1 Timothy 2:5
Here I am going to respond to selections of Kel’s article. The selections I have chosen are the ones I regard as embodying Kel’s main arguments; I have left out what I regard as repetitious or off the point. If I have missed or misunderstood Kel’s arguments, anyone who reads this – including Kel – is welcome to bring that to my attention.
. . .
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Kel argues that this “identifies Jesus as someone who is necessarily not the one God.” He then presents a Trinitarian response to this: “But by this reasoning Jesus cannot be a man, either; yet this very text says he is a man!” – (Robert Bowman, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, p.73).
Then he rebuts Bowman’s argument this way:
“There are two things wrong with this response. First, it completely disregards a certain fact. It disregards the fact that a mediator is by definition an identity which is neither of the other two identities for whom he mediates. Second, the argument is a deceptive fallacy because it suggestively plants the idea that the argument is that Jesus is mediating between the one God and a man. But that is not what Paul said. Jesus is not mediating between one God and a man. He is mediating between the one God and MEN. Hence, if we argue that this verse shows Jesus is not the one God for whom he mediates, then we would need to consistently argue that this verse that this verse shows Jesus is not the MEN for whom he mediates. And yes, that is what we would argue.”
At least Bowman’s argument proves that a mediator can be of the same nature as those for whom he mediates. But Bowman was probably answering a different argument from the one Kel is making; he was probably refuting the idea that Jesus cannot be the same kind of being as the ones between whom he is mediating.
If Bowman had wanted to address Kel’s point, perhaps he could have mentioned that if Jesus is both God and man, then he IS distinct both from God and from men in that he is the only point at which God and men overlap in one Person. He would be distinct from being either “only God” or “only a man.” And as such he would be “neither of the other two identities for whom he mediates.”
Additionally, I don’t think a mediator always has to be an outside mediator. Suppose there was a dispute between my family and the family next door. If I could gain the trust of the other family while maintaining the trust of my own family, I could mediate the dispute. I would then be a mediator, even though I belong to one of the families. Where does the dictionary say that a mediator can never belong to one of the disputing parties? I also looked up the Greek word for mediator in Thayer’s Lexicon of the New Testament, and I did not see Kel’s definition there.
The Greek in 1 Timothy 2:5 for mediator is μεσίτης. In Job 9:33, Job wished for a mediator (μεσίτης in the LXX) between himself and God. In the chapters of Job that follow, it appears that God himself is that mediator. At the very least this is evidence that the word mediator in biblical times had more possible meanings than Kel allows for.
“He thus appeals to God against God. Distinction is made between God as a party and God as the umpire above or between the parties. Formally then, though with no necessary genealogical connection, the mediator concept corresponds to Hellenistic usage, and materially it is near the height of the NT view. This is quite unique in the OT.” – Theogological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967 ed.) Vol. IV p. 611.
Apparently, then, though a mediator is often thought of as an outside mediator with no connection to either party, that requirement is not absolute. Thus Kel’s argument that Jesus cannot be God because he is the mediator between God and man fails in two ways; first, because a mediator can in some instances be of one or the other party requiring mediation; and second, because if Jesus is both God and man he is different from either God or man.
The conclusion is that while 1 Timothy 2:5 clearly states that Jesus is a man, it does not say anything about whether Jesus is also God.
One final problem I have with Kel’s argument here is the same problem I have with most of his website; his uncharitable tone. Consider the acrimonious sound of these quotations from his article:
“The Trinitarian response is a word game designed to trick others and confuse the reality of the situation.”
“This argument is just a deceptive tactic to nullify Paul’s words by confusing the facts. Trinitarians are not interested in what these words really mean. They are only interested in their doctrinal idol, the Trinity.”
“This contrivance is nothing but a crafty ruse to distract you from what Paul actually said and attempt to nullify the fact that a mediator is in fact by definition neither of the two parties by identity for whom he mediates.”
There is no way Kel could know the motives of all these people whom he has never met. In light of the evidence presented above, it would seem that Kel must either go back and retool his argument or withdraw it altogether.