The writer to the Hebrews informs us,
“But you have come… to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood …” – Hebrews 12:22- 24 (NASB)
“But YOU have approached…Jesusthe mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling …” – Hebrews 12:22- 24 (NWT)
In this article we want to investigate if this position is only for a privileged few or is this for all? Did Christ die directly for just the little flock of spiritual Jews (termed as 144,000 throughout this article) and all others, being saved, are a secondary group with some sort of second-class salvation?
The Watchtower’s Society ‘Bible Dictionary’ Insight on the Scriptures 1988, Vol.2 puts it like this,
“While Jesus’ mediatorship operates solely toward those in the new covenant, he is also God’s High Priest and the Seed of Abraham. In fulfilling his duties in these latter two positions, he will bring blessings to others of mankind, for all the nations are to be blessed by means of Abraham’s seed. Those in the new covenant are first blessed by Christ, the primary Seed (Ga 3:16, 29), being brought in as associate members of the seed. Being made kings and priests by reason of the new covenant that he mediated, they will share in administering the blessings of Jesus’ sacrifice and of his Kingdom rule to all the nations of the earth. Christ’s mediatorship, having accomplished its purpose by bringing “the Israel of God” into this position, thus results in benefits and blessings to all mankind.-Ga 6:16; Ge 22:17, 18. There are, thus, others not of the 144,000 “sealed” ones who also pray to Jehovah God in the name of Christ, putting faith in the merit of his ransom sacrifice.” – p.362.
We are first of all told that Jesus, as mediator, is solely for the 144,000. However, as High Priest, He will bring blessings to all mankind that are prepared to recognise Him. These ones will receive the blessings via the 144,000. They can only come into the fullness of blessing and salvation through the 144,000. This must mean that Jesus is not directly the mediator of the Great Crowd because without the 144,000 they could never come into the blessings of the New Covenant.
Some have accused us of not understanding what the Watchtower Society teaches on this issue, but this seems to be very clear. As a member of the Great Crowd I cannot come into the blessings of Jehovah without the 144,000. What the Society does talk about is a legal position.
“Clearly, then, the new covenant is not a loose arrangement open to all mankind. It is a carefully arranged legal provision involving God and anointed Christians.
“This should help us to understand 1 Timothy 2:5, 6. Here the reference to ‘mediator’ was made after the five other occurrences of the word in letters written earlier. Hence, Timothy would have understood Jesus’ mediatorship to be His legal role connected with the new covenant. The Pastoral Epistles, by Dibelius and Conzelmann, acknowledges that at 1 Timothy 2:5 ‘the term “mediator” has a legal significance,’ and ‘although in this passage, in contrast to Heb 8:6, the [covenant] is not mentioned, one must nevertheless presuppose the meaning “mediator of the covenant,” as the context shows.’ Professor Oepke observes that 1 Timothy 2:5 presents Jesus as ‘the attorney and negotiator.’
“A modern-day illustration may help to clarify this, especially if you are not a spirit-anointed Christian. Think of a legal case in which an attorney is involved. His role may be not so much that of a lawyer arguing for justice as that of one who is mediating or bringing about a legal contract acceptable to and beneficial to two parties. Of course, you are not in that legal case, so in that sense he is not serving as your attorney. Yet he may be your very close friend who in other ways gives you valuable help.
“Sometimes an attorney’s work produces results that benefit many others. So it is with Jesus’ legal accomplishments as Mediator of the new covenant. It produces what the Law covenant did not, a heavenly ‘kingdom of priests.’ (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9) Thereafter anointed Christians in the Kingdom will work with Jesus from heaven to bring a blessing to ‘all nations of the earth.’ -Genesis 22:18.” – The Watchtower, 15 August 1989, pp.30-31.
However, as the illustration used in this article shows, the ‘attorney’ is not your attorney and so is not working on your behalf. You have no legal right to the contract concluded, although it might be that you know the attorney as a friend and you might get other benefits. However, how does this explanation change the situation?
Jesus is still not the mediator of the Great Crowd only the 144,000. The Great Crowd do not benefit directly from the mediatory work of Jesus but might get other blessings. This can only mean that for the majority of Witnesses alive today, the mediatorship of Jesus Christ has no direct personal significance.
The Watchtower Society tries to explain this further in this same article as follows:
“The people of all nations who have the hope of everlasting life on earth benefit even now from Jesus’ services. Though he is not their legal Mediator, for they are not in the new covenant, he is their means of approaching Jehovah. Christ said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) All who will gain life on earth must direct their prayers to Jehovah through Jesus. (John 14:13, 23, 24) Jesus also serves as a compassionate High Priest who is able to apply in their behalf the benefits of his sacrifice, allowing them to gain forgiveness and eventual salvation.-Acts 4:12; Hebrews 4:15.
“Consequently, 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 is not using ‘mediator’ in the broad sense common in many languages. 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. Jesus is also a corresponding ransom for all in that covenant, both Jews and Gentiles, who will receive immortal life in heaven. The apostle John referred to these at 1 John 2:2. But he indicated that others too will receive the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice: ‘He is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.’
“Those of ‘the whole world’ are all who will gain eternal life in a restored earthly paradise. Millions of such approved servants of God now have that earthly hope. They view Jesus as their High Priest and King through whom they can daily gain approach to Jehovah. They rely on Jesus’ ransom, which is available to them, just as it will be to men such as Abraham, David, and John the Baptizer when these are resurrected. (Matthew 20:28) Thus, Christ’s sacrifice will lead to everlasting life for all obedient mankind.”
This is not saying anything different from before. They may use words such as ‘legal mediator’ but does this mean then that the Great Crowd has an illegal one? Legal means the true one prescribed by the law. If Christ has satisfied the law and become the ransom for all then I need to have a personal relationship with Him for that to be ratified in my life. In fact the only type of mediator there can be is a legal one.
What the Society appears to be saying is that Jesus is not the mediator of the Great Crowd but He is their High Priest. To discover what the ministry of the High Priest was, we need to look to the Old Testament. A study will show that never was the ministry of the High Priest, in proclaiming forgiveness, divorced from the individual bringing a sacrifice. In Old Testament language the High Priest was the mediator; he stood between the sinner and the Holy God Jehovah. Unless the individual personally acknowledged their sin and brought the sacrifice to the High Priest, he could not act for them.
It is the same for us today. Each individual needs to have a personal relationship with the one who is a mediator. It is no good having a friend who pleads the case on behalf of someone else; it is no good knowing someone who has had the mediator act for them. Without personally knowing the legal action of the mediator on your behalf, the work is not for you.
We further read in the Watchtower,
“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… Evidently the new covenant is nearing the end of its operation for the purpose of producing 144,000 spiritual Israelites… When the last of these approved spiritual Israelites cease to be ‘men’ because of earthly death and a resurrection to share in the heavenly kingdom, then the mediatorship of Jesus Christ will cease also.” – The Watchtower, 15 November 1979, pp.26-27 (emphasis added).
Is this a position that is acceptable to the Scripture taken in context?
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. – 1 Timothy 2:3-6, NASB.
Not the use of the words ‘all’ and ‘one’ in this passage.
1. Paul says that God desires all men to be saved and know the truth.
2. He then says that there is only one mediator between God and these men, which men? The all men!
3. He then underlines how Jesus is this mediator; He gave His life as a ransom for all.
Taken in context there can be no doubt, there is only one mediator for all men and if I do not have Jesus as my mediator I do not have one at all.
However, just for the moment, let us follow through the distinction that the Watchtower Society has brought out. What sort of relationship is it necessary for the Great Crowd to have with the 144,000 so that they can get the ‘blessings’?
“Your attitude towards the wheatlike anointed ‘brothers’ of Christ and the treatment you accord them will be the determining factor as to whether you go into ‘everlasting cutting-off’ or receive ‘everlasting life’.” – The Watchtower, 1 August 1981, p.26.
“This pastoral King tells us how a person may be considered fit to be separated to the side of divine favor in contrast to the goatlike people. It is by doing good to those yet remaining on earth of the spiritual ‘brothers’…” – The Watchtower, 1 January 1983, p.13.
Who brings salvation, the ability to have everlasting life, to the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Not Jesus because He is not the mediator. Who then stands between the one mediator mentioned in Scripture and the Great Crowd? None other than the 144,000. And note it is the way that the Great Crowd treats these ones that is the determining factor for their eternal future.
It is just not possible to write passages like this in the official Watchtower publications and then try to explain them away. Legal position or not it is abundantly clear that Jesus is not the mediator of the Great Crowd – and herein lies their real problem.
The Greek word for mediator is mesites and literally means a “go-between.”
“… a go-between (from mesos, middle, and eimi, to go), is used in two ways in the N.T., (a) one who mediates between two parties with a view to producing peace, as in 1 Tim. 2 5, though more than mere mediatorship is in view, for the salvation of men necessitated that the Mediator should Himself possess the nature and attributes of Him towards whom He acts, and should likewise participate in the nature of those for whom He acts (sin apart); only by being possessed both of Deity and humanity could He comprehend the claims of the one and the needs of the other; further, the claims and the needs could be met only by One who, Himself being proved sinless, would offer Himself an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of men; (b) one who acts as a guarantee so as to secure something which otherwise would not be obtained.” – Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E.Vine, Vol.3, pp.54&55.
Somebody who stands between two parties and brings peace! There is no possibility of you being a ‘friend’ of the mediator; He is either working for you or not. There is only one mediator and without Him we will never be able to have peace between God and ourselves. If we do not know personally the mediatory work of Jesus we are still at war with Jehovah God. This tragically is the case for the Great Crowd of Jehovah Witnesses today.
Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant and this again describes a relationship with Jehovah God. It is not surprising, since Jesus is not the mediator of the Great Crowd, to also find that they are not in the New Covenant.
“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. However by their associating with the ‘little flock’ of those yet in that covenant they come under the benefits that flow from that new covenant.” – The Watchtower, 1 April 1979, p.31.
“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.” – The Watchtower, 15 November 1979, pp.26-27
The Greek word for covenant is diatheke, W.E.Vine tells us it means:
“a disposition of property by will or otherwise… it is the rendering of the Hebrew word meaning… agreement… it does not in itself contain the idea of joint obligation, it mostly signifies an obligation undertaken by a single person.” – Vol.1, p.251.
Again from this definition we see that we need to know personally the one who is making the covenant. The covenant does not exist because I choose to accept it; the covenant exists because God chose to make it. Therefore the only ones who can benefit from the covenant are those who are in the covenant. Benefits that are supposed to be received via a third party are just not sufficient.
We further read in the Watchtower,
“The new covenant, which is made operative by Jesus’ shed blood, replaces the old Law covenant. It is mediated by Jesus Christ between two parties – on the one hand, Jehovah God, and on the other, 144,000 spirit-begotten Christians. Besides providing for forgiveness of sins, the covenant allows for the formation of a heavenly nation of king-priests.” – The Watchtower, 1 July 1990, p.9.
The Great Crowd are not in this new covenant made possible by the blood of Christ. This leads to an interesting question, which covenant are they in? They cannot be in the old covenant because that has ended. So, where are they? The answer is clearly that they are not directly in any covenant.
We must also ask, in the light of the above quote, how when the new covenant ends can my sins be forgiven? Indeed if the new covenant is for the forgiveness of sins then anyone not directly in that covenant has no means by which their sins can be forgiven. If sins are not forgiven then there is not future with God, wherever that takes place on earth or in heaven. Sin separates from God, and until it is forgiven, we are separated from Jehovah God in the same way as with no mediator, we are at war with Him.
This is the position of the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses today, their own organisation has told then that they have no future with Jehovah God!
The new covenant in the blood of Christ is never applied to the Great Crowd; and this is evidenced by the fact that they are forbidden to take the emblems at the Memorial Meal. These ones have never known personally that Christ took away the guilt and power of their sin at Calvary and in Christ they are new beings (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Colossians 2:8-15).
The Great Crowd has no future hope because they have no direct mediator and are not in a covenant relationship with Jehovah God. Yet Jesus stands ready to bring them into such a blessed position if they will come direct to Him as He has said and not seek to rely on the non-effective mediatory work of the organisation.
We close this article with the full quote of the words we began it with from Hebrews 12:22-25,
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.”
Don’t refuse Jesus when He gives a direct invitation to come to Him and not to the organisation. He has shed His blood for all men and He wants to bring all into the full appreciation and safety of the new covenant. There is no such thing as a secondary way of salvation – there is one way – Jesus – and He bids all to come to Him.