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The Word–Jn. 1:15-17 [9]

The Word–Jn. 1:15-17 [9]

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. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

After the mountain top statement of “the Word was made flesh” we see again that John the Baptist gives testimony to the Lord Jesus. This is a parenthesis in the narrative between v14 and v16. It’s an uncontainable interjection, John is almost bubbling over as he declares the arrival of the Messiah. This echoes the feeling of the Psalmist when he said “my heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King” (Ps. 45:1, NKJV). Just as “the noise of the trumpet” (Ex. 20:18) signalled the presence of God in the wilderness, the trumpeting of John’s voice announced the coming of the Word.

John testifies to the pre-eminence and pre-existence of the Lord Jesus. He said that his successor (in terms of service on Earth) is his superior, for he is actually his predecessor[1] (in terms of eternal existence). Paul concurs with John saying, in all things Christ has first place (Col. 1:18) and he is before all things (Col. 1:17) the Lord Jesus is the pre-eminent and eternal one.

John the apostle has already said that the Word was “full of grace and truth” and now says that the full streams of divine grace and truth can be traced back to a divine source. This source is a reservoir that is completely full and never ending. Paul identifies the divine reservoir saying; “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). The Lord Jesus is a full possessor of the divine nature, and from this full and complete source we have all drank. Even though his own have received from his fullness, he is still the full One. He never runs dry - he is inexhaustible. This is why the Lord Jesus could offer to everyone living water saying; “if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me… out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:37,38). When he fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes those finite resources were never exhausted because they were in infinite hands. Often when we give, our resources are diminished, but Christ as the divine one keeps on giving.

John says that we have received “grace for grace” meaning grace in exchange for grace, or grace upon grace. “Here the picture is “grace” taking the place of “grace” like the manna fresh each morning[2]. It’s like “one wave of grace being constantly replaced by a fresh one[3]. This echoes the sentiment of James who says “he giveth more grace” (Js. 4:6). This idea is evidenced throughout John’s gospel; Christ sends the Comforter as he is about to leave the world, he appears multiple times to his disciples as proof of his resurrection, and he regularly confronts the religious Pharisees so that by the end of the gospel Nicodemus is saved. This is grace upon grace.

The Lord Jesus provides grace daily but has also provided grace dispensationally. The law given through the mediatorship of Moses could not help man but ultimately condemned him. Not that the law was void of grace, but that God dealt with man in a way that showed him his disease. Before we could appreciate the cure of salvation, we first had to understand the rottenness of sin. The coming of the Lord Jesus fulfilled and surpassed Old Testament revelation, he did not compromise God’s truth but rather established it. In perfect harmony with this truth was grace, it was not one at the expense of the other or both in competition but a perfect and consistent blend of truth and grace in one person. This is why he said to the woman caught in the act of adultery “neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11), this is why he healed on the sabbath day saying; “my Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jn. 5:17). In the Lord Jesus “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10). The arrival of Christ signalled a better mediator, a better dispensation, a better covenant and a perfect person.


[1] M R Vincent: Vincent's Word Studies, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-1.html

[2] A T Robertson: Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-1.html

[3] F F Bruce: The Gospel of John - Introduction, Exposition, and Notes

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart – A Spiritual Perspective [4]

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart – A Spiritual Perspective [4]

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–You’ll Never Walk Alone [3]

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–You’ll Never Walk Alone [3]