John 1:16
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
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(16) And of his fulness.—Not a continuance of the witness of John, but the words of the evangelist, and closely connected with John 1:14. This is seen in the “all we,” and in “fulness” (“full”) and “grace,” which are key-words of both verses.

Fulness is a technical theological term, meeting us again in this sense in the Epistles to, as here in the Gospel from, the Asiatic Churches. (Comp. especially Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13.) The exposition belongs to the Notes on these passages. Here it means the plenitude of divine attributes, the “glory . . . full of grace and truth.” “Of,” or better, out of this fulness does each individual receive, and thus the ideal church becomes “his body, the fulness of him that filleth all things in all.”

Have all we received.—Better, we all received. The point of time is the same as in John 1:12, and the “we all” is co-extensive with “as many as.” The power to become children of God was part of the divine fulness which they received in receiving him.

And grace for grace.—Perhaps, even grace for grace gives the meaning less doubtfully. The thought is, We all received of His fulness, and that which we received was grace for grace. The original faculty of reception was itself a free gift, and in the use of this grace there was given the greater power. The words mean “grace in exchange for, instead of, grace.” The fulness of the supply is constant; the power to receive increases with the use, or diminishes with the neglect, of that which we already have. “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” (Matthew 13:12). No truth is in precept or in parable of the Great Teacher more constant than this; no lesson is more brightly or more sadly illustrated in the lives of those who heard Him. What instances of its meaning must have crowded on the writer’s mind in the nation, in the disciples, in the Twelve, and even in the differing power of perception in the inner circle of the Three! “We all received,” but with what difference of degree!



John 1:16

What a remarkable claim that is which the Apostle here makes for his Master! On the one side he sets His solitary figure as the universal Giver; on the other side are gathered the whole race of men, recipients from Him. As in the wilderness the children of Israel clustered round the rock from which poured out streams, copious enough for all the thirsty camp, John, echoing his Master’s words, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink,’ here declares ‘Of His fulness have all we received.’

I. Notice, then, the one ever full Source.

The words of my text refer back to those of the John 1:14 : ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.’ ‘And of His fulness have all we received.’ The ‘fulness’ here seems to mean that of which the Incarnate Word was full, the ‘grace and truth’ which dwelt without measure in Him; the unlimited and absolute completeness and abundance of divine powers and glories which ‘tabernacled’ in Him. And so the language of my text, both verbally and really, is substantially equivalent to that of the Apostle Paul. ‘In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in Him.’ The whole infinite Majesty, and inexhaustible resources of the divine nature, were incorporated and insphered in that Incarnate Word from whom all men may draw.

There are involved in that thought two ideas. One is the unmistakable assertion of the whole fulness of the divine nature as being in the Incarnate Word, and the other is that the whole fulness of the divine nature dwells in the Incarnate Word in order that men may get at it.

The words of my text go back, as I said, to the previous verse; but notice what an advance upon that previous verse they present to us. There we read, ‘We beheld His glory.’ To behold is much, but to possess is more. It is much to say that Christ comes to manifest God, but that is a poor, starved account of the purpose of His coming, if that is all you have to say. He comes to manifest Him. Yes! but He comes to communicate Him, not merely to dazzle us with a vision, not merely to show us Him as from afar, not merely to make Him known to understanding or to heart; but to bestow-in no mere metaphor, but in simple, literal fact-the absolute possession of the divine nature. ‘We beheld His glory’ is a reminiscence that thrills the Evangelist, though half a century has passed since the vision gleamed upon his eyes; but ‘of His fulness have all we received’ is infinitely and unspeakably more. And the manifestation was granted that the possession might be sure, for this is the very centre and heart of Christianity, that in Him who is Christianity God is not merely made known, but given; not merely beheld, but possessed.

In order that that divine fulness might belong to us there was needed that the Word should be made flesh; and there was further needed that incarnation should be crowned by sacrifice, and that life should be perfected in death. The alabaster box had to be broken before the house could be filled with the odour of the ointment. If I may so say, the sack, the coarse-spun sack of Christ’s humanity, had to be cut asunder in order that the wealth that was stored in it might be poured into our hands. God came near us in the life, but God became ours in the death, of His dear Son. Incarnation was needed for that great privilege-’we beheld His glory’; but the Crucifixion was needed in order to make possible the more wondrous prerogative: ‘Of His fulness have all we received.’ God gives Himself to men in the Christ whose life revealed and whose death imparted Him to the world.

And so He is the sole Source. All men, in a very real sense, draw from His fulness. ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ The life of the body and the life of the spirit willing, knowing, loving, all which makes life into light, all comes to us through that everlasting Word of God. And when that Word has ‘become flesh and dwelt among us,’ His gifts are not only the gifts of light and life, which all men draw from Him, but the gifts of grace and truth which all those who love Him receive at His hands. His gifts, like the water from some fountain, may flow underground into many of the pastures of the wilderness; and many a man is blessed by them who knows not from whence they come. It is He from whom all the truth, all the grace which illuminates and blesses humanity, flow into all lands in all ages.

II. Consider, then, again, the many receivers from the one Source. ‘Of His fulness have all we received.’

Observe, we are not told definitely what it is that we receive. If we refer back to words in a previous verse, they may put us on the right track for answering the question, What is it that we get? ‘He came unto His own,’ says John 1:11, ‘and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power,’ etc. That answers the question, What do we receive? Christ is more than all His gifts. All His gifts are treasured up in Him and inseparable from Him. We get Jesus Christ Himself.

The blessings that we receive may be stated in many different ways. You may say we get pardon, purity, hope, joy, the prospect of Heaven, power for service; all these and a hundred more designations by which we might describe the one gift. All these are but the consequences of our having got the Christ within our hearts. He does not give pardon and the rest, as a king might give pardon and honours, a thousand miles off, bestowing it by a mere word, upon some criminal, but He gives all that He gives because He gives Himself. The real possession that we receive is neither more nor less than a loving Saviour, to enter our spirits and abide there, and be the spirit of our spirits, and the life of our lives.

Then, notice the universality of this possession. John has said, in the previous words, ‘We beheld His glory.’ He refers there, of course, to the comparatively small circle of the eye-witnesses of our Master’s life; who, at the time when he wrote, must have been very, very few in number. They had had the prerogative of seeing with their eyes and handling with their hands the Word of life that ‘was manifested unto us’; and with that prerogative the duty of bearing witness of Him to the rest of men. But in the ‘receiving,’ John associates with himself, and with the other eyewitnesses, all those who had listened to their word, and had received the truth in the love of it. ‘We beheld’ refers to the narrower circle; ‘we all received’ to the wider sweep of the whole Church. There is no exclusive class, no special prerogative. Every Christian man, the weakest, the lowliest, the most uncultured, rude, ignorant, foolish, the most besotted in the past, who has wandered furthest away from the Master; whose spirit has been most destitute of all sparks of goodness and of God-receives from out of His fulness. ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.’ And every one of us, if we will, may have dwelling in our hearts, in the greatness of His strength, in the sweetness of His love, in the clearness of His illuminating wisdom, the Incarnate Word, the Comforter, the All-in-all whom ‘we all receive.’

And, as I said, that word ‘all’ might have even a wider extension without going beyond the limits of the truth. For on the one side there stands Christ, the universal Giver; and grouped before Him, in all attitudes of weakness and of want, is gathered the whole race of mankind. And from Him there pours out a stream copious enough to supply all the necessities of every human soul that lives to-day, of every human soul that has lived in the past, of every one that shall live in the future. There is no limit to the universality except only the limit of the human will: ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’

Think of that solitary figure of the Christ reared up, as it were, before the whole race of man, as able to replenish all their emptiness with His fulness, and to satisfy all their thirst with His sufficiency. Dear brother! you have a great gaping void in your heart-an aching emptiness there, which you know better than I can tell you. Look to Him who can fill it and it shall be filled. He can supply all your wants as He can supply all the wants of every soul of man. And after generations have drawn from Him, the water will not have sunk one hairsbreadth in the great fountain, but there will be enough for all coming eternities as there has been enough for all past times. He is like His own miracle-the thousands are gathered on the grass, they do ‘all eat and are filled.’ As their necessities required the bread was multiplied, and at the last there was more left than there had seemed to be at the beginning. So ‘of His fulness have all we received’; and after a universe has drawn from it, for an Eternity, the fulness is not turned into scantiness or emptiness.

III. And so, lastly, notice the continuous flow from the inexhaustible Source. ‘Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.’

The word ‘for’ is a little singular. Of course it means instead of, in exchange for; and the Evangelist’s idea seems to be that as one supply of grace is given and used, it is, as it were, given back to the Bestower, who substitutes for it a fresh and unused vessel, filled with new grace. He might have said, grace upon grace; one supply being piled upon the other. But his notion is, rather, one supply given in substitution for the other, ‘new lamps for old ones.’

Just as a careful gardener will stand over a plant that needs water, and will pour the water on the surface until the earth has drunk it up, and then add a little more; so He gives step by step, grace for grace, an uninterrupted bestowal, yet regulated according to the absorbing power of the heart that receives it. Underlying that great thought are two things: the continuous communication of grace, and the progressive communication of grace. We have here the continuous communication of grace. God is always pouring Himself out upon us in Christ. There is a perpetual out flow from Him to us: if there is not a perpetual inflow into us from Him it is our fault, and not His. He is always giving, and His intention is that our lives shall be a continual reception. Are they? How many Christian men there are whose Christian lives at the best are like some of those Australian or Siberian rivers; in the dry season, a pond here, a stretch of sand, waterless and barren there, then another place with a drop of muddy water in some hollow, and then another stretch of sand, and so on. Why should not the ponds be linked together by a flashing stream? God is always pouring Himself out; why do we not always take Him in?

There is but one answer, and the answer is, that we do not fulfil the condition, which condition is simple faith. ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to them that believed on His name.’ Faith is the condition of receiving, and wherever there is a continuous trust there will be an unbroken grace; and wherever there are interrupted gifts it is because there has been an intermitted trust in Him. Do not let your lives be like some dimly lighted road, with a lamp here, and a stretch of darkness, and then another twinkling light; let the light run all along the side of your path, because at every moment your heart is turning to Christ with trust. Make your faith continuous, and God will make His grace incessant, and out of His fulness you will draw continual supplies of needed strength.

But not only have we here the notion of continuous, but also, as it seems to me, of progressive gifts. Each measure of Christ received, if we use it aright, makes us capable of possessing more of Christ. And the measure of our capacity is the measure of His gift, and the more we can hold the more we shall get. The walls of our hearts are elastic, the vessel expands by being filled out; it throbs itself wider by desire and faith. The wider we open our mouths the larger will be the gift that God puts into them. Each measure and stage of grace utilised and honestly employed will make us capable and desirous, and, therefore, possessors, of more and more of the grace that He gives. So the ideal of the Christian life, and God’s intention concerning us, is not only that we should have an uninterrupted, but a growing possession, of Christ and of His grace.

Is that the case with you, my friend? Can you hold more of God than you could twenty years ago? Is there any more capacity in your soul for more of Christ than there was long, long ago? If there is you have more of Him; if you have not more of Him it is because you cannot contain more; and you cannot contain more because you have not desired more, and because you have been so wretchedly unfaithful in your use of what you had. The ideal is, ‘they go from strength to strength,’ and the end of that is, ‘every one of them appeareth before God.’

So, dear brother, as the dash of the waves will hollow out some little indentation on the coast, and make it larger and larger until there is a great bay, with its headlands miles apart, and its deep bosom stretching far into the interior, and all the expanse full of flashing waters and leaping waves, so the giving Christ works a place for Himself in a man’s heart, and makes the spirit which receives and faithfully uses the gifts which He brings, capable of more of Himself, and fills the widened space with larger gifts and new grace.

Only remember the condition of having Him is trusting to His name and longing for His presence. ‘If any man open the door I will come in.’ We have Him if we trust Him. That trust is no mere passive reception, such as is the case with some empty jar which lies open-mouthed on the shore and lets the sea wash into it and out of it, as may happen. But the ‘receive’ of our text might be as truly rendered ‘take.’ Faith is an active taking, not a passive receiving. We must ‘lay hold on eternal life.’ Faith is the hand that grasps the offered gift, the mouth that feeds upon the bread of God, the voice that says to Christ, ‘Come in, Thou blessed of the Lord; why standest Thou without?’ Such a faith alone brings us into vital connection with Jesus. Without it, you will be none the richer for all His fulness, and may perish of famine in the midst of plenty, like a man dying of hunger outside the door of a granary. They who believe take the Saviour who is given, and they who take receive, and they who receive obtain day by day growing grace from the fulness of Christ, and so come ever nearer to the realisation of the ultimate purpose of the Father, that they should be ‘filled with all the fulness of God.’

John 1:16. And of his fulness have all we received — These are not the words of the Baptist, as the expression, we all, shows; for those to whom he addressed himself do not appear to have received grace from Christ. But here the evangelist confirms the Baptist’s words, spoken in the preceding verse; as if he had said, He is indeed preferred before thee: so we have experienced: for we all, that is, I, John, the apostle, and my brethren, the other apostles, and all that truly believe in him, have received from his fulness, from the plenitude of truth and grace which are in him, all the blessings we enjoy, whether as men, as Christians, or as apostles. “But what,” says Dr. Campbell, “is the import of the clause, grace for grace? Is it that we receive grace in return for the grace we give? So says Le Clerc, availing himself of an ambiguity in the Greek word χαρις, which (like grace in French) signifies not only a favour bestowed, but thanks returned: and maintaining that the sense is, that God gives more grace to those who are thankful for that formerly received; a position which, however just, it requires an extraordinary turn of imagination to discover in this passage. Is it, as many render it, grace upon grace, that is, grace added to grace? I should not dislike this interpretation, if this meaning of the preposition, αντι, in Scripture, were well supported. It always there denotes, if I mistake not, instead of, answering to, or in return for. Is it a mere pleonasm? Does it mean (as Grotius would have it) grace gratuitous? I do not say that such pleonastic expressions are unexampled in Sacred Writ; but I do say, that this sense given to the idiom is unexampled. The word in such cases is δωρεαν, as Romans 3:24, Διακαιουμενοι δωρεαν τη αυτου χαριτι, justified freely by his grace. If, instead of giving scope to fancy, we attend to the context, and the construction of the words, we shall not need to wander so far in quest of the meaning. In John 1:14 we are informed that the word became incarnate, and sojourned among us, full of grace and truth. It is plain that the 15th verse, containing the Baptist’s declaration, must be understood as a parenthesis. And it actually is understood so by all expositors; inasmuch as they make αυτου [his] here refer to λογος [the Word] in John 1:14. The evangelist, resuming the subject which (for the sake of inserting John’s testimony) he had interrupted, tells us, that all we his disciples, particularly his apostles, have received of his fulness. But of what was he full? It had been said expressly, that he was full of grace. When, therefore, the historian brings this additional clause concerning grace in explanation of the former, is it not manifestly his intention to inform us, that of every grace wherewith he was filled, his disciples received a share? The Word incarnate, he says, resided among us, full of grace and truth; and of his fulness all we have received, even grace for his grace; that is, of every grace, or celestial gift, conferred above measure upon him, his disciples have received a portion according to their measure. If there should remain a doubt whether this were the sense of the passage, the words immediately following seem calculated to remove it. For the law was given by Moses, the grace and the truth came by Jesus Christ. Here the evangelist intimates, that Jesus Christ was as truly the channel of divine grace to his disciples, as Moses had been of the knowledge of God’s law to the Israelites.” If, however, the reader prefer adhering to the common translation, it seems it may be supported by the frequent use of the preposition αντι. Thus Romans 12:17, Recompense to no man (κακον αντι κακου) evil for evil, or, in return for evil. According to this translation, the meaning of the passage will be, that under the gospel dispensation, all men receive grace for grace, that is, privileges and advantages, in proportion to the improvement which they make of those already bestowed on them.

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.Of his fulness - In John 1:14 the evangelist has said that Christ was "full of grace and truth." Of that "fullness" he now says that all the disciples had received; that is, they derived from his abundant truth and mercy grace to understand the plan of salvation, to preach the gospel, to live lives of holiness; they "partook" of the numerous blessings which he came to impart by his instructions and his death. These are undoubtedly not the words of John the Baptist, but of the evangelist John, the writer of this gospel. They are a continuation of what he was saying in John 1:14, John 1:15 being evidently thrown in as a parenthesis. The declaration had not exclusive reference, probably, to the apostles, but it is extended to all Christians, for all believers have received of the "fulness of grace and truth" that is in Christ. Compare Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9. In all these places our Saviour is represented as the fulness of God - as "abounding" in mercy, as exhibiting the divine attributes, and as possessing in himself all that is necessary to fill his people with truth, and grace, and love.

Grace for grace - Many interpretations of this phrase have been proposed. The chief are briefly the following:

1. "We have received under the gospel, grace or favor, 'instead of' those granted under the law; and God has added by the gospel important favors to those which he gave under the law." This was first proposed by Chrysostom.

2. "We, Christians, have received grace 'answering to,' or corresponding to that which is in Jesus Christ. We are 'like' him in meekness, humility," etc.

3. "We have received grace 'as grace' - that is, freely. We have not purchased it nor deserved it, but God has conferred it on us 'freely'" (Grotius).

4. The meaning is, probably, simply that we have received through him "abundance" of grace or favor. The Hebrews, in expressing the superlative degree of comparison, used simply to repeat the word - thus, "pits, pits," meaning many pits (Hebrew in Genesis 14:10). So here grace for grace may mean "much" grace; superlative favors bestowed on man; favors superior to all that had been under the law - superior to all other things that God can confer on men. These favors consist in pardon, redemption, protection, sanctification, peace here, and heaven hereafter.

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.

And of his fulness have all we received; of that plenty of grace which Christ hath, (who hath not the Spirit given him by measure, John 3:34, as other saints have, Acts 2:4,6,8), we who by nature are void of grace, whether taken for the favour of God, or gracious habits, have received, as the skirts of Aaron’s garment received the oil which was plentifully poured out on Aaron’s head.

And grace for grace: nor have we received drops, but grace upon grace; not only knowledge and instruction, but the love and favour of God, and spiritual habits, in proportion to the favour and grace which Christ hath (allowing for our short capacities); we have received grace freely and plentifully, all from Christ, and for his sake; which lets us see how much the grace receiving soul is bound to acknowledge and adore Christ, and may be confirmed in the receiving of further grace, and the hopes of eternal life; and it may mind all (according to that of the apostle, 2 Corinthians 6:1), to take heed that they receive not the grace of God in vain.

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.

{9} And of his fulness have all we received, and {d} grace for grace.

(9) Christ is the most plentiful fountain of all goodness, but he gave out his gifts most bountifully at that time when he exhibited and showed himself to the world.

(d) That is, grace upon grace; as one would say, graces piled one upon another.

John 1:16. Not the language of the Baptist (Heracleon, Origen, Rupertus, Erasmus, Luther, Melancthon, Lange), against which ἡμεῖς πάντες is decisive, but that of the evangelist continued.

ὅτι (see critical notes) introduces the personal and superabounding gracious experience of believers, with a retrospective reference indeed to the πλήρ. χάριτος κ. ἀληθ., John 1:14, and in the form of a confirmation of John’s testimony in John 1:15 : this testimony is justified by what was imparted to us all out of the fulness of Him who was borne witness to.

ἐκ τοῦ πληρώμ. αὐτοῦ] out of that whereof He was full, John 1:14; πλήρωμα in a passive sense; see on Colossians 1:19. The phrase and idea were here so naturally furnished by the immediate context, that it is quite far-fetched to find their source in Gnosticism, especially in that of the Valentinians (Schwegler, Hilgenfeld).

ἡμεῖς] we on our part, giving prominence to the personal experience of the believers (which had remained unknown to unbelievers), John 1:10-11.

πάντες] None went empty away. Inexhaustibleness of the πλήρωμα.

ἐλάβομεν] absolute: we have received.

καὶ] and indeed. See Winer, p. 407 [E. T. p. 546]; Hartung, Partikell. I. 145.

χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος] grace for grace, is not to be explained (with Chrysostom, Cyril, Severus, Nonnus, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Aretius, Calovius, Jansen, Wolf, Lampe, and many others, even Paulus), N. T. instead of O. T. grace (Euthymius Zigabenus: τὴν καινὴν διαθήκην ἀντὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς), or instead of the original grace lost in Adam (see especially Calovius), since in John 1:17 ὁ νόμος and ἡ χάρις are opposed to each other, and since in the N. T. generally χάρις is the distinctive essence of Christian salvation (comp. especially Romans 6:14-15); but, as Beza suggested, and with most modern expositors,[106] “so that ever and anon fresh grace appears in place of that already received.” “Proximam quamque gratiam satis quidem magnam gratia subsequens cumulo et plenitudine sua quasi obruit,” Bengel. So superabundant was the λαμβάνειν! This rendering is sufficiently justified linguistically by Theogn. Sent. 344, ἀντʼ ἀνιῶν ἀνίας; Philo, de poster. Caini, I. p. 254; Chrys. de sac. vi. 13,—as it is generally by the primary meaning of ἀντὶ (grace interchanging with grace); and it corresponds, agreeably to the context, with the idea of the πλήρωμα, from which it is derived, and is supported further by the increasingly blessed condition of those individually experiencing it (justification, peace with God, consolation, joy, illumination, love, hope, and so on: see on Romans 5:1 ff.; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9). John might have written χάριν ἐπὶ χάριτι or χάριν ἐπὶ χάριν (Php 2:27), but his conception of it was different. Still, any special reference to the fulness of the special χαρίσματα, 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Ewald), lies remote from the context here (John 1:17); though at the same time they, as in general no εὐλογία πνευματική (Ephesians 1:3), wherewith God in Christ has blessed believers, are not excluded.

[106] Among whom, however, Godet regards the phrase with ἀντί as a play upon words, referring to the O. T. law of retaliation, according to which “chaque grâce était la récompense d’un mérite acquisx.” But such an allusion would be inappropriate, since χάρις in ἀντὶ χάριτος is not something human, but divine.

John 1:16. ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματοςχάριτος, “because out of His fulness have we all received”. The ὅτι does not continue the Baptist’s testimony, but refers to πλήρης in John 1:14. In Colossians 2:9 Paul says that in Christ dwelleth all the πλήρωμα of the Godhead, meaning to repudiate the Gnostic idea that this pleroma was distributed among many subordinate beings or æons. But what John has here in view is that the fulness of grace in Christ was communicable to men. By ἡμεῖς πάντες he indicates himself and all other Christians. He had himself experienced the reality of that grace with which Christ was filled and its inexhaustible character. For he adds καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος, “grace upon grace”. Beza suggests the rendering: (“ut quidam vir eruditus explicat,” he says): “Gratiam supra gratiam; pro quo eleganter dixeris, gratiam gratia cumulatam,” but he does not himself adopt it. It is, however, adopted by almost all modern interpreters: so that ever and anon fresh grace appears over and above that already received. This rendering, as Meyer points out, is linguistically justified by Theognis, Sent., 344, ἀντʼ ἀνιῶν ἀνίας, sorrows upon sorrows; and it receives remarkable illustration from the passage quoted by Wetstein from Philo, De Poster. Cain., where, speaking of grace, he says that God does not allow men to be sated with one grace, but gives ἑτέρας ἀντʼ ἐκείνων (the first) καὶ τρίτας ἀντι τῶν δευτέρων καὶ ἀεὶ νέας ἀντὶ παλαιοτέρων. Harnack (Hist. of Dogma, i., 76, E. Tr.) asks: “Where in the history of mankind can we find anything resembling this, that men who had eaten and drunk with their Master should glorify Him, not only as the Revealer of God, but as the Prince of Life, as the Redeemer and Judge of the world, as the living power of its existence, and that a choir of Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and barbarians, wise and foolish, should along with them immediately confess that out of the fulness of this one man they have received grace for grace?”

16. The testimony of the Baptist to the incarnate Word is confirmed by the experience of all believers. The Evangelist is the speaker.

And] The true reading gives Because.

fullness] The Greek word, pleroma, is ‘a recognised technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes.’ This fulness of the Divine attributes belonged to Christ (John 1:14), and by Him was imparted to the Church, which is His Body (Ephesians 1:23); and through the Church each individual believer in his degree receives a portion of it. See Lightfoot on Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9. ‘Of His fulness’ means literally ‘out of His fulness,’ as from an inexhaustible store.

all we] shews that the Evangelist and not the Baptist is speaking.

grace for grace] Literally, grace in the place of grace, one grace succeeding another, and as it were taking its place. There is no reference to the Christian dispensation displacing the Jewish. The Jewish dispensation would have been called ‘the Law,’ not ‘grace;’ see next verse, and comp. John 17:22.

John 1:16. Καί, and) [But [21][22]*[23][24][25], the Latin ante-Hieronymic Versions [26][27], the Memphitic, and Orige[28] thrice, read ὍΤΙ for καὶ] The evangelist confirms the fact, that to this prediction of John the Baptist the event corresponded, and that the priority of office fell to Christ; for the statement in this verse is that of the Evangelist; since the Baptist would not be likely to call Jesus the Christ so openly as John 1:17 does: moreover the fulness, John 1:16, has reference to the word full, John 1:14; [and so John 1:16 is to be regarded as a continuation of those things which were begun, John 1:14.—V. g.]—ἡμεῖς πάντες, all we) Not all beheld, John 1:14, but all received,—Apostles and all the rest [of His disciples] received,[29] Jews and Gentiles.—ἘΛΆΒΟΜΕΝ, ΚΑΊ, we received, even) The Accusative is understood, all that was to be received out of His fulness, and [specially] grace for grace.—χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος, grace for grace) Each last portion of grace [though itself], indeed large enough, the subsequent grace by accumulation and by its own fulness, as it were, overwhelms [buries under the load of its own fulness]. See an instance, John 1:51 [Jesus to Nathaniel, Because I said, I saw, see under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these,—Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man]. A very similar use of ἀντί occurs in Æschyl. Agam. ὌΝΕΙΔΟς ἭΚΕΙ ΤΌ Δʼ ἈΝΤʼ ὈΝΕΊΔΟῦς; and Book VI. of Chrysostom, concerning the priesthood, ch. 13, where he makes his Basilius speak thus:ΣῪ ΔΈ ΜΕ ἘΚΠΈΜΠΕΙς, ἙΤΈΡΑΝ ἈΝΘʼ ἙΤΈΡΑς ΦΡΟΝΤΊΔΑ ἘΝΘΕΊς; thou dost dismiss me, imposing one anxiety on another: wherein the former care, and that the less one, had not been removed, but a new one had been thrown in [in addition], and that so great a one, as to throw into the shade the former one, and as to seem not to have been added to it, but to have succeeded it. Examine the passage itself, if you please, and what comments we have collected upon it, p. 516. The Hebrews use על as שבר על שבר, Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 45:3; Ezekiel 7:26; Psalm 69:27.

[21] Cod. Basilianus (not the B. Vaticanus): Revelation: in the Vatican: edited by Tisch., who assigns it to the beginning of the eighth century.

[22] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

[23] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[24] Cod. Reg., Paris, of the Gospels: the text akin to that of B: edited by Tisch.

[25] Cod. Monacensis, fragments of the Gospels.

[26] Vercellensis of the old ‘Itala,’ or Latin Version before Jerome’s, probably made in Africa, in the second century: the Gospels.

[27] Veronensis, do.

[28] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.

[29] Viz. What He offered.—E. and T.

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." John 1:16And (καὶ)

But the correct reading is ὅτι, because, thus connecting the following sentence with "full of grace and truth" in John 1:14. We know Him as full of grace and truth, because we have received of His fullness.

Of His fulness (ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ)

These and the succeeding words are the Evangelist's, not the Baptist's. The word fullness (πλήρωμα) is found here only in John, but frequently occurs in the writings of Paul, whose use of it in Ephesians and Colossians illustrates the sense in John; these being Asiatic churches which fell, later, within the sphere of John's influence. The word is akin to πλήρης, full (John 1:14), and to πληροῦν, to fill or complete; and means that which is complete in itself, plenitude, entire number or quantity. Thus the crew of a ship is called πλήρωμα, its complement. Aristophanes ("Wasps," 660), "τούτων πλήρωμα, the sum-total of these, is nearly two thousand talents." Herodotus (iii., 22) says that the full term of man's life among the Persians is eighty years; and Aristotle ("Polities," iv., 4) refers to Socrates as saying that the eight classes, representing different industries in the state, constitute the pleroma of the state (see Plato, "Republic," 371). In Ephesians 1:23, Paul says that the church is the pleroma of Christ: i.e., the plenitude of the divine graces in Christ is communicated to the Church as His body, making all the body, supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, to increase with the increase of God (Colossians 2:19; compare Ephesians 4:16). Similarly he prays (Ephesians 3:19) that the brethren may be filled unto all the pleroma of God: i.e., that they may be filled with the fullness which God imparts. More closely related to John's use of the term here are Colossians 1:19, "It pleased the Father that in Him (Christ) should all the fullness (τὸ πλήρωμα, note the article) dwell;" and Colossians 2:9, Colossians 2:10, "In Him dwelleth all the pleroma of the Godhead bodily (i.e., corporally, becoming incarnate), and in Him ye are fulfilled (πεπληρωμένοι)." This declares that the whole aggregate of the divine powers and graces appeared in the incarnate Word, and corresponds with John's statement that "the Word became flesh and tabernacled among men, full of grace and truth;" while "ye are fulfilled" answers to John's "of His fullness we all received." Hence John's meaning here is that Christians receive from the divine completeness whatever each requires for the perfection of his character and for the accomplishment of his work (compare John 15:15; John 17:22).

Have - received (ἐλάβομεν)

Rev., we received: rendering the aorist tense more literally.

Grace for grace (χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος)

The preposition ἀντί originally means over against; opposite; before (in a local sense). Through the idea of placing one thing over against another is developed that of exchange. Thus Herodotus (iii., 59), "They bought the island, ἀντὶ χρημάτων, for money." So Matthew 5:38, "An eye for (ἀντὶ) an eye," etc. This idea is at the root of the peculiar sense in which the preposition is used here. We received, not New Testament grace instead of Old Testament grace; nor simply, grace added to grace; but new grace imparted as the former measure of grace has been received and improved. "To have realized and used one measure of grace, was to have gained a larger measure (as it were) in exchange for it." Consequently, continuous, unintermitted grace. The idea of the development of one grace from another is elaborated by Peter (2 Peter 1:5), on which see notes. Winer cites a most interesting parallel from Philo. "Wherefore, having provided and dispensed the first graces (χάριτας), before their recipients have waxed wanton through satiety, he subsequently bestows different graces in exchange for (ἀντὶ) those, and a third supply for the second, and ever new ones in exchange for the older."

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