We’re discussing “one-liner” theology in the next few blogs, as it pertains to some folks reading one line of Scripture and developing their Christology around that single verse or part of a verse. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Biblical Unitarians are among these folks, but there are others. To be sure, many of these folks develop a more complex Christology, but even they often throw out the ‘one-liners’ as a seed to begin a discussion. I’d like to look at these popular Scriptures that are used as a seed to undermine the doctrine that Jesus is God indeed. One of these Scriptures I see used often in an effort to show Jesus is not God is 1Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Yet, as I hope to show below, this Scripture is taken completely out of context and does not mean what is assumed.
Perhaps the first cardinal rule of understanding Scripture is reading the phrase in the context in which it is found. It is quite dangerous or at least foolhardy to live by Scriptures that are taken out of context. For example, what should the Christian do, if his eye offends him? The Scripture concludes he should pluck it out, but clearly the Lord is speaking in allegory. The ideal is for a Christian to overcome, but if he finds himself powerless before a sin, then it would be better to completely avoid any circumstance whereby one would be tested in such a matter. The Lord concludes it is better to enter into life (spiritually) maimed than not to enter at all (Matthew 18:9). If I had a problem with pornography, for example, and every time I went on the internet I ended up on sites that undermined my resolve to be faithful to Jesus, it would be better for me not to own a computer—get rid of it, sell it or throw it in the garbage. It would be far better to do that than to destroy my life by falling into pornography.
Paul wrote to Timothy saying he should advise all Christians in every church to pray for all (unchristian) people, including local authorities and kings, and concludes that this is good and pleasing to our Savior-God (1Timothy 2:1-3). Now understand that Paul is not referring to God, our Savior, but to our Savior-God. I say this, because it seems Paul is drawing a parallel from one of Caesar’s titles. Caesar was considered to be the protectorate of the Empire and thereby was referred to as the divine savior-god. Just as the savior-god, Caesar, was interested in the well being of those in his empire (viz. protecting them from enemies), so Jesus, our Savior-God was interested in our spiritual well being and that all men, everywhere, would come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:3-4). Why is the Savior-God interested in this? It is because: “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus (who also happens to be our Savior-God; cp. 1Timothy 2:3-5).
It is important that a mediator is able to adequately represent the interests of two parties in conflict, which in this case would be God and humanity. Jesus is adequate for the office of mediator in that he is God (the Savior-God) and Man (the Messiah who gave himself as our ransom 1Timothy 2:6). The interests of both parties find meaning in him.
Therefore, there is absolutely nothing in Paul’s statement concerning Jesus that would lead one to conclude he is not God. On the contrary, Paul calls Jesus both God and Man, both Savior and Ransom—the Mediator between God and men.