John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: Kai o logos sarx egeneto (3SAMI) kai eskenosen (3SAAI) en hemin, kai etheasametha (1PAMI) ten doxan autou, doxan os monogenous para patros, pleres charitos kai aletheias.
Amplified: And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. [Isa. 40:5.].(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
ESV: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
KJV: 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.
NLT: So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father's only son), full of grace and truth.
Wuest: And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent [His physical body] among us. And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.
TREASURY OF SCRIPTURE KNOWLEDGE
The Word: Jn 1:1 Isa 7:14 Mt 1:16,20-23 Lk 1:31-35 2:7,11 Ro 1:3,4 9:5 1Co 15:47 Gal 4:4 Php 2:6-8 1Ti 3:16 Heb 2:11,14-17 Heb 10:5 1Jn 4:2,3 2Jn 1:7
We: Jn 2:11 Jn 11:4, 40 Jn 12:40,41 Jn 14:9 Isa 40:5 53:2 60:1,2 Mt 17:1-5 2Co 4:4-6 Heb 1:3 1Pe 2:4-7 2Pe 1:17 1Jn 1:1,2
The only: Jn 1:18 Jn 3:16,18 Ps 2:7 Acts 13:33 Heb 1:5 Heb 5:5 1Jn 4:9
Full: Jn 1:16,17 Ps 45:2 2Co 12:9 Eph 3:8,18,19 Col 1:19 Col 2:3,9 1Ti 1:14-16
GOD BECAME MAN
John 1:14 summarizes the entire book of John and as such is the focal point of this Gospel! God in the flesh. God "con carne" as my Latin American brothers might say! Divinity and humanity indivisible and incomprehensible, but full of truth. Believe it and live forever. Reject the God-Man and be separated forever from His glorious presence. (2Th 1:8, 9)
J C Ryle - The passage of Scripture now before us is very short, if we measure it by words. But it is very long, if we measure it by the nature of its contents. The substance of it is so immensely important that we shall do well to give it separate and distinct consideration. This single verse contains more than enough matter for a whole exposition. The plain meaning of these words is, that our divine Saviour really took human nature upon Him, in order to save sinners. He really became a man like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. Like ourselves, he was born of a woman, though born in a miraculous manner. Like ourselves, He grew from infancy to boyhood, and from boyhood to man’s estate, both in wisdom and in stature. (Luke 2:52.) Like ourselves, he hungered, thirsted, ate, drank, slept, was wearied, felt pain, wept, rejoiced, marveled, was moved to anger and compassion. Having be come flesh, and taken a body, He prayed, read the Scriptures, suffered being tempted, and submitted His human will to the will of God the Father. And finally, in the same body, He really suffered and shed His blood, really died, was really buried, really rose again, and really ascended up into heaven. And yet all this time He was God as well as man! This union of two natures in Christ’s one Person is doubtless one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian religion. It needs to be carefully stated. It is just one of those great truths which are not meant to be curiously pried into, but to be reverently believed. Nowhere, perhaps, shall we find a more wise and judicious statement than in the second article of the Church of England. “The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and the manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.” This is a most valuable declaration. This is “sound speech, which cannot be condemned.” (Expository Thoughts on John)
The Word - The definitive article ("the") is present in Greek -- This not just any "logos" but is "the Logos," the specific, unique Logos Who is God, not a philosophical idea. Here John unveils the Logos of John 1:1, where it is an abstract term to many. John is stating that the Logos is clearly a Person, the God-Man, Christ Jesus. God in the flesh. God "con carne."
Word (3056)(logos from lego = to speak with words; English = logic, logical) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. Although Lógos is most often translated word which Webster defines as "something that is said, a statement, an utterance", the Greek understanding of lógos is somewhat more complex. To the Greek secular and philosophical mind, lógos was not merely the name of an object but was an expression of the thought behind that object's name.
Barclay - The Greek term lógos does not only mean word; it also means reason. For John, and for all the great thinkers who made use of this idea, these two meanings were always closely intertwined. Whenever they used lógos the twin ideas of the Word of God and the Reason of God were in their minds.
Robert Lightner - The designation Word (Logos) attracts our attention. What does it mean? What picture does it convey of the Lord Jesus? Let me illustrate: I might have all kinds of ideas, thoughts, suggestions in my mind, all kinds of emotions in my heart, but unless there was some way, some means by which I could convey them to others, they would not know them. This is where words derive their value. Words are vehicles for conveying thoughts to others, and if it is true that "as a man thinketh in his heart so is he" then my words will be vehicles for conveying to others what I am. The Lord Jesus is the Word, the conveyor to men not only of the thoughts of God and the wisdom of God, but the conveyor of what God is. He is the vehicle to reveal God to men, thus "no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father (who has His being in the bosom of the Father), he hath declared him" (John 1:18). As the "Word" our Lord Jesus revealed God in His power in the creation (John 1:3) and upholding of the world (Heb. 1:1-3). He has revealed Him through incarnation (John 1:14) and redemption to the guilty sons of men. Did He not say: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9)?
W E Vine discusses the two main thoughts of Logos...
(I) "the expression of thought," not the mere name of an object, (a) as embodying a conception or idea, e.g., Luke 7:7; 1Co 14:9,19; (b) a saying or statement, (1) by God, e.g., Jn 15:25; Ro 9:9; 9:28 , RV, "word" (AV, "work"); Gal 5:14; Heb4:12; (2) by Christ, e.g., Mt 24:35 (plur.); John 2:22; 4:41; 14:23 (plur.); Jn 15:20. In connection with (1) and (2) the phrase "the word of the Lord," i.e., the revealed will of God (very frequent in the OT), is used of a direct revelation given by Christ, 1Th 4:15; of the gospel, Acts 8:25; 13:49; 15:35,36; 16:32; 19:10; 1Th 1:8; 2Th 3:1; in this respect it is the message from the Lord, delivered with His authority and made effective by His power (cp. Acts 10:36 ); for other instances relating to the gospel see Acts 13:26; 14:3; 15:7; 1Co 1:18; 2Co 2:17; 4:2; 5:19; 6:7; Gal 6:6; Ep 1:13; Php 2:16; Col 1:5; Heb 5:13; sometimes it is used as the sum of God's utterances, e.g., Mk 7:13; Jn 10:35; Rev 1:2,9; (c) discourse, speech, of instruction, etc., e.g., Acts 2:40; 1Cor 2:13; 12:8; 2Cor 1:18; 1Th 1:5; 2Th 2:15; Heb 6:1.; doctrine, e.g., Mt 13:20; Col 3:16; 1Ti 4:6; 2Ti 1:13; Titus 1:9; 1Jn 2:7;
(II) "The Personal Word," a title of the Son of God; this identification is substantiated by the statements of doctrine in John 1:1-18 , declaring in verses Jn 1:1,2 (1) His distinct and super finite Personality, (2) His relation in the Godhead (pros, "with," not mere company, but the most intimate communion), (3) His deity; in John 1:3 His creative power; in Jn 1:14 His incarnation ("became flesh," expressing His voluntary act; not as AV, "was made"), the reality and totality of His human nature, and His glory "as of the only begotten from the Father," RV (marg., "an only begotten from a father"), the absence of the article in each place lending stress to the nature and character of the relationship; His was the Shekinah glory in open manifestation; Jn 1:18 consummates the identification: "the only-begotten Son (RV marg., many ancient authorities read "God only begotten,"), which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him," thus fulfilling the significance of the title "Logos," the "Word," the personal manifestation, not of a part of the Divine nature, but of the whole Deity (Word - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words).
Became - Not "made" but "became." Jesus was not created, but was the Creator (Col 1:16, Heb 1:2) Who condescended to become part of His own creation, a thought too profound to fully comprehended by our mind, and yet a truth that can be fully received by our faith.
Compare the verb "was" in John 1:1 with the verb "became" here in John 1:14...
Verse 1 In the beginning WAS the Word...Imperfect tense indicates continuing action in the past. Language of continuing existence
Verse 14 The Word BECAME flesh...Aorist tense indicates an action that took place in a point in time. Language of change as the Word became something that He previously was not.
The Word took on flesh and, in doing so, brought about a change that will have eternal repercussions. The One who became God and man stayed that way. The One who was touched by a band of Galilean disciples is today worshiped by angels. (From John Stevenson)
John Trapp - Put himself into a lousy, leprosy suit of ours, to expiate our pride and robbery, in reaching after the Deity, and to heal us of our spiritual leprosy; if he had not assumed our flesh he had not saved us.
Illustration - The story is told of a little girl who cried out to her mother from her bedroom, "Mommy, I’m afraid to be in my dark room alone." Her mother replied, "It’s okay, Honey. The Lord is with you." She called back, "Yes, but I want someone with skin on." Jesus is God "with skin on." And He has come so that we never have to be afraid again.
Became flesh - "The same verb as in John 1:3. All things became through Him; He in turn became flesh. “He became that which, first became through Him.” In becoming, He did not cease to be the Eternal Word. His divine nature was not laid aside. In becoming flesh He did not part with the rational soul of man. Retaining all the essential properties of the Word, He entered into a new mode of being, not a new being. The word sarx, flesh, describes this new mode of being (cp Php 2:6-8-note). It signifies human nature in and according to its corporeal manifestation. Here, as opposed to the purely divine, and to the purely immaterial nature of the Word. He did not first become a personality on becoming flesh. The prologue throughout conceives Him as a personality from the very beginning — from eternal ages. The phrase became flesh, means more than that He assumed a human body. He assumed human nature entire, identifying Himself with the race of man, having a human body, a human soul, and a human spirit. See Jn 12:27; 11:33: 13:21; 19:30. He did not assume, for a time merely, humanity as something foreign to Himself. The incarnation was not a mere accident of His substantial being. “He became flesh, and did not clothe Himself in flesh.” Compare, on the whole passage, 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7.
Flesh (4561)(sarx - word study) Ryle says that the use of this word, instead of “man,” ought not to be overlooked. It is purposely used in order to show us that when our Lord became incarnate, He took upon Him nothing less than our whole nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul....When “the Word became flesh,” He did not take on Him “peccable flesh.” It is written that He was made in “the likeness of sinful flesh.” (Ro 8:3.) But we must not go beyond this. Christ was “made sin for us.” (2Cor 5: 21.) But He “knew no sin,” and was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and without taint of corruption. Satan found nothing in Him. Christ’s human nature was liable to weakness, but not to sin. The words of the fifteenth Article must never be forgotten, Christ was “void from sin, both in His flesh and in His Spirit.”
Ray Stedman- Sarx is the Greek word for flesh; the meat, the soft, yielding flesh of our human bodies. The Word, the energy of the universe, was contained in a baby's body. et, in the mind of God, that is what he intended from the beginning. The most remarkable thing about our race is that God designed man to be the bearer of himself. Man has a capacity for God; and that makes him unique. No animal has that capacity; no animal has any idea or concept of God as men have and share universally. Let evolution explain that if it can! Why is it that we are so different from any animal? Every human being has a capacity for God and a hunger after God. Whether we know it or not, we are longing, searching constantly all through our life for something that will meet what Pascal called, "the God-shaped vacuum" in the human heart. That capacity was designed of God, for God intended man to be the dwelling place of God. Now, at last, in human history that actually takes place: God becomes man; God becomes flesh, in an amazing blending together of these two concepts. In his letters, John the Apostle says that fact is so fundamental to our faith that a denial of it constitutes an anti-Christian heresy: "If any man deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, that is the spirit of anti-Christ," (1 John 4:3). That truth is so central to our faith that if you want to test any other religion or cult, ask yourself, "What do they teach about Jesus? Was he God made flesh, or not?" That is the test of heresy. The glory that John saw in Jesus was the shining out into the darkness of the world of the eternal glory of the Word of God. (The Stranger of Galilee - John 1:14-18)
J C Ryle applies the truth that the Word became flesh - Did the Word become flesh? Then He is One who can be touched with the feeling of His people’s infirmities, because He has suffered Himself, being tempted. He is almighty because He is God, and yet He can feel with us, because He is man. Did the Word become flesh? Then He can supply us with a perfect pattern and example for our daily life. Had he walked among us as an angel or a spirit, we could never have copied Him. But having dwelt among us as a man, we know that the true standard of holiness is to “walk even as He walked.” (1 John 2:6.) He is a perfect pattern, because He is God. But He is also a pattern exactly suited to our wants, because He is man. Finally, did the Word become flesh? Then let us see in our mortal bodies a real, true dignity, and not defile them by sin. Vile and weak as our body may seem, it is a body which the Eternal Son of God was not ashamed to take upon Himself, and to take up to heaven. That simple fact is a pledge that He will raise our bodies at the last day, and glorify them together with His own. For want of a clear understanding of this union of two natures in Christ’s Person, the heresies which arose in the early Church were many and great. And yet Arrowsmith points out that no less than four of these heresies are at once confuted by a right interpretation of the sentence now before us. “Arianism holds that Jesus Christ was not true God. This text calls Him the Word, and makes Him a Person in the Trinity. “Apollinarianism acknowledges Christ to be God, yea, and man too; but they hold that He took only the body of a man, not the soul of a man, while His divinity supplied the room of a soul. We interpret the word ‘flesh’ for the whole human nature, both soul and body. “Nestorianism grants Christ to be both God and man: but then they say the Godhead made one person, and the manhood another person. We interpret the words ‘was made’ as implying an union, in which Christ assumed not the person of man, but the nature of man. “Eutychianism held but one person in Christ; but then they confounded the natures. They say the Godhead and manhood made such a mixture as to produce a third thing. Here they also are confuted by the right understanding of the union between the Word and flesh.” He then goes on to show how the ancient Church met all these heretics with four adverbs, which briefly and conveniently defined the union of two natures in Christ’s person. They said that the divine and human natures when “the Word was made flesh,” were united truly, to oppose the Arians,—perfectly, to oppose the Apollinarians,—undividedly, to Oppose the Nestorians,—and unmixedly, to oppose the Eutychians. (John 1 Commentary)
Webster (1828) defines incarnation as - The act of clothing with flesh. 1. The act of assuming flesh, or of taking a human body and the nature of man; as the incarnation of the Son of God. 2. In surgery, the process of healing wounds and filling the part with new flesh.
Dwelt among us - God truly came to dwell in our midst, even as He dwelt in the midst of Israel in the Tabernacle (Ex 24:8, 40:34-35) and later in their Temple (1Ki 8:10-12).
Among us (en hemin) is more literally "in the midst of us."
Vincent - The reference is to the eye-witnesses of our Lord’s life. “According as the spectacle presents itself to the mind of the Evangelist, and in the words among us takes the character of the most personal recollection, it becomes in him the object of a delightful contemplation” (Godet).
Steven Cole - John could have said, “The Word lived among us,” but instead he used the unusual word, translated dwelt, which means “to pitch a tent” or “to tabernacle.” It is used of the tabernacle in the Old Testament, where God dwelt with His people in the wilderness. John does not mean by this term that Jesus’ humanity was temporary, but rather, His stay on earth was temporary. By using the word that was used of the tabernacle, coupled with seeing Jesus’ glory, John wants us to make some connections. Just as the tabernacle was the place where God dwelt with His people and manifested His glory, so Jesus is Immanuel, God with Us. Just as the tabernacle was at the center of Israel’s camp, so Christ is to be at the center of the church. Just as sacrifices and worship were offered at the tabernacle, so Jesus is our complete and final sacrifice, and we have access to God through Him. Every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ (See Christ in the Tabernacle by Louis T. Talbot). The bronze altar for sacrifice and the bronze laver for cleansing point to Christ. The table of showbread in the holy place speaks of Christ, the living bread. The golden lampstand points to Christ, the light, who illumines the things of God. The altar of incense reminds us of Christ’s making intercession for us. In the holy of holies, the ark of the covenant, made of wood covered with gold, points to the two natures of Christ. On top of the ark was the mercy seat, where the blood of atonement was sprinkled. Inside were the tablets of the law, pointing to Christ, the fulfillment of God’s law for us; the jar of manna, pointing to Christ as our sustenance; and Aaron’s rod that budded, pointing to Jesus as “the branch,” who was raised from the dead and gives new life to those who were dead in their sins. Jesus, our tabernacle, “dwelt among us”! (The Word Became Flesh John 1:14)
Ray Pritchard - In the Bible three kinds of people lived in tents—shepherds, sojourners, and soldiers. They lived in tents because they never stayed in one place very long. Jesus lived in the “tent” of his humanity for 33 years on the earth because he too was a shepherd, a sojourner, and a soldier. He came to be the Good Shepherd, he came as a visitor from heaven, and he came as the Captain of our Salvation to defeat the devil once and for all. Jesus was God’s rescue mission to the human race. He came on a mission from God. When his mission was over, he went back to heaven. While he was here, he pitched his tent among us. When his time was up, he took his tent of human flesh and rejoined his Father in heaven. (Sermon)
Ray Stedman - The key to John 1:14 is the word "dwelt": "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." That is an interesting word. It declares that Jesus "tented," he "tabernacled," among us. He came and lived in a tent in our midst. John saw that human tent. (The Stranger of Galilee - John 1:14-18)
Dwelt (4637) (skenoo from skenos = tent, abode) means to dwell literally in a tent, to reside, to take up one's residence, to pitch one's tent, encamp, to live in a tent (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion). In Revelation skenoo describes God tabernacling with men and in Jn 1:14 skenoo describes Jesus the Eternal Logos tabernacling, a fulfillment in a sense of God's OT Shekinah glory (cp Ex 40:34-35, cp "cloud" in Lk 9:34) now among men in the person of Jesus, Who is fully (100%) God and fully (100%) Man (Mysterious? Yes. Truth? Absolutely! John explains how vital for one's salvation (Read Jn 1:11, 12, 13) is it that one believe this mysterious truth "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." (1Jn 4:2)
MacArthur has some interesting thoughts on the root word skenos (tent) - A tent is an apt metaphor for the human body, which is a temporary home for the eternal souls of those whose real home is in heaven (Php 3:20) and who are aliens and strangers in this world (Ge 47:9; 1Chr 29:15; Ps 119:19; Heb 11:13; 1Pe 1:1, 17; 2:11). Just as the tabernacle of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness was replaced with a permanent building when Israel entered the Promised Land, so the temporary tent in which believers now dwell will be replaced one day in heaven with an eternal, imperishable body (1 Cor. 15:42, 53–54). (2 Corinthians Commentary)
Köstenberger notes that skenoo "suggests that in Jesus, God has come to take up residence among his people once again, in a way even more intimate than when he dwelt in the midst of wilderness Israel in the tabernacle (Ex 40:34–35). Moses met God and heard his word in the “tent of meeting” (Ex 33:9); now, people may meet God and hear him in the flesh of Jesus (Mowvley 1984: 136). Jesus’ “pitching his tent among us” is here related to the incarnation, that is, his being made human flesh; according to John, Jesus took the place of the temple (Schlatter 1948: 23; cf. Hoskins 2002: 170–74; Kerr 2002: 122–23). The aorist tense of σκηνόω could be viewed as ingressive (“began to dwell”) or complexive (“dwelt” in its totality); perhaps both are in view: the Word took up residence, and then stayed (Ridderbos 1997: 51; Morris 1995: 91).(John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament).
Skenoo - 5x in 4v - NAS Usage: dwell(3), dwelt(1), spread His tabernacle(1).
Skenoo - 3x in Lxx - Ge 13:12, Jdg 5:17, 8:11
In Ex 33:7-11 we see the OT parallel , where the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) was the OT picture which was fulfilled when Jesus tabernacled among men...
Ex 33:7 Now Moses used to take the TENT and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the TENT (Hebrew = ohel; Lxx = skenos) OF MEETING (Lxx = Marturion [verb = martureo] literally the "testimony tent" - the Tent gave "witness" to the reality of God, even as the incarnation of Jesus, the "Tabernacling" of Jesus among men gave witness to the unseen God - see Jn 1:18) . And it came about, that everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the TENT OF MEETING (Tabernacle) which was outside the camp. 8 And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. 9 And it came about, whenever Moses entered the tent, the PILLAR OF CLOUD (Visible manifestation indicative of the presence of God, the Shekinah Glory) of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the PILLAR OF CLOUD standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Marvin Vincent's note on "dwelt" - Literally, tabernacled, fixed, or had His tabernacle: from skene, a tent or tabernacle. The verb is used only by John: in the Gospel only here, and in Rev 7:15; 12:12; 13:6; 21:3. It occurs in classical writings, as in Xenophon, "he pitched his tent in the plain" (“Anabasis,” vii. 4, 11). So Plato, arguing against the proposition that the unjust die by the inherent destructive power of evil, says that “injustice which murders others keeps the murderer alive — aye, and unsleeping too; "literally, so far has her tent been spread from being a house of death” (“Republic,” 610). The figure here is from the Old Testament (Lev 27:11; 2Sa 7:6; Ps 78:67 sqq.; Ezek 37:27-note). The tabernacle was the dwelling-place of Jehovah; the meeting-place of God and Israel. So the Word came to men in the person of Jesus. As Jehovah adopted for His habitation a dwelling like that of the people in the wilderness, so the Word assumed a community of nature with mankind, an embodiment like that of humanity at large, and became flesh. “That which was from the beginning, we heard, we saw, we beheld, we handled. Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1:1–3. Cf Php. 2:7, 8-note). Some find in the word tabernacle, a temporary structure (see the contrast between skenos = tabernacle, and oikodome = building, in 2Cor 5:1-note), a suggestion of the transitoriness of our Lord’s stay upon earth; which may well be, although the word does not necessarily imply this; for in Rev 21:3-note, it is said of the heavenly Jerusalem “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will set up his tabernacle (skenosei) with them.” Dante alludes to the incarnation in the seventh canto of the “Paradise:” John 1 Word Studies
—— “the human species down below
Lay sick for many centuries in great error,
Till to descend it pleased the Word of God
To where the nature, which from its own Maker
Estranged itself, He joined to Him in person
By the sole act of His eternal love.”
Spurgeon - Now, Christ’s human flesh was God’s tabernacle, and it is in Christ that God meets with man, and in Christ that man hath dealings with God....we, having been washed in the precious blood of Christ, have access with boldness unto God, even the Father through Christ, who is our tabernacle and the tabernacle of God among men....Over the mercy-seat stood the cherubim, whose wings met each other, and beneath the wings of the cherubim there was a bright light, known to the Hebrew believer by the name of the Shekinan. That light represented the presence of God. Immediately above that light there might be seen at night a pillar of fire, and by day a spiral column of cloud rose from it, which no doubt expanded itself into one vast cloud, which covered all the camp, and shielded all the Israelites from the blaze of the broiling sun. The glory of the tabernacles, I say, was the Shekinah. What does our text say? Jesus Christ was God’s tabernacle, and “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” Jesus is not the tabernacle without the glory; he is not as the temple when the voice was heard with the rushing of winds before the siege of Jerusalem, crying, “Arise, let us go hence,” but it was a temple in which God himself dwelt after a special manner; “for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col 2:9-note) (John 1:14 The Glory Of Christ - Beheld)
Arrowsmith - Three sorts of men are described in the Bible as living in tents: shepherds, sojourners, and soldiers. The phrase here used has reference to the calling of all these three, and that it points to Christ’s life on earth being that of a shepherd, a traveler, and a soldier. (The Biblical Illustrator)
G. J. Brown - The Jews in the wilderness had a tabernacle or tent, wherein they worshipped God, and there the glory of God was seen. Over the mercy seat hovered the Shechinah. A glorious light, the symbol of the Divine presence, shone ever in the sanctuary. In like manner Christ, who is “the brightness of the Father’s glory,” the true Shechinah, tabernacled among us. His flesh, that is, His body of human nature, was as a tabernacle, in which resided that Divine nature of which the glory in the Jewish tabernacle was the symbol. Thus the Tabernacle of God was with men, and He dwelt among us. (The Biblical Illustrator)
We saw His glory - John and the other disciples. Those who had spiritual eyes to see, saw! Have you seen His glory? He is the Word and when we read His Word, we in a sense behold His glory, but only if we have eyes to see! Eyes of faith are the only requirement. A heart like a little child. Then you will see His glory and one day live forever with Him in the radiance of His glory (cf Rev 21:3, Rev 21:23). His glory was veiled to be sure, and yet the glory could not be completely hidden.
Who are the "we?" The possibilities are (1) Humanity; (2) John and the prophets; (3) Most favor this to refer to the apostle John and the early Christians. He does allude to John the Baptist so the we could certainly include him.
When God chose to become flesh and dwell among us, the glory that He enjoyed in heaven was veiled but there was another glory that became visible to those who had eyes to see. This is what John is talking about when he tells us that he "beheld His glory."
Norman Geisler explains the glory of Jesus - Jesus “pitched His tabernacle” among us harkens back to the OT tabernacle of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. God’s people had been instructed to erect the tabernacle as a reminder that God’s dwelling-place was among them. Ex 25:8 quotes God as saying, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell (Ed: Heb = shakan = root of Shekinah = glory cloud; Shakan means to settle down, to abide) among them”. Hence, as God formerly dwelt among his people in OT times in the tabernacle that was erected for him, so now in a fuller sense he has taken up residence on earth in a tabernacle of human flesh. Furthermore, John’s use of the Greek word eskēnōsen (“pitched his tabernacle”) becomes even more significant when it is realized that the glory that resulted from the immediate presence of the Lord in the tabernacle came to be associated with the Shekinah, a word that refers to the radiance, glory, or presence of God dwelling in the midst of his people. When Christ became flesh (John 1:14), the glorious presence of God was fully embodied in Him, for He is the true Shekinah. The same glory that Moses beheld in the tabernacle in Ex 40:34–38 was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17). (Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations).
Beheld (theaomai) "denotes calm, continuous contemplation of an object which remains before the spectator." (Vincent)
Beheld (2300)( theaomai from tháomai =to wonder, from thaúma = wonder, admiration <> English = theatrical spectacular performance) denotes "calm, continuous contemplation of an object which remains before the spectator." (Vincent) Theaomai implies an intent contemplative gaze. The point is that it is not a mere glance or quick look, but a long, searching gaze (e.g., Lk 23:55). It describes intelligent beholding, a "careful and deliberate vision which interprets its object" (G. Abbott-Smith). Theaomai can mean to gaze at a show or demonstration or to watch as in a theater. (English word theater).
Theaomai - 23v in NT and 6 times by John in his gospel, three times in his first epistle...
(John 1:14) And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:32) John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
(John 1:38) And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?”
(John 4:35) “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
(John 6:5) Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”
(John 11:45) Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.
(1John 1:1) What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life–
(1John 4:12) No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
(1John 4:14) We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
William Barclay writes that "theaomai means to gaze at someone or something until something has been grasped of the significance of that person or thing. So Jesus, speaking to the crowds of John the Baptist, asked: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at [theaomai]?’ (Luke 7:24); and in that word He describes how the crowds flocked out to gaze at John and wonder who and what this man might be. Speaking of Jesus in the prologue to his gospel, John says: ‘We have seen his glory’ (John 1:14)...and the idea is not that of a passing glance but of a steadfast searching gaze which seeks to discover something of the mystery of Christ. (The Daily Study Bible - online)
Glory (whether in the OT - Kabod /Lxx - doxa or the NT - doxa) is commonly used in both Testaments to denote the visible manifestation of God's presence. God’s glory is the sum of all His attributes and perfection. It is sometimes displayed as a bright or overpowering light. The rabbis used the word Shekinah in the Targums (Aramaic paraphrases of the OT Hebrew text) to describe the presence of God.
Steven Cole on glory of Jesus - When John says, “We saw His glory,” he may have been referring in part to the transfiguration, when he and James and Peter saw Jesus in His glory. John could not have forgotten that event, although he doesn’t tell about it in his gospel! But he is also referring to Jesus’ glory as revealed in His miracles, but only to those who had eyes to see. After Jesus turned the water into wine, John reports (Jn 2:11), “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He said (John 11:4), “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” And yet, even after that amazing miracle, the Jewish leaders increased their efforts to kill the one who is the resurrection and the life! But John also shows that Jesus’ glory was supremely revealed in the cross. When Judas went out of the Upper Room to betray the Savior, Jesus said (John 13:31), “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” The cross displayed God’s perfect justice and amazing love like no other event in history. (The Word Became Flesh)
Vincent explains John's use of glory in his description of Jesus the God-Man - This glory is not the absolute glory of the Eternal Word, which could belong only to His pre-existent state, and to the conditions subsequent to his exaltation (Ed: And at which no man could look at and live - see Ex 33:20-23); but His glory revealed under human limitations both in Himself and in those who beheld Him. The reference is again to the OT manifestations of the divine glory (Shekinah), in the wilderness (Ex 16:10; 24:16, etc.); in the temple (1Ki 8:11); to the prophets (Isa 6:3; Ezek 1:28). The divine glory flashed out in Christ from time to time, in His transfiguration (Lk 9:31; compare 2Pe 1:16, 17) and His miracles (Jn 2:11; 11:4, 40), but appeared also in His perfect life and character, in His fulfilment of the absolute idea of manhood.
Ray Stedman - What caught John's attention was the glory that he saw inside. That is what he says was remarkable. Have you ever walked around a campground at night and seen lights inside the tents glowing like jewels in the darkness as they shone through the fabric? That is descriptive of what John saw when he saw Jesus: he saw a glory inside....I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. R. A. Torrey, the founder of the Church of the Open Door, in Los Angeles, and the founder of the Bible School of Los Angeles (now Biola University). Dr. Torrey was an associate of D. L. Moody, and was one of the great Bible teachers of the past generation. He died while I was yet a baby, but I met his son one day. I took a picture of him and had a conversation with him. Everyone who knew both the father and the son were in agreement that the son looked exactly like the father; that the timbre of his voice, his expressions, his personality, reflected his father. Because I knew his son, I have always felt that somehow I knew Dr. R. A. Torrey. That is what John is saying here: the glory that he saw in Jesus was the exact reproduction of the glory of the Father, because the Son reflects the Father. (The Stranger of Galilee)
Glory (1391)(doxa from dokeo = to think, root of Docetism, a first century belief that Jesus did not have a real body) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something and thus the glory of God expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts (the sum of His attributes). To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory.
All of John's uses of doxa - John 1:14; 2:11; 5:41, 44; 7:18; 8:50, 54; 9:24; 11:4, 40; 12:41, 43; 17:5, 22, 24; Rev 1:6; 4:9, 11; 5:12, 13; 7:12; 11:13; 14:7; 15:8; 16:9; 18:1; 19:1, 7; 21:11, 23, 24, 26
Charles Ryrie says that the glory of God "is the manifestation of any or all of His attributes. In other words, it is the displaying of God to the world. Thus, things which glorify God are things which show the characteristics of His being to the world."
Puritan Thomas Watson rightly remarked that "A sight of God's glory humbles. The stars vanish when the sun appears."
Vincent comments that John does not refer to "the absolute glory of the Eternal Word, which could belong only to His pre-existent state, and to the conditions subsequent to his exaltation; but His glory revealed under human limitations both in Himself and in those who beheld Him. The reference is again to the Old Testament manifestations of the divine glory, in the wilderness (Ex 16:10; 24:16, etc.); in the temple (1Ki 8:11); to the prophets (Isa 6:3; Ezek. 1:28). The divine glory flashed out in Christ from time to time, in His transfiguration (Luke 9:31; compare 2Pe 1:16, 17-note) and His miracles (Jn 2:11; 11:4, 40), but appeared also in His perfect life and character, in His fulfilment of the absolute idea of manhood.
Swindoll - Jesus traveled through the country as a common, unglazed earthenware bottle, corked until those special occasions when His glory was manifested & the fragrant beauty of deity filled the air with its aromatic presence.
For example John records manifestations of Jesus' glory...
John 2:11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
Spurgeon explains that we as believers in Christ have something (Someone) far better than the Shekinah Glory that Israel had in the Old Testament and then explains how we are able "see" His glory today...
D A Carson on glory: In the Septuagint (Lxx), the word for ‘glory’, doxa, commonly renders Hebrew kabod, a word used to denote the visible manifestation of God’s self-disclosure in a theophany (Ex. 33:22; Dt. 5:22), or even of the ‘glorious’ status of God’s people when he rises to save them (Isa 60:1). Small wonder that all in the temple, aware of the presence of the LORD, cry ‘Glory!’ (Ps 29:9)—which also shows how the word almost means ‘praise’ in some contexts (e.g. Jn. 5:41). Jesus’ glory was displayed in his ‘signs’ (Jn 2:11; 11:4, 40); he was supremely ‘glorified’ in his death and exaltation (Jn 7:39; 12:16, 23; 13:31–32). This does not mean he had no glory before he began his public ministry, for in fact he enjoyed glory with the Father before the incarnation, and returned to take up that glory again after his resurrection (Jn 17:5, 24). Other men seek their own glory (Jn 5:44; 12:43); by contrast, the peculiar relationship the incarnate Word had with the Father was such that He never sought glory for Himself, but only God’s glory (Jn 5:41; 7:18; 8:50). In the context of incarnation, the we who saw the Word’s glory must refer to the Evangelist and other Christians who actually saw Jesus in the days of his earthly life. Cf. Stephen in Acts 7:55, where kai may mean ‘even’: Stephen, ‘full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, even Jesus standing at the right hand of God.’ The glory John and others saw was the glory of the One and Only. The underlying expression was rendered ‘only-begotten’ Son in earlier translations, but despite the efforts of some to restore that rendering, the NIV is a little closer to what is meant. The glory displayed in the incarnate Word is the kind of glory a father grants to his one and only, best-loved Son—and this ‘father’ is God Himself. Thus it is nothing less than God’s glory that John and his friends witnessed in the Word-made-flesh. (The Gospel according to John Pillar New Testament Commentary- D. A. Carson)
He came with grace and truth, not law and judgment. Does that reflect your "brand" of Christianity?
Boa comments that this verse is "One of the most important verses in the entire bible...It’s radical. It would stun the Greek mind for who the separation of the divine spirit and the mundane world would be the idea of the complete separation. It would also stun the Jews to claim that this Word actually came among us and became flesh. It’s an incredible and awesome idea that He became flesh....He pitched His tent (skenoo is the word and it means to tabernacle). In other words it speaks of the Old Testament tabernacle....God manifested Himself there- the glory, the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire and the Most Holy Place. He pitched His tent in our midst and manifested Himself in a very personal way. This is localized divine presence." (John 1 Commentary)
Preacher's Analyst on Christ's Glory - CHRIST’S GLORY. Amid all His humiliation, His glory burst forth and manifested itself--“We beheld,” etc. Clad as our Saviour was in the garments of a man, it was impossible entirely to veil His higher nature. Neither was it advisable. It was necessary that the world should know that He was God. His Divine glory was constantly manifesting itself--when the star led the wise men--when He taught the doctors in the Temple--when He healed the sick and raised the dead. But the chief glory was only visible to spiritual eyes. 1. Divine wisdom. The world considered His wisdom to be folly. It was not His outward manifestation, not His miracles or acts, but the plan of salvation, and the scheme He accomplished when He said, “It is finished.” 2. Divine love. There is more glory in the love of God than in all the universe of material creation. This can only be discerned by the eye of faith. When a sinner is brought to find peace, he realizes the glory of Christ. We have seen. Have you seen? (The Biblical Illustrator)
Christ’s glory in the flesh
I. His OUTWARD GLORY. When a Jew heard this he must have denied it, inasmuch, as there was little in Christ which answered to his conception of Messianic glory. Yet lowly as was our Lord’s life in general, there were occasional gleams of it.
1. At the Incarnation.
2. At His Baptism.
3. At His Transfiguration.
4. When the Greeks had an interview with Him.
5. At His Resurrection.
6. At His Ascension.
II. But His INTERNAL GLORY far surpassed this. Love, compassion, justice, truth. Add to these an existence which has neither beginning nor ending, and a power which nothing can resist, and this is God. And such as is the Father, such was the Son. 1. This glory is that to which man, in his fallen condition, is most blind. Offer man a Saviour crowned with visible power, or who shall secure wealth or pleasure, who would not acknowledge Him? Christ did indeed offer these. They who should come to Him should conquer sin and reign in heaven; should have spiritual riches and celestial pleasures--but who would purchase these at the price demanded? 2. Pray to God that He may open your eyes to see the glory of Christ and your glorious privilege. (J. Garbett, M. A.) (The Biblical Illustrator)
Horatio Bonar - WHAT IT TEACHES. God’s thoughts of peace. The message is a decided but not a finished one. You must associate Bethlehem with Calvary. 1. Would you learn the way to God? Go to Bethlehem: the Infant in the manger is the way. 2. Would you learn the vanity of earth? Go to yon manger where the Lord of Glory lies. 3. Would you hays a safeguard against worldliness and sin and error? Keep the child’s companionship. 4. Would you learn to be humble? Go to Bethlehem; there the Highest is lowest. 5. Would you learn self-denial? See the Word made flesh. (H. Bonar, D. D.) (The Biblical Illustrator)
Alexander Maclaren - THE VARIOUS PURPOSES WHICH THIS MIGHTIEST OF ALL MIRACLES SERVES IN THE WORLD. Here is a five-fold star, with five rays. 1. To show God. As the Shekinah glory abode in the Tabernacle, so God tabernacled in Christ’s flesh. Christ shows God as He was never seen before, full of grace and truth. The mightiest and brightest light that makes God known, is that of gentleness, tenderness, self-oblivlon, patience. If you want to know God, and not to guess Him, not to shrink from Him, and not merely to see the fringe of brightness about the Infinite heart, you must turn away from everything else to Christ. 2. To show what man ought to be. How perfect Christ’s example is we may gather from the admission of enemies, from our own hearts and consciences. Instead of being handed over to a mere law “Do this and live,” it means “Do as I do, because I love you and you love Me.” 3. That He might die. You cannot understand Christmas without Good Friday, the meaning of the cradle unless we see the shadow of the Cross. Christ came to bear our sins that we might be born again unto newness of life. 4. That He might have sympathy with us. He has trodden all the road before us, and is near us to help us on. 5. That manhood might be glorified. He has stooped down that thereby He might befit us to be like Him. Where He is, He will lead us. What He is, He will make us. (A. Maclaren, D. D.) (The Biblical Illustrator)
Beloved, do you pray for the salvation of friends or relatives? I have heard the story of two young rebels who were encouraged to read John 1:1 and then associate that passage with John 1:14, and this simple exercise resulted in one of the two young men breaking into tears as God's Spirit swept him into the Kingdom of Heaven! So I encourage you to consider the same approach to those whose hearts are now hardened, if God should open a door. Here is another ancient testimony of Franciscus Junius (the younger) regarding how the Spirit used the simple reading of the first chapter of John to bring about regeneration in another infidel...
My father, who was frequently reading the New Testament, and had long observed with grief the progress I had made in infidelity, had put that book in my way in his library, in order to attract my attention, if it might please God to bless his design, though without giving me the least intimation of it. Here, therefore, I unwittingly opened the New Testament thus providentially laid before me. At the very first view, although I was deeply engaged in other thoughts, that grand chapter of the evangelist and apostle presented itself to me — ’In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.’ I read part of the chapter, and was so greeted that I instantly became struck with the divinity of the argument, and the majesty and authority of the composition, as infinitely surpassing the highest flights of human eloquence. My body shuddered; my mind was in amazement, and I was so agitated the whole day that I scarcely knew who I was; nor did the agitation cease, but continued till it was at last soothed by a humble faith in him who was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
THE CHALCEDONIAN CREED (AD451) is generally regarded as the most orthodox "definition" of how the Bible describes the Person of Jesus Christ
Only begotten (One of a Kind, One and Only) (3439)(monogenes from monos = alone + genos = birth, race, kind <> from ginomai = to come into being, to become) means that which is the only one of its kind of class or specific relationship and thus is unique or "one and only."
The only begotten (monogenes) - Most modern scholars agree that monogenes does not refer to the “begetting” aspect of Jesus’ sonship, but rather to His uniqueness. As explained below NET Bible favors the translation "of the one and only." ESV = "the only Son", NIV = "the One and Only," NLT, HCSB = "the One and Only Son" ESV Study Bible note - The Greek word underlying “only,” monogenes, means “one of a kind, unique,” as in the case of Isaac, who is called Abraham’s “one-of-a-kind” son in Heb. 11:17 (in contrast to Ishmael; cf. Ge 22:2, 12, 16). Thus “only” is a better translation than “only begotten” (made familiar through its use in the kjv)."
Monogenes was used of an only son (Lk 7:12), of a son who was "unique" (Isaac - Heb 11:17 = son of promise, not son of flesh as was Abraham's first biologic son Ishmael) or an only daughter (of Jairus - Lk 8:42). BDAG says monogenes "pertains to being the only one of its kind or class, unique (in kind) of something that is the only example of its category... Of a mysterious bird, the Phoenix (mythology) (1 Cl 25:2). The phrase "monogenes huios" is used only of Jesus. Jesus is the only unique, "one of a kind" Son of God.
Moulton-Milligan - Monogenes is literally "one of a kind," "only," "unique" (unicus), not "only-begotten," which would be monogennetos. Monogenes is applied in a special sense to Christ in Jn 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, 1Jn 4:9, where the emphasis is on the thought that, as the "only" Son of God, He has no equal and is able fully to reveal the Father.
NET Note - "of the unique one." Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Lk 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clem. 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant., 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham's only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God, Jesus is God's Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18
Barclay - The Greek word is monogenes which the King James Version translates only-begotten. It is true that that is what monogenes literally means; but long before this it had lost its purely physical sense, and had come to have two special meanings. It had come to mean unique and specially beloved. Obviously an only son has a unique place and a unique love in his father's heart. So this word came to express uniqueness more than anything else. It is the conviction of the New Testament that there is no one like Jesus. He alone can bring God to men and bring men to God.
Boice - In France every child who goes to Sunday school learns John 3:16, as children do the world over. He recites it like this: “Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique.” Literally translated this means: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his unique Son.” Unique means being without a like or equal, single in kind or excellence, matchless. It is an important word, and it is particularly important at just this point in our study since it occurs twice in the space of five verses. In Greek the word is monogenes; the New International Version says “One and Only”; the French say unique. In each case, however, the same teaching is in view...We see at once, then, that Jesus is unique because there is no one quite like him (in fact, with the exception of the Father himself, not at all like him) and because he can do for men what no one else can do. Jesus is unique in every aspect of his being. He is unique in his person, birth, doctrine, works, miracles, death, resurrection, and future triumphs. (The Gospel of John : An expositional commentary)
Vine explains why some versions translate monogenes as "only begotten" - Monogenes is translated "only begotten" in Hebrews 11:17 of the relationship of Isaac to Abraham. With reference to Christ, the phrase "the only begotten from the Father," John 1:14 indicates that as the Son of God He was the sole representative of the Being and character of the One who sent Him. In the original the definite article is omitted both before "only begotten" and before "Father," and its absence in each case serves to lay stress upon the characteristics referred to in the terms used. The Apostle's object is to demonstrate what sort of glory it was that he and his fellow Apostles had seen. That he is not merely making a comparison with earthly relationships is indicated by para, "from." The glory was that of a unique relationship and the word "begotten" does not imply a beginning of His Sonship. It suggests relationship indeed, but must be distinguished from generation as applied to man. We can only rightly understand the term "the only begotten" when used of the Son, in the sense of unoriginated relationship. "The begetting is not an event of time, however remote, but a fact irrespective of time. The Christ did not become, but necessarily and eternally is the Son. He, a Person, possesses every attribute of pure Godhood. This necessitates eternity, absolute being; in this respect He is not 'after' the Father" (Moule). The expression also suggests the thought of the deepest affection, as in the case of the OT word yachid, variously rendered, "only one," Genesis 22:2,12; "only son," Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10; "only beloved," Proverbs 4:3 , and "darling," Psalm 22:20; 35:17 . In John 1:18 the clause "the only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father," expresses both His eternal union with the Father in the Godhead and the ineffable intimacy and love between them, the Son sharing all the Father's counsels and enjoying all His affections. In John 3:16 the statement, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son," must not be taken to mean that Christ became the only begotten son by incarnation. The value and the greatness of the gift lay in the Sonship of Him who was given. His Sonship was not the effect of His being given. In John 3:18 the phrase "the name of the only begotten son of God" lays stress upon the full revelation of God's character and will, His love and grace, as conveyed in the name of One who, being in a unique relationship to Him, was provided by Him as the object of faith. In 1 John 4:9 the statement "God hath sent His only begotten son into the world" does not mean that God sent out into the world one who at His birth in Bethlehem had become His Son. Cp. the parallel statement, "God sent forth the Spirit of His Son," Galatians 4:6 , RV, which could not mean that God sent forth One who became His Spirit when He sent Him. (Only Begotten - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)
Robert Yarbrough - Recent translations correctly reflect that Jesus' status as "only begotten" underscores his uniqueness rather than his place or mode of origin—it does not directly refer to his virgin birth. Both as unrivaled expression of the Father's glory and as distinct from any created human, he holds preeminence (Colossians 1:18). He is monogenes [Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33), while "only" left room for affirmation of his divine nature. Through the Vulgate's influence on early English versions of the Bible, the traditional translation "only begotten" still rings true for many today. (Jesus Christ, Name and Titles of - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
Monogenes - 9x in 9v - NAS Usage: only(3), only begotten(6). 4 uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Jdg 11:34; Ps 22:20 (only - Heb = yachid); Ps 25:16 (lonely - yachid); Ps 35:17 (only - Heb=yachid);
From the Father - From is the preposition para, which primarily means near or nearby, expressing the idea of immediate vicinity or proximity.
Steven Cole cautions - Sadly, many supposedly evangelical missionaries to Muslims are producing and endorsing translations of the New Testament that replace the terms “Father” and “Son” with other terms that are less offensive to Muslims. They argue that Muslims wrongly think that Christians believe that Jesus is the result of God having sexual relations with Mary. To remove that stumbling block, they change the terms. But in so doing, they change the very nature of God as He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture. God is the eternal Father and Jesus is His eternal Son. The Holy Spirit is also eternal God; three persons but one God. While it is humanly impossible to fully understand it, we dare not tamper with it to somehow make the message less offensive.
Bob Utley - Jesus takes this analogy (of God as Father) and deepens it into full family fellowship, especially in John 1:14, 18; 2:16; 3:35; 4:21, 23; 5:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 36, 37, 43, 45; 6:27, 32, 37, 44, 45, 46, 57; 8:16, 19, 27, 28, 38, 42, 49, 54; 10:15, 17, 18, 25, 29, 30, 32, 36, 37, 38; 11:41; 12:26, 27, 28, 49, 50; 13:1; 14:2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 31; 15:1, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 23, 24, 26; 16:3, 10, 15, 17, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32; 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25; 18:11; 20:17, 21! (John 1 Commentary)
Full of grace and truth - Jesus was abounding in these attributes. Vincent adds that this phrase "is connected with the main subject of the sentence: “The Word — full of grace and truth.” A common combination in the OT ("lovingkindness and truth" - see Ge. 24:27, 49; 32:10; Ex. 34:6; Ps. 40:10, 11; 61:7). In these two words the character of the divine revelation is summed up. “Grace corresponds with the idea of the revelation of God as Love (1John 4:8, 16) by Him who is Life; and Truth with that of the revelation of God as Light (1John 1:5) by Him who is Himself Light” (Westcott)."
Steven Cole on grace and truth - His grace offers love and compassion to guilty sinners (John 4:1-26). His truth means that He warns of God’s judgment if sinners do not repent and believe in Him (John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:27-29; 8:24, 40, 45-47). Grace and truth reach their culmination at the Cross, where the truth of God’s holiness and justice was satisfied in the death of the perfect Substitute, so that He now can offer grace to guilty sinners who trust in Jesus. It is only by believing the truth as it is in Jesus that you can experience God’s grace and forgiveness. Since Jesus is full of grace, you can come to Him and know that He will welcome you (John 6:37). Because He is full of truth, you can trust His promises. (The Word Became Flesh)
Ray Pritchard - Grace and truth are two attributes that don’t often appear together (speaking of human beings). We humans tend to err on one side or the other. If we stress grace, we are often too quick to forgive without demanding true repentance. If we stress truth, we often sound harsh and unloving. We need both, don’t we? If we forgive too quickly, we make light of wrongdoing. If we judge too harshly, we make forgiveness impossible. Grace and truth. These two words explain why Jesus came to the earth. They go to the very heart of the gospel. Because he was full of grace, he died for you and me while we were yet sinners. Because he was full of truth, he was able to pay for our sins completely. He forgives the sinner because he bore the sin himself. Here is truly good news for people like us. Because he is Grace-full, you can come just as you are. He is easy to approach and you don’t have to clean yourself up first. This week we saw a prominent Republican congressman resign because a smut peddler offered one million dollars to anyone who could provide salacious details regarding the sexual sins of our national leaders. While I think the congressman did well to resign, I remind you that few of us could withstand such withering scrutiny. Who among us has lived such a pure life that no dirt could be found in our past? It is precisely at this point that the gospel message becomes so relevant. No matter how checkered your record may be, no matter what sins you have committed, Christ invites you to come just as you are—with no preconditions except a sincere desire to be forgiven. When you do, you will be abundantly pardoned. Because he is truth-full, you can come in complete confidence that he will keep his promises. When he promises a complete pardon for your sins, he means it. You can take that to the bank. Do you need a trustworthy Savior? Fear not. Jesus is full of truth. Do you need a forgiving Lord? Come to him for he is full of grace. Sermon
Full (4134)(pleres from pleos = full, pletho = to fill) means filled up as opposed to empty (as of a hollow vessel - Mt 14:20, 15:37, Mk 6:43). Of a surface, covering every part (leprosy in Lk 5:12). Figuratively, of one full of, filled with, abounding in, thoroughly endowed with (Lk 4:1 full of the Holy Spirit, Acts 9:36 abounding in deeds, Stephen full of grace and power Acts 6:8)
Pleres is repeatedly associated with the Holy Spirit - Lk 4:1, Acts 6:3, 5, 7:55, 11:24. Clearly the state of being filled with the Spirit was of great import in the life of Jesus and the lives of the disciples in the Book of Acts. When pleres is used in this figurative sense, it conveys something more than simply "filling up to the brim" so to speak. It also conveys the truth that what fills a person, controls the person. For example, notice what filled Elymas the magician (Acts 13:8) in Acts 13:10 - all deceit and fraud. And what was the "effect?" He made "crooked the straight ways of the Lord." (Acts 13:10). As an aside notice how Paul was "enabled" to confront this man who seems in essence to be enabled or to be even demonically controlled and empowered ("you son of the devil" Acts 13:10)? "Paul, filled with (controlled by, enabled by) the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him." (Acts 13:9). The upshot is that to be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit and thus supernaturally empowered or enabled to accomplish what cannot be accomplished naturally (by relying on my human "power"). That was the example Jesus left us to follow (Read 1Cor 11:1, 1Jn 2:6-note, 1Pe 2:21-note) This is why Eph 5:18-note (Memorize this verse) is so critical to the Christian life, for there is simply no other way to live this "Christ life," this supernatural life, then the same way Jesus as a Man lived it--filled with the Holy Spirit! (See also comments on Luke 4:1 below). As further support of the truth that what fills you, controls you, note that the pagans in Ephesus were "filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" (Acts 19:28) Rage filled them and rage controlled them. Every believer is either being controlled by the Spirit or the fallen flesh. These two are in continual opposition, like oil and water (Gal 5:17). And because of this principle, believers are commanded to continually walk (present imperative) by the Spirit, for then (and only then) we will absolutely not (as emphasized by a strong double negative in Gal 5:16!) fulfill the desires of our flesh (Notice that Paul does not say we won't have these sinful desires! He says they won't control us!) (Memorize Gal 5:16-note).
Pleres - 16x in 16v - NAS Usage: abounding(1), covered(1), filled(1), full(12), mature(1).
Pleres - 112v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 25:8 ("ripe old age" is translated with pleres and hemera = "full of days"); Ge 27:27; 35:29; 41:7, 22, 24; Ex 9:8; 16:33; Lev 2:2; 5:12; 16:12; Nu 7:13f, 19f, 25f, 31f, 37f, 43f, 49f, 55f, 61f, 67f, 73f, 79f, 86; 22:18; 24:13; Dt 6:11; Jdg 6:38; 16:27; Ruth 1:21; 2:12; 1Sa 2:5; 2Sa 23:7, 11; 2Kgs 4:39; 6:17; 7:15; 20:3; 1Chr 11:13; 23:1; 29:9, 28; 2Chr 15:17; 16:9; 19:9; 24:15; 25:2; Ezra 4:20; Neh 9:25; Job 7:4; 10:15; 14:1; 21:24; 32:18; 36:16; 39:2; 42:17; Ps 33:5; 48:10; 73:10; 75:8; 119:64; 144:13; Prov 17:1; Song 5:5, 13; Isa 1:4, 11, 15, 21; 6:1, 3; 30:27; 51:20; 63:3; Jer 5:27; 6:11; Ezek 1:18; 7:23; 10:12; 17:3; 26:2; 36:38; 43:5; 44:4; Dan 4:27; 5:31; Joel 3:13; Nah 3:1; Hab 3:3;
Grace - Marvin Vincent on Grace - From the same root as chairo = to rejoice. (1). Primarily that which gives joy or pleasure; and hence outward beauty, loveliness, something which delights the beholder. Thus Homer, of Ulysses going to the assembly: “Athene shed down manly grace or beauty upon him” (“Odyssey,” ii., 12); and Septuagint, Ps. 45:3, “grace is poured into thy lips.” See also Pr. 1:9; 3:22. Substantially the same idea, agreeableness, is conveyed in Luke 4:22, respecting the gracious words, lit., words of grace, uttered by Christ. So Eph. 4:29. (2). As a beautiful or agreeable sentiment felt and expressed toward another; kindness, favor, good-will. 2Cor. 8:6, 7, 9; 9:8; Luke 1:30; 2:40; Acts 2:47. So of the responsive sentiment of thankfulness. See Luke 6:32, 33, 34; 17:9; but mostly in the formula thanks to God; Ro 6:17; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:3. (3). The substantial expression of good-will; a boon, a favor, a gift; but not in New Testament. See Rom. 5:15, where the distinction is made between charis, grace, and dorea en chariti = a gift in grace. So a gratification or delight, in classical Greek only; as the delight in battle, in sleep, etc. (4) The higher Christian signification, based on the emphasis of freeness in the gift or favor, and, as commonly in New Testament, denoting the free, spontaneous, absolute loving-kindness of God toward men, and so contrasted with debt, law, works, sin. The word does not occur either in Matthew or Mark.
Ray Stedman on grace and truth - There are many definitions for grace. Someone has defined it as "that which God does within you, without you." I have always liked the acrostic that defines grace: God's Riches At Christ's Expense -- G-R-A-C-E. Perhaps the simplest definition of all is that grace is "the generosity of love." Grace is love giving itself. The greatest evidence of grace in the Bible is contained in the words, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life," (John 3:16). That is grace: Love giving itself. Truth is the manifestation of reality, the unveiling of what is actually there, the stripping off of all the illusions, veils, shams, phoniness, the facades, and getting down to what is actually there. Jesus was full of both grace and truth. He was the ultimate revelation of what is really there in life; and he is the fullest expression of love giving itself, pouring out, reaching out to others. That is the glory that John saw in Jesus. These words relate back to Verse 4, to the words, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." Grace and truth are really nothing more than life and light. What is life if it is not love? Life at any level is a revelation of the love of the Creator, the giving of the Creator to his creatures, the sharing of his life with them. We have come to understand that love is an absolute necessity for human beings. We cannot function without it. Those who are deprived of love, either by circumstances or by their own mis-choices, lose the capacity to perform, to live, to do anything; they huddle in a corner, or they assume a fetal position, unable to do anything, because love is life. Grace, therefore, is the source of life. And what is light if it is not truth? Light is the comprehension of reality. Have you ever said, "I wish I had more light on this subject"? By that you mean, "I wish I understood it better; I wish I saw more clearly what was there." Truth is light. The glory within the tent of Jesus was gra (The Stranger of Galilee - John 1:14-18)
Illustration - Dave and his wife Sue were asked about the delicate art of constructive criticism. Sue said, “I think Christ’s example in John 1:14 is helpful. That verse describes Jesus as being ‘full of grace and truth.’ I see a mother with her child. If the child has a dirty face, the mother doesn’t scold her for having a dirty face. She does the loving thing. She gets out the washcloth, and as she is gently applying soap and water she may say, ‘My, what a dirty face you have! Tell me how you got your face so dirty.’ But all the time she is washing her child’s face. If I’m going to be honest with Dave, I need to be sure that I’m acting in loving, gracious ways—in a sense, getting out the washcloth—even while I’m talking about the dirt.”
Truth (225)(aletheia from a = indicates following word has the opposite meaning ~ without + lanthano = to be hidden or concealed, to escape notice, cp our English "latent" from Latin = to lie hidden) has the literal sense of that which contains nothing hidden. Aletheia is that which is not concealed. Aletheia is that which that is seen or expressed as it really is. The basic understanding of aletheia is that it is the manifestation of a hidden reality (eg, click discussion of Jesus as "the Truth"). For example, when you are a witness in a trial, the court attendant says "Raise your right hand. Do you swear that you will tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?" And you say, "I do" and you sit down. The question the court attendant is asking is "Are you willing to come into this courtroom and manifest something that is hidden to us that only you know so that you will bear evidence to that?" Therefore when you speak the truth, you are manifesting a "hidden reality". Does that make sense?
All of John's uses of Aletheia in his Gospel - John 1:14, 17; 3:21; 4:23, 24; 5:33; 8:32, 40, 44, 45, 46; 14:6, 17; 15:26; 16:7, 13; 17:17, 19; 18:37, 8; 1John 1:6, 8; 2:4, 21; 3:18, 19; 4:6; 5:6;
Steven Cole concludes John 1:14 - J. C. Ryle, in his wonderful Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:26-27) draws several practical lessons from John 1:14. He points out that the constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s person gives infinite value to His mediation for sinners, to His imputed righteousness to believers, to His atoning blood, and to His resurrection. Then he adds (pp. 27-28),
As Charles Wesley put it (“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”),
“Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
“A Great Debt. Who Can Pay?” - Harry Ironside liked to tell a story about Czar Nicholas I of Russia. It seems that the czar had a good friend who asked him to provide a job for his son. This the czar did, appointing the son as paymaster for a barracks in the Russian army. However, it turned out that the son was morally weak and soon gambled away nearly all the money entrusted to him. When the word came that the auditors were going to examine his records, the young man despaired, knowing that he was certain to be found out. He calculated the amount he owed and the total came to a huge debt—far greater than he could ever pay. He determined that the night before the auditors arrived, he would take his gun and commit suicide at midnight. Before going to bed, he wrote out a full confession, listing all he had stolen, writing underneath it these words, “A great debt. Who can pay?” Then he fell asleep, weary from his exertions. Late that night, the czar himself paid a surprise visit to the barracks as was his occasional custom. Seeing a light on, he peered into the room and found the young man asleep with the letter of confession next to him. He read the letter and instantly understood what had happened. He paused for a moment, considering what punishment to impose, then he bent over, wrote one word on the paper, and left.
Eventually the young man woke up, realizing that he had slept past midnight. Taking his gun, he prepared to kill himself when he noticed that someone had written something on the ledger. Under his words “A great debt. Who can pay?” he saw one word: “Nicholas.” He was dumbfounded and then terrified when he realized that someone knew what he had done. Checking his records, he found that the signature was genuine. Finally the thought settled in his mind that the czar knew the whole story and was willing to pay the debt himself. Resting on the words of his commander-in-chief, he fell asleep. In the morning a messenger came from the palace with the exact amount the young man owed. Only the czar could pay. And the czar did pay. Only Jesus could pay our debt to God. That and that alone explains why “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” He pitched his tent with us for 33 years that he might pay in his own blood the debt we owed because of our sin. We stand this morning precisely where that young man did. When we look at our sins and realize our hopeless condition, we say, “A great debt. Who can pay?” Then the Lord Jesus Christ steps forward and signs his name to our ledger: “Jesus Christ.” Only Jesus could pay. And he does. (Sermon by Ray Pritchard)
The Meaning Of Christmas
By Joanie Yoder
Each year it seems that Christ’s birth is acknowledged less and less during the Christmas season. An editorial in a British newspaper stated, “Christ has been detached from Christmas, and the season is now apparently just a time for being kind and ensuring that no one is lonely.”
We have a magnificent opportunity to spread the good news that Jesus is the reason for the season. Here are three perspectives on the true meaning of Christmas that we can share with others:
* Christmas is a birthday celebration, honoring Jesus. God’s Son took on human flesh and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
* Jesus came for our sake. He was born to die on a cross for our sins, and He was resurrected to give us forgiveness and eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
* We can urge people to respond to Jesus with faith, accepting His offer of salvation (John 1:12; 3:16).
This time of year is more than just a season to be kind. Christmas is about Jesus—the real reason for the season. So let’s take the opportunity to tell others the miraculous story of Jesus, God’s Son. And let’s pray that many, like the wise men who came to worship the promised Savior (Matthew 2:1-2), will seek Him and find Him this year.
When we look beyond the manger
To the cross of Calvary,
We will know the reason Christmas
Brings such joy to you and me. —D. De Haan
Bethlehem's stable was the first step in God's journey of love to the cross.
Contact With The Almighty
By Herbert Vander Lugt
After spending millions of dollars in a 40-year project, scientists have still made no contact with extraterrestrial beings. But their search continues. Robert Jastrow, director of the Mount Wilson Institute, says that he expects to find “beings superior to us . . . , not only technically, but perhaps spiritually and morally.”
Jastrow and his fellow scientists hope that an alien civilization billions of years old will be able to tell us why we are here and how to overcome our destructive tendencies, which make advances in weapons technology so terrifying. This fear that humanity might destroy itself, as well as the innate desire for meaning in life, may account for the many popular books and movies about extraterrestrial beings.
In his book Show Me God, Fred Heeren says of this interest in alien beings: “People want a higher companion, but not too high. . . . People are looking for an intermediate, . . . but someone who can still identify with us as a fellow creature.”
How sad that they search in the wrong places for what God has already provided in Christ! The Bible says there is “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus has revealed God to us and opened the door to life eternal.
To get a clear view of God, focus on Jesus Christ.
Something Happened Here
By Haddon W. Robinson
Christians are divided in their views of Christmas. Some want to give up on it and hand it over to the stores. Others want to salvage it and use it to say something important about the birth of Jesus to a weary secular world. I, for one, would like to take my place with the second group.
Years ago an old pioneer journeyed westward across the Great Plains of North America until he came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him—a vast chasm 1 mile deep, 18 miles across, and stretching out of sight. He gasped, “Something must have happened here!”
At the Christmas season, anyone who stops to look and listen must ask what the hustle and bustle is all about. A thoughtful man or woman, seeing the lights, the decorations, the festivities, and the religious services might also conclude, “Something must have happened here!”
Of course, something did happen. We need to tell the world about it. God has visited our planet. His Son Jesus Christ came to reveal God and to die for our sins (John 1:1-14). It’s the best news ever! The Lord came and lived among us that we might live forever with Him.
That’s why we can rejoice at Christmas.
One day has left its mark in time
For all mankind to see;
It is the day when Christ was born—
That day made history. —D. De Haan
To make the most of Christmas, focus on Christ.
By David C. Egner
Many Christians do a lot of complaining about Christmas. “Too commercial,” they say. “It has pagan origins. We’ve got to put Christ back into Christmas.” The only thing they haven’t said is, “Bah! Humbug!”
Yes, Christmas has become very commercial. But as we purchase and wrap gifts, every present can be a silent testimony to the supreme gift, God’s “only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16).
Yes, we know that Santa is a myth and that reindeer don’t fly. It’s pure fiction. But instead of griping about these nonessentials, which only focuses on them, we need to call attention to the truth of the Baby who was born in Bethlehem.
And what about the cry to put Christ back into Christmas? Well, He never left. Listen to the words of the carols heard over and over in stores, malls, and on the streets. They proclaim more truth in one holiday than many pulpits do in 3 months. They put into the minds of young and old the wonderful truth that “the Lord is come” and that He is to be adored.
Christmas is not humbug; it’s a season of opportunity to point others to the Savior. It gives us a chance to say to friends and loved ones, “Do you know the real meaning of the season? I do, because I believe in Christ.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild—
God and sinners reconciled.” —Wesley
To see the real meaning of Christmas, focus on Christ.
By Mart De Haan
After the Apollo XV mission, Colonel James Irwin related some of the high points of his experience. He told of weightless bodies floating free in the space capsule, the rising crescent of the earth as seen from the moon, and the triumphal splashdown before a watching world.
Irwin also spoke of the impact the experience had on his spiritual life. He said that from the lunar surface he sensed both the glory of God and the plight of earthbound man. As he came back to earth, he realized he couldn’t content himself with being merely a celebrity. He would have to be a servant, telling his fellowman of a better way to live. Irwin concluded by saying that if we think it a great event to go to the moon, how much greater is the wonder that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ!
Because man walked on the moon, science and technology have made tremendous advances. But because God walked on earth, we know both our origin and our destiny. We can know our Creator personally (Jn. 1:1,14,18), and we can live in His light (v.9). Through Jesus’ sinless life and sacrificial death we have the joy of sins forgiven and an abundant life—all because God walked on earth.
Down from His glory, ever-living story,
My God and Savior came, and Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger, to His own a stranger,
A Man of sorrows, tears, and agony. —Booth-Clibborn
God made His home with us that we might make our home with God.
Bridging The Gap
By Joe Stowell
When my kids were young, I thought they would be impressed with what few accomplishments I may have had—that they would read my books and be impressed by my speaking engagements. But then I discovered that they hadn’t read any of my books and had no idea where I had been on a speaking gig. When my oldest son finally read one of my books, he told me that the only reason he read it was so that I would stop telling people that my children have never read my books!
Let’s face it—for the most part, kids are not impressed with our accomplishments. So the only way to bridge the gap is to meet them where they are, to get into their world—like getting into a game of Chutes and Ladders or playing catch in the backyard.
Jesus did this with us. John said of Jesus, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). In other words, He stooped down to our level when He came to this earth, which led to His greatest accomplishment of all: bridging the gap between His world and ours once and for all. Only then could we begin to understand how worthy He is of our utmost adoration and praise!
Our Lord is worthy all our days
Of all our love and highest praise;
He died to take our sin and shame—
Oh, bless the Savior’s holy name! —Egner
Jesus bridged the gap between the infinite God and finite man.
INCARNATION - Reverend Nico Smith and his wife, Ellen, are the only whites in the black township of Mamelodi near the South African city of Pretoria. Going to a community of 300,000 blacks was a "complete change in his life, a rejection, in fact, of everything that his life had been until then and everything fundamental in Afrikaner society and Afrikaner belief." Smith has begun to see life and people in a completely new way. As Time put it, "Nico Smith is almost one of them—not exactly, but almost."
The incarnation is about how Jesus became almost one of us. In one sense, He was like any other man—completely human. In another way, He was totally different—completely God. The birth of Jesus was not the first time God appeared as a human; the Old Testament records a number of times when God briefly appeared in some bodily form. Yet the Bethlehem birth was unique; God became a member of the human family and stayed around for thirty-three years.
In those thirty plus years, Jesus grew physically and mentally. He got hungry, tired, and thirsty. He slept and wept. He was tempted with typical human desires. He felt anguish. He showed concern. And His veins flowed with blood. Like every human, He died.
In His humanity Jesus was not just God with skin, but He wasn't just a person without sin either. He was like us, but different, and that made all the difference in the world. He could save us from ourselves, gather up the broken images, and make us like Himself.
He Was One Of Us - Robert Stevenson, the famous Scottish engineer and grandfather of the well-known writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in 1772. One hundred years after his birth, a great demonstration was held in Newcastle. There was a huge procession with banners honoring the distinguished engineer. In the procession was a group of peasants who carried a small banner on which were written the words: He was one of us. They were citizens of the tiny village of his birth, and they had come to do him honor. They had a right to call him one of them because he, who was so highly honored, was really one of them. Indeed, Jesus became "one of us" and is even more deserving of highest honor and praise!
ONE OF THEM - Pastor Walter Hoye went to jail in April 2009 for standing too close to an Oakland, California abortion clinic during a protest. The prosecutor gave Hoye the choice of accepting a stay-away order or two years in jail. Hoye refused the offer and the judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail. Hoye is not sorry for his choice. In fact, he sometimes wishes he could have stayed in jail longer. “I have been a jail chaplain in jail before, and even had the privilege of being a guest preacher at San Quentin. Being an inmate is completely different. I was actually one of them and it gave me a different kind of credibility.” --World Magazine, May 9, 2009 p. 54. Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Rodger Russell
GRACE AND TRUTH - In the their book Influencer, the authors tell the story of King Rama IX of Thailand who performed an exceptional act of grace on his 60th birthday in 1988. He granted amnesty to over 30,000 prisoners, releasing them from jail. His intent was to be gracious, but removing discipline from these criminals did not turn out to be gracious for his country. Up until then, AIDS was not a problem among the public, but was rampant in the prison system.
As you know, Thailand is infamous for its sex trade and it didn’t take long for the prisoners to find the prostitutes, who contracted AIDS and spread it to straying men who gave it to their wives who spread it to their newborn children.
Within 5 years, an estimated 1 million people living in Thailand were HIV positive.
All because a sympathetic, King ignored truth while practicing grace on his 60th birthday.--Patterson, et al, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, 26 Illustration by Jim L. Wilson
Grace can never be divorced from truth. That’s why when Jesus came, he came full of both grace and truth.
EMMANUEL/CHRISTMAS - When the Walt Disney Company planned a yearlong celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth, they encountered a unique problem. A survey of visitors at Walt Disney World in Florida found that many of the park’s guests under the age of 15 did not know Walt Disney was a real person. Those young people thought “Disney” was just another company name. After the discovery the company made a special effort to highlight the life and impact of the real Walt Disney.
To many, the Christmas season is a holiday filled with presents, lights, and family. They are not aware that Christmas gets its name from God’s gift to the world, Jesus Christ. Many people do not know that the baby in manger scene was and is the real Savior of the world. The challenge for believers is to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a way that helps others know Jesus, the real man who walked on earth, and still transforms lives. When people who know Jesus is real chose to live as a forgiven, transformed person, they demonstrate that Jesus was the Son of God, a real person who changes the lives of all who trust in Him.—Our Daily Bread, Celebrate The Man, December 2, 2002. Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell
PERSONAL TOUCH - In many ways, technology is making it possible to be two places at the same time. Some parents are setting up a baby cam in the nursery so grandparents can log on the Internet and watch their grandchild sleep.
Have you seen the commercial on TV where a father watches his son play a championship soccer game from his motel room while he's away on business? Using high speed connectivity, the father is able to "be there" with his son as he scores the winning goal.
But is it the same? Grandparents don't just want to watch their grandchildren, they want to hold them, and fathers don't want to just watch their son score the winning goal, they want to go to the victory party too.
Nothing replaces the personal touch. When God wanted to bring his message of salvation and forgiveness to us, he didn't "phone" it in. He came.-- Illustration by Jim L. Wilson
Today in the Word
The Invisibility of God
The classic hymn begins, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, / in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.” This echoes 1 Timothy 6:15–16, which says that God is: “immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” Earlier this epistle describes God as “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim. 1:17).
How should we understand this? Is God literally invisible? When Moses asked to see God’s glory, the Lord warned him that no one could see His face and live (Ex. 33:20). Yet according to Exodus 24:11, the elders of Israel “saw” God on Mount Sinai. The Lord said that He spoke to Moses “face to face” (Num. 12:8). But Moses did not see a face in the literal sense. God the Father is spirit and is immaterial by nature (John 4:24). He does not possess a face, body, or limbs. Even when He revealed Himself as the Angel of Jehovah to the Old Testament Patriarchs, they saw only the appearance of a human form and not a literal body made of flesh and bone (Gen. 18:1).
The miracle of the Incarnation is that in the person of Jesus Christ “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). Jesus was not a mere man who was somehow elevated to divine status in the virgin birth. He already existed as God before He was born in Bethlehem. Employing the language of Genesis 1, the Gospel of John states that in the beginning Jesus was with God and was God (John 1:1). In the Incarnation, the Word who already existed as God with the Father took to Himself a human nature and was “born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Genuine humanity did not make Jesus less divine as a result of this experience. Likewise, the union of two natures in one person did not make Him less human or superhuman. Instead, it ensured that He would be able to serve as a sinless and compassionate high priest for us. Because Jesus had both a human and divine nature, He was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15).
As the God “who became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” Jesus is uniquely qualified to show us the invisible Father (John 1:14). Prior to the Incarnation Jesus was one with the Father. He came from the Father (John 16:28). He alone has “seen” the Father (John 6:46). It is only through Jesus that we can know God as our Father (John 14:7–9).
FOR FURTHER STUDY - To learn more about the miracle of Incarnation, read Incarnation by Alister E. McGrath (Fortress).
Dialogue in the Dark - Dialog in the Dark is not a typical exhibition. All the tour guides are visually impaired. All the visitors are in the dark—literally. Instead of relying on sight, visitors must use other senses as they navigate darkened galleries that replicate familiar environments like a grocery store. Wind, temperature, sounds, smells, and texture have increased importance for determining one's environment when sight can no longer be utilized. Similarly, John awakens our senses and nudges our curiosity in the opening lines of his letter. He emphasizes his eyewitness testimony: he has heard, seen, and even touched the Word of Life "from the beginning" of Jesus' earthly ministry (Jn 1:1). We reflect on another "beginning" when God spoke and it was; His word brought forth life; it was the word of life (Ge 1:1ff). It is shocking to hear that this eternal Word of Life has appeared (Jn 1:2); "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). Notice John mentions "seen,"� "looked at,"� and "appeared" five times in the first two verses. He is astonished that the Life is no longer simply a word to be heard, but now someone to be seen. Jesus Himself is the "Word of life" about which John writes. In his Gospel, John refers to Jesus as "the Word" (cf. John 1:1-2, 14), and Jesus Himself claims to be "the life" (John 14:6). Did you notice that John's own experience hearing, seeing, and touching Life in Jesus compels this letter? Consider how many times John uses words like "proclaim" and "testify." In other words, John's mission is a natural and vibrant outflow of his personal encounter with Jesus. He is not merely proclaiming a message, but a person. Today, reflect on your personal relationship with Jesus and the joy it brings you to invite others into intimate fellowship with the Word of Life, Jesus Christ.
Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend penned the popular modern hymn, “In Christ Alone.” In its second verse, this hymn reflects on the wonder of the Incarnation: “In Christ alone / Who took on flesh / Fullness of God in helpless babe! / This gift of love and righteousness / Scorned by the ones He came to save. / Till on that cross as Jesus died / The wrath of God was satisfied / For ev’ry sin on Him was laid / Here in the death of Christ I live.
Oswald Chambers - It is easy to get vague when we think about the thought of God; the poet talks about hearing God’s voice on the rolling air, or as coming to us in the love of our friends; it sounds beautiful, but it may be all nonsense. Our sense of the beautiful has to take shape somehow, an ideal is of no use to me unless it has become incarnated. Nowhere in the Bible is there any notice taken of the worship of abstractions. We may talk about God as the Almighty, the All-powerful, but He means nothing to us unless He has become incarnated and touched human life where we touch it; and the revelation of Redemption is that God’s Thought did express itself in Jesus Christ, that God became manifest on the plane on which we live. (He shall glorify me)
QUOTES RELATED TO
The incarnation of Christ is the clearest affirmation of the truth that man is created in the image of God. Lawrence Adams
Christ veiled his deity but he did not void it. Anon.
The Son came out from the Father to help us to come out from the world; he descended to us to enable us to ascend to him. Anthony of Padua
Christ became what we are that he might make us what he is. Athanasius
Filling the world he lies in a manger! Augustine
The Son of God became the Son of Man in order that the sons of men might become the sons of God. John Blanchard
When Jesus came to earth, it was not his Godhood he laid aside, but his glory. John Blanchard
In the creation, the Lord made man like himself; but in the redemption he made himself like man. John Boys
Christ voluntarily took upon him everything that is inseparable from human nature. John Calvin
The incarnation is the pattern for all evangelism. Jesus Christ was totally in the world yet wholly uncontaminated by it. Everett L. Cattell
The earth wondered, at Christ's nativity, to see a new star in Heaven; but heaven might rather wonder to see a new sun on earth. Richard Clerke
Jesus Christ is perennial and he who makes his boast in him stays fresh for ever. Vance Havner
He took the form of a servant while he retained the form of God! It is exactly that which makes our salvation possible and achieves it. William Hendriksen
It was to save sinners that Christ Jesus came into the world. He did not come to help them to save themselves, nor to induce them to save themselves, nor even to enable them to save themselves. He came to save them! William Hendriksen
The early Christians did not say in dismay, ‘Look what the world has come to,' but in delight, ‘Look what has come to the world!’ Carl F. H. Henry
The incarnation was a necessary means to an end, and the end was the putting away of the sin of the world by the offering of the body of Christ. Thomas Hewitt
Rejoice that the immortal God is born that mortal men may live in eternity. Jan Hus
God became man to turn creatures into sons; not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. C. S. Lewis
The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle. C. S. Lewis
The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding. Martin Luther
To the human mind there is something almost illogical in the assertion that God became a man. It is like speaking about a square circle. Yet this is what Christmas says—and we take refuge from our bewilderment not in explanation but in adoration. Ralph P. Martin
The Incarnation is not an event; but an institution. What Jesus once took up he never laid down. Vincent McNabb
The divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. J. I. Packer
The Son of God... came to seek us where we are in order that he might bring us to be with him where he is. J. I. Packer
Before Christ could marry us he must be born in our nature, for the husband and the wife must be of one nature. Richard Sibbes
Christmas is the day that holds all time together. Alexander Smith
The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable. Ralph W. Sockman
He that made man was made man. C. H. Spurgeon
The awful majesty of the Godhead was mercifully sheathed in the soft envelope of human nature to protect mankind. A. W. Tozer
The glory of the incarnation is that it presents to our adoring gaze not a humanized God or a deified man, but a true God-Man—one who is all that God is and at the same time all that man is: one on whose almighty arm we can rest, and to whose human sympathy we can appeal. Benjamin B. Warfield
Christ took our flesh upon him that he might take our sins upon him. Thomas Watson
Let earth and heaven combine, Angels and men agree, To praise in songs divine The incarnate Deity, Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made man. Charles Wesley