|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:15-18 As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he appeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from which alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our receivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace; we have received even grace, a gift so great, so rich, so invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten and beloved Son.
Verses 16-18. -
(7) The experience of the Writer. Verse 16. - There can be little doubt that the fifteenth verse is a parenthetical clause, answering to the sixth and seventh verses, and standing to ver. 14 very much in the same kind of relation that vers. 6, 7 do to vers. 1-5. There is a further reason; the verses which follow are clearly not, as Lange suggests, the continuance of the Baptist's μαρτυρία, but the language of the evangelist, and a detail of his personal experience. The entire context would entirely forbid our taking the αὐτοῦ of ver. 16 as referring to the Baptist. This is still more evident from the true reading of ὅτι in place of καὶ. The "because" points back at once to the statements of ver. 14. Hengstenberg and Godet think there is no need to transform the fifteenth verse into a parenthesis, in order, after the recital of John the Baptist's testimony, to proceed to a further experience of the evangelist; translating "and even," Lange makes the whole utterance to be that of the Baptist, which appears to be profoundly inconsistent with the position of the Baptist, either then or subsequently. The grand declaration, that the Logos incarnate was "full of grace and truth," is justified by the author of the prologue, from his conscious experience of the exhaustless plenitude of the manifestation. Because from his fulness we all received. He speaks as from the bosom of a society of persons, who have not been dependent on vision or on individual contact with the historic revelation (comp. ch. 20, "Blessed are they [Jesus said] who have not seen [touched or handled], and yet have believed," but have nevertheless discovered a perennial supply of grace and truth in him). We all, my fellow apostles and a multitude which no man can number, received from this source, as from the Divinity itself, all that we have needed. An effort has been made, from the evangelist's use of the word pleroma, to father the "prologue" upon one familiar with the Valentinian metaphysic, and thus to postpone its origin to the middle of the second century; but the Valentinian pleroma is the sum total of the Divine emanations of the thirty pairs of aeons, which have been produced from the eternal "bythos," or abyss, one only of which is supposed, on Valentinian principles, to have assumed a phantasmic form in Jesus Christ. Nothing could be less resembling the position of the author of this Gospel, who clearly regards the Logos incarnate as coincident with the fulness of the Godhead, as containing in himself, in complete self-possession, all the energies and beneficence of the Eternal. With the apostle's doctrine of the Logos as identical with God, as the Creator of everything, as the Life, as the Light of men; and, as becoming the Source of all these energies to men in his incarnation, there is no basis for Valentinianism. Though the phraseology of the Gnostics was borrowed in part from the Gospel, and though Valentinus may have fancied himself justified in his misuse of texts; the ideas of the Gospel and the Gnostic were directly contradictory of one another (see Introduction). Long before John used this word, St. Paul had used it in writing to the Ephesiaus and Colossians, as though, even in his day, the word had acquired a distinct theological meaning, and one that had naturally arisen from its etymology and usage in Greek writers. Bishop Lightfoot has shown in his dissertation ('Epistle to Colossians,' 2nd edit., pp. 257-273) that the form of the word demands a passive sense, id quod impletur, and not an active one which some have given to it in certain New Testament passages, as if it had the meaning of id quod implet. By his examination of numerous passages, he shows that it always has fundamentally the sense of completeness, "the full complement," the plenitude. Πληρώμα is the passive verbal from πληροῦν, to make complete. Thus Colossians 1:19, "The Father was pleased that all the fulness, the totality, should dwell in him," explained elsewhere in the same Epistle, "all the completeness, the plenitude of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9). The widespread diffusion of the idea of emanations, the hypostatizing of perfections and attributes, the virtual mythology which was creeping through metaphysical subtleties even into Judaism and Christianity, demanded positive repudiation; and, while the whole Church was united in its recognition of the Divine energy of Christ, it became needful to refer to his Divine-human personality all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. In Ephesians St. Paul speaks, however, of the Church which is his body as identified with him, and as (in Ephesians 5:27) a bride made one flesh with her husband, without spot or wrinkle, ideally perfect, as the part of one colossal individuality of which Christ is the Head; or, the one building of which he is the Foundation and the Cornerstone. Hence "the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13) is that in which every member participates, and "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" is equated with the perfect humanity into which all believers come. Hence in Ephesians 3:19 these individuals are completed in him, and are thus as a whole, by the realization of their union to Christ, participators in the fulness of God. So the difficult expression, Ephesians 1:23, becomes explained, a passage in which the Church itself, his body, is said to be "the fulness of him who filleth all in all." The Church is the organ and sphere in which all the Divine graces are poured, and is considered as ever struggling to embody the ideal perfection of him in whom all the fulness of God dwells. Both ideas, those of both the Christological Epistles, are involved in this great assertion of St. John. And grace for grace. It is said the evangelist might have written χάριν ἐπὶ χάριτι, or ἐπὶ χάριν, grace in addition to grace received already; but the use of the preposition ἀντί, implies more, "grace interchanging with grace" (Meyer) - not the grace of the old covenant replaced by the grace of the new dispensation (Chrysostom, Lampe, and many others), for, though there was grace underlying all God's self-revelation, yet in the next verse the contrast between "Law" and "grace" is too striking to be ignored. The grace replaced by grace means that every grace received is a capacity for higher blessedness. Thus Christian humility is the condition of Divine uplifting; the knowledge that leads to love is the condition of that higher gnosis that is born of love. The faith that accepts mercy blossoms into the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. Reconciliation with God becomes itself transformed into active communion with him; all union to Christ becomes the harbinger of full identification with him, "he in us and we in him." This is the great principle of the Divine kingdom: "To him that hath shall be given."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And of his fulness have all we received,.... These are the words not of John the Baptist; but of the evangelist carrying on his account of Christ, after he had inserted the testimony of the Baptist, in connection with John 1:14 where he is said to be full of grace and truth; and which fulness is here intended; for the fulness of the Godhead in trim is incommunicable; and the fulness of his fitness, and ability for his office, as Mediator, was for himself; but his fulness of grace and truth is dispensatory, and is in him, on purpose to be communicated unto others: and "of it", the evangelist says, "have all we received"; not all mankind, though they all receive natural light and life from trim; nor merely all the prophets of the Old Testament, though they had their gifts and grace from him, who then was, as now, the head of the church; nor only all the apostles of Christ, though these may be principally intended; but all believers, who, though they have not all the same measure of grace, nor the same gifts, yet all have received something: nor is there any reason for discouragement, envy, or reproach. Faith is the hand which receives Christ, and grace from him; and the act of receiving, being expressed in the past tense, seems to regard first conversion, when faith is first wrought, and along with it abundance of grace is received; for a believer has nothing but what is given him, and what he has, is in a way of receiving; so that there is no room for boasting, but great reason for thankfulness, and much encouragement to apply to Christ for more grace, which is the thing received, as follows:
and grace for grace: according to the different senses of the preposition different interpretations are given of this passage; as that signifies a substitution of a person, or thing, in the room of another, the sense is thought to be, the Gospel, instead of the law; or the grace of the present dispensation, instead of the grace of the former dispensation; grace, different from the former grace, as Nonnus expresses it. If it designs the original, and moving cause, the meaning is, grace is for the sake of grace; for there is no other cause of electing, justifying, pardoning, adopting, and regenerating grace, and even eternal life, but the grace, or free favour of God; and the one is the reason why the other is received: if it signifies the end, or final cause, then it is explained in this way; the disciples received the grace of apostleship, or gift, of grace, in order to preach the Gospel of the grace of God, and for the implanting and increasing grace in men; and grace also, in this life, is received, in order to the perfection of grace, or glory, in the other: if it denotes the measure and proportion of a thing, as one thing is answerable to another, then if may be interpreted after this manner; the saints receive grace from the fulness of Christ, according, or answerable to the grace that is in him; or according to the measure of the gift of Christ, and in proportion to the place, station, and office they bear in the church. Some think the phrase only designs the freeness of grace, and the free and liberal manner in which it is distributed, and received; along with which, I also think, the abundance of it, at first conversion, with all after supplies, is intended; and that grace for grace, is the same with grace upon grace, heaps of grace; and that the phraseology is the same with this Jewish one (k), , "goodness upon that goodness", an additional goodness; so here, grace upon grace, an abundance of it, an addition to it, and an increase of it: so (l), joy upon joy, is an abundance of joy, a large measure of it; and "holiness upon holiness" (m), abundance of it,
(k) Zohar in Exod. fol. 45. 1.((l) lb. in Lev. fol. 28. 1. & in Num. fol. 69. 2. & 71. 2.((m) lb. fol. 40. 3. & in Num. fol. 61. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Joh 1:16-18. Same Subject Continued.
16. of his fulness—of "grace and truth," resuming the thread of Joh 1:14.
grace for grace—that is, grace upon grace (so all the best interpreters), in successive communications and larger measures, as each was able to take it in. Observe, the word "truth" is here dropped. "Grace" being the chosen New Testament word for the whole fulness of the new covenant, all that dwells in Christ for men.
John 1:16 Parallel Commentaries
John 1:16 NIV
John 1:16 NLT
John 1:16 ESV
John 1:16 NASB
John 1:16 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible