“And of his fulness have all we received,
and grace for grace.”
~ John 1:16
Before us is a short verse that is long on precious truth. In the previous verse, The Baptist exalts Christ declaring, “For he was before me.” John was six months older than Jesus was by birth. However, John is exalting Christ’s deity and eternality by saying, “He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.”
He continues in the sixteenth verse by declaring Jesus to be the possessor of Divine fullness and the source of “grace and truth.” He points to the Lamb of God as the benevolent Savior conferring His grace unto “as many as received him.” Let us now consider this verse and rejoice in the grace of Christ.
Firstly, we behold the fullness of Christ. The fourteenth verse reveals that He is “full of grace and truth.” In the epistle to the Colossians we are told, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). We also read that “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). These are truly “unsearchable riches.” In Him are all things that we could ever need or want. In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Nowhere could we go and find the treasure we have in our Savior. Paul consoled the Philippians saying, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Secondly, there is mention of the benefactors of the Divine fullness in Christ. “And of his fulness have all we received.” There is no doubt this refers to the saints, to “as many as received him,” and whose “life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Jesus delights to do the will of the Father and thereby confers grace upon all the chosen people of God. He reveals this part of His divine mission when praying to the Father in John chapter 17 verses 2 and 3.
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
This truth is a source of comfort and warms our hearts.
Thirdly, it is intimated what we have received. “Grace for grace.” Some of the old commentators saw it as grace on top of grace. We could see it as a wonderful wall of grace. Upon the foundation of truth is laid stone upon stone of grace. It is daubed with the mortar of mercy and love and is completely covered by the blood. We receive grace and “more grace.” We read of God’s mercies, “They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). Whatever our condition, God extends grace, new and sufficient. We fly to Him in prayer. We cast all of our care upon Him. We spread our petitions before His throne and find a “throne of grace.” Praise God! For out “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
We also find here a progression or growth of “grace for grace.” We have received grace and exercised grace. We are not receivers only; we are to be givers as well. Jesus said, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). In other words, we receive grace in order to practice grace. As we grow in grace, we become measured reservoirs of grace that should flow out to others. We do not find Christ in the Gospels doing works for self-aggrandizement or for His own personal benefit. In the wilderness, He would not go beyond God’s command nor use His creative power to relieve His hunger with stones turned to bread. Likewise, we do not receive of Christ to exalt ourselves or benefit ourselves. The words of Him who came to minister are, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). If we are self-absorbed and self-important, the mind of Christ is not in us. We have received “grace for grace.”
I conclude that there is much here to comfort us and humble us as well. Later, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). An increase of grace means a decrease of self. Oh for increasing Christians today–increasing in grace, increasing in love, increasing in service! Oh for decreasing Christians today–decreasing in self, decreasing in worldliness, decreasing in pride, decreasing in sin. I pray that Christ will dwell in us richly and that He alone will be magnified in our life.