John 1:15-18

Henry Mahan

Put these two verses together–Verses 1 and 14.

(Vs. 15) It was of this Person that John bore witness saying, "THIS IS HE OF WHOM I SPAKE." Our gospel is concerning God's Son (Rom. 1:1-4). "HE THAT CAME AFTER ME." Historically John the Baptist was born into this world six months before Christ was born. But "He that is born after I was born WAS BEFORE ME." John is referring to the eternal existence, glory, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has all preeminence and is infinitely above the heavens, the angels, Moses, John, and all other creatures (Heb. 1:4; Heb. 3:3' Heb. 7:22-24). He is preferred before all.

(Vs. 16) The word "FULNESS" is another term, which brings out the absolute deity, glory, and sufficiency of Christ. The same word is found in Col. 1:19 and Col. 2:9. 'All the fulness of God's glory, person, grace, mercy, peace, life, joy, and purpose dwells in Jesus Christ. "AND OF HIS FULNESS (His abundance) HAVE ALL WE (believers) RECEIVED" all that we need for time and eternity (I Cor. 1:30). "GRACE UPON GRACE" or God's favors heaped one upon an-other–favor upon favor, gift upon gift. "Ye are COMPLETE in Him."

(Vs. 17) "THE LAW WAS GIVEN THROUGH MOSES; GRACE AND TRUST CAME BY JESUS CHRIST." A contrast is drawn between law and grace. The law (Moral and Levitical) was given to Moses or to men through Moses; it was not his own. But grace and truth were not given to Christ, for these are His own essential perfections, Moses received from God the law, which manifested what God righteously demanded of men and what men ought to do and be. The law is holy, just, and good. It demands obedience, and the only alternative is death. It is inflexible in its claims and remits no part of its penalty (Gal. 3:10). Such a law could never justify nor show mercy to a sinner. For this it was never given! The terror Israel displayed at the giving of the law is the terror felt by every sinner who truly understands the law (Exod. 20:18-19), for it is the ministration of condemnation and of death. Did the law reveal all of God's attributes? No! Did the law reveal the love and grace of God? No! The law revealed God's justice; but it did not make known His mercy! The law testified to His righteousness, but it did not exhibit His grace. The law was God's "truth," but not the "full truth" about God Himself. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." We NEVER read "by the law is the knowledge of God" (Rom. 8:3-4).

"GRACE AND TRUTH CAME BY JESUS CHRIST." These are fitly and inseparably joined together. We cannot have grace without truth, nor truth without grace. Those who reject grace, reject truth; and those who reject truth, reject grace. "Grace reigns THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:21). The grace, which saves a sinner, is no mere moral weakness nor sentimental gesture such as We find in human government. It is grace, which is established on the principles of an HONORED LAW and a SATISFIED JUSTICE (Rom. 3:23-26). Grace does not ignore the law nor set aside its requirements; no, it "ESTABLISHES THE LAW" (Rom. 3:31). Grace establishes the law because it has a Substitute Who perfectly fulfilled the law and endured the death penalty for all who believe, in order that God may be both just and justifier! Was there no grace and truth before Christ came in the flesh? Of course there was, for He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Law manifests what is in men – sin. Grace manifests what is in God – love. Law demands righteousness from men. Grace brings righteousness to men. Law sentences men to death. Grace brings dead men to life. Law speaks of what men must do. Grace tells what Christ has done. Law gives a knowledge of sin. Grace puts away sin.

(Vs. 18) This verse summarizes the whole of these first 18 verses. "NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANYTIME" (Exod. 33:18-23). True character is not declared in a person's "back parts," but in his face (II Cor. 4:6). But the only begotten Son has told out, revealed, unveiled, and displayed unto us the Father (John 14:8-9). The only begotten Son, in becoming flesh, did not leave His place of inseparable union with the Father; for it does not say, "The Son which WAS," but "THE SON WHICH IS IN THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER." God is fully revealed, for the Son has DECLARED Him. How we ought to honor, reverence, and worship the Lord Jesus Christ!

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.


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