Is Jesus only a Man who mediates before the One God? Pt. 1

The following text is often quoted by Anti-Trinitarians, especially those of a Muslim persuasion, to prove that Jesus Christ is not God, but a man who is separate and distinct from God:

“For there is one God (heis gar theos), and there is one mediator (heis kai mesites) between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5

Since this verse happens to be a favorite passage of those who deny the prehuman existence and absolute Deity of Christ, we have decided to provide a somewhat thorough analysis of this particular text by examining it in the immediate and overall contexts of Paul’s writings, as well as the Holy Bible as a whole.

But first I am going to show how the inspired Scriptures, specifically the NT documents, employ the various Greek words for one in order to show that they do not preclude others from sharing in or possessing a particular characteristic, role, and/or function ascribed to a specific individual or thing.

THE NT USE OF ONE

To begin with, even though the Greek word for one that the Apostle used in 1 Timothy 2:5, namely heis, can and often does mean one and only/only one, alone, solitary in the sense that there is no other, and therefore excludes everyone else, it doesn’t always have this specific meaning. The word is also used in reference to the archetype, the original, the source, to that which is first or primary, or to someone or something that has supremacy over the other members of a particular class or group. Note, for instance, how the following passages employ this term.

One Lord

“… and one Lord (heis kyrios), Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6b

one Lord (heis kyrios), one faith, one baptism,” Ephesians 4:5

Even though Christ is the one Lord, the same Scriptures testify that there are others who are called lords, including the Father:

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth (kyrie tou ouranou kai tes ges), that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Matthew 11:25 – cf. Luke 10:21

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth (houtos ouranou kai ges hyparchon kyrios), does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things… Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”” Acts 17:24-25, 30-31

“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (ton christon kyriou).” Luke 2:25-26

“When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord (tou kyriou) and against his Anointed”—for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.’” Acts 4:23-30 RSV

“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord (tou kyriou hemon) and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

“And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord (kyrios) said to my Lord (to kyrio mou), Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet.’ David himself calls him Lord (kyrion); so how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly.” Mark 12:35-37

“Now the Lord is the Spirit (kyrios to pneuma estin), and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (kyriou pneumatos).” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14

“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’” Revelation 19:16

One Father and Teacher

We are told that there is one Father, namely God, and one Teacher, that is Christ:

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher (heis gar estin hymon ho didaskalos), and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father (heis gar estin hymon ho pater), He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader (kathegetes hymon estin heis), that is, Christ.” Matthew 23:8-10

“You call Me Teacher and Lord (ho didaskalos kai ho kyrios); and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher (ho kyrios kai ho didaskalos), washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14

And yet the NT is replete with references to fathers and teachers that God has specifically appointed for believers:

“They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father (pater hemon Abraam estin).’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father. They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father (hena patera): God.’” John 8:39-41

“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers (didaskaloi): Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”” Acts 13:1-2

“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Abraam, hos estin pater panton hemon),” Romans 4:16

“And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers (didaskalous), then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers (didaskaloi), are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors (i.e. shepherds [poimenas]) and teachers (didaskalous),” Ephesians 4:11

“for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher (didaskalos).” 2 Timothy 1:11 

One Shepherd

We are expressly told that believers have one shepherd who is Christ our Lord:

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (heis poimen).” John 10:11-16

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd (ton poimena) and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd (ton poimena … ton megan) of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,” Hebrews 13:20

And yet Christ has appointed spiritual leaders to be shepherds overseeing his flock:

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:15-17

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (poimainein) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28 – cf. Ephesians 4:11

“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd (poimanate) the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd (tou archipoimenos) appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4

One Judge

Christ is also said to be the one judge and lawgiver who shall judge and repay everyone according to what they have done:

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge (heis estin nomothetes kai krites), the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” James 4:12

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him… and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” John 5:22-23, 27

“The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)… And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:36, 42

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 – cf. Matthew 16:27; 25:31-46; Mark 8:38; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 18; Revelation 2:18-23; 22:12, 20

At the same time, however, we are told that Christ will judge the world through his spiritual Body, the Church:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

The One and Only Rock and Foundation

The Holy Bible tells us that there is only one spiritual Rock whom everyone must trust and believe in, namely, Yahweh God:

“‘I love You, O Lord, my strength.’ The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold… For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God,” Psalm 18:1-2, 31

“My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He ONLY is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

The same God-breathed revelation also teaches that the Church is built on Christ, who is its only spiritual foundation:

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

And yet Abraham is said to be the rock from whom Israel sprang,

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him.” Isaiah 51:1-2

With the Apostles and prophets of the Lord Jesus being described as the very foundation which the Church is built upon:

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:18-22

The Only One Who Knows

According to Revelation, Christ has a name that no one knows except him:

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.” Revelation 19:12

Now this cannot possibly mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit do not know the name, since the Father knows all things and perfectly knows the Son,

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Luke 10:22

“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:20

With the Spirit knowing everything that God the Father knows:

“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

As such, both the Father and the Spirit know everything that the Son knows, and therefore would also know his name.

We now turn to our final example.

One Mediator

Even though Christ is said to be the one mediator, specifically of the New Covenant,

“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” Hebrews 8:6

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:14-15

Who intercedes for and perfectly saves all the members of that covenant,

“The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:23-28

Believers are invited to also pray and intercede with the risen Lord for one another, as well as for the salvation of the world. In fact, we find this plainly stated in the very passage that explicitly says that Christ is the one mediator between God and mankind!

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth… For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 7-8 ESV

The reason why believers are called to intercede for the salvation of all peoples is because they are participating in the one mediation of the Lord Jesus. And the reason why they are permitted to share in Christ’s unique mediatorial work is because they are members of his spiritual Body, called to share in the perfect unity which exists between the Father and the Son:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father [we] are one (hen esmen).’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” John 10:27-33

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:18-23

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” 1 Corinthians 6:15-17

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – cf. Ephesians 5:25-33

Christians, therefore, are simply sharing in Christ’s unique mediation, being moved by the Holy Spirit to participate in their risen Lord’s intercession and prayers for the salvation of the lost, as well for each other:

“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots… Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:33-34, 46

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you… In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:9-11, 26-27, 31-34

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:13-20

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21

The foregoing examples confirm that the Holy Bible often employs language such as “one,” one and only,” “no one” etc., in contexts where it isn’t meant to exclude other individuals from also sharing in that specific attribute, function, role etc., assigned to a given person or thing. Therefore, just because Paul differentiates Christ from the one God in 1 Timothy 2:5, doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t also God, or that the blessed Apostle denied the essential Deity of the risen Lord.

So the question therefore remains: by distinguishing the Lord Jesus from the one God did this holy Apostle intend to deny that Christ is God as well? Or did Paul believe that Christ himself is God in essence since he fully shares in and possesses the uncreated essence of the one God?

This will be the focus of the next part of our discussion.

 

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