“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus” - 1 Timothy 2:5
This is a good question to give attention to for those who are members of the CCJW (Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses). Some, considered to be the “rank and file” by the "Governing Body", may say 'of course Jesus is our mediator the Scriptures clearly state that.' They may even reference 1 Timothy 2:5 as quoted above. Regrettably, saying that would show they are altogether unfamiliar with the basic doctrinal teachings of their own religion, the same religion they have trusted as being the only source of “truth” directed by Jehovah himself.
What does the Watchtower teach relating to members of the congregation and Christ's roll as mediator?
“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. (w79 11/15 p.26 par.20)
"It is not saying that Jesus is a mediator between God and all mankind. Rather, it refers to Christ as legal Mediator (or, “attorney”) of the new covenant, this being the restricted way in which the Bible uses the term." (w89 8/15 p.31)
This is copied and pasted exactly as it appears on JW library. When reading the whole 1979 Watchtower article you will notice a habit of adding [brackets] within a Bible quotation and inserting uninspired words in the middle of the inspired text. This was also done in paragraph #16 of the same article. Nevertheless, the point is that for more than 80 years they have consistently taught that Jesus is only the mediator for those who embrace a heavenly hope.
If the information quoted is in any way vague, this Questions From Readers article that appeared in the April 1st, 1979 Watchtower will clear it up. They considered the question “Is Jesus the “mediator” only for anointed Christians?”
“The new covenant will terminate with the glorification of the remnant who are today in that covenant mediated by Christ. The “great crowd” of “other sheep” that is forming today is not in that new covenant.”
As an interesting side point when researching mediator in JW library you are first directed to a lot of the articles from 1979. If you look it up you will see at the end of the quote above they refer you to “Aid to Bible Understanding." One of that books primary writers and researchers was Raymond Franz who served on the Governing Body for nearly a decade. In his two books, “Crises of Conscience” and “In Search of Christian Freedom”, Ray discusses in detail his work on that book. He also explains the conscientious struggles he had attempting to balance the truth that was being unearthed through his tedious Bible research and the doctrines of the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.” It is worth noting that in 1979 Ray was an active member of the Governing Body who did not agree with this teaching that Jesus was only the mediator of a select and privileged few, but rather all “men” as he felt the Scripture stated it. Hence it was a hot topic at that particular time among the Bethel family, but you can read more about that in his books.
I do not like to add to much of my own personal perspective and experiences in these articles. However, on this particular topic it would seem relevant. As of today I am an active member of the CCJW and in "good standing". Though if they linked me to this website they would likely give me the ultimatum of shutting it down or being disfellowshipped, (I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.) The elders in my congregation are aware that I embrace the Kingdom hope. (While there may be some benefit to discussing the logistics of publicly partaking of the memorial emblems, perhaps that can be the subject of an entirely separate article.)
Regarding the topic of Christ Jesus' roll as my mediator, you may rightly ask how I view that? The Watchtower speaks of Christ's meditation as though he is a lawyer or notary merely applying some sort of legal seal on the official paperwork between myself and God. That is simply ridiculous. The new covenant is not some abstract legal document, not to me. It is an arrangement where Almighty God invites me to enter into a familial relationship with him, and address him as my Father. Furthermore, as my Father he invites me to enter into a relationship with his only begotten son, recognizing Jesus not just as my Lord and King but as my older brother, both of us having the same Father. Paul explains, “both the one who is sanctifying and those who are being sanctified all stem from one, and for this reason he is not ashamed to call them brothers, as he says: “I will declare your name to my brothers.” (Hebrews 2:11, 12)
To enter into this special relationship requires Jesus mediation and here's how it works. Simply put the void we must cross to enter into God's presence is impossible for us to traverse for two reasons, God's righteousness and our unrighteousness. Jesus bridges the gap. Paul stated it this way “Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears before God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:24) We have the example of Moses meditation to help us understand. When he was up on the mountain speaking with God, Moses was told what the people were doing, God said “I have seen that this is an obstinate people. So now let me be, and I will exterminate them in my burning anger,” Moses immediately interceded for the people saying “Turn from your burning anger and reconsider your decision to bring this calamity on your people.” (Exodus 32:9-10, 12) Since Moses had God's ear and affection he was able to convince God to continue in his relationship with the Israelites.
Jesus does that for me. I am an idiot and constantly doing stupid things that God has sincere issues with. At God's right hand, with his most intimate affections, Jesus is able to intercede for me in a much greater way than Moses did for the Israelites. In turn through the holy spirit he brings to my attention the many things I need to correct so that I may not be perpetuating a cause for our Father to be exceptionally frustrated with me. By his petitioning for God's patience face to face, and then helping me apply the lessons he taught that are essential for being God's son, Jesus brings my Father and I together as he does also for all that pursue this relationship.
Here's the big question many in the congregation want answered, 'how do you know that God has invited you into this special relationship with him and his son?' Tony Morris discussed this in one of the JW TV videos. He highlighted information from the January, 2020 Watchtower which was basically a reprint of an older article. He claimed it was something private and personal between them and God. He went so far as to insinuate that it was a sin to ask a brother how he knew he had that hope. He specifically related an experience of a sister telling him about when she asked Fred Franz that question. He related thinking how dare she question this “Spiritual Giant.” Still the first thing he said to her was "what did he say?" Is his asking her that question the same as if he had asked brother Franz himself? Clearly he also was interested in hearing the answer to that question. Nevertheless, he went on in his comments to emphasize the disposition that it is wrong to ask a brother how he came to embrace the Kingdom hope. If in the past he viewed Fred Franz as a “Spiritual Giant” that was not to be questioned, then how do you think he views himself today now that he is a prominent member of the "Governing Body"?
That whole line of reasoning is unscriptural nonsense. It is constantly perpetuated by men seeking to exalt themselves as having a special and better relationship with God in comparison with their brothers. Peter said “make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Where is the Scripture that says it is a private matter and something you can keep secret?
These men make bold claims that God has anointed them, and they have been specifically chosen. They insinuate that this gives them an elevated position before God, qualified to lead and teach Christ's disciples. They do this with a view to their own glorification and honor. Notice the expression they used in the Watchtower reference that was quoted earlier- “the new covenant will terminate with the glorification of the remnant”. Those of us earnestly desiring to be found in union with God as his children give all glory to our Lord Jesus, just as we have been directed to do. We have absolutely no desire or ambition for any glory to be lavished upon us now or ever. Rather we are 'ministers and slaves to all', terms we accepted when we became God's sons, in line with what Jesus taught us by his words and example.
When God anointed specific individuals to represent him he also offered public testimony to prove it. When Jesus rose from the Jordan the spirit descended and God himself said “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) When the 120 were in the upper room, tongues of fire appeared over their heads. While Paul was on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him and sent him forth as an apostle. Indeed every single time God commissioned someone to speak as his representative and provide instruction and direction to his people, that person was given a clear and explainable experience that he could relate endorsing his commission. While no one seeking the Kingdom today has verifiable evidence from God confirming a special commission to lead God's people, they do all have a special relationship with God, and they can explain how they were led into that relationship by the holy spirit directing them to meditate on and make a very personal application of particular Scriptures. (Acts 2:2-4; 9:3-19; 22:6-2; 26:12-18)
So how can we enter into this special relationship with God today? Jesus outlined two initial steps that are recorded for us in the sixth chapter of John's gospel. The first step is 'listen to the Father and learn.' (John 6:45) How do we do that? The Bible is God's Word is it not? We must become thoroughly familiar with his Word, but more importantly we must learn from it. We must allow God's thinking to supplant our own so that we form a heartfelt desire to be like him in the way we think and act. This shows our Father that we love and respect the person that he is and desire a more intimate relationship with him.
Once we have done that, by means of the holy spirit, God directs us to pursue an intimate relationship with his son Jesus. Not everyone living on the planet is given the invitation to pursue an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. He himself said; “no man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44, 65) How do we know that we are allowed to pursue intimacy with Jesus? If you are wondering whether or not you are permitted, that may indicate you are. Opposite of what you have been told, is it not?
One of the most fundamental qualities necessary to have a close personal relationship with Almighty God and his exalted son is humility. No humble person would assume such a privilege without being cautious about ascertaining whether or not God has invited him to do so. Many are so cautious they are left feeling unable to assume such a privilege unless an angel appears out of heaven to deliver an invitation to them.
While Jesus did use illustrations about individuals receiving an invitation to embrace this relationship on other occasions he said that his Father “draws” us to him. This expression can help us better understand the process. If we are invited to something we typically have some tangible evidence such as a written invitation, or at least a clear verbal communication conveying it. However, when we are drawn to someone it is not so tangible, nevertheless we clearly discern it. From there we must exercise faith and move forward in our pursuit of that intimate relationship.
If we desire to pursue such intimacy with Jesus we must first count the cost. When Jesus was explaining this concept he said: “For example, who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) If any come to the point of wanting to move forward in this unique relationship they must also accept the terms. It is not as simple as 'God chose me, now I am privileged to rule with Christ in the heavens'. Nonsense! That hokum is not in the Bible. Jesus said “the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press.” (Matthew 11:12) The Kingdom is the goal we seek. No one ever reaches a goal without investing in the pursuit of it. Jesus meant what he said when he explained the cost of being his follower. It is not like accepting the long and detailed user agreements that are so often scrolled through in seconds to simply check a box that says we accept. We must first thoroughly understand and agree to the terms he sets.
Once we can do that what's next? We must proceed with faith. Not arrogance or presumptuousness, faith. We have an example in Esther. She knew the situation she was in and that taking the next step could result in her death. She said: “I will go in to the king, which is against the law, and if I am to perish, I will perish.” (Esther 4:16) In her situation if the King rejected her approaching him she would be executed. However, she desperately needed the kings assistance. So it is with us. Many of us feel exactly as Esther felt when it comes to our embracing the Kingdom hope. We are concerned that if Jesus does not accept us as his brother we could lose our spiritual lives. This is not an unreasonable concern. As people become spiritually mature they also are careful to guard against presumptuousness. Nevertheless, once we accept the terms, and desire to move forward in pursuing the Kingdom, we need the Lord Jesus Christ's assistance. We would put our own spiritual lives on the line to seek that assistance.
How did the matter turn out for Esther? “As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she gained his favor.” (Esther 5:2) Similarly Jesus lovingly embraces us as his students when, at our Fathers direction, we come to him. Ponder over what he meant when he said “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such ones. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.” (Luke 18:16-17) With childlike humility we approach Jesus as our one and only Teacher.
One of the first things Jesus taught me was that the Scriptures were written for me. As for those who are not accepting his terms and pursuing the Kingdom hope, the Scriptures are not addressed to them. As Paul said “all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction.” (Romans 15:4) There is absolutely no instruction written in the Bible to pursue the goal of enjoying fleshly things here on the earth, instead everything written instructs us to seek a spiritual life in the Kingdom.
Paul’s straightforward comments as recorded in his letter to the Philippians clearly explained to me that what I was pursuing was at God's direction. Paul first expressed that he specifically had embraced the Kingdom hope saying “I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.” Immediately after expressing that, he tells me who should also embrace the hope of pursuing the same goal saying: “Therefore, let those of us who are mature be of this mental attitude.” His words are not obscure or hidden to me. He simply states if I am spiritually mature I should pursue the “goal for the prize of the upward call.” (Philippians 3:14-15)
What about the fact that I have been told by the organization that I should pursue the prize of a fleshly life on earth? Paul answers “if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above attitude to you,” (vs.15) and so he has. After making it a matter of prayer, through his holy spirit, God has indeed 'revealed that attitude to me.' Scripture after Scripture, absolutely everything I read confirms this as the “one hope” I am instructed to seek and pursue. (Ephesians 4:4)
Does this mean that everyone is supposed to pursue the Kingdom goal? I can only speak as to the way the spirit has directed me. Those who will ultimately be successful and end up receiving our Lord's seal of approval are referred to as the "firstfruits". (James 1:18; Revelation 14:4) If you have a garden you likely understand that the firstfruits are simply the ones that mature earlier than the rest and are ready to be harvested while the rest still require more time on the plant to get ready for harvesting. The Scriptures do seem to make room for those that may not yet be spiritually mature enough to understand and agree to the terms Jesus set.
After addressing those who are mature Paul did say: “At any rate, to the extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same course.” (Philippians 3:16) Also it is clearly stated “seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you will be concealed on the day of Jehovah’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3) It is not as simple as those who become spiritually mature first are saved and everyone else is destined for the sword. The Scriptures do clearly show that in the beginning of the Lord's day a portion of earths population that are not numbered among the firstfruits will also be saved by surviving through the battel of Armageddon. (Isaiah 26:20; Hebrews 2:5) When Paul told the Corinthians "we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field under cultivation", he said that with the hope that they would mature and become God's firstfruits from that field. What if they failed to mature (or ripen) in time to be harvested as firstfruits? Would they not continue in "God's field under cultivation" until the final harvest? (1 Corinthians 3:9) This of course leads back to the question - who is their mediator?
While Christ Jesus acts as my mediator, he has not commissioned me to act as the mediator between any other man and God. How could I? Do I have access to the heavens? If I need my Lord who is in the heavens to intercede for me how would I be able to intercede for anyone else? It seems to me that when Paul said “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men” that all men seeking a relationship with God will require Jesus to intercede for them just as Moses interceded for the Israelites. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Nevertheless, the men on the "Governing Body" would strongly disagree with me. Who's right? As I mentioned I can only speak as to how the spirit has directed me. If any in the congregation chose to embrace the "Governing Body's" doctrine then who is their mediator? According to what they have stated in their own publications Christ can't be. The "Governing Body" has strongly asserted that mankind's survival will be dependent upon their following the directions from the "Governing Body". In making such a claim they insinuate one of two things; either they will provide escape and salvation for mankind, or they are severing as the mediator between all men and Jesus. I believe they assume the latter, and any who embrace their teaching would need to respect and listen to them the same way I do my mediator Jesus Christ. However, in doing so would they be putting their trust in God or men? When God guided his people in the past through a man, did he not also testified through miraculous works that the man represented him as his prophet?
Within the pages of the organizations literature it is repeatedly emphasized that the "Governing Body", not the Bible, is the source of instruction for the CCJW. Notice the dependency upon the "Governing Body" to mediate, serving as a channel, between members of their congregation and God. The CCJW is encouraged to accept this reality as stated in the Watchtower.
“Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.” (Watchtower December 1st 1981 page 27 paragraph #4)
If you are a member of the CCJW the implication is you cannot understand the Bible properly without the Watchtower. As the “channel of communication that God is using” they have assumed complete responsibility for your instruction. You have been admonished to put your trust in them and not attempt to learn things from the Bible on your own. “No matter how much Bible reading” you do, you will never “progress along the road to life” if you fail to do exactly as they instruct you. The result of submitting to that arrangement means you have put your trust in them to provide you with salvation.
Personally I am not able to embrace that arrangement as Scriptural. Instead of asserting that others will need to follow my instructions or perish, I would direct everyone to read and follow what has been written in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures clearly state there is "one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)