Christ Our Mediator (Chrysostom)

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 1.13: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon While studying 1 Timothy 2:5 (For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus... [NASB]) I ran across these helpful comments by Chrysostom:

Now a mediator ought to have communion with both parties between whom he is to mediate. For this is the property of a mediator, to be in close communion with each of those whose mediator he is. For he would be no longer a mediator if he were connected with one but separated from the other. If therefore He partakes not of the nature of the Father, He is not a Mediator, but is separated. For as He is partaker of the nature of men, because He came to men, so is He partaker of the nature of God, because He came from God. Because He was to mediate between two natures, He must approximate to the two natures; for as the place situated between two others is joined to each place, so must that between natures be joined to either nature. As therefore He became Man, so was He also God.

A [regular] man could not have become a mediator, because he must also plead with God. God could not have been mediator, since those could not receive Him, toward whom He should have mediated. And as elsewhere he says, “There is one God the Father, … and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6); so also here “One” God, and “One” Mediator; he does not say two; for he would not have that number wrested to Polytheism, of which he was speaking. So he wrote “One” and “One.” You see how accurate are the expressions of Scripture!

 John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy,”  vol. 13, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 430.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

One Mediator, Two Natures (Chrysostom)

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series, Volume XIII Many of us know these great words of the apostle Paul to Timothy: …There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5 NIV).  Chrysostom (d. 407) had some excellent insights into Paul’s teaching.  Chrysostom wrote that when Paul called Jesus a mediator he was very much implying that it means Jesus is at the same time God and man.  Here are Chrysostom’s comments:

But is not the Son God? Most truly He is; why then does he say, “One God”? In contradistinction to the idols; not to the Son. For he is discoursing about truth and error.

Now a mediator ought to have communion with both parties, between whom he is to mediate. For this is the property of a mediator, to be in close communion with each of those whose mediator he is. For he would be no longer a mediator, if he were connected with one but separated from the other. If therefore He partakes not of the nature of the Father, He is not a Mediator, but is separated. For as He is partaker of the nature of men, because He came to men, so is He partaker of the nature of God, because He came from God.

Because He was to mediate between two natures, He must approximate to the two natures; for as the place situated between two others is joined to each place, so must that between natures be joined to either nature. As therefore He became Man, so was He also God. A man could not have become a mediator, because he must also plead with God. God could not have been mediator, since those could not receive Him, toward whom He should have mediated. And as elsewhere he says, “There is one God the Father, … and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6); so also here “One” God, and “One” Mediator; he does not say two; for he would not have that number wrested to Polytheism, of which he was speaking. So he wrote “One” and “One.” You see how accurate are the expressions of Scripture! For though one and one are two, we are not to say this, though reason suggests it. And here thou sayest not one and one are two, and yet thou sayest what reason does not suggest.  …“For there is one God,” he says, “and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

 John Chrysostom. (1889). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy. In NPNF, p. 430.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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