Verse of the Day Devotion John 1:16
“For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” – John 1:16
John chapter one speaks of the promised Messiah coming into the world. First, He is the Word who was from the beginning with God and in fact was God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1. And he eventually came into this world as the promised Messiah. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14. Therefore, this one who has come to us is God in the form of man. John the Baptist spoke of Him saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” John 1:15. Now remember that John was born before Jesus was, therefore, his reference to Him having existed prior to himself must refer to ‘from the beginning’.
Then we see our focus verse. “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16. What does this mean? There are many interpretations as to what this means. But after much time looking into this, I want to present this viewpoint. But we must first go into the Old Testament for some background. First, God created the heavens and the earth. Then He created all the animals and plant life, and ultimately man in His own image. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27. But man, disobeyed God and was then removed from the Garden of Eden and not allowed to return. Note, He did not kill them, but promised a way of reconciliation. “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15.
Then God, as recorded in Genesis twenty, gave the Law to His people. However, again they broke His Law. However, they were given the means of repentance by way of sacrifices. There were two mandatory sacrifices regarding sin. The first was the sin offering. The purpose of the sin offering was to atone for sin and cleanse from defilement. And the other mandatory sacrifice was the trespass offering, and this sacrifice was exclusively a ram. The trespass offering was given as atonement for unintentional sins that required reimbursement to an offended party, and as a cleansing from defiling sins or physical maladies.
In all these instances, both regarding Adam and Eve and the Jewish people, God provided grace to His people. Adam and Eve were not killed, but they were removed from the garden. And with the sacrifices, He provided a means by which they could be forgiven. But only past sins, not future also.
And now back to our focus verse, “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16. In verse fourteen we read, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. We see here the Jesus, the Word who became flesh, was full of grace and truth. And it is through this truth that we understand God’s grace as exhibited by Jesus. Grace used to come via the works of the law and the sacrifices they made for sin, however, Jesus took on the work of salvation for us, and we do not need to do anything but believe and become Jesus’ follower. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
The primary focus is on this grace, as is evident in what follows the parenthetical reference in verse 15 to the Baptist’s witness. The Son is not simply full of grace; he has a fullness from which he shares with others. The verse reads literally, “For from his fullness we all (have) received even grace upon grace.” In part the image may be of an unending supply of grace like the water he will offer the Samaritan woman. The grace within the law was a grace that came through works. However, Jesus brings a grace that is a gift from God, which is infinitely greater than the former grace. This is a grace that we accept from Him which, in essence, replaces or ‘covers’ the grace that was offered before. This grace was technically offered from before creation for He knew we would fall. And remember what God spoke to Adam and Eve. “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15. The Christ will address the enemy and defeat him, and because of this, He will provide the grace we need through His death. This is grace upon grace we now have access to grace that goes beyond what we do, and through His death and resurrection, we can receive grace unimaginable; the grace which covers all sins, past and future, through His work which completes the overall work of grace.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.