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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Mediator, Mediation

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MEDIATOR, MEDIATION. The word ‘mediator’ (Gr. mesîtçs ) occurs in the NT, once of Moses as the mediator of the Law ( Galatians 3:19-20 ), in the other instances of Christ as the ‘one mediator between God and man’ ( 1 Timothy 2:5 ), and the mediator of a ‘better’ ( Hebrews 8:5 ), or ‘new’ ( Hebrews 9:15 , Hebrews 12:24 , in latter passage ‘new’ in sense of ‘recent’) covenant. The verbal form occurs in Hebrews 6:17 [RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘interposed (Gr. mediated) with an oath’]. The LXX [Note: Septuagint.] has the term once in Job 9:33 (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘ daysman ’). But the idea of mediation, that is, of God dealing with man, or man with God, not directly but through the interposition of another, has a leading place throughout Scripture. Different aspects of mediation, however, need to be distinguished. As regards the fundamental relation of man to God, Jesus, in the NT, is the one and sole Mediator.

1 . The most general form of mediation is intercessory prayer . This is the privilege of all (cf. James 5:16 ). Well-known Scripture examples are the intercession of Abraham for Sodom ( Genesis 18:23-33 ), of Moses for Israel ( Exodus 32:30-34 ), of Samuel for Israel ( 1 Samuel 7:8-12 ). Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 15:1 ) singles out Moses and Samuel as the chief representatives of this form of prayer. Probably an element of intercession enters into all effective mediation. St. John (ch. 17) preserves the great intercessory prayer of Jesus after the Last Supper, and intercession is declared to be a chief exercise of Christ’s mediatorial function in heaven ( Romans 8:34 , Hebrews 7:25 , 1 John 1:1 ). Intercessory prayer is a duty of the Christian ( 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ), but always and only in the name of Christ, who in the same context is declared to be the ‘one mediator’ ( 1 Timothy 2:5 ).

2 . Mediation has a peculiar place in the formation of the great covenants . It is the singular fact in connexion with the covenant with Abraham of which St. Paul and the Epistle to the Hebrews in different ways take notice, that it involved no mediator ( Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 12:15; Genesis 12:17 ). It was a covenant of promise absolutely ( Galatians 3:15-18 ). This seems to be the force of St. Paul’s peculiar saying, ‘Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one’ ( Galatians 3:20; there were not, as in the covenant through Moses, two contracting parties; the covenant proceeded solely from God, and was unconditional). In Hebrews 6:13-18 this is carried further. God himself took the place of Mediator in this covenant, and, because He could swear by no higher than Himself, ‘interposed (mediated) with an oath’ in ratification of His promise (cf. Genesis 22:15-18 ). It is different in the covenant with Israel at Sinai, where Moses is throughout (by God’s appointment and the people’s own desire, Exodus 19:10-25; Exodus 20:18-21 ) the mediator between God and the people ( Galatians 3:19 , point of contrast between law and promise). Finally, mediation is the law in the ‘new’ and ‘better’ covenant, as the passages in Hebrews declare. The reason is that this perfect and eternal covenant, procuring forgiveness of sins, and removing all barriers to access to God, could be formed only on the basis of a reconciling sacrifice; and this Jesus alone, the Son of God, had the qualification to offer. It is noticeable, therefore, that all the passages that speak of Jesus as ‘Mediator’ do it in direct connexion with His sacrificial death; 1 Timothy 2:5 ‘one mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus’ connects with 1 Timothy 2:6 ‘who gave himself a ransom for all’; Hebrews 9:15 declares: ‘For this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant’ (cf. Romans 3:25 ); Hebrews 12:24 , where to come ‘to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant’ is to come ‘to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel’; so also Hebrews 8:6 (cf. the context, Hebrews 8:3 ). It is this fact, that Jesus has made the perfect sacrifice for sin, coupled with His unique dignity, as Son of God, which constitutes Him the Mediator sui generis .

3 . Here, accordingly, is brought to consummation the last great aspect of mediation in the OT the mediation of a sacrificing priesthood . Prophets also might be called mediators, as commissioned revealers of the will of God to the people; but mediation is peculiarly connected with the functions of the priest. In earlier times the head of the family was the priest; an interesting example of patriarchal mediation is given in the Book of Job ( Job 1:5 for his sons; cf. Job 42:7-9 for his friends). Under the Law the people could approach God only through the Aaronic priesthood; but the mediatorial function was peculiarly vested in, and exemplified by, the high priest. To him it pertained, on the one hand, to represent the people before God (cf. the ephod and breastplate, with their precious stones graven with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, Exodus 39:6-14 ), and to offer sacrifices for their sins ( Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 8:3; he alone had the right of entry into the Holiest of all on the great annual Day of Atonement, Hebrews 9:7 ); and, on the other, to represent God to the people, in declaring His will by the Urim and Thummim, and blessing in His name (cf. Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 33:8 , prerogatives of the high priest). This twofold aspect of the high-priestly function, as the Epistle to the Hebrews seeks to show, is in a perfect and abiding way realized in Christ, who is thus the one true Mediator, our ‘great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens’ ( Hebrews 4:14 ). See Atonement, Propitiation, Reconciliation.

James Orr.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Mediator, Mediation'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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