Benefiting from “One Mediator Between God and Men”
1. (a) Why are the Jews of today not interested in a new covenant? (b) Who alone could propose the new covenant and its mediator?
TODAY none of the 152 nations composing the United Nations are interested in making a covenant with Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No, not even the 15,000,000 Jews that at present are scattered around the earth. In spite of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34, they prefer to believe that they are still under the old Law covenant mediated by Moses. “Because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own [by striving to keep the Law covenant], they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God,” available to them through the new covenant. (Rom. 10:1-3) Jehovah, the God of true righteousness, proposed the new covenant. He alone could establish it and pick the suitable mediator for it.
2. With whom did Jehovah say he would establish the new covenant, and what would he do by means of it regarding their error and sin and their knowledge of him?
2 “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant; . . . ‘For this is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people. And they will no more teach each one his companion and each one his brother, saying, “Know Jehovah!” for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.’”—Jer. 31:31-34.
3. Upon the appearing of whom did the timing of the new covenant depend, and did this involve Moses?
3 When did Jehovah conclude that new covenant “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”? The timing of this depended upon the mediator whom Jehovah picked for the covenant. Moses was not to be resurrected from the dead in order to mediate the new covenant. He could be of no more help to those in the new covenant than he was to Israel.
4. According to a Hebrew student of the Pharisee teacher Gamaliel, who is God’s mediator of the new covenant?
4 We are left in no doubt as to who the required mediator proved to be. Here we turn to the inspired letter written to Hebrews by a Hebrew, by that student who used to sit at the feet of the noted Pharisee teacher of the first century of our Common Era, namely, Gamaliel. Showing the difference between Moses and the new mediator, he proceeds to say: “Just as Moses, when about to make the tent in completion, was given the divine command: For says he: ‘See that you make all things after their pattern that was shown to you in the mountain [Sinai].’ But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent public service, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established upon better promises.” (Heb. 8:5, 6) “And Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel’s blood.”—Heb. 12:24.
5. How did Jesus, before his death, show that he recognized that the time had come for the old Law covenant to be replaced by the new covenant?
5 Jesus recognized that the time had come for Jehovah to replace the old Mosaic Law covenant with the new covenant. So, on the Passover night before his death on Friday, Nisan 14, 33 C.E., he started a memorial of his sacrificial death. When he took the Memorial wine cup, he said to his eleven faithful apostles: “Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.’” (Matt. 26:27, 28) Or, as the apostle Paul phrases Jesus’ words: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:25) For parts of three days he was dead in a memorial tomb and could not begin to act as mediator of that new covenant.
6. For the carrying out of God’s words in the new covenant about forgiving error and remembering sin no more, what was necessary?
6 Although Jeremiah 31:31-34 did not mention it, yet a sacrifice was needed to put the new covenant in force. Sacrifice was needed because, in the statement of the new covenant, God said: “I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.” (Jer. 31:34) The blood of animal victims was used in the making of the old Mosaic Law covenant, and for cleansing purposes. In line with this, the mediator Moses “sprinkled the tent and all the vessels of the public service likewise with the blood. Yes, nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Heb. 9:21, 22) The value of the lifeblood of Jesus was still in his possession when he was raised from the dead on Sunday, Nisan 16, 33 C.E. This is what Hebrews 13:20 indicates when it says: “The God of peace . . . brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus.”—John 10:11.
7. Because Christ offered a better sacrifice for the sake of the new covenant, what does his blood do with respect to the conscience and also in behalf of God’s “called” ones?
7 Because the new covenant was made operative by means of a better sacrifice, the Christianized Hebrews were asked: “How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?” Because Christ’s blood does have such power to cleanse us from the sin that condemns us, we next read: “So that is why he is a mediator of a new covenant, in order that, because a death has occurred for their release by ransom from the transgressions under the former covenant, the ones who have been called [by God] might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.” (Heb. 9:14, 15) But when did Christ’s blood begin to cleanse the consciences of those Christianized Hebrews who had been under “the former covenant,” the Law covenant that had been mediated by Moses at Mount Sinai?
8. When did Christ’s blood begin to cleanse the consciences of the Christianized Hebrews who had been under the former Law covenant?
8 Not at Christ’s resurrection from the dead, but the 50th day from then. That is, on the day of Pentecost after he had ascended to heaven and had entered into God’s presence “into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.”—Heb. 9:24.
9. On Pentecost day when Peter told the conscience-stricken Jews that forgiveness of their sins would result if they got baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, what did this prove with regard to covenants?
9 On that day of Pentecost the apostle Peter gave a speech to the Jews and circumcised Jewish proselytes that pricked their consciences. “What shall we do?” they asked. Peter replied: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.” (Acts 2:37, 38) This promise of forgiveness of their sins over which they had repented proved something. What? That God’s new covenant with its provision for forgiveness of sins had gone into effect that very day, inasmuch as the old Mosaic Law covenant had been nailed to the death stake of Jesus Christ!—Eph. 2:15, 16; Col. 2:14; Heb. 8:8-13; Jer. 31:34.
10. How did Peter emphasize this fact about covenants a few days later when speaking to bloodguilty Jews at Jerusalem’s temple?
10 This same fact was emphasized a few days later. Peter then said to a gathering of bloodguilty Jews at the temple: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah and that he may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven, indeed, must hold within itself until the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time.” Finally Peter ended his speech by saying: “To you first God, after raising up his Servant, sent him forth to bless you by turning each one away from your wicked deeds.”—Acts 3:19-21, 26.
“MEDIATOR” TO HOW MANY?
11. What do the facts show as to whether it was with the natural, fleshly houses of Israel and Judah that God made the new covenant?
11 However, was God making the new covenant with the natural, fleshly “house of Israel” and the natural, fleshly “house of Judah”? How could that be possible, inasmuch as the natural Jews of those two houses had violently rejected the prospective Mediator of that new covenant and were, as a nation, celebrating the Pentecostal festival on the appointed day at the temple in Jerusalem? God could not do so. He had in mind to conclude the new covenant with the newly born Christian Israel, the spiritual Israel, it having its birth on that very Pentecostal day when the “holy spirit fell upon” the baptized disciples of Jesus Christ, about 120 of them. (Acts 11:15) These had waited, not at the temple, but in an upper room in Jerusalem. There those disciples, already immersed in water, were begotten by God’s spirit to become his spiritual children, “the Israel of God.” As such they were introduced into the new covenant through the heavenly Mediator, Jesus Christ, the Prophet greater than Moses.—Acts 2:1-36; Joel 2:28, 29; John 3:3, 5; Gal. 6:16.
12. In harmony with God’s order of procedure, how was the mediatorship of Jesus Christ widened out in the year following that Pentecost?
12 So Jesus Christ in heaven is the Mediator between God and the spiritual Israelites, while these are still in the flesh as men and women. Even within the membership limits of this small “holy nation” the mediatorship of Jesus Christ has expanded, for God has followed a certain order in admitting classes of persons into the new covenant. Thus, for about a year from Pentecost of 33 C.E., Jesus was the Mediator of only those spiritual Israelites who had been fleshly Jews or circumcised Jewish proselytes. About 3,000 of these were added to spiritual Israel on that day of Pentecost, 33 C.E. (Acts 2:10, 37-41) Then, likely in the following year (34 C.E.) as a side effect of the persecution by Saul of Tarsus, the “good news” about the Christ was preached in Samaria and the holy spirit ‘fell upon’ the baptized believers there. (Acts 8:15-17) From then on the mediatorship of Jesus was widened out to benefit spiritual Israelites who had been men and women of Samaria, Samaritans.
13. Two years after the admission of the Samaritans, how did Jesus become mediator to a third class of spiritual Israelites, and how did the Christianized Jews at Jerusalem acknowledge this?
13 Two years now pass. Finally, in the autumn of 36 C.E., or three and a half years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, he begins to be mediator to a third class of spiritual Israelites, those taken out from the uncircumcised Gentiles, beginning with the Italian centurion, Cornelius. After the apostle Peter reported on this surprising turn of events to the Christianized Jews at Jerusalem, they said: “Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the [uncircumcised] nations also.”—Acts 8:1 through 11:18.
14. What did Paul tell the elders of Ephesus about his preaching of repentance toward God, and in the interest of what covenant was he now serving as a minister?
14 More than 20 years after that, Paul was acting still as an apostle to the nations and was finishing his third missionary tour. On his way back to Jerusalem he stopped at Miletus and talked to elders of the congregation at Ephesus, Asia Minor. He told them how he had worked, saying: “I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, look! bound in the spirit, I am journeying to Jerusalem.” (Acts 20:21, 22) He was no longer serving as a Pharisee in the interest of the old Mosaic Law covenant. Rather, as he writes in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6, “our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive.”
15. When speaking of “ministers of a new covenant,” whom did Paul include in the pronoun “us,” and were these part of a Mediation Board between God and men?
15 Whom did the apostle mean here by the pronoun “us”? In the introduction to his letter he identifies for us who are included in “us,” by saying: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through God’s will, and Timothy our brother to the congregation of God that is in Corinth.” (2 Cor. 1:1) So, both Paul and Timothy were “ministers of a new covenant, . . . of spirit.” Paul did not mean by this expression that he and Timothy were a Mediation Board, sharing mediatorship with Jesus. No, for they themselves were mere spiritual Israelites in behalf of whom Jesus served as God’s Mediator. Jesus alone is the “mediator of a new covenant.”—Heb. 12:24.
16, 17. In 1 Timothy 1:20 through 2:7, by what line of thought does Paul lead up to the mention of Christ Jesus as a mediator?
16 In writing to Timothy directly, Paul leads up to a mention of the mediatorship of Jesus as he goes on to say: “Hymenaeus and Alexander belong to these, and I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme. I therefore exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, offerings of thanks, be made concerning all sorts of men [but not including Hymenaeus and Alexander the blasphemers], concerning kings and all those who are in high station; in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.
17 “This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all [or, for all kinds of people, margin]—this is what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times. For the purpose of this witness I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—a teacher of [uncircumcised] nations in the matter of faith and truth.”—1 Tim. 1:20 through 2:7.
18. (a) Was Paul thus exhorting Timothy to act as a mediator between God and those public officials? (b) Who were the ones to benefit from those pleas to God concerning such public officials?
18 Thus Paul exhorted that “supplications, prayers, intercessions” should be made “concerning kings and all those who are in high station.” But he was not exhorting Timothy to act as a mediator between God and those public officials. The converting of such public officials to Christianity was not to be the motive behind those “supplications, prayers, intercessions.” Who, really, were the ones to benefit from such pleas directed to God? The purpose behind such representations to God was what? “That we [Christians like Paul and Timothy] may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.”—1 Tim. 2:2.
19. The leading of such a godly life would work for what accomplishment, and to whom was this “fine and acceptable”?
19 Leading such a calm, godly, serious life would work for the salvation of Christians who offered these petitions concerning political rulers. Salvation of such inoffensive Christians was “fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God.” Why so? Because it is God’s will “that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” In harmony with this the one here called “our Savior” is, not Jesus Christ, but “God.”
20. According to 1 Timothy 2:5, 6, what is the role of Christ Jesus in God’s program of salvation?
20 What, then, is Christ’s role in this program of salvation? Paul proceeds to say: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men [not, all men], a man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
21. (a) Paul’s letter to Timothy was a case of what minister writing to what other minister? (b) How long does that covenant last, and what part does the “corresponding ransom for all” play in this connection?
21 Paul was writing according to the facts of the first century of Christianity, during which the new covenant had been put into operation. Into it “men” of all nationalities, Jews, Samaritans, uncircumcised Gentiles, had already been brought after being made a part of spiritual Israel. Christ Jesus was the mediator of that new covenant. Paul’s letter to Timothy regarding this was a case of one ‘minister of the new covenant’ writing to another ‘minister of the new covenant.’ That new covenant between “our Savior, God,” and spiritual Israel continues as long as there are spiritual Israelites still in the flesh as “men” here on earth. So the covenant is in force today. Jesus’ “corresponding ransom for all” lays the basis for men and women of all sorts to become spiritual Israelites and be brought into the new covenant of which Christ Jesus is the “one mediator.”
22. (a) How is it evident that the new covenant is nearing its end, and when will Christ’s mediatorship end? (b) Why will the glorified spiritual Israelites need no mediator, and in what capacities will they act then?
22 There are still more than 9,000 who profess to be spiritual Israelites in the new covenant. Like Paul and Timothy, these are “ministers of a new covenant.” (2 Cor. 3:6; 1:1) Evidently the new covenant is nearing the end of its operation for the purpose of producing 144,000 spiritual Israelites who meet God’s approval for being associated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom, the ideal government for mankind. When the last of these approved spiritual Israelites cease to be “men” because of earthly death and a resurrection to a share in the heavenly kingdom, then the mediatorship of Jesus Christ will cease also. Their inherited sinful condition in the flesh, which called for a mediator to act between them and the God of holiness, will be left behind. Like the holy angels of heaven, these glorified spiritual Israelites will need no mediator between them and Jehovah God. (Rev. 22:3, 4) Under Jesus Christ they will serve as kings, priests and associated judges over all the world of mankind.—Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-3; 20:4, 6; Luke 22:28-30.
A “GREAT CROWD” OF EARTHLY BENEFICIARIES
23, 24. (a) Who now actively collaborate with the remnant of spiritual Israelites, and what invitation was extended to them with regard to the Lord’s Evening Meal? (b) What do they recognize themselves not to be, and yet how do they benefit now from the operation of the new covenant?
23 Today, according to authentic records, there is a “great crowd” of dedicated, baptized Christians who actively collaborate with the small remnant of spiritual Israelites. Ever since the spring of 1938 they have been invited to attend the annual memorial celebration of Christ’s death, not to partake of the memorial emblems, the unleavened bread and the red wine, but as respectful observers.a They recognize Jesus Christ as their heavenly King since the Gentile Times ended in 1914. They zealously join the remnant of spiritual Israelites in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth for a “witness to all the nations” before this system of things ends in the coming “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:14, 21) They recognize that they are not spiritual Israelites in the new covenant mediated by Jesus Christ, nor part of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”—1 Pet. 2:9.
24 Yet they do benefit from the operation of the new covenant. They benefit from this just as, in ancient Israel, the “alien resident” benefited from residing in among the Israelites who were in the Law covenant.—Ex. 20:10; Lev. 19:10, 33, 34; Rev. 7:9-15.
25. To keep in relationship with Jehovah God, the “great crowd” must remain united with whom, and why so?
25 To keep in relationship with “our Savior, God,” the “great crowd” needs to remain united with the remnant of spiritual Israelites. Why? Because these spiritual Israelites are the “holy nation” of which we read in Jeremiah 31:35, 36, right after God’s promise of the new covenant: “This is what Jehovah, the Giver of the sun for light by day, the statutes of the moon and the stars for light by night, the One stirring up the sea that its waves may become boisterous [against the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites], the One whose name is Jehovah of armies, has said: ‘“If these regulations could be removed from before me,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “those who are the seed of Israel could likewise cease from proving to be a nation before me always.”’”
26. So the spiritual Israel is to be as permanent in God’s universal organization as what, and where will Jesus Christ reign over those in the paradise earth?
26 Jehovah could no more let spiritual Israel pass out of existence from within his universal organization than he could let the heavenly luminaries that regulate light for our earth cease to be. In the heavens spiritual Israel will be the New Jerusalem in which Jesus Christ will reign as King over the surviving “great crowd” and all the human dead resurrected to life in a paradise earth.—Rev. 21:2-24.
a See announcement “Memorial.” p. 50, Watchtower issue of February 15, 1938; also p. 75, paragraphs 51, 52, Watchtower issue of March 1, 1938. Note announcement “Memorial” in Watchtower, February 15, 1937, p. 50.
[Pictures on page 24]
Old Law covenant nailed to torture stake
New covenant went into effect at Pentecost