The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 76 of 181
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The Gospel of JOHN.
#12.  Fullness and true grace,
in contrast with type and shadow (1: 15 - 17).
pp. 57 - 62
Once again the Apostle reverts to the testimony of John the Baptist. His first witness,
as recorded in this Gospel, is to Christ, "the true Light", with the object that "all men
through Him might believe" (John 1: 6-8).
John the Apostle and John the Baptist have but one testimony, the Baptist's witness
becoming imperceptibly interwoven with the testimony of the Apostle, neither breaking
its thread nor spoiling its harmony.
"John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of Whom I spake, He that
cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me" (John 1: 15).
The Baptist is but confirming the marvelous testimony of the Apostle given in
John 1: 1 and 14.  Christ as "the Word" was before John. Christ as "the Word made
flesh" was after him. This testimony of the Baptist is expanded in John 3: 27 and 31
and will be given fuller consideration when that passage is reached. It is inserted to
supplement the Apostle's statement here, so that in the mouth of two witnesses every
word may be established. Accordingly we proceed to verses 16-18.
In verse 14 the Apostle had spoken of Christ as "full of grace and truth". He now
refers to that "fullness" (John 1: 16) as the source and that "grace and truth" (John 1: 17)
which believers have received. In verse 14, the Apostle had spoken for the first time of
Christ as "the only begotten of the Father". He now carries the title back, in verse 18, to
counterbalance, in time, what the Word was "in the beginning". Verses 16-18, therefore,
are an expansion and exposition both of what accrues to man and what pertains to God
from the incarnation.
"And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1: 16).
We cannot hope to understand this passage merely by concentrating upon the meaning
of the word "fullness", but must ascertain what is associated with that fullness and in
what manner the statement carries forward the Apostle's theme. This will necessitate
consideration of the expression "grace for grace", and inasmuch as the fullness of the
Lord is first of all associated with "grace and truth" and that "grace and truth" is placed
over against the law given to Moses in verse 17, it will be necessary to include and
consider these references before we can appreciate in any measure the intention in
verse 16. We observe therefore a marked contrast indicated between "the law" that was
given by "Moses" and the "grace and truth" that "came by Jesus Christ".
Here, together with verse 18, we have two contrasted lines of teaching,