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Christian Biblical Studies
CHRIST BOTH ADVOCATE AND MEDIATOR
Scripture references are to the King James (Authorised) Version
Q. What is the difference between Christ in his role as Advocate and his role as Mediator?
A. It depends on what dispensation – the Gospel Age or the Millennial Age – and on whose behalf he is acting – believers or unbelievers (elect or non-elect).
Christ as Advocate
In 1 John 2:1, 2 we read, ‘My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And 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.’
The word translated here as ‘advocate’ is the Greek ‘parakletos’. It is rendered in John’s Gospel as ‘comforter’ in the KJV, and in some other translations as ‘helper’, referring there to the holy spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). Perhaps no one English word adequately conveys the full meaning of ‘parakletos’, but the translators’ choice of ‘advocate’ is quite apt as descriptive of the intercessory role of Christ in relation to His church.
An advocate is one who speaks on behalf of another, especially in a legal context, the one represented being for some reason unable to speak for himself. Our faith and consecration as believers has placed us in a position where the Heavenly Father already accepts our sincerity of heart and intention as righteousness, not demanding that actual perfection of conduct which is as yet impossible. During his years of anxious concern for his spiritual children he must all too often have seen the frailty of human nature lead a brother or sister into sin, bringing some to bitter remorse and to the dread that all was lost.
In such cases, there is always a remedy. At the bar of Divine Justice the counsel for the defence Jesus pleads the cause of the repentant sinner, and he does this on the basis of his own blood, shed for all of Adam’s posterity, but imputed first to those who become justified by faith in that cleansing blood. Our beloved Advocate works constantly on our behalf to maintain our peace with a God whose justice is perfect and inviolable, but whose love found a way to reconcile sinners to himself. ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort’ (2 Cor. 1: 3).
Christ as Mediator
Does our Lord Jesus act as an advocate for the unregenerate, those as yet ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1)? The vast majority, past and present, have lacked any real knowledge of the salvation from sin and death, available to all who exercise faith in the one who gave his life a Ransom for all. Christ cannot be an Advocate, cannot plead the cause, of those who neither know him nor trust in him. But St. John was mindful of the great mercy of a God who so loved the world that he sent his only-begotten Son to give all people the opportunity of gaining everlasting life. He therefore includes in his letter a brief reminder of the Divine purpose: ‘He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2; emphasis added).
Paul reminds Timothy that ‘God our Saviour . . . will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For 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’ (1 Tim. 2:3-6). This text addresses the reconciliation work of Christ to make the world of mankind (the non-elect) acceptable to God.