It shouldn’t be difficult at all for any of us to understand this idea of a mediator today in America with world events the way they are. It seems that almost every time we pick up a newspaper or a magazine, we read about mediators between governments. And there are different kinds of political mediation. Sometimes the more public methods of mediation break down, causing governments to resort to what have been called “back channels of communication,” sometimes even involving someone dressing up in a disguise to keep from being recognized as he tries to negotiate on behalf of his government with someone of another.
I give that kind of an introduction because the text to which we come in our exposition of 1 Timothy has to do with mediators—and in fact with that one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. This is really the heart of this passage. There are other ideas within the context of 1 Timothy 2, but I think we have to understand that each of these other ideas are subordinated to this main theme.
Paul is concerned with prayer, and he encourages us to pray for our leaders. But the reason is that our leaders might provide peace and stability, a climate in which this gospel of the mediator might go forth. He also talks about a Christian’s conduct in the world and in the church, for both men and women. His concern there is with the same thing, that there might be nothing in our conduct, or in the conduct of our assemblies, which might work against the proclamation of the gospel of the mediator. Furthermore, we see it not only in the context of this passage, but also in the development of the book. Here Paul is writing to Timothy, and he wants him to stand firm for the gospel, not to deviate from its doctrines. Paul gives personal testimony to that. He tells Timothy that he was the greatest of sinners, and yet God showed mercy to him through the Lord Jesus Christ the Savior.
In our text, he talks about the essence of that gospel in Christ’s mediatorship. This passage almost suggests its own outline, and the first point is that we need a mediator. The reason we need a mediator is because there is one God, and we are in opposition to that God. You see, there wouldn’t be a need for one mediator if there was more than one God. You could have your god; I could have my god. Things would be fine. If I offend your god, I’ll choose another god. It doesn’t matter, and we’d get on, each of us, the best we can. Perhaps the gods would even compete. We could play one off against the other. If one gets angry, we could go to a stronger one and ask him or her to help us. Certainly that’s the way the Greeks and the Romans thought. That’s the way their religion was conducted, and it’s one reason why their society was as decadent as it was. Religion doesn’t rise higher than the conception of its god, and the religion of paganism didn’t.
Or to look at it from another angle, if there’s one God, but we’re on good terms with that God, we don’t need a mediator. A mediator is one who is a bridge between two warring parties and tries to bring them together again. If we’re not on bad terms with God, we don’t need a mediator. But the fact that we do need a mediator, as the Bible teaches from beginning to end, is because there is the one God and we are not on good terms with him. Someone might ask why we are not on good terms with him. The Bible itself says we are not because in our sin we are actually enemies of God. You see that clearly in Romans 5:10, where Paul says that we are God’s enemies, but have been reconciled to him through the death of his Son.
This reminds me of something that a godly aunt once said to Henry David Thoreau. She was talking about God and had always been trying to witness to him. Thoreau had been opposed to it. She said, “David, when are you going to make your peace with God?” He replied, “You don’t understand. I’m not at war with God.” It only shows how little he understood the Bible and spiritual things because nothing shows how much we are at war with God as when we claim to be at peace with him and deny the fact that we’re opposing him in everything that we do.