Tuesday, December 22, 2009

...an exposition of John 1:14 by John Gill

"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."
-John 1:14

And the Word became flesh
The same word, of whom so many things are said in the preceding verses; and is no other than the Son of God, or second person in the Trinity; for neither the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, were made flesh, as is here said of the word, but the Son only: and "flesh" here signifies, not a part of the body, nor the whole body only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body, and a reasonable soul; and is so called, to denote the frailty of it, being encompassed with infirmities, though not sinful; and to show, that it was a real human nature, and not a phantom, or appearance, that he assumed: and when he is said to be "made" flesh, this was not done by the change of one nature into another, the divine into the human, or the word into a man; but by the assumption of the human nature, the word, taking it into personal union with himself; whereby the natures are not altered; Christ remained what he was, and became what he was not; nor are they confounded, and blended together, and so make a third nature; nor are they separated, and divided, so as to constitute two persons, a divine person, and an human person; but are so united as to be but one person; and this is such an union, as can never be dissolved, and is the foundation of the virtue and efficacy of all Christ's works and actions, as Mediator:

and dwelt among us,
or "tabernacled among us"; in allusion to the tabernacle, which was a type of Christ's human nature: the model of the tabernacle was of God, and not of man; it was coarse without, but full of holy things within; here God dwelt, granted his presence, and his glory was seen; here the sacrifices were brought, offered, and accepted. So the human nature of Christ was of God's pitching, and not man's; and though it looked mean without, the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in it, as well as a fulness of grace and truth; in the face of Christ the glory of God is seen, and through him, even the vail of his flesh, saints have access unto him, and enjoy his presence; and by him their spiritual sacrifices become acceptable to God: or this is observed, in allusion to the feast of tabernacles, when the Jews dwelt in booths, in remembrance of their manner of living in the wilderness: the feast of tabernacles was typical of Christ, and of his tabernacling in our nature. Solomon's temple, which was also a type of Christ, was dedicated at the time of that feast; and it seems probable, that our Lord was born at that time; for as he suffered at the time of the passover, which had respect unto him, and the pouring forth of the Spirit was on the very day of Pentecost, which that prefigured; so it is highly probable, that Christ was born at the time of the feast of tabernacles, which pointed out his dwelling among us; and is therefore very pertinently hinted at, when mention is here made of his incarnation. However, reference is manifestly had to the Shekinah, and the glory of it, in the tabernacle and temple; and almost the very word is here used. The Targumists sometimes speak of the Shekinah of the word dwelling among the Israelites: so Onkelos in Numbers 11:20 where the Israelites are threatened with flesh, until they loath it; because, says the paraphrast, "ye have loathed "the word of the Lord," whose Shekinah dwelleth among you." Jonathan ben Uzziel, on the same place, expresses it thus; "because ye have loathed the word of the Lord, the glory of whose Shekinah dwelleth among you." And it follows here,

and we have seen His glory,
the glory of his divine nature, which is essential to him, and underived, is equal to the Father's glory, is transcendent to all creatures, and is ineffable, and incomprehensible; some breakings forth of which there were in his incarnate state, and which were observed by the evangelist, and his companions; who, in various instances, saw plainly, that Christ was possessed of divine perfections, such as omniscience, and omnipotence; since he knew the thoughts of the heart, and could do the things he did: his Father declared him to be his beloved Son; and the miracles he wrought, and the doctrines he taught, manifested forth his glory; and not only there were some beams of his glory at his transfiguration, which were seen by the apostles, among which the Evangelist John was one, and to which he may have here a particular reference; but even at his apprehension, and death, and especially at his resurrection from the dead. The Jews speak of the glory of the Messiah to be seen in the world to come. They say {h}, "If a man is worthy of the world to come, (i.e. the times of the Messiah,) he shall "see the glory" of the King Messiah." And of Moses, they say {i}, "there was (or will be) no generation like that in which he lived, until the generation in which the King Messiah comes, which shall "behold the glory" of the holy, blessed God, as he." This our evangelist, and the other disciples of Christ have seen:

glory as of the only Son from the Father,
a glory becoming him, suitable to him as such; the very real glory of the Son of God; for the "as," here, is not a note of similitude, but of certainty, as in Matthew 14:5 and the word is here called, "the only begotten of the Father"; which cannot be said of Christ, as man; for as such, he was not "begotten" at all: nor on the account of his resurrection from the dead; for so he could not be called the "only begotten," since there are others that have been, and millions that will be raised from the dead, besides him: nor by reason of adoption; for if adopted, then not begotten; these two are inconsistent; besides, he could not be called the only begotten, in this sense, because there are many adopted sons, even all the elect of God: nor by virtue of his office, as magistrates are called the sons of God; for then he would be so only in a figurative and metaphorical sense, and not properly; whereas he is called God's own Son, the Son of the same nature with him; and, as here, the only begotten of the Father, begotten by him in the same nature, in a way inconceivable and inexpressible by us:

full of grace and truth.
that is, he dwelt among men, and appeared to have a fulness of each of these: for this clause is not to be joined with the glory of the only begotten, as if this was a branch of that; but regards him as incarnate, and in his office, as Mediator; who, as such, was full of "grace"; the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit; of all the blessings of grace, of justifying, pardoning, adopting, sanctifying, and persevering grace; of all the promises of grace; of all light, life, strength, comfort, peace, and joy: and also of truth, of all Gospel truths; and as he had the truth, the sum, and substance of all the types and prophecies concerning him in him; and as he fulfilled all his own engagements, and his Father's promises; and as possessed of sincerity towards men, and faithfulness and integrity to God.

{h} Gloss. in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 58. 1. {i} Zohar in Lev. fol. 9. 4.


Debbie said...

"...Christ remained what He was, and became what He was not..." -- this is the heart, the beauty, the mystery of all that we celebrate in His birth!

At the close of a very full week, this was such a needful and enriching post.

With so much for which to be thankful,


littlegal_66 said...

This brought to my mind a work from another Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, who wrote in "Christ's Humiliation in His Incarnation": "Christ's humiliation consisted in his incarnation, his taking flesh, and being born. As bread is made of wheat, and wine is made of the grape; so Christ is made of a woman: his body was part of the flesh and substance of the virgin. This is a glorious mystery, 'God manifest in the flesh.' (1 Timothy 3:16). In the creation, man was made in God's image; in the incarnation God was made in man's image."

So grateful for this glorious mystery and praying for a blessed Incarnation Day for you all.

Psalm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJ Camp said...

Wonderful encouraging words of praise to the Lord from you all.

"Glory to God in the highest..."

Merry Christmas,
Col. 1:15-20

Darrin said...

Heb 2:14: "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things ..."
I was recently reminded of this verse while reading John Owen, showing how His incarnation was for the sake of His children. How gracious is He to us!

SJ Camp said...


Paul G said...

SJ Camp;
Well brother, I feel very strongly about this post. Everything you said on this page is absolutely not true.
I know that nobody else will tell you the truth, because they don't want to hurt your feelings.

I think that you should seriously reconsider your doctrine on the Deity of Christ, since that is an offense to the Lord Jesus Christ and to every one who is born again by the Spirit of God.
Kind regards

Mike Riccardi said...


Enjoyed reading Gill's thoughts on this. I had the privilege of preaching on this verse this past Sunday in the context of Christmas. I posted the sermon in four parts on my blog, and thought I'd give the link for anyone interested.

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