The law was given by Moses - Moses received the law from God, and through him it was given to the Jews, Acts 7:38.
But grace and truth - Which he had already mentioned, and which were to be the subject of the book which he was now writing, came to all mankind through Jesus Christ, who is the mediator of the new covenant, as Moses was of the old: Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Galatians 3:19. See a fine discourse on this text by Mr. Claude, "Essay on the Composition of a Sermon," vol. i. p. 119, etc. edit. Lond. 1788.
The law of Moses, however excellent in itself, was little in comparison of the Gospel: as it proceeded from the justice and holiness of God, and was intended to convict men of sin, that the way of the Gospel might be the better prepared, it was a law of rigour, condemnation, and death: Romans 4:15; 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:8. It was a law of shadows, types, and figures: Hebrews 10:1, and incapable of expiating sin by its sacrifices: Romans 8:3; Hebrews 7:18, Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:11. But Christ has brought that grace which is opposed to condemnation: Romans 5:15, Romans 5:20, Romans 5:21; Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:10; and he is himself the spirit and substance of all those shadows: Colossians 2:19; Hebrews 10:1.
Jesus Christ - Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, or anointed prophet, priest, and king, sent from heaven. To what has already been said on the important name Jesus, (See Matthew 1:21; (note), and the places there referred to), I shall add the following explanation, chiefly taken from Professor Schultens, who has given a better view of the ideal meaning of the root ישע yasha, than any other divine or critic.
He observes that this root, in its true force, meaning, and majesty, both in Hebrew and Arabic, includes the ideas of amplitude, expansion, and space, and should be translated, he was spacious-open-ample; and, particularly, he possessed a spacious or extensive degree or rank: and is applied,
Hence we may learn the true meaning of Zechariah 9:9; : Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion - behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is Just, and having Salvation: - הושיע - he is possessed of all power to enrich, strengthen, teach, enlarge, and raise to glory and happiness, them who trust in him. Man by nature is in want and poverty: in abjectness and weakness: in darkness and ignorance: in straits and captivity: in wretchedness and infamy. His Redeemer is called ישועה Jesus - he who looses, enlarges, and endows with salvation.
And the aggregate of these is Salvation. Hence that saying, His name shall be called Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. See Schultens Origines Hebraeae, p. 15.
The law was given - The Old Testament economy. The institutions under which the Jews lived.
By Moses - By Moses, as the servant of God. He was the great legislator of the Jews, by whom, under God, their polity was formed. The law worketh wrath Romans 4:15; it was attended with many burdensome rites and ceremonies Acts 15:10; it was preparatory to another state of things. The gospel succeeded that and took its place, and thus showed the greatness of the gospel economy, as well as its grace and truth.
Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ - A system of religion full of favors, and the “true” system, was revealed by him. The old system was one of “law,” and “shadows,” and “burdensome rites;” “this” was full of mercy to mankind, and was true in all things. We may learn from these verses:
1.that all our mercies come from Jesus Christ.
2.“All true believers receive from Christ‘s fulness; the best and greatest saints cannot live without him, the meanest and weakest may live by him. This excludes proud boasting that we have nothing but ‹we have received it,‘ and silenceth perplexing fears that we want nothing but ‹we may receive it.‘”