Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 4, 2007

Lesson 3: John 1:14-18

Text: John 1:14-18

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God,[d] who is at the Father’s side,[e] he has made him known.

Brief Commentary on the Text:

As we arrive at the conclusion of the prologue to this Gospel we reach the climax with the proclamation of wonderful news. As difficult as it was to improve upon what was previously said the Apostle John accomplishes it in the articulation of these few verses.  Here John explicitly conveys to us the marvelous, but mysterious truth of the incarnation (Latin for “taking on flesh”).  In the previous verses, John explained that we are children of God.  However, elsewhere Scripture explains that we are children through adoption (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:5, and Eph 1:5).  He now explains, however that the one and only true Son of God is the Word described in previous verses.  The Son of God who is the Light of men, who possesses life and who created all things took on a human body (Rom 1:3, Gal 4:4, Phil 2:7, 1 Tim 3:16) and dwelled among us.  This has numerous significant ramifications, however it appears that the Apostle seems to be emphasizing a particular point in this climax to the introduction.  God’s revelation to man, which had up to this point in history come through other men by visions, dreams and mysterious ways, was now being fully and explicitly expressed in the Word made flesh.  This was the climax or culmination of all God’s revelation in the fact that Christ who was at the Father’s side has “made him known”.  All the previous prophets through types and shadows from Moses to John the Baptist pointed to this one who was the fulfillment of those types and shadows.  From the fullness of this revelation we would receive the fullness of the grace of God, which would be our salvation secured by the Word made flesh from our sin and misery.

In the Old Testament God dwelled in the midst of His people in a limited way through the tabernacle and later the temple. Israel beheld His glory, however that glory departed from their midst when the temple was destroyed.  Here John is conveying to his audience that something greater had occurred something extremely special took place.  Emmanuel “God with us” actually happened, not through a mediatory object such as the tabernacle or temple, but in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Although, this incarnation did occur to reveal special information this was not the only reason for it.  He came to accomplish a mission and to do the will of the one who sent Him.  Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Heb 10:5-10

Study Questions:

1.  What was the significance of the Word becoming flesh? 

And the Speech was made flesh:  The word Flesh expresses the meaning of the Evangelist more forcibly than if he had said that he was made man.  He intended to show to what a mean and despicable condition the Son of God, on our account, descended from the height of his heavenly glory.  When Scripture speaks of man contemptuously, it calls him flesh.  Now, though there be so wide a distance between the spiritual glory of the Speech of God and the abominable filth of our flesh, yet the Son of God stooped so low as to take upon himself that flesh, subject to so many miseries.15 

 2.  What was the significance of the Word dwelling among us?       

3.  When did John see the glory of Jesus?  Who else refers to this incident?  

4.  Why is Jesus the one and only true Son of God? 

As of the only-begotten of the Father:  He calls him the Only-begotten, because he is the only Son of God by nature; as if he would place him above men and angels, and would claim for him alone what belongs to no creature. 16 

5.  What is significant about the quotation from John the Baptist? 

John testifieth:  He now relates what was the preaching of John.  By using the verb testifieth (marturei) in the present tense, he denotes a continued act, and certainly this doctrine must be continually in force, as if the voice of John were continually resounding in the ears of men. In the same manner he afterwards uses the word cry, to intimate that the doctrine of John was in no degree obscure or ambiguous, and that he did not mutter among a few men, but openly, and with a loud voice, preached Christ.17 

6.  How is grace upon grace received from His fullness?  

And out of his fullness:  He begins now to preach about the office of Christ, that it contains within itself an abundance of all blessings, so that no part of salvation must be sought anywhere else.  True, indeed, the fountain of life, righteousness, virtue, and wisdom, is with God, but to us it is a hidden and inaccessible fountain.  But an abundance of those things is exhibited to us in Christ, that we may be permitted to have recourse to him; for he is ready to flow to us, provided that we open up a channel by faith. 18 

7.  Why is the Law of Moses contrasted here with the coming of Jesus Christ?   

For the Law was given by Moses:  For while the Evangelist points out briefly the distinction between the Old and New Testaments (which is more fully described in Jeremiah 31:31) he includes in this word all that relates to spiritual righteousness.  Now this righteousness consists of two parts; first, that God is reconciled to us by free grace, in not imputing to us our sins; and, secondly, that he has engraven his law in our hearts, and, by his Spirit, that the Law is incorrectly and falsely expounded, if there are any whose attention it fixes on itself, or whom it hinders from coming to Christ.19 

8.  Who is the only God referenced by John?  Is this describing a plurality of God’s since God the Father is distinguished? 

No man hath ever seen God:  Most appropriately is this added to confirm the preceding statement; for the knowledge of God is the door by which we enter into the enjoyment of all blessings; and as it is by Christ alone that God makes himself known to us, hence too it follows that we ought to seek all things from Christ.20 

9.  How has God the Son explained the Father? 

No man hath ever seen God:  He therefore magnifies the manifestation of God, which has been brought to us by the gospel, in which he distinguishes us from the fathers, and shows that we are superior to them; as also Paul explains more fully in the Third and Fourth chapters of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians.  For he maintains that there is now no longer any vail, such as existed under the Law, but that God is openly beheld in the face of Christ. 21 

15 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 45

16 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 47

17 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 49

18 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 50

19 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 53

20 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 53

21 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 54

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