Addressing the Misuse of 1 Timothy 2:5 by Protestant Apologists
Deriving Right Doctrines from Wrong Texts
I proceed with my reply, One Mediator and One God Pt. 1, by focusing on how the inspired Greek NT employs the word heis (“one”), to see whether there is any merit to the Roman Catholic claim that this particular term doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of some one else sharing in or possessing that specific quality, role, title etc. ascribed to a particular individual or thing.
I will cite verses where the word heis is used in reference to a particular individual that is described as carrying out a specific function or possessing a certain name or quality, and then quote passages where others are said to also perform that same task or described as having that same title or characteristic.
God Alone Is Good
“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone (oudeis agathos, ei me heis, ho Theos).” Mark 10:17-18
“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good (agathos) and righteous man,” Luke 23:50 ESV
“The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good (agathos) man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.” Acts 11:22-24
God Alone Is Holy
“Who will not fear you, Lord, or glorify your name? For you alone are holy (hoti monos hosios). All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4
“Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but he, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy (hosios), innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:23-26
Even though the verse employs monos instead of heis, it is still relevant nonetheless since it shows the flexibility in which these terms are used in the God-breathed Scriptures.
“… and one Lord (heis Kyrios), Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:6b
“one Lord (ho Kyrios), one faith, one baptism;” Ephesians 4:5
“With it we bless the Lord and Father (ton Kyrion kai Patera), and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.” James 3:9
“Worthy are you, Lord our God (ho Kyrios kai Theos hemon), to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.” Revelation 4:11
“Slaves, obey your human masters (kata sarka kyriois) in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord (ton Kyrion). Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord (to Kyrio) and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord (apo Kyriou) the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ (to Kyrio Christo). For the wrongdoer will receive recompense for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality. Masters (Hoi kyrioi), treat your slaves justly and fairly, realizing that you too have a Master (Kyrion) in heaven.” Colossians 3:22-4:1
“As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher (heis gar estin hymon ho didaskalos), and you are all brothers.” Matthew 23:8
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord (Ho Didaskalos kai ho Kyrios),’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher (ho Kyrios kai ho Didaskalos), have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14 NIV
“Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers (didaskalous); then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers (didaskaloi)? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock (mia poimne), one shepherd (heis poimen).” John 10:14-16 – cf. 1 Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds (poimainein) of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 New International Version (NIV)
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (poimenas kai didaskalous), to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 English Standard Version (ESV)
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds (poimanate) of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV
“There is one lawgiver and judge (heis estin [ho] nomothetes kai krites) who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12
“Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son… And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22, 27
“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42 – cf. 17:30-31
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by HIS appearing and HIS kingly power… From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for HIS appearance… The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to HIS heavenly kingdom. To HIM be glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 8, 18 – cf. Matthew 16:27; 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 4:2-5; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
“Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,” 1 Peter 1:17
“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28
“How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones? Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters?” 1 Corinthians 6:1-3
“Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for [the] thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6
“Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven (heis gar estin hymon ho Pater, ho ouranios).” Matthew 23:9
“For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us,” Romans 4:17
“I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:14-15
“Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.’” Ephesians 6:1-3
This last case is rather interesting:
“They answered and said to him, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God (hena Patera echomen, ton Theon).’” John 8:39-41
The Jews tell Jesus that they have one Father, namely God, right after claiming that Abraham was their father!
With the foregoing in perspective, it is clear that heis does not always exclude other individuals from sharing in the characteristics and/or functions assigned to a specific person. As we have seen, it can and often does convey the sense of first, primary, but not the only one in the sense of excluding anything or anyone else from possessing those particular qualities or roles assigned to a specific individual. As such, citing a text where the Lord Jesus is said to be the one mediator doesn’t in and of itself exclude others from participating in Christ’s mediation. In fact, in the next part of our discussion we will see how born again believers are called to participate in Christ’s priestly work, and are therefore expected to pray and make intercession for the salvation of all mankind, which is precisely what a mediator does.