The Berean Expositor
Volume 42 - Page 188 of 259
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The One Mediator
The basic meaning of the words "Mediator".
pp. 38 - 40
The meaning of the English word "mediator" is self evident. It is one of a group of
words derived from the Latin medio `to be in the middle'. Hence medieval is the
Latinized form for "The Middle Ages"; while medial, median, mediant, mediocre and
even Mediterranean, will occur to most readers. The position occupied by the Mediator
is uppermost in the English word "One who comes between" one who occupies a middle
place, an `intermediary'. This English word is a very fair translation of the Greek
mesites, which is a compound made of mesos `middle' and heimi `to go', `a go-between'.
The Greek word mesites occurs six times in the N.T. namely in Gal. 3: 19, 20;
I Tim. 2: 5; Heb. 8: 6; 9: 15 and 12: 24. To this must be added the word `confirm'
of Heb. 6: 17 mesiteuo, which the A.V. margin reads `interposed', where we read:
"Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the
immutability of His counsel confirmed it (or interposed Himself) by an oath."
Josephus uses this word mesiteuo in the passage which deals with the enticement of
Israel by the Midianites "This they said with an oath, and called God for an arbitrator of
what they had promised".
The association of the word translated `mediator' in Galatians, I Timothy and
Hebrews supply the sacrificial or covenant making conditions that are always mentally
attached to the word by Bible students, but the word itself tells us nothing of the office or
service rendered, only that it is a position occupied `between' and `in the midst'. We
must go back to the Hebrew equivalent for a fuller understanding of what is implied in
the office of a mediator. This we do by a very slender bridge, for the word mesites occurs
but once in the Septuagint version, and that in Job 9: 33 "Neither is there any daysman
betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both". The margin of both A.V. and R.V.
reads `or Umpire' for "Daysman". The choice of this term by the translators is not very
clear, some authorities say that a `Daysman' refers to a legal adviser or pleader who
appeared daily at the law courts in earlier days, and who could be engaged to arbitrate in
any dispute. The Septuagint in their translation of the Hebrew of Job 9: 33 appear to
have given a paraphrase "ho mesites . . . . . kai elengchon", recognizing that in the
Hebrew there is something more suggested than who mediates, as an examination of the
original reveals.
A following literal rendering of the Hebrew of Job 9: 33 has been offered `There is
not between us a reprover', which is endorsed by the translation of the LXX version that
reads `Would that there were (one to be) our mediator and reprover'. The word mesites
here is evidently the rendering of the Hebrew `between us', while the `reprover' is a
recognition of the primary meaning of the word translated `daysman' in our version. It is