One of the poetic devices in Hebrew poetry is the use of parallelism – saying a second time, but in different words, a thought that was previously said. It also shows up in the prose of the New Testament.
While verse 14 of this chapter is a parallel of verses 1 through 5, this verse is a parallel of verses 6 through 8! In those verses John talks in generalities of the Word as being the Light of the world (John 1:6-8). In verse 15, he identifies the person who is the Light, turning an idea or concept into an actual person.
In personifying the Word, he expands on the identity of the Preferred one: the Word.
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 Word comes after him, in both time of birth and in revelation of identity, as was foretold in Isaiah 40:3. The word “preferred” means that the Word is more worthy of honor than he, John, is.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. John 1:16
The evangelist is adding to the words of the Baptist, now. This is an all-inclusive statement: we all, not just the disciples of Jesus, have received from His fulness. Jesus is complete, in every way, and we receive from Him all we need, but more importantly, we have received grace – God’s undeserved favor – and not just one measure, but favor upon favor. It speaks of abundance, goodness, and joy. It is giving grace only for the purpose of giving grace: Grace for Grace. As the Psalm 23:5 says: “my cup runneth over”.
The Law and Grace
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1:17
The law, given by Moses, points out what is man’s duty both to God and men. The Law discovers, accuses, convicts, and condemns for sin, but it doesn’t tell us how to find the strength to fight against it; there is no way to gain forgiveness through the Law; there is no provision for repentance. It is the opposite of Grace.
That is not to say that it wasn’t a benefit to man, that it wasn’t good or useful. The ceremonial law was a type and shadow of deliverance by Christ, but could not give the grace it shadowed, and therefore is opposed both to grace and truth.
But … the Gospel, which is a declaration of the love and grace of God to men, is God’s method of giving and increasing grace in the hearts of men. And “truth” is the substance of Christ, who is the truth, and of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Christ is the author of the Gospel. He fulfills the promises of the Gospels. He is the giver of all grace.
The Only Begotten Son
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:18
God is invisible: no has seen Him; but God’s only begotten, Christ, had declared God, which is to say that He had knowledge about Him and we can conclude that He also saw Him. He was begotten and knew God intimately and completely. Patriarchs and prophet of the Old Testament had seen God through a manifestation or symbol such as that of the cloud and the fire, but the manifestation of God in the person of Jesus Christ had never been done before! Jesus and the Father had intimacy, friendship, affection for each other. Jesus had knowledge of God just as we might have of a close friend.
May we be like the Baptist and desire that Jesus is always to be preferred over us. Adopt a low profile as far as it is possible – and hold up the Savior.
Thank You for reading and God Bless!