There is One Mediator

Systematic Theology (Berkhof) Many Christians have benefited from Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology because it is biblical, clear, and concise.  I was recently studying the biblical teaching that Christ is our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and I checked what Berkhof had to say about this doctrine.  Here’s the excerpt from the second-to-last paragraph of his section on “The Nature of the Covenant of Grace.”  It’s a wonderful summary of the gospel truth that Christ is the only mediator between God and man.

“Christ is represented in Scripture as the Mediator of the covenant. The Greek word mesites is not found in classical Greek, but does occur in Philo and in later Greek authors. In the Septuagint it is found but once, Job 9:33. The English word “Mediator,” as well as the Holland “Middelaar” and the German “Mittler,” might lead us to think that it (mesites) simply designates one who arbitrates between two parties, an intermediary in the general sense of the word.”

“It should be borne in mind, however, that the Scriptural idea is far more profound. Christ is Mediator in more than one sense. He intervenes between God and man, not merely to sue for peace and to persuade to it, but as armed with plenipotentiary power, to do all that is necessary to establish peace. The use of the word mesites in the New Testament justifies our speaking of a twofold Mediatorship of Christ, namely, that of surety and that of access (Gr. prosagoge, Rom. 5:2) . In most of the passages in which the word is found in the New Testament, it is equal to egguos, and therefore points to Christ as one who, by taking upon Himself the guilt of sinners, terminated their penal relation to the law and restored them to the right legal relationship to God.”

“…Here [in II Tim. 2:5] Christ is represented as Mediator in the sense that, on the basis of His sacrifice, He brings God and man together. The work of Christ, as indicated by the word mesites, is twofold. He labors in things pertaining to God and in things pertaining to man, in the objective legal sphere, and in the subjective moral sphere. In the former He propitiates the just displeasure of God by expiating the guilt of sin, makes intercession for those whom the Father has given Him, and actually makes their persons and services acceptable to God. And in the latter He reveals to men the truth concerning God and their relation to Him with the conditions of acceptable service, persuades and enables them to receive the truth, and directs and sustains them in all circumstances of life, so as to perfect their deliverance. In doing this work He employs the ministry of men, II Cor. 5:20.”

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, II.282.

shane lems