Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Grace after Grace 

“Because from His fullness we’ve all received, and grace after grace.
Because the Law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”
John 1:16, 17

A few comments on translation:
·         The word translated “fullness” (Greek – pleroma) here probably has the same meaning as it does in Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1:19; 2:9), the completeness of Christ’s Deity.
·         The word I translated “after” is usually translated “upon.”  It is the Greek word anti, which usually means “instead of.”  It is used in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) of a king succeeding his father.  (So and so reigned anti his father so and so.)  In other words we receive a succession of graces.
·         The word I translated “came about” is a form of the Greek word ginomai.  It doesn’t simply mean “came” in the sense of “arrived,” but often has the idea of “come into being,” which I believe is the sense here.

John has been talking about the preexistence and deity of “the Word” (1:1, 2), as well as His incarnation (1:14).  In verse 17, he tells his readers who the Word is known as in His human form:  Jesus Christ (Messiah).  In verse 16, he says that Jesus is the source of graces which come on us in succession.

But in verse 17, he makes a radical claim.  He draws an analogy between Moses and Jesus and their accomplishments.  Moses was the giver of the Law.  And certainly those who have read the first five books of the Bible know the accounts of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  Of course, there was law before Moses, but he is the one through whom God delivered His covenant Law to Israel.

In similar fashion, though God had always been characterized by grace and truth, it is the Word, Jesus Christ through whom God brought His grace into being.

Of course, we know, from reading the Gospels, as well as from our own experience, that Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth.  But it seems that John is speaking of even more than the New Testament experience.  It was through the Word, the One who is referred to by Christians as the Second Person of the Trinity, that God exercised His grace in the Old Testament.

The next verse adds to this claim: “No one has seen God at any time; the unique God (some manuscripts have “Son” here) who is in the Father’s bosom, He has explained Him” (1:18).

From this, it would seem that we could conclude that in those instances where God appeared in the Old Testament, it was the Word, the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity that was seen.  So then, God’s appearances and His works of grace in the Old Testament period were actually the appearances and works of the Son.


gary said...

thanks bill,The older I get the more I understand that I have just scratched the surface of looking into God’s revelation of himself. Awesome God! In The beginning of the torah ,Moses introduces readers to first Elohim and then to Yahweh. one in the same god. Then in the preamble to the ten commandments(ten words I was told), god spoke again reminding them who he is and why they should obey him. Then in john we have the I am in the flesh. Can’t get any better than this revealing this God who is soooo patient and soooo loving. Someone said that we can’t know peoples thoughts until they express them in some form. The word is an expression of thoughts. Sounds interesting. All these teachings begin to come together, then the next thing I really don’t understand well appears and there seems like so little time before we meet Him face to face. Will I be that surprised by so little I know about Him. I think so. Thanks.

Canadian Atheist said...

I would think those who practice Judaism would have something to say about your interpretation of the scriptures, since they don't believe Jesus was the Messiah. :)

I enjoyed the read. Thanks for writing it, Bill.

Bill Ball said...

CA: A few Jews do believe thhat Jesus is the Messiah. Of course the most important Jew who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is Jesus. :^)

Canadian Atheist said...

You said: A few Jews do believe thhat Jesus is the Messiah. Of course the most important Jew who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is Jesus. :^

I'm friends with quite a few Rabbi's. They don't believe Jesus was the Messiah. They also don't seek to convert anyone.

As for the second assertion, you'd have to prove both Jesus as being the son of God and that he existed. Even if you think he existed (which I do) that is not proof that he was the son of God. He was probably a preacher who was voted to be the son of God by a power hungry Emperor. His message was then twisted into what Christians believe today. If you read the Gnostic scriptures, you will see Jesus portrayed as something very different than the NT, heavily edited and mistranslated version that Christians follow today.

gary said...

most people just say that jesus died for our sins. that is true. however, he was given the death penalty(by popular vote) and executed because of his claims to be the only true eternal son of god . the popular vote was over ruled a few days later by one person.