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.
Because of the ransom paid for him, man, by his own choice, by obedience, may accomplish the design of God, and through the grace given of God bear the image that was first impressed upon him, and afterwards lost through the fall.... 3SM 135.1
Christ's Obedience Not Altogether Different From Ours—The great teacher came into our world, not only to atone for sin but to be a teacher both by precept and example. He came to show man how to keep the law in humanity, so that man might have no excuse for following his own defective judgment. We see Christ's obedience. His life was without sin. His lifelong obedience is a reproach to disobedient humanity. The obedience of Christ is not to be put aside as altogether different from the obedience He requires of us individually. Christ has shown us that it is possible for all humanity to obey the laws of God.... 3SM 135.2
The work of Christ was not a divided heart service. Christ came not to do his own will but the will of Him that sent Him. Jesus says, “Step in the footprints of my Sonship in all obedience. I obey as in partnership with the great firm. You are to obey as in co-partnership with the Son of God. Often you will not see the path clearly; then ask of God, and He will give you wisdom and courage and faith to move forward, leaving all issues with Him.” We want to comprehend so far as possible the truly human nature of our Lord. The divine and human were linked in Christ, and both were complete. 3SM 135.3Read in context »
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.... And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:11-16). 1SM 310.1
Those who are adopted into the family of God are transformed by His Spirit. Self-indulgence and supreme love for self are changed for self-denial and supreme love for God. No man inherits holiness as a birthright, nor can he, by any methods that he can devise, become loyal to God. “Without me,” Christ says, “ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Human righteousness is as “filthy rags.” But with God all things are possible. In the strength of the Redeemer, weak, erring man can become more than conqueror over the evil that besets him. 1SM 310.2Read in context »
Abundant grace has been provided that the believing soul may be kept free from sin; for all heaven, with its limitless resources, has been placed at our command. We are to draw from the well of salvation. Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believeth. In ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we are righteous. Having made us righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ, God pronounces us just, and treats us as just. He looks upon us as His dear children. Christ works against the power of sin, and where sin abounded, grace much more abounds. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1, 2). 1SM 394.1
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). [John 1:14-16 quoted.] 1SM 394.2Read in context »
You represent Christ in true goodness of character, and understand what these words signify: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.... And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:14-16). You receive grace, you develop grace; and as you reveal grace in your words, in your spirit and actions, God pours upon you a larger measure of grace. In proportion as you surrender yourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit you are supplied with heavenly grace. You are molded and fashioned a vessel unto honor, and become a channel through which God makes manifest His grace to the world.36 TMK 276.5Read in context »