, i.e., a ransom, is the only complete settlement of the old case which would admit of a new covenant being entered into with us. Hence the importance of realizing the RANSOM price given by the man Christ Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, before we can appreciate fully its blessed provisions. The man Jesus was not only a better sacrifice than bulls and goats, but His better sacrifice became the "surety of a better covenant." Heb. 7:22.
Notice that by the provisions of the New Covenant the sinners released from the penalty of the former violated covenant, will not only have a new trial, but will, in addition, have restored to them the original perfections of being, whereby they shall individually have as full an opportunity of rendering obedience, and meriting life everlasting, as Adam their representative had under the first covenant. And their trial will be backed up by the lesson learned from Adam's disobedience and their own experience under sin. This is indicated in the promise of the New Covenant--"I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts." Thus it was with Adam; he needed not to have God's law written on tablets of stone, for his instruction, because his very being was permeated with that law. His mind (spirit) was in harmony with God's mind (spirit). Sin had not warped and twisted his judgment and made wrong to appear right. Malice, selfishness and pride had not at that time displaced righteousness and love, the image of God in which he was created. And not only was his mind in harmony with God, but his body also. He had then none of the physical imperfections [R789 : page 5] and tendencies to evil that now so hinder and incapacitate, for perfect obedience to God: So deeply was the Law of God originally written in the perfect human organism that even the past six thousand years of degradation, sin, ignorance, superstition, and misery has not entirely blotted out that law; and to-day even the most degraded savages give evidence of some appreciation of right and wrong, even without the written law. "These having not the [written] law," "show the work [or give evidence] of the law, written in their hearts ...their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing." (Rom. 2:15.) This glimmer of conscience, often so distorted by superstition and error as to lead into deeper error, serves to illustrate what it would be to have the full Law of God clearly and deeply written in the heart.
But, moreover, the word "heart" is used to represent the center of affections, hence the promise of the New Covenant is not only to give mankind an intellectual knowledge of the Lord, so that they shall need no further instruction one of another, but the law will be deeply and lastingly engraven in the very center of the affections of all who will accept the provisions of that covenant. O how different is this new covenant from its type given to Israel! how much grander the sacrifice of mediation which cancelled the old and ratified the new. How much better to have the heart-written law (which implies restitution to God's image) than the law written on tables of stone.
Thank God for the New Covenant, praise him for its bountiful provisions for every member of the fallen race; and above all, noting how all else depended upon its mediation and ratification by the settlement of our indebtedness or penalty under the original covenant (death), let us, above all, praise God for the gift of his Son, the Mediator, "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom." Compare Heb. 10:16-20with Jer. 31:31-34.