One Mediator

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"There is also one mediator [μεσίτης] between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

The Shepherd-King stands in the gateway

I have long complained about Jesus using mixed metaphors in John 10. First He's the shepherd, then He's the gate, then He's the shepherd again — and, of course, in the first chapter, He is identified as the "Lamb of God" by John the Baptist. Make up Your mind, dearest Lord! The thought only very recently struck me that Jesus is probably just describing what the shepherd does when the flock is entering or leaving the sheepfold. He stands in the gateway, acting as the gate, and only allows His own sheep to come into His place of rest. So the Good Shepherd does act as the gate of the sheepfold. The King of the Kingdom stands at the gates of Heaven. None may enter the Kingdom except through the King (Jn 10:7).

The question

From an e-mail by a Protestant to a Catholic
In the dictionary, "to mediate" means "to bring peace or understanding between two people." In the Greek, the word is μεσίτης (mesites), a go-between, a reconciler, or an intercessor. A mediator is someone who effects or attempts to effect reconciliation between two parties. A successful mediator understands the position of both parties and can therefore persuade them to change their minds toward each other.
Mesites occurs in six verses in the New Testament.
Galatians 3:19-20

19 Why, then, the law? It was added for transgressions, until the descendant came to whom the promise had been made; it was promulgated by angels at the hand of a mediator.[1]

20 Now there is no mediator when only one party is involved, and God is one.

1 Timothy 2:1-6

1 First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,

2 for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.

3 This is good and pleasing to God our savior,

4 who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God. There is also one mediator [μεσίτης] between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human,

6 who gave himself as ransom for all.

Hebrews 8:6
Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.
Hebrews 9:15
For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 12:24
...and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

Intercession is Mandatory

Our role as intercessors does not denigrate Jesus' role as the sole Mediator between God and Man. 1 Tim 2:1-4 are all about intercessory prayer! The people who quote 1 Tim 2:5 against the intercession of the saints are suffering from tunnel vision! They see only the fifth verse and ignore the first four!

Every time we say the Lord's Prayer, we act as intercessors for others. When we pray for each other — or when the saints pray for us — we do so as members of the Body of Christ. We are not operating independently of Jesus, but "through Him and with Him and in Him."

Paul introduces the idea that there is only one God and one mediator in order to explain why we should intercede for "everyone, for kings, and for all in authority" (vv. 1-2). Because there is only one God and one Mediator, we can and should pray for the whole of humanity. God "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth" (v.4). Our "supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings" don't block God's action or substitute for it; they are part of the life and work of the Body of Christ.

Intercession of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit intercedes with and in us — without diminishing the "one mediatorship" of Jesus.

Rom 8:26

26 In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

27 And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Intercession of the Angels

Tob 12:12
Now when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord; and likewise whenever you used to bury the dead.
Rev 8:4
The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.

Honor your father and your mother

Mom and Dad are "mediators" 'between' me and God. They don't get in the way. They are the instruments God used to create me.

Teachers save souls

1 Tim 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."

We intercede for sinners

1 John 5:14-16
And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life.
James 5:16
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.

Intercession does not separate us from Jesus — it connects us to Him!

Don't these people read the Bible?

How do they miss passages like this?

Deadly literalists!

Works of art reveal the artist

A work of art is never in competition with the artist. When we admire an artist's handiwork, we are admiring the artist. A poem reveals the poet, a novel reveals the novelist, a letter reveals the heart and the mind of the person writing the letter, the things we say are sacraments of the self — outward signs that reveal inward realities.

Artists love to show their works to audiences. They are thinking of doing so when they begin to fashion the piece and keep the audience in mind as they work on it.

Mary and the saints are works of art.

They are masterpieces of grace.

The Mona Lisa is beautiful. So is the man who created it.

Mary is beautiful. She is full of grace. The Lord who created and blessed her is beautiful and gracious.

Mary leads us to God. She does not stand in the way. She is not an obstacle, any more than a sign saying "New York City 100 miles" is an obstacle or substitute for New York City. She is a signpost, a light, a guide, and a model for us to imitate.

The saints are pilgrims who have finished their pilgrimage. God sends them to us to show us the way and to give us blessed assurance that we, too, can reach the heavenly Jerusalem and find the place that He has prepared for us.

Elements of an answer

It is grossly unfair to attribute a teaching to the Church that is not part of Church teaching.

This is known as creating a "straw dog" or a "paper tiger."

Nothing in the Church's teaching about the intercession of the saints or the sacramental ministry of reconciliation directly or indirectly implies that there is any other Way to the Father other than through Jesus Christ.

The saints and priests live and act through Him, with Him, and in Him. Our work is an extension of Jesus' mediation, not an alternative to it. The members of the Body of Christ do not substitute for or interfere with Jesus' unique mediation; they embody it!

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He taught them the "Our Father."

1. Jesus did not suggest that they were unable to talk to the Father directly and personally. "The Spirit comes to us and enables us to say, 'Abba,' Father."
2. The form of the "Our Father" is communal: we pray together to our Father. We ask that God's will be done in us: forgiveness of sin, sustenance for body and soul, and deliverance from evil. When we say the "Our Father," we are interceding for our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Our ability to pray is the effect, the consequence, the fruit of Jesus' mediation. We are members of His Body, equipped with His same Spirit, and called to join with Him and with each other in prayer.


  1. NAB footnote: The descendant: Christ (Gal 3:16). By angels: Dt 33:2-4 stressed their presence as enhancing the importance of the law; Paul uses their role to diminish its significance (cf. Acts 7:38, 53). A mediator: Moses. But in a covenant of promise, where all depends on the one God, no mediator is needed (Gal 3:20).