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John 1:16

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he appeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from which alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our receivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace; we have received "even grace," a gift so great, so rich, so invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten and beloved Son.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 135

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 135.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 310

“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 310.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 394

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 394.2

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 276.5

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 276.5

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 521

The apostle exhorted the believers to study the Scriptures, through a proper understanding of which they might make sure work for eternity. Peter realized that in the experience of every soul who is finally victorious there would be scenes of perplexity and trial; but he knew also that an understanding of the Scriptures would enable the tempted one to bring to mind promises that would comfort the heart and strengthen faith in the Mighty One. AA 521.1

“All flesh is as grass,” he declared, “and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evilspeakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” AA 521.2

Many of the believers to whom Peter addressed his letters, were living in the midst of heathen, and much depended on their remaining true to the high calling of their profession. The apostle urged upon them their privileges as followers of Christ Jesus. “Ye are a chosen generation,” he wrote, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. AA 521.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 544

The lessons of Christ, setting forth meekness and humility and love as essential to growth in grace and a fitness for His work, were of the highest value to John. He treasured every lesson and constantly sought to bring his life into harmony with the divine pattern. John had begun to discern the glory of Christ—not the worldly pomp and power for which he had been taught to hope, but “the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. AA 544.1

The depth and fervor of John's affection for his Master was not the cause of Christ's love for him, but the effect of that love. John desired to become like Jesus, and under the transforming influence of the love of Christ he did become meek and lowly. Self was hid in Jesus. Above all his companions, John yielded himself to the power of that wondrous life. He says, “The life was manifested, and we have seen it.” “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” 1 John 1:2; John 1:16. John knew the Saviour by an experimental knowledge. His Master's lessons were graven on his soul. When he testified of the Saviour's grace, his simple language was eloquent with the love that pervaded his whole being. AA 544.2

It was John's deep love for Christ which led him always to desire to be close by His side. The Saviour loved all the Twelve, but John's was the most receptive spirit. He was younger than the others, and with more of the child's confiding trust he opened his heart to Jesus. Thus he came more into sympathy with Christ, and through him the Saviour's deepest spiritual teaching was communicated to the people. AA 545.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 250

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 250.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 338

I hope the managers of the Battle Creek school and Sanitarium will consider this matter prayerfully, intelligently, and without partiality. Instead of over-educating a few, enlarge the sphere of your charities. Resolve that the means which you mean to use in educating workers for the cause shall not be expended simply upon one, enabling him to get more than he really needs, while others are left without anything at all. Give students a start, but do not feel that it is your duty to carry them year after year. It is their duty to get out into the field to work, and it is your place to extend your charities to others who are in need of assistance. FE 338.1

Christ's work was not done in such a way as to dazzle men with His superior abilities. He came forth from the bosom of the All-wise, and could have astonished the world with the great and glorious knowledge which He possessed; yet He was reticent and uncommunicative. It was not His mission to overwhelm them with the immensity of His talents, but to walk in meekness and lowliness, that He might instruct the ignorant in the ways of salvation. Too great devotion to study, even of true science, creates an abnormal appetite, which increases as it is fed. This creates a desire to secure more knowledge than is essential to do the work of the Lord. The pursuit of knowledge merely for its own sake diverts the mind from devotion to God, checks advance along the path of practical holiness, and hinders souls from traveling in the way which leads to a holier, happier life. The Lord Jesus imparted only such a measure of instruction as could be utilized. My brethren, your way of representing the necessity for years of study is not pleasing to God. FE 338.2

The Lord Jesus would have men trade upon their talents, and Jesus has promised that He will give grace for grace. As we impart to others, we shall receive more richly. And as we thus labor, the mind will not become clogged with a mass of matter which has been crowded into it with no opportunity to impart what has been received. The student becomes a mental dyspeptic by being crammed with much that he cannot use. Much time has been wasted, and the progressive usefulness of students hindered, by the teaching of that which cannot be utilized by the Spirit of God. FE 338.3

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Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 112.1

And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16, R.S.V. AG 112.1

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 188.2

We have every encouragement that if we daily surrender our wills to God the promise will be fulfilled, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Every revealing of the grace of Christ in our behalf is for us. We are to reveal His grace in our lives, in thought, word, and deed.... We are to represent the mercy, the love, and the power of Christ—the power that He has given us.... HP 188.2

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 183.5

They will give sympathy, not grudgingly but liberally; by kindly words and acts they will try to make the path just as easy for weary feet as they desire the path to be made for their feet. As we receive daily and hourly the blessing of God, we can do no less to show our gratitude than to have a kindly, unselfish interest in those for whom Christ has died. Have we blessings? Yes, we have. Well, Christ says, Pass them along to others, not to a favored few, but to all with whom we come in contact. We must give grace for grace. OHC 183.5

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 285.4

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 285.4

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 166

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 166.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 203

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 203.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 94

This is the testimony that must go throughout the length and breadth of the world. It presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole. (See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter.) These precious scriptures will be impressed upon every heart that is opened to receive them. “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple”—those who are contrite in heart. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” These have not a mere nominal faith, a theory of truth, a legal religion, but they believe to a purpose, appropriating to themselves the richest gifts of God. They plead for the gift, that they may give to others. They can say, “Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” TM 94.1

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” TM 94.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 205

It is when we are engaged in earnest work, working according to our several abilities, that God manifests Himself to us, and gives us grace for grace. A working church in travail for souls will be a praying church, a believing church, and a receiving church. A church whose members are found upon their knees before God, supplicating His mercy, seeking Him daily, is a church that is feeding upon the bread of life, and drinking of the waters of life. The promise, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you,” will be verified to them. TM 205.1

Christlike activity pursued with persevering zeal will bring large returns. There will be an enlarged experience in love, and the human agents will have elevated views as to what God would do through them as they stand at their post of duty. Then will the church arise and shine, realizing that the glory of the Lord has risen upon her, and that darkness is receding. TM 205.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 257.7

Christ has made every provision for us to be children of God. Oh, my heart says, Praise His holy name that of His fullness we can receive grace for grace. Let us strive, by receiving His word, to reach the high standard of perfection. We are safe only when seeking the qualities that make us children of God, possessors of sanctified excellence.—Letter 155, September 5, 1902, to Judge and Mrs. Arthur, Adventist attorney at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. TDG 257.7

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 329.3

We have every encouragement that, if we daily surrender our wills to God, the promise will be fulfilled, “And of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Every revealing of the grace of Christ in our behalf is for us. We are to reveal His grace in our lives, in thought, word, and deed. Let us not lose our opportunity to speak and act Christ Jesus. We are to represent the mercy, the love, and the power of Christ—the power that He has given us.... TDG 329.3

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Ellen G. White
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 21

God has poured out His love unstintedly, as the showers that refresh the earth. He says, “Let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.” “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” Isaiah 45:8; 41:17, 18. MB 21.1

“Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16. MB 21.2

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