1 Timothy 2:5
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus … ” RSV
The Salvation of mankind is based entirely on Jesus Christ. He is the One Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24.) He is the only bridge between God and man because He is both God and man. It is only by Jesus Christ that we can be saved.
Now, the question is how does He effect and manifest His saving work to us ? In what way do we cooperate with his saving work ? Does Christ’s role as the One Mediator negate or disqualify one Christian acting as an intercessor for another ? The context of the quotation above from 1 Timothy helps to answer these questions.
1 Timothy 2:1-4, 7
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men … This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. … 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” RSV
First we see that Christ works through us as intercessors. We are commanded to pray for others. And by Paul’s exhortation and example, we are to ask for other’s prayers as well.
“I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”
“Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me …”
God does help us directly, but he also chooses to help us through others and their prayers for us. It would be most unwise to say that we do not want or need the help that God wants to give to us through them by their prayers for us.
1 Corinthians 12:21
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ ”
On another point, we also see that God ministers to his people through the hierarchy of the Church.
1 Corinthians 3:11
“… for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”
Yet we see how Christ works through the leaders of His Church which are a foundation in a secondary sense, based on Him.
“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”
“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ”
Yet, in a secondary sense, all believers are also light because Christ is in them.
“You are the light of the world.”
TEACHER & APOSTLE
“As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher … ”
“Therefore, holy ‘brothers,’ sharing in a heavenly calling, reflect on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession … ”
Yet, in a secondary sense there are teachers and apostles appointed over us in Christ.
“And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers … ”
“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
Yet, in a secondary sense God’s fatherhood is manifested by others.
1 Corinthians 4:15
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” RSV
Cf. Acts 7:1-2, Romans 4:12-18, James 2:21, 1 John 2:13-14
“For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” Rheims N. T.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Yet, we see that Peter and others are also shepherds and mediate His protective love and governing care for over us.
1 Peter 5:2-4
“Tend the flock of God in your midst, (overseeing) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. … be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the
“Jesus said to Simon Peter … ‘Feed my lambs.’ … ‘Tend my sheep.’ … ‘Feed my sheep.’ ”
1 Samuel 2:2
“There is no Holy One like the LORD;
there in no Rock like our God.”
2 Samuel 22:47
“The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be my God, rock of my salvation.”
Yet, we see that Abraham is also called a “rock.”
“Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
to the pit from which you were quarried; Look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth … ”
Christ’s rockness also works through Saint Peter. Christ renames Simon “Kephas” which means “Rock” and which is translated by Saint Matthew as “Petros” in the Greek or as “Peter” here in English.
“Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ ”
“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Kephas’ (which is translated Peter).”
We saw above how Christ is the Chief Shepherd, but that does not disqualify human beings from being shepherds. Rather, it is the foundation and source for their own authority as shepherds. Likewise, it Chirst’s working through St. Peter that makes his role as rock secure. It is the rockness of Christ in Saint Peter that makes Peter the rock. And after his commissioning in John 21 after the resurrection Christ builds His Church on him.
“ … and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.’ ” RSV
“ … that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” RSV
Jesus Christ is the only Savior, yet in a secondary sense
1 Corinthians 9:22
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
1 Timothy 4:16
“Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
CHRIST IN HIS CHURCH
We are members of the body of Christ. Whether we are a “hand” or an “eye” or a “foot” we all belong to the same body with the same head, Jesus Christ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. If I drop something and pick it up with my hand, I do not say, “I did not pick that up, my hand did.” And God manifests His power and grace through His Body, the Church. He works through us. God does not want us to ignore His Saints and the mighty work that He has done through them, rather He wants us meditate on them so that we might know and therefore follow Him better.
“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”
“Great are the works of the LORD, to be treasured for all their delights. Majestic and glorious is your work … You won renown for your wondrous deeds” NAB
“He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered … ” KJV
“The heavens declare the glory of God … ”
“ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts !’ they cried one to the other. ‘All the earth is filled with his glory !’ ”
“He looks with favor upon their hearts, and shows them his glorious works, That they may describe the wonders of his deeds and praise his holy name.”
Sirach 42: 16, 23-25
“As the rising sun is clear to all,
so the glory of the LORD fills all his works …
(23) How beautiful are all his works!
… each creature … is good;
can one ever see enough of their splendor ?”
The Saints do not distract from the glory of God, but rather their lives are a manifestation of it. It is only by His Grace working through them they were able to do His mighty work Pondering over the mighty work of God in His saints helps us to know and therefore love and follow Him more.
1 Corinthians 11:1
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
“Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.”
If I pick up something with my hand, I do not say, “It was not I who picked it up, and that it was only my hand.” Rather, my hand is part of my body. It is part of me. Cf. Acts 9:4. God’s grace works through us, and we are part of Christ’s Body. We are secondary mediators and intercessors based on Him. Cf. Genesis 20:7, James 5:16, and Revelations 5:8. All of the goodness and glory that we have comes from Him.
“Therefore, return the man’s wife—as a spokesman he will intercede for you—that your life may be saved.”
“And it came to pass after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and with your two friends; for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. Now, therefore, take seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up a holocaust for yourselves; and let my servant Job pray for you; for his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely. For you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job.’ … And the LORD accepted the intercession of Job. … Also, the LORD restored the prosperity of Job, after he had prayed for his friends; the LORD even gave to Job twice as much as he had before.”
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”
“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.”