Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Timothy 2:5 - 2:6

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Timothy 2:5 - 2:6

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1Ti_2:5-6. There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

IT is deeply to be regretted that the Holy Scriptures, instead of being improved for the ends for which they were given, have been made an occasion of the most bitter contentions by the very persons who have most professed to reverence their authority. Men have not been satisfied with receiving the dictates of inspiration with child-like simplicity, but have determined to reduce them to systems of their own; and have wrested to their own views every passage that militated against their pre-conceived opinions. The partisans on either side have been equally guilty in this respect. Amongst modern controversialists, none have more divided the Church, or indulged more acrimonious feelings against each other, than Calvinists and Arminians. The one party have taken all those passages which represent God as a Sovereign, dispensing his blessings according to his own will and pleasure, and have made all the rest of the Scriptures bend to them: the other party have done the same with respect to the passages which assert the freedom of the human will, and which speak of men as the sole authors of their own condemnation. It seems never to enter into the minds of either party, that those passages which they set at variance, may, like wheels moving in opposite directions, be in perfect harmony with each other; and that there may be a subserviency, where they see nothing but direct opposition. If they were once brought to consider this, they would be more candid in their interpretation of each other’s sentiments, and more cautious of wresting from their plain and obvious meaning the passages which they cannot reconcile with their own exclusive system. The words we have just read are a strong-hold for those who adopt the sentiments which are called Arminian. And how does the Calvinist get over them? how does he make the universality of redemption accord with his particular election? He knows not how to do it in a way that shall agree with his own system; and therefore he denies at once that Christ did give himself a ransom for all; and says, that by “all” is meant some of every description, that is, some of all different ranks and orders of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor. But how much better were it for men to confess their own ignorance, than thus to pervert the word of God! It is true that God acts as a Sovereign; and that salvation, from first to last, is all of grace, whether we can reconcile this truth with every other portion of God’s word, or not: nor are we any more at liberty to distort the passages that appear to militate against this system, than Arminians are to misinterpret those which obstruct their views. There is beyond all doubt a harmony in all the parts of the inspired volume, though we cannot exactly see it: (not but that we might see it, and clearly too, if we entered fully into the idea of the subordination of one set of truths to another:) and if we determine to speak all that the Scripture speaks, and as the Scripture speaks it, we shall not be far from the very truth of God. This will not please the partisans of human systems: but it will, as far as such a plan is adopted, produce moderation in our own minds, and forbearance towards all who differ from us.

The way in which the text is introduced deserves particular attention. The Apostle inculcates the duty of “interceding, and giving thanks, for all men” without exception, but especially “for kings and all in authority,” because on them in a very great degree depends the peace and welfare of the Church. As a reason for extending our regards to all, he observes, that God does so in the government of the world, and that Christ has done so in the exercise of redeeming love, seeing that he “had given himself a ransom for all.” The Apostle, whatever be the subject he is treating of, finds an easy and natural transition to Christ, and especially when speaking upon any thing connected with Christian love, of which the love of Christ to us is the great exemplar. This is discovered chiefly in his mediation between God and man: and of that mediation we are led to speak,

I.       As ordained of God—

“There is one God,” the Creator and Governor of all—

[Amongst the heathen “there were gods many, and lords many; but there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things [Note: 1Co_8:5-6.].” “He is the God of the Jews, and the God also of the Gentiles [Note: Rom_3:29.];” and both the one and the other he will justify in the same way [Note: Rom_3:30.], “having no respect of persons.” “In every nation under heaven, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, shall be accepted of him [Note: Act_10:35.].”]

He has also given one Mediator for all—

[He is justly offended with his creatures of mankind, because they have sinned against him. In respect of transgression they are altogether on a par with the fallen angels; and might well have been left, like them, to perish in their sins. But God provided a Mediator for them, that through him reconciliation might be effected with them in perfect consistency with his own perfections. This Mediator is his only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who being in the form of God, and accounting it no robbery to be equal with God, was found in fashion as a man, and took upon him the form of a servant. This “man, Christ Jesus,” is the “one Mediator” between God and men. There is no other; there needs to be no other; seeing that he is equally the Mediator of all, and equally ready to effect reconciliation for every sinner under heaven. The typical mediators, Moses and Aaron, and the high-priests in all successive ages, executed their office for the Jews only: but Christ, whom they typified, is the Advocate of all, and “a propitiation equally for the sins of the whole world.”

Seeing then that God is alike the Father of all, distributing blessings to all with an indiscriminating hand; and that he has given his own co-equal co-eternal Son to be alike the Mediator for all, it becomes us to testify our common concern for all, and to promote by every possible means their eternal welfare.]

Let us next view the mediation of Christ—

II.      As executed by himself—

“He gave himself a ransom” for sinful man—

[A ransom is a redemption-price. Man was in bondage to sin and Satan, death and hell; and to liberate him from this was the end of Christ’s mediation. But how was this deliverance to be effected? The law, which had been broken, must be honoured; and divine justice, which demanded the punishment of the offender, must be satisfied. But fallen man could neither honour the one, nor satisfy the other. Nothing was left for him, but to endure to all eternity the penalty which justice demanded and the law denounced. To render the salvation of man compatible with the rights of law and justice, Jesus assumed our nature, and “was made man,” that in the nature which had sinned he might suffer, and by his own sufferings make an atonement for our transgressions. Having undertaken this great work, he executed it: and there being no other sacrifice sufficient for the occasion, “he gave himself a ransom for us.” “The blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin.” They were acceptable to God as shadowing forth his sacrifice: but it was his sacrifice alone that could atone for sin, and effect the desired reconciliation between God and man: this therefore he offered, and, when the cup of bitterness was put into his hands, he drank it to the very dregs.]

And this he did “for all” without exception—

[To say that he died for the elect only, is neither scriptural nor true. He died for all: according as it is elsewhere said; “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again [Note: 2Co_5:14-15.].” If all be not ultimately saved by his death, it is not owing to any want of sufficiency in his sacrifice to procure acceptance for them, but to their own impenitence and unbelief. And if all do not come to him for an interest in his sacrifice, it is not owing to any decree of God that of necessity excludes them from a participation in the benefit, or to any want of inclination in the Lord Jesus Christ to save them, but to their own obstinacy in sin. Our Lord said to the whole Jewish nation, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not.” This is applicable to the whole human race; and at the last day it will be said to all the ungodly, and especially to those to whom the Gospel of salvation had been sent, “I would, but ye would not.”

Here again then we see the propriety of interesting ourselves with God in behalf of all, since for all without exception did Jesus die.]

It will be proper to consider the mediation of Christ yet farther,

III.     As attested by the Holy Spirit—

This mediation was “to be testified of in due time”—

1.       It has been abundantly attested by the Holy Spirit in times past—

[In the writings of the Old Testament it is fully declared. “He was cut off, but not for himself [Note: Dan_9:26.]:” “he was wounded for our transgressions: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all [Note: Isa_53:4-6.].” Of the New Testament this truth forms the sum and substance. When Jesus was just beginning his ministry, he was pointed out by his forerunner as “the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world [Note: Joh_1:29.].” Our Lord spake of himself as “giving his life a ransom for many [Note: Mat_20:28.].” St. Paul tells us, that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins [Note: Eph_1:7.],” and “reconciliation through the blood of his cross [Note: Col_1:20-22.].” St. Peter assures us, that “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and suffered, the just for the unjust [Note: 1Pe_2:24; 1Pe_3:18.].” But it would be endless to accumulate passages; since the whole Scriptures testify of this blessed truth in every part. Suffice it to say, that it forms the one theme of all the glorified saints in heaven, who sing praises day and night “to Him who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood;” saying, “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation [Note: Rev_1:5; Rev_5:9.].”]

2.       We also are called to testify of it at this time—

[To preach Christ crucified is the one employment of ministers: and our ministry is called “the ministry of reconciliation” on this very account, because we proclaim to sinners, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them [Note: 2Co_5:18-21.].” O that our testimony amongst you on this subject were more fully credited, and more deeply felt! We do declare it: we declare it with joy: for “it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief [Note: 1Ti_1:15.].” None are excluded from an interest in him, but through their own fault. God has no pleasure in the death of any sinner [Note: Eze_18:23; Eze_18:32.]. He even condescends to confirm this truth with an oath [Note: Eze_33:11.]. St. Paul bears witness to it in the verse before our text. St. Peter also confirms it, and assures us, that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live [Note: 2Pe_3:9.].” And, to add no more, St. John says, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world [Note: 1Jn_2:1-2.].” Away with the systems that discard these blessed truths, and wrest from their obvious meaning these reviving declarations. Believe it, brethren, that Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all;” and know, that at this moment he addresses you by my mouth, saying, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else [Note: Isa_45:22.].”]

O brethren,

1.       Stand amazed at this mystery—

[“Great indeed is this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,” and dying under the load of his creatures’ sins. Whence is it that this mystery is so little contemplated amongst us, and so little felt? Is it that there is any other subject which deserves our attention in comparison of it? No: there is nothing worth a thought in comparison of it. “For the excellency of the knowledge of it, all that the world holds dear is but dung and dross.” Let it then occupy your minds day and night, and fill your souls with transport, as it does the souls of the glorified before the throne of God.]

2.       Improve it for the salvation of your own souls—

[On your acceptance of this testimony your everlasting salvation depends. “If you believe in Christ, your salvation is sure; if not, you are condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on you [Note: Joh_3:18; Joh_3:36.].” Believe then, every one of you, that Christ died for you; and pray to God, that you may be able to see your interest in him, and with joyful confidence to exclaim, “He hath loved me, and given himself for me [Note: Gal_2:20.].” Thus shall you be feasted with the foretastes of heaven, and grow up into an increasing meetness for the glory prepared for you.]