1:6-14 John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men's minds, than that when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not. When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them. All the children of God are born again. This new birth is through the word of God as the means, 1Pe 1:23, and by the Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But now that the fulness of time was come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the things he was to reveal.
14. And the Word, &c.—To raise the reader to the altitude of this climax were the thirteen foregoing verses written.
was made flesh—BECAME MAN, in man's present frail, mortal condition, denoted by the word "flesh" (Isa 40:6; 1Pe 1:24). It is directed probably against the Docetæ, who held that Christ was not really but only apparently man; against whom this gentle spirit is vehement in his Epistles (1Jo 4:3; 2Jo 7, 10, 11), [Lucke, &c.]. Nor could He be too much so, for with the verity of the Incarnation all substantial Christianity vanishes. But now, married to our nature, henceforth He is as personally conscious of all that is strictly human as of all that is properly divine; and our nature is in His Person redeemed and quickened, ennobled and transfigured.
and dwelt—tabernacled or pitched his tent; a word peculiar to John, who uses it four times, all in the sense of a permanent stay (Re 7:15; 12:12; 13:6; 21:3). For ever wedded to our "flesh," He has entered this tabernacle to "go no more out." The allusion is to that tabernacle where dwelt the Shekinah (see on Mt 23:38, 39), or manifested "Glory of the Lord," and with reference to God's permanent dwelling among His people (Le 26:11; Ps 68:18; 132:13, 14; Eze 37:27). This is put almost beyond doubt by what immediately follows, "And we beheld his glory" [Lucke, Meyer, De Wette which last critic, rising higher than usual, says that thus were perfected all former partial manifestations of God in an essentially Personal and historically Human manifestation].
full of grace and truth—So it should read: "He dwelt among us full of grace and truth"; or, in Old Testament phrase, "Mercy and truth," denoting the whole fruit of God's purposes of love towards sinners of mankind, which until now existed only in promise, and the fulfilment at length of that promise in Christ; in one great word, "the SURE MERCIES of David" (Isa 55:3; Ac 13:34; compare 2Sa 23:5). In His Person all that Grace and Truth which had been floating so long in shadowy forms, and darting into the souls of the poor and needy its broken beams, took everlasting possession of human flesh and filled it full. By this Incarnation of Grace and Truth, the teaching of thousands of years was at once transcended and beggared, and the family of God sprang into Manhood.
and we beheld his glory—not by the eye of sense, which saw in Him only "the carpenter." His glory was "spiritually discerned" (1Co 2:7-15; 2Co 3:18; 4:4, 6; 5:16)—the glory of surpassing grace, love, tenderness, wisdom, purity, spirituality; majesty and meekness, richness and poverty, power and weakness, meeting together in unique contrast; ever attracting and at times ravishing the "babes" that followed and forsook all for Him.
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father—(See on Lu 1:35); not like, but "such as (belongs to)," such as became or was befitting the only begotten of the Father [Chrysostom in Lucke, Calvin, &c.], according to a well-known use of the word "as."