The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus (1649), by Eustache Le Sueur (1616-1655): St. Paul is being a “mini-mediator”: by sharing God’s grace through his proclamation of the gospel [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
1 Timothy 2:5 (RSV) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
I was asked: “How do Catholics deal with the sole mediation of Jesus versus the mediation of the saints?” Perhaps the following Bible passages will be helpful for readers to understand the “both/and” biblical perspective on this point:
Romans 11:13-14 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
1 Corinthians 9:22 I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
James 5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
[Paul and others “save” other people, thus becoming “mini-mediators” in the sense that they are vessels for the grace and salvation that comes from God, won by Jesus’ wholly sufficient and perfect sacrificial death on the cross]
1 Corinthians 7:16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
1 Timothy 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.
1 Peter 3:1 Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives
[Paul says that Timothy can help save others, and wives and husbands can help “save” their spouses (and Peter concurs with the latter notion), thus also becoming a mini-mediators]
Acts 2:40-41 And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Philippians 2:12b-13 . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
[now we all participate in helping to save ourselves (as we saw also in 1 Tim 4:16), in the sense of merit, that originates always from God’s grace, and as a result of baptism: more mediation of God’s grace and salvation: this time through the natural conduit of a sacrament (cf. Mk 16:16)]
2 Corinthians 4:15 For it [his many sufferings: 4:8-12,17] is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Ephesians 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…
Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
[Paul distributes divine grace, just as we believe Mary does, and teaches that others can do the same]
1 Peter 4:8b-10 . . . love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Even the angels help to give God’s grace and act as mediators:
Revelation 1:4-5a John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ . . .
In fact, Paul is so gung-ho on the notion of his distributing grace to folks, that he mentions this at the beginning of practically every epistle that he wrote. When Paul and others use the common greeting of “grace to you” (e.g., Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; Phlm 1:3; Rev 1:4) it is in the sense of “may God give you more grace.”
Why wish, after all, that someone should have or receive what they already clearly possess? If “grace” only means “the free favor by which we are saved” (the Protestant view, by and large) then the Christians to whom Paul is writing his epistles already have this grace (since Protestants believe in a past salvation that is already accomplished). So why would Paul say “grace to you”? It would be like telling a man who has a daughter “I wish you the blessing of a daughter from God” or a man with a nice mansion: “best wishes to you for a nice mansion.” That makes no sense. Rather, it seems fairly clear, I think, that St. Paul is stating that he hopes and prays that his readers will receive more grace from God, as in the sense of 2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:7; James 4:6; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2, etc.
And in so doing he is acting, again, as a sort of “mini-mediator.” Jesus is ultimately the mediator of grace. It all comes through Him. But He also clearly uses human beings to distribute the grace, allowing others to attain salvation, as these passages establish beyond any doubt. I need not even get into any number of similar passages concerning atonement (such as by Moses), intercessory prayer, and proclaiming of the gospel for salvation, or baptismal regeneration.
Someone else asked: “Why pray to a dead saint when you can pray to the Lord of lords?”
They’re not dead; they are alive: far more than we are. Dead saints are with God and conscious of what goes on, on the earth (Heb 12:1; Rev 5). The souls in heaven pray for those on earth. The angel presents the “prayers of the saints” to God in heaven (in Revelation).
Thus, we ask for their assistance in prayer, because they love us. In James we are told that the prayer of a righteous man has great power. saints in heaven are sinless; therefore, their intercession have the most (almost unimaginable) power. So we ask them to pray for us: a perfectly biblical principle.
All salvation is through God’s grace. We cannot save ourselves; we can’t be saved by works. That is heresy. But God uses His creatures to spread the grace and act as mini-mediators. I gave the biblical proofs. You can either accept them or choose to follow the Protestant traditions of men, invented out of thin air in the 16th century.
For my part, I will follow the Bible and the apostles and early Church and the ongoing apostolic tradition, rather than what a few men came up with in their heads 16 centuries after Christ. Protestantism has much truth, but it has also discarded much spiritual truth.
Meta Description: “There is one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim 2:5). Does this rule out all other mediation by men whatsoever? No . . .
Meta Keywords: there is one mediator, 1 Timothy 2:5, appropriation of grace, Catholic soteriology, co-laborers with God, cooperation with God’s grace, Faith Alone, fellow workers, grace, grace alone, heaven, imputed justification, infused justification, Justification, merit, Pelagianism, Philippians 2:12, Salvation, sanctification, semi-Pelagianism, soteriology, synergy, mini-mediators