Salvation is of the Lord; it is from God alone. To Him be the glory, majesty, power and dominion, both now and forevermore! For He is the God of all glory and of grace. Out of Him, through Him, and unto Him are all things. This is particularly true when we receive the benefits of God’s covenant in Christ Jesus.
We are given to see something of the deep background, the height and depth, the length and breadth, of this salvation, here in the context of John 1:18. This section is known as the “prologue” of John’s Gospel. Here we are afforded a glimpse into the deep background of God’s essence and work, of the relationship of God and man, Creator and creature.
In the beginning was the Word (Logos)! The Word was in the beginning with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made!
This explains the deep mystery of God, of His Son, of Creation. It is the exegesis of Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And again, “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)
Emphatically this makes the Logos, the Son, very God, the only Begotten Son in the bosom of the Father. He who denies this is antichrist. He denies and opposes all that is of God, Denies God in Christ! He that has the Son has life, and he that does not have the Son does not have life.
There is in all of creation not any light, no speech of God in the creature if it were not for this Logos. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The truth of God is manifested before the eyes of every man. No, the world does not recognize this speech correctly. They did not know him.
Even, in the sphere of the Old Testament Covenant, as God tabernacled amongst His people in the types and shadows, His own things, the people of Israel did not know him by and large, even in the glory of the Shekinah. He came unto His own things, and His own did not receive Him.
Thus in bold and clear strokes the apostle sketches us the history of the world, the history of the Logos before he was made flesh in history. This is called by theologians the “Logos a-sarkos,” not-flesh. But then came the great central “moment” in history. It is the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation. He who did not need to deem it robbery to be equal with God came in the form of a man, a servant. (Phil. 2) God was manifested in the flesh. The Word (Logos) was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!
And it is in this situation and background that we read “And from His fulness have we all received, even grace for grace” (John 1:18)
Most emphatically this “fulness” (pleeroma) is the fulness of Him, the Word made flesh. This is important to notice. It means that all the fulness of the godhead dwells in Him bodily, that is, in the incarnated Son. (Col. 2:8, 9) God tabernacled in our midst, still tabernacles in our midst, in him; He makes his abode and resting-place in our midst.
It is important to notice this and to confess this basic fact of the incarnation lest we be carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight and cunning of men. We must not be carried away by the false teaching and philosophy of men, which are the rudiments of man void of the Spirit, and which rudiments are not according to Christ. It is the false teaching off man which ever denies that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ. It ever denies that it was the Father’s good pleasure that all the fulness should dwell in Christ, both those things which are in heaven and which are upon earth. We must deem it established as the rock of Gibraltar that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!
Only thus can we seriously consider that it is “His fulness”. It is the fulness of the Son, who has life in Himself even as the Father hath life in Him. He is able, even as the Father, to forgive sins on earth. When we consider the term “fulness,” we should notice that in the active sense the term refers to that which fills a given measure. It is then the last drop of water which fills the vessel. On the other hand if the term be taken passively it refers to the entire content of the vessel, every drop of water in the pail, including the last drop. We take fulness here to refer to all that is in the measure of Christ.
We must bear in mind that here is a measure which knows no limit. The apostle Paul, speaking of this fulness from the viewpoint of God’s love, speaks of the length and breadth, the height and depth, that surpasses all knowledge. He speaks of a God who is exceedingly able to do far above all that we can ask or think; The fulness is immense, deeper than the sea, higher than the heavens, as far as the. East is from the West! This is true of every perfection of grace in Christ. It is not only true of the love, but also true of grace, mercy and peace, of the power and might to save!
And this fulness was displayed by Christ in all His wonders, miracles, His mighty deeds. The lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were called to life. It was all the fulness of the godhead in Him bodily. Thus it was the fulness of the godhead in Him sustaining Him in his suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. And all the fulness and super abounding greatness, the full immensity of this power of his might was shown, in the resurrection from the dead, when he came forth triumphantly! And then he went, to heaven; in the fulness of the power of His Godhead which was in Him bodily He ascended. And in that same fulness of blessing which he received from God by the. promise of the Spirit, he bestows these great gifts upon us, showers of blessings! All the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Of this “fulness” of Christ we have a picture in the broken bread and poured out wine. For this fulness which flows to us from the wells of salvation can be ours only when the foundation is opened. It was opened to us in the Word made flesh, in His suffering, death, and resurrection. At the table of the Lord we receive from this fulness by faith even as we do so in the washing of baptism, the washing of regeneration. And it is from a fulness, a well which never grows dry.
Our text argues for the reality of this “fulness”. It’s real, O, it’s real. It is the argument from experience here! It is an appeal to the sanctified and believing heart and consciousness of all who were born not of flesh, nor of the will of men, nor of bloods, but who were born out of God! (Vs. 13) For all have not received from this fulness, nor did all drink waters from this well to quench their thirst forever!
No, the argument is from experience. And the writer appeals to a very wide audience. The Greek text emphasizes this exclusiveness of this very broad audience. “We all” have received from His fulness. “We,” not all, have received. Yet, all of the living, reborn members in the church have received from this fulness! None are excepted from this emphatic confession! The fulness is in Him. The Word was made flesh. Proof and evidence? We all received from His fulness!
Yes, this is a dogmatic truth. It belongs to the structural truths of the Christian religion. Here is Theology, Anthropology, Christiology, Soteriology, with all the Eschatological perspectives and prospects of seeing God as He is, face to face! Yet, it is not simply a dogmatic, logical statement of the truth. It is the highest polemic of faith which will not meet the unbeliever on his own ground of unbelief, but where the believers stand in joyful confession as those who have drunk from the brook in the way, and have now lifted up their head in earnest expectation. Here is a giving account of the hope which is in us to those who demand an answer!
And here we stand in never-ending streams of mercy!
The text says that we receive from this fullness “grace for grace.” Much has been said about the meaning of this phrase. The interpretation, which would make our receiving grace a work which we perform by grace, is against the plain teaching of Christ and all the Scriptures. This is basically the teaching of Roman Catholicism. Better is the interpretation which makes the sense “grace after grace.” When the one grace has been given from the fulness and we have received from this, then God has another grace in store for us from this fulness. And, O, these graces can be so manifold in our life, more than we can count. We have a recounting of them in Psalm 103. Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and forget not all his benefits; pardon of sins, right to life, hope of the resurrection, reviving of our spirits day by day, morning, noon and night!
Yes, grace for grace. No, we could not have received such a fulness from Moses. He is the law-giver, a faithful servant in God’s house! But the Son is the Builder! Grace and truth became a reality in Him. Yes, grace became a reality in Christ. That is the fulness in Him. And from this fulness have we all received. Grace for grace! O, for a thousand tongues to speak of it! Yea, one good tongue, touched with coals from the altar of God. A people prepared by God Himself to proclaim the praises of this fulness! For this is the “truth” which was implicit in all the types and shadows of the law given by Moses. This was exemplified in all the things of the temple to which Christ came. He came and tabernacled in our midst. He fit exactly into this temple. He fulfilled it. He did more than fill the temple with His glory. He realized it and went to heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the majesty of God, the very effulgence of His glory, the expressed image of His being. Thus grace and truth became a reality in Him!
And now we have the pledge and assurance!
We have the proof of it. We have received from his fulness. Well did John speak of him, and he cried and still cries concerning (peri) him: this was the one of whom I spake! He that cometh after me is preferred before me. He was before me.
And Jesus says: Before Abraham was, I am!
And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord for he hath done excellent things . . . Cry out thou inhabitant of Zion: For Great is the holy One of Israel in His fulness in the midst of thee! (Isaiah 12:4-6)