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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a person who intervenes between two parties at variance, in order to reconcile them. The term does not occur in the Old Test., but the idea is contained in that' remarkable passage (Job 9:33) which is rendered in the AuthVers. "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon' us both." The Hebrew words are, לאֹ יֵשׁאּבֵּינֵינוּ מוֹכַיחִ יָשֵׁת יָדוֹ עִלאּשְׁנֵינוּ; literally, " There is not between us a reprover he shall place his hand upon us both." This the Sept. translates, or rather paraphrases, εἴθε ἡν ὁ μεσίτης ἡμῶν, καὶ ἐλέγχων, καὶ διακούων ἀναμέσον ἀμφοτέρων . (See DAYSMAN). In the New Test. it is the invariable rendering of μεσίτης, a word which is rather rare in classical Greek- Polybius and Lucian being, it would appear, nearly the only classical authors who employ it (see Robinson, N.T. Lex. s.v.). Its meaning, however, is not difficult to determine. This seems evidently to be, qui medio inter duo stat — he who takes a middle position between two parties, and principally with the view of removing their differences. Thus Suidas paraphrases the word by μεσέγγος. and also by ἐγγυητής, μέσος δύο μερῶν . In the Sept. the word appears to occur only once, namely, in the above passage of Job.
1. It is used, in an accommodated sense, by many of the ancient fathers, to denote one who intervenes between two dispensations. Hence it is applied by them to John the Baptist, because he came, as it were, between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations. Thus Greg. Nazianzen (Orat. xxxix, p. 633) calls him ὁ παλαιᾶς καὶ νέας μεσίτης . Theophylact, commenting on Matthew iii, gives him the same denomination.
2. Again, it signifies, in its more proper sense, an internuncius, or ambassador, one who stands as the channel of communication between two contracting parties. Thus most commentators think that the apostle Paul, in Galatians 3:19, calls Moses mediator, because he conveyed the expression of God's will to the people, and reported to God their wants, wishes, and determinations. In reference to this passage of Scripture, Basil (De -Spiritu Sancto, cap. xiv), says, "Mosen figuram representasse quando inter Deum et populum intermedius extiterit." Many ancient and modern divines, however, are of opinion that Christ himself, and not Moses, is here meant by the apostle, and this view would seem to be confirmed by comparing Deuteronomy 33:2 with Acts 7:38-52. Christ it was who, surrounded by angelic spirits, communicated with Moses on Mount Sinai. On this point, the words of the learned and pious Chrysostom, on Galatians 3, are very express: "Here," says he, " Paul calls Christ Mediator, declaring thereby that he existed before the law, and that by' him the law was revealed." This application of the passage will be the more evident if we consider the scope of the apostle's argument, which evidently is to point out the dignity of the law. How could he present a clearer demonstration of this than by showing that it was the second person of the ever blessed Trinity who stood forth on the mount to communicate between God the Father and his creature man! Moreover, to contradistinguish Christ's mediation from that of Moses, the former is emphatically styled μεσίτης κρείττονος διαθήκης (Hebrews 8:6). This, however, implies that Moses was the mediator of the former covenant, and Eadie, in his Commentary on Galatians (ad loc.), shows at length that this is the meaning of the passage, in opposition to all other views. Moses is likewise often styled סִרְסוּר, or mediator, in the rabbinical writings (see Schottgen and Wetstein, ad loc.). But bethis as it may, far more emphatically and officially
3. CHRIST is called Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24) by virtue of the reconciliation he has effected between a justly- offended God and his rebellious creature man (see Grotius, De Satifactione Christi, cap. viii). In this sense of the term Moses was, on many occasions, an eminent type of Christ. The latter, however, was not. Mediator merely by reason of his coming between God and his creatures, as certain heretics would affirm (see Cyril. Alex. Dial, I de Sancta Trinitate, p. 410), but because he appeased his wrath, and made reconciliation for iniquity. "Christ is the Mediator," observes Theophylact, commenting on Galatians 3, "of two, be of God and man. He exercises this office between both by making peace, and putting a stop to that spiritual war which man wages against God. To accomplish this he assumed our nature, joining in a marvellous, manner the human, by reason of sin unfriendly, to the divine nature." "Hence," he adds, "he made reconciliation." OEcumenius expresses similar sentiments on the same passage of Scripture. Again, Cyril, in his work before quoted, remarks: "He is esteemed Mediator because the divine and human nature being disjointed by sin, he has shown them united in his own person; and in this manner he reunites us to God the Father." If, in addition to the above general remarks, confirmed by many of the most ancient and orthodox fathers of the Church, we consider the three great offices which holy Scripture assigns to Christ as Saviour of the world, viz. those of prophet, priest, and king, a further and more ample illustration will be afforded of his Mediatorship.
(1.) One of the first and most palpable predictions which we have of the prophetic character of Christ is that of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15): "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." That this refers to Christ we are assured by the inspired apostle Peter (Acts 3:22). Again, in Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 61:3, Christ's consecration to the prophetic office, together with its sacred and gracious functions, is emphatically set forth (see Luke 4:16-21, where Christ applies this passage to himself). In order, then, to sustain this part of his mediatorial office, and thus work out the redemption of the world, we may see the necessity there was that Messiah should be both God and man. It belongs to a prophet to expound the law, declare the will of God, and foretell things to come: all this was done, and that in a singular and eminent manner, by Christ, our prophet (Matthew 5:21, etc.; John 1:8). All light comes from this prophet. The apostle shows that all ministers are but stars which shine by a borrowed light (2 Corinthians 3:6-7). All the prophets of the Old, and all the prophets and teachers of the New Testament, lighted their tapers at this torch (Luke 21:15). It was Christ who preached by Noah (1 Peter 3:19), taught the Israelites in the wilderness (Acts 7:37),and still teaches by his ministers (Ephesians 4:11-12). On this subject bishop Butler (Analogy, part ii, ch. v) says: He was, by way of eminence, the prophet, the prophet that should come into the world' (John 6:14) to declare the divine will. He published anew the law of nature, which men had corrupted, and the very knowledge of which, to some degree, was lost among them. He taught mankind. taught us authoritatively, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, in expectation of the future judgment of God. He confirmed the truth of this moral system of nature, and gave us additional evidence of it, the evidence of testimony. He distinctly revealed the manner in which God would be worshipped, the efficacy of repentance, and the rewards and punishments of a future life. Thus he was a prophet in a sense in which no other ever was." Hence the force of the term ὁ λόγος, by Which John designates Christ. (See PROPHET).
But, on the other hand, had the second person of the Trinity come to us in all the majesty of his divine nature, we could not have approached him. as our instructor. The Israelites, terrified at the exhibitions of Deity, cried out that the Lord might not so treat with them again; it was then that he, in gracious condescension to their feelings, promised to communicate with them in future through a prophet like unto Moses. The son of God, in assuming the form of an humble man, became accessible to all. This condescension, moreover, enabled him to sympathize with his clients in all their trials (Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:14-15). Thus we perceive the connection of Christ's prophetic office-he being both God and man-with the salvation of man. On this subject Chrysostom (Homil. 134, tom. v, p. 860) remarks: "A mediator, unless he has a union and communion with the parties for whom he mediates, possesses not the essential qualities of a mediator. When Christ, therefore, became mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2, etc.), it was indispensable that he should be both God and man." Macarius, also (Homil. 6:97), on this question more pointedly observes: "The Lord came and took his body from the virgin; for if he had appeared among, us in his naked divinity, who could bear the sight? But he spoke as man to us men."
Again, the Redeemer was not only to propound, explain, and enforce God's law, but it was needful that he. should give a practical proof of obedience to it in his own person (comp. Romans 5:19). Now, if he had not been man, he could not have been subject to the law; hence it is said, Galatians 4:4, "‘ When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law.;" and if he had not been God, he could not, by keeping the law, have merited forgiveness for us, for he had done but what was required of him. ‘ It was the fact of his being very God and very man which constituted the merit of Christ's obedience.
(2.) Moreover, in working out the mighty scheme of redemption the mediator must assume the office of priest. To this office he was solemnly appointed by God (Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:10), being qualified for it by his incarnation (Hebrews 10:6-7), and he accomplished all the ends thereof by his sacrificial death (Hebrews 9:11-12); as in sustaining his prophetic character, so in this, his Deity and humanity will be seen. According to the exhibition of type and declaration of prophecy, the mediator must die, and thus rescue us sinners from death by destroying him who had the power of death. "But we see Jesus," says the apostle (Hebrews 2:9), "who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." On the other hand, had he not been God he could not have raised himself from the dead. "I lay down my life (saith he, John 10:17-18), and take it up again." He had not had a life to lay down if he had not been man, for the Godhead could not die; and if he had not been God, he could not have acquired merit by laying it down: it must be his own, and not in the power of another. else his voluntarily surrendering himself unto death-as he did on the charge. that he, being only man, made himself equal with God-was an act of suicide, and consequently an act of blasphemy against God! It was, then, the mysterious union of both natures in the one person of Christ which constituted the essential glory of his vicarious obedience and death.
Nor are the two natures of Christ more apparent in his death than they are in the intercession which he ever liveth to make in behalf of all who come unto God by him (Hebrews 7:25). The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches us (chaps. 7, 9) that the high-priest under the Levitical dispensation typified Christ in his intercessory character: as the high-priest entered alone within the holiest place of the tabernacle once a year with the blood of the sacrifice in his hands, and the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart, so Christ, having offered. up himself as a lamb without spot unto God, has gone into glory bearing on his heart the names of his redeemed. We may then ask with the apostle (Romans 8:33), "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." In this part of his mediatorial work God's incommunicable attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and onnipotence are seen. He must therefore have been God, and on the ground of his being able from personal experience to sympathize with the suffering members of his mystical body, he must have been man; being perfect God and perfect man, he is then a perfect intercessor.
(3.) We come, lastly, to notice Christ's mediatorial character as king. The limits of this article will not admit of our even alluding to the varied and multiplied passages of Scripture which delineate Christ as "Head over all things to the Church" (see Psalms 2:6; Psalms 70; Isaiah 32:1 : Daniel 9:25; Colossians 1:17-18, etc.). Suffice it here to say that Christ could not, without the concurrence of his divine nature, gather and govern the Church, protect and defend it against all assailants open and secret, and impart to it his Holy Spirit, to enlighten and renew the minds and hearts of men and subdue Satan—-all these are acts of his kingly office.
Such, then, is the work of Christ's mediatorship salvation revealed by him as prophet, procured by him as priest, and applied by him as king-the work of the whole person wherein both natures are engaged. Hence it is that some of the ancients speaking of it, designate it θεανδρίκη ἐνεργεία, "a divine-human operation" (see Dionys. Areopag. Epist. IV ad Caiam Damascenum, iii 19). Thus Jesus Christ is the mediator between an offended God and sinful man (1 Timothy 2:5). Both Jews and Gentiles have a notion of a mediator: the Jews call the Messiah אמצעא,the Mediator, or Middle One. The Persians call their god Mithras μεσίτης, a mediator; and the daemons, with the heathens, seem to be, according to them, mediators between the superior gods and men. Indeed, the whole religion of paganism was a system of mediation and intercession. The idea, therefore, of salvation by a mediator is not so novel or restricted as some imagine; and the Scriptures of truth inform us that it is only by this way human beings can arrive to eternal felicity (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Man, in his state of innocence, was in friendship with God; but, by sinning against him, he exposed himself to his just displeasure; his powers became enfeebled, and his heart filled with enmity against him (Romans 8:6); he was driven out of his paradisaical Eden, and was totally incapable of returning to God, and making satisfaction to his justice. Jesus Christ, therefore, was the appointed mediator to bring about reconciliation (Genesis 3:12. Colossians 1:21); and in the fulness of time he came into this world, obeyed the law, satisfied justice, and brought his people into a state of grace and favor; yea, into a more exalted state of friendship with God than was lost by the fall (Ephesians 2:18).
We have seen above some of the reasons why in order to accomplish this work it was necessary that the Mediator should be God and man in one person. We may specify, the following in addition.
(a) It was necessary that he should be man:
1. That he might be related to those to whom he was to be a mediator and redeemer (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 2:11-17).
2. That sin might be atoned for, and satisfaction made in the same nature which had sinned (Romans 5:17-21; Romans 8:3).
3. It was meet that the mediator should be man, that he might be capable of suffering death; for, as God, he could not die, and without shedding of blood there was no remission (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 2:15; Hebrews 8:3-6; Hebrews 9:15-28; 1 Peter 3:18).
4. It was necessary that he should be a-holy and righteous man, free from all sin, that he might offer himself without spot to God (Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 2:22.)
(b) But it was not enough that the mediator should be truly man, and an innocent person; he must be more than a man; it was requisite that he should be really God.
1. No mere man could have entered into a covenant with God to mediate between him and sinful men (Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13).
2. He must be God, to give virtue and value to his obedience and sufferings (John 20:28; Acts 20:28; 2 Peter 2:1; Philippians 2:5-11).
3. The Mediator being thus God and man, we are encouraged to hope in him. In the person of Jesus Christ the object of trust is brought nearer to ourselves. If he were God and not man, we should approach him with fear and dread; and if he were man and not God, we should be guilty of idolatry to worship and trust in him at all (Jeremiah 17:5). The plan of salvation by such a Mediator is therefore the most suitable to human beings; for here "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalms 85:10).
The properties of Christ as Mediator are these:
1. He is the only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:4). Praying, therefore, to saints and angels is an error of the Church of Rome, and has no countenance from Scripture.
2. Christ is a Mediator of men only, not of angels; good angels need not any; and as for evil angels, none is provided nor admitted.
3. He is the Mediator both for Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:18; 1 John 2:2).
4. He is the Mediator both for Old and New Testament saints.
5. He is a suitable, constant, willing, and prevalent Mediator; his mediation always succeeds, and is infallible.
For a more ample view of this important subject, see Flavel. Panstratia of Shamier, vol. iii (Geneva, folio), 7:1, in which the views of the Romish Church are ably controverted. See also Brinsley (John), Christ's Mediation (Lond. 1657, 8vo); Gill's Body of Divinity, 1:336; Witsii (Econ. Faed. lib. ii, c. 4; Fuller's Gospel its own Witness, ch. iv, p. 2; Hurrion's Christ Crucified, p. 103, etc.; Owen, On the Person of Christ; Goodwin's Works, b. iii; M'Laughlan, Christ's Mediatorship (Edinb. 1853); Kitto, Bibl. Cyclop. s.v.; Buck, Theol. Dict. s.v.; Amer. Presb. Revelation 1863, p. 419. (See ATONEMENT).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mediator'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/mediator.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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