This verse should be put in place of the fifteenth, and the 15th inserted between the 18th and 19th, which appears to be its proper place: thus John's testimony is properly connected.
And of his fullness - Of the plenitude of his grace and mercy, by which he made an atonement for sin; and of the plenitude of his wisdom and truth, by which the mysteries of heaven have been revealed, and the science of eternal truth taught, we have all received: all we apostles have received grace or mercy to pardon our sins, and truth to enable us so to write and speak, concerning these things, that those who attend to our testimony shall be unerringly directed in the way of salvation, and with us continue to receive grace upon grace, one blessing after another, till they are filled with all the fullness of God. I believe the above to be the meaning of the evangelist, and think it improper to distract the mind of the reader with the various translations and definitions which have been given of the phrase, grace for grace. It is only necessary to add, that John seems here to refer to the Gospel as succeeding the law: the law was certainly a dispensation both of grace and truth; for it pointed out the gracious design of God to save men by Christ Jesus; and it was at least a most expressive and well-defined shadow of good things to come: but the Gospel, which had now taken place, introduced that plenitude of grace and truth to the whole world, which the law had only shadowed forth to the Jewish people, and which they imagined should have been restrained to themselves alone. In the most gracious economy of God, one dispensation of mercy and truth is designed to make way for, and to be followed by, another and a greater: thus the law succeeded the patriarchal dispensation, and the Gospel the law; more and more of the plenitude of the grace of the Gospel becomes daily manifest to the genuine followers of Christ; and, to those who are faithful unto death, a heaven full of eternal glory will soon succeed to the grace of the Gospel. To illustrate this point more fully, the following passage in Philo the Jew has been adduced: "God is always sparing of his first blessings or graces, (πρωτας χαριτας ), and afterwards gives other graces upon them, (αντ 'εκεινων ), and a third sort upon the second, and always new ones upon old ones, sometimes of a different kind, and at other times of the same sort." Vol. i. p. 254, ed. Mang. In the above passage the preposition αντι for, is used thrice in the sense of επι, upon. To confirm the above interpretation Bp. Pearce produces the following quotations. Ecclus 24:15: Χαρις επι χαριτι γυνη αισχυντηρα - A modest woman is a grace upon a grace, i.e. a double grace or blessing. Euripides uses the very same phrase with John, where he makes Theoclymenus say to Helena. Χαρις αντι χαριτος ελθετω, May grace upon grace come to you! Helen v. 1250. ed. Barn.
Of his fulness - In John 1:14 the evangelist has said that Christ was “full of grace and truth.” Of that “fullness” he now says that all the disciples had received; that is, they derived from his abundant truth and mercy grace to understand the plan of salvation, to preach the gospel, to live lives of holiness; they “partook” of the numerous blessings which he came to impart by his instructions and his death. These are undoubtedly not the words of John the Baptist, but of the evangelist John, the writer of this gospel. They are a continuation of what he was saying in John 1:14, John 1:15 being evidently thrown in as a parenthesis. The declaration had not exclusive reference, probably, to the apostles, but it is extended to all Christians, for all believers have received of the “fulness of grace and truth” that is in Christ. Compare Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9. In all these places our Saviour is represented as the fulness of God - as “abounding” in mercy, as exhibiting the divine attributes, and as possessing in himself all that is necessary to fill his people with truth, and grace, and love.
Grace for grace - Many interpretations of this phrase have been proposed. The chief are briefly the following:
1.“We have received under the gospel, grace or favor, ‹instead of‘ those granted under the law; and God has added by the gospel important favors to those which he gave under the law.” This was first proposed by Chrysostom.
2.“We, Christians, have received grace ‹answering to,‘ or corresponding to that which is in Jesus Christ. We are ‹like‘ him in meekness, humility,” etc.
3.“We have received grace ‹as grace‘ - that is, freely. We have not purchased it nor deserved it, but God has conferred it on us ‹freely‘” (Grotius).
4.The meaning is, probably, simply that we have received through him “abundance” of grace or favor. The Hebrews, in expressing the superlative degree of comparison, used simply to repeat the word - thus, “pits, pits,” meaning many pits (Hebrew in Genesis 14:10). So here grace for grace may mean “much” grace; superlative favors bestowed on man; favors superior to all that had been under the law - superior to all other things that God can confer on men. These favors consist in pardon, redemption, protection, sanctification, peace here, and heaven hereafter.
Jesus chose unlearned fishermen because they had not been schooled in the traditions and erroneous customs of their time. They were men of native ability, and they were humble and teachable,—men whom He could educate for His work. In the common walks of life there is many a man patiently treading the round of daily toil, unconscious that he possesses powers which, if called into action, would raise him to an equality with the world's most honored men. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse those dormant faculties. It was such men that Jesus called to be His colaborers; and He gave them the advantage of association with Himself. Never had the world's great men such a teacher. When the disciples came forth from the Saviour's training, they were no longer ignorant and uncultured. They had become like Him in mind and character, and men took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. DA 250.1
It is not the highest work of education to communicate knowledge merely, but to impart that vitalizing energy which is received through the contact of mind with mind, and soul with soul. It is only life that can beget life. What privilege, then, was theirs who for three years were in daily contact with that divine life from which has flowed every life-giving impulse that has blessed the world! Above all his companions, John the beloved disciple yielded himself to the power of that wondrous life. He says, “The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.” “Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” 1 John 1:2; John 1:16. DA 250.2
In the apostles of our Lord there was nothing to bring glory to themselves. It was evident that the success of their labors was due only to God. The lives of these men, the characters they developed, and the mighty work that God wrought through them, are a testimony to what He will do for all who are teachable and obedient. DA 250.3Read in context »
Satan is busily working with all who will give him encouragement. Those who have the light, but refuse to walk in it, will become confused, until darkness pervades their souls, and shapes their whole course of action. But the spirit of wisdom and goodness of God as revealed in His Word, will become brighter and brighter as they follow on in the path of true obedience. All the righteous demands of God will be met through sanctification of the Holy Spirit.… 1SM 166.1
There are great privileges and blessings for all who will humble themselves and fully consecrate their hearts to God. Great light will be given to them. When men are willing to be transformed, then they will be exercised unto godliness. 1SM 166.2
“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Says the Saviour: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20). 1SM 166.3Read in context »
And Jesus said He would give us the Comforter. What is the Comforter? It is the Holy Spirit of God. What is the Holy Spirit? It is the representative of Jesus Christ, it is our Advocate that stands by our side and places our petitions before the Father all fragrant with His merits. There He accepts the petition of the humblest saint. He doesn't ask you how much money you have, or how heavy you are loaded with property, but the very humblest saint that brings his petition to God, and [his] thank offering is made fragrant with the riches of His grace, and the Father accepts it as your offering, and the blessing comes to you, grace for grace. RC 285.4Read in context »
Partakers of the Divine Nature—It is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. God has plainly stated that He requires us to be perfect; and because He requires this, He has made provision that we may be partakers of the divine nature. Only thus can we gain success in our striving for eternal life. The power is given by Christ. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). 3SM 203.1
God requires of us conformity to His image. Holiness is the reflection from His people of the bright rays of His glory. But in order to reflect this glory, man must work with God. The heart and mind must be emptied of all that leads to wrong. The Word of God must be read and studied with an earnest desire to gain from it spiritual power. The bread of heaven must be eaten and digested, that it may become a part of the life. Thus we gain eternal life. Then is answered the prayer of the Saviour, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”—Letter 153, 1902. 3SM 203.2
Opinions and Practices to Be Conformed to God's Word—There are many who claim that they have been sanctified to God, and yet when the great standard of righteousness is presented to them they become greatly excited and manifest a spirit which proves that they know nothing of what it means to be sanctified. They have not the mind of Christ; for those who are truly sanctified will reverence and obey the Word of God as fast as it is opened to them, and they will express a strong desire to know what is truth on every point of doctrine. An exultant feeling is no evidence of sanctification. The assertion, “I am saved, I am saved,” does not prove that the soul is saved or sanctified. 3SM 203.3Read in context »