Does 1 Timothy 2:5 teach that Jesus is not God?
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
The organization known as the "Iglesia Ni Cristo" often cites 1 Timothy 2:5 in attempt to demonstrate that Jesus was merely a man and not God. Does this verse actually disprove the Trinitarian claim that Christ is God? When we examine the verse, we see that it says no such thing, and that the INC is very misguided in their use of this verse.
Trinitarians affirm the humanity of Jesus.
First, the attack is entirely mistaken since it assumes that Trinitarians deny that Jesus is a man. This is a belief known as docetism, something Trinitarian's reject. However, Trinitarians affirm that Jesus is a man. When INC members quote this verse, the Trinitarian must say, "Amen," and agree that Jesus is indeed a man.
When the INC makes this argument, they assume that Jesus cannot be both God and man. In other words, they assume the Trinitarian is wrong before they even examine the scriptures to see if he is wrong.
A perfect mediator must be able to perfectly represent both parties.
The INC affirms that Jesus Christ is in fact the one mediator between God and man. They would also agree that Jesus is a perfect mediator. What would make mediator perfect? A perfect mediator must be a member of both parties in order to represent both parties to each other. In this case, it means that Jesus must be able to perfectly represent man to God and God to man.
If they are to be consistent, the INC must affirm a mediator which cannot represent both sides fairly. However, the Trinitarian position accounts for such a perfect mediator because the Trinitarian affirms that Christ is God and Christ is also man.
A perfect mediator must be omniscient.
The Bible tells that our Lord Jesus Christ is a mediator through the act of intercession:
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) - Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
A mere man could not be a perfect high priest that would know all things from all believers everywhere and bring them before the Father. How does Jesus know what to interceede for each of us if he is not omniscient? The INC denies that Jesus is omniscient, therefore the INC view of Jesus as mediator cannot be the one Scripture teaches.
For an example of the necessity of Christ's omniscience in his intercession, see how Jesus interceded for (Simon) Peter.
Luke 22:31 (ESV) - "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
If we look just a little earlier in the same narrative (from a different gospel), we see that it was because of his omniscience that Jesus knew the needs of Peter in order to intercede for him. Peter calls this to attention, acknowledging that Jesus did not ask questions because he did not know, but because he did know and cared for Peter.
John 21:17 (ESV) - He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Only on the Christian view, the Trinitarian understanding of God, can Jesus actually be able to perform his duties as mediator. In the Trinitarian view Jesus is both God and man, he has both a divine nature and human nature. As God, he is omniscient and able to perfectly intercede for his people.
Only God may ransom our souls.
As we continue reading to the next verse, we see something interesting:
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV) - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Jesus gave himself as a ransom for us. Is it possible for one man to provide a ransom for another?
Psalm 49:7-8 (ESV) - Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
The Bible clearly teaches that no man can ransom another because a life is too costly. The INC attempts to avoid this by saying that Christ and his body are one man. Not only do they misuse scripture in making this claim, but they miss the point of the verse. Psalm 49:7-8 teaches that each life is far too costly to ransom. Jesus saved many lives because his life is more costly than a mere man's life.
Additionally, the Psalm itself provides a solution to the problem. The solution is not that we use an accounting trick to pretend like many lives are one life. The solution is that God must ransom our souls.
Psalm 49:15 (ESV) - But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
Jesus was able to ransom the souls of his people because he is more than mere man. In order to ransom his people, he must be God.
The INC misuses 1 Timothy 2:5 when they use it to show that Jesus is not God. This verse does not show that Jesus is not God, but just the opposite: that he is God.
First, they misunderstand the Trinitarian claim and mistake it for docetism,
the belief that God is not man.
Second, they misunderstand that in order for Christ is a perfect mediator between man and God, he must be both man and God.
Thirdly, they are ignorant of Christ's omniscience in his role as mediator.
Fourthly, they fail to realize that in his ransoming of the church, he did something only God can do.