“The Mediator and the New Covenant” Part 2
Why is a mediator necessary?
“The need of a Mediator arises out of the fact of sin. Sin interrupts the harmonious relation
between God and man. It results in a state of mutual alienation. On the one hand, man is in a state of
enmity to God (Rom 5:10; 8:7; Col 1:21). On the other hand, God is moved to righteous wrath in
relation to the sinner (Rom 1:18; 5:9; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6). Hence, the needs of a mutual change of
attitude, a removal of God's displeasure against the sinner as well as of the sinner's hostility to God. God
could not restore man to favor by a mere fiat, without some public exhibition of Divine righteousness, and
vindication of His character as not indifferent to sin (Compare Rom 3:25, 26). Such exhibition
demanded a Mediator.”
So then in answer to question three, Who are the parties in dispute who require mediation? the
two parties in dispute (or at variance) one with another would be God on one hand and on the
other hand “the sons of disobedience” upon whom God’s wrath abides (Eph 5:6). These are the
two parties requiring reconciliation the parties in need of a Mediator.
The qualification of a Mediator depends upon His intimate relation to both parties at variance. Our
Lord meets both of these qualifications.
Christ's Relation to Man:
Firstly, He is Himself a man, i.e. not merely "man" generically, but an individual man. The "one mediator
between God and men" is "himself the Man, Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5), "born of a woman" (Gal 4:
4), "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom 8:3, where the word "likeness" does not make "flesh" unreal,
but qualifies "sinful"), i.e. bore to the eye the aspect of an ordinary man; secondly, He bore a particular
relation to a section of humanity, the Jews (Rom 1:3; 9:5); thirdly, He bore a universal relation to
mankind in general. He was more than an individual among many, like a link in a chain. He was the Second
Adam, the archetypal, universal, representative Man, whose actions therefore had significance beyond
Himself and were ideally the actions of humanity, just as Adam's act had, on a lower plane, a significance
for the whole race (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:22, 45).
His Relation to God:
Paul very frequently speaks of Christ as the "Son of God," and that in a unique sense. Moreover, He was
the "image of God" (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), and subsisted originally "in the form of God" (Phil 2:6). He
is set alongside with God over against idols (1 Cor 8:5, 6), and is coordinated with God in the
benediction (2 Cor 13:14). Clearly Paul sets Him in the Divine sphere over against all that is not God. Yet
he assigns Him a certain subordination, and even asserts that His mediatorial kingship will come to an end,
that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:24, 28). But this cessation of His function as Mediator of salvation,
when its end shall have been attained, cannot affect His Divine dignity, "since the mediatorial
sovereignty which is now ceasing was not its cause, but its consequence" (B. Weiss, II, 396).
The Means of mediation, the Death of Christ:
The means of effecting the reconciliation was mainly the death on the cross. Paul emphasizes the
mediating value of the death both on its objective (God-ward) side and on its subjective (man-
ward) side. First, it is the objective ground of forgiveness and favor with God. On the basis of what
Christ has done, God ceases to reckon to men their sins (2 Cor 5:19). Paul's view of the death of Christ
effecting the mediation may be seen by considering some of his most characteristic expressions.
(A) It is an act of reconciliation. This involves a change of attitude, not only in man, but in God, a
relinquishing of the Divine wrath without which there can be no restoration of peaceful relations (though
this is disputed by many, e.g. Ritschl, Lightfoot, Westcott, Beyschlag), but not a change of nature or of
intention, for the Divine wrath is but a mode of the eternal love, and moreover it is the Father Himself
who provides the means of reconciliation and undertakes to accomplish it (2 Cor 5:19; compare
Col 1:20,21; Eph 2:16).
(B) It is an act of propitiation (Rom 3:25, hilasterion, from hilaskesthai, "to render favorable" or
"propitious"). Here is a clear though of a change of attitude on God's part. He who was not formerly
propitious to man was appeased through the death of Christ. Yet the propitiatory means are provided by
God Himself, who takes the initiative in the matter ("whom God set forth," etc.).
(C) It is a ransom. The Mediator "gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim 2:6). The idea of payment of
a ransom price is clearly implied in the word "redemption" (Rom 3:24; 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14,
apolutrosis, from lutron, "ransom"). It is not alone the fact of liberation (Westcott, Ritschl), but also the
cost of liberation that is referred to. Hence, Christians are said to be "redeemed," "bought with a price"
(Gal 3:13; 4:5; 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; compare 1 Peter 1:18). Yet the metaphor cannot be pressed to
yield an answer to the question to whom the ransom was paid. All that can safely be said is that it
expresses the tremendous cost of our salvation, namely, the self-surrendered life ("the blood") of Christ.
NOTE: it is our contention that the ransom is to be paid to justice, applied as satisfaction to the
claims of justice. See R 2822
The resurrection and exaltation of Christ are essential to His mediatorial work (1 Cor 15:17). It is not
alone that the resurrection "proves that the death of Christ was not the death of a sinner, but the
vicarious death of the sinless Mediator of salvation" (B. Weiss, I, 436), but that salvation cannot be
realized except through communion with the living, glorified Christ, without which the subjective identity of
the believer with Christ by which redemption is personally appropriated would not be possible (Gal 2:20;
Rom 6:4,5; Phil 3:10; Col 3:1). The exaltation also makes possible His continuous heavenly intercession
on our behalf (Rom 8:34), which is the climax of His mediatorial activities.
At present the merit of Christ sacrifice (represented in the blood of the “bullock”) has only been
applied to himself (that is, his body, the Church more specifically the “little flock”), and to his
household (the Levites, i.e. the Great Company class) these together composing the spiritual class, “the
church of the first born” (Heb 12:23). His intercession work is presently confined only to these and
only in respects as an Advocate.
“Therefore he (the High Priest of our profession, a sacrificial priesthood under a “covenant of
sacrifice” Psa 50:5) is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him,
since he always lives (unlike the typical priests who died) to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:
Very soon now when the last member of the body of Christ has passed beyond the Vail, the blood of the
“Lord’s goat” which is for the people (all mankind) will be sprinkled upon the mercy seat making
intercession. Then shall the merit be applied to “all the people” (Lev 16:33).
The Man-ward Efficacy of His Mediator-ship:
The effect of Christ's death on man is described by the words "cleanse," "sanctify," "perfect" (Heb 9:
14; 10:10,14,29; 13:12), words which have a ritualistic quite as much as an ethical sense, meaning the
removal of the sense of guilt, dedication to God, and the securing of the privilege of full fellowship with
Him. The ultimate blessing that comes to man through the work of Christ is the privilege of free,
unrestricted access to God by the removal of the obstacle of guilt (Heb 4:16; 10:19). I.S.B.E. Pages
Now it might appear that we have already answered our third question concerning, the parties in dispute
in need of mediation, but in truth we have but only briefly touched upon the subject here. We believe
that this particular point is what is causing most of the confusion, and therefore needs further
clarification, which is what we hope to address in our next post.
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