John Chapter 1, Verse 14

From BibleWiki

Jump to: navigation, search
Book of John
Chapter 1
1

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51

14: και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο και εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν και εθεασαμεθα την δοξαν αυτου δοξαν ως μονογενους παρα πατρος πληρης χαριτος και αληθειας— edit Textus Receptus
14: 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.— edit KJV text
14: And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.— edit Douay text


Contents

και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο

The repeated kai introducing the next three clauses should be noticed.

Here we have the climax of the Johannine doctrine of Christ as the Word. That the Son of God became man is unmistakably taught by Paul (Rom 1:3 Rom 8:3, Gal 4:4, Phil 2:7f): He was "manifested in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16). So, also, according to Heb 2:14 He partook of our flesh and blood. But the contribution of Jn. to this exulted Christology is that he expressly indentifies Christ with the "Word of God," vaguely spoken of in the Wisdom literature of the Hebrews and also in the teaching of Philo and his Greek predecessors. The Logos of philosophy is, John declares, the Jesus of history (cf. v. 11) ; and this is now stated in terms which cannot be misunderstood. That "the Word became flesh" must have seemed a paradox to many of those who rend the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel when it was first made public; but the form of the proposition is deliberate. It would have been impossible for Philo.

The heresy of Docetism was always present to the mind of John (while it is most plainly in view in the First Epistle); the idea of Christ as a mere phantasm, without human flesh and blood, was to him destructive of the Gospel. "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God " (1Jn 4:2). But it is the deceiver and the antichrist who "confess not that He is come in the flesh" (2 Jn 1:7). The lofty teaching of the Prologue identifies Jesus with the Word, and the explicit declaration that the Word became flesh was necessary to exclude Docetic teaching.

A characteristic feature of the Fourth Gospel is its frequent insistence on the true humanity of Jesus. He is represented as tired and thirsty (Jn 4:6f; cf. Jn 19:28). His emotion of spirit is expressed in His voice (see on Jn 11:33). He wept (Jn 11:35). His spirit was troubled in the anticipation of His Passion (Jn 12:27 Jn 13:21). And the emphasis laid by Jn. on His "flesh" and "blood" (Jn 6:53), as well as on the "blood and water" of the Crucifixion scene, shows that Jn. writes thus of set purpose. Cf. also Jn 20:27. At one point (Jn 8:40) Jn. attributes to Jesus the use of the word anthropos as applied to Himself.

sarx here signifies man's nature as a whole, including his rational soul (cf. 1Thess 5:23). Thus the rendering here in the Old Syriac (although not in the Peshitta) of sarx by pagar sc. "the Word became a body" -— a rendering known to Ephraim and Aphrahat -- is inadequate and might mislead. The Logos did not became "a man," but He became "man" in the fullest sense; the Divine Person assuming human nature in its completeness. To explain the exact significance of egeneto in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter.

και εσκηνωσεν εν ημιν

This sentence has generally in modern times been understood to mean "and He pitched His tent among us," or dwelt among us, hemin referring to those who witnessed the public ministry of Jesus, and more particularly to those who associated with Him in daily intercourse. en hemin, on this rendering, would be equivalent to apud nos or inter nos, a use of en with the dative which may be defended by Jn 10:19 Jn 11:54. A skene or tent is a temporary habitation, and eskenosen might thus indicate the sojourn on earth for a brief season of the Eternal Word. In the N.T., however, the verb does not connote temporary sojourning in any other place where it is found.

Origen (Comm. in Ioann, 20, 142, 202) and Chrysostom (In loc.) understand the clause differently. For them, it is parallel to the preceding clause, "the Word became flesh," and is another statement of the Incarnation. The Word took humanity as His tabernacle, (Origen, lc 202). This would be in harmony with Paul's great phrase naos theou este (1Cor 3:16), and gives its proper force to en hemin Cf. Sir 24:8 en Iakob kataskenoson

In the N.T. the verb only occurs again Rev 7:15 Rev 12:12 Rev 13:6 and Rev 21:3, where it is said that in the New Jerusalem God skenosei met' auton. So the prophets had foretold, e.g. Zech 2:10, Ezek 37:27 Cf. Lev 26:11, Ezek 43:7. Such language goes back to the thought of the skene or tabernacle in the desert (Ex 25:8f), where Yahweh dwelt with Israel. The verb skenoun would always recall this to a Jew. Philo says that the sacred skene was a symbol of God's intention to send down to earth from heaven the perfection of His Divine virtue (Quis div. haer. 23).

The language of this verse recalls Ps 85:9f:

His salvation is nigh them that fear Him,
That glory (doxa) may dwell (kataskenosai) in our land:
Mercy (eleos) and truth (aletheia) have met together,
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

εθεασαμεθα την δοξαν αυτου

theasthai is never used in the N.T. of spiritual vision, while it is used 22 times of "seeing" with the bodily eyes. Neither here nor at 1Jn 1:1 is there any question of a supersensuous, mystical perception of spiritual facts, in both passages the claim being that the author has "seen" with his eyes (the aorist points to a definite moment in the historic past) the manifested glory of the Incarnate Word.

The use of the first person plural when speaking of his Christian experience is characteristic of Jn., and runs all through the First Epistle. He speaks not only for himself but for his fellow-believers (cf. Jn 3:11); and in this passage for such of these (whether living or departed) as had been eye-witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus. (Cf. also 2 Pet 1:17).

doxa, doxazein are favourite words with Jn. (although they are not found in the Johannine Epistles). Certain shades of meaning must be distinguished.

As in Greek authors generally, doxa often means no more than "honour," and doxazein means "to honour greatly". But Jn. uses these words sometimes with special reference to that doxa which belongs to God alone, e.g. Jn 17:5 recalls the glory of the Eternal Word. According to one interpretation (see above) of eskenosen en hemin, doxa here (cf. Jn 2:11 Jn 11:40) stands for the Divine glory exhibited in the earthly life of Jesus which was perceived by those who companied with Him, and this must in any case be part of the meaning of etheasametha ton doxan autou. The crisis of this "glorification" in Jn. is the Passion (Jn 7:39 Jn 12:16ff) consummated in the Risen Life (Jn 13:32).

We must, at this point, recall the later Jewish doctrine of the Shekinah or visible dwelling of Yahweh with His people. The word שׁכינה, "that which dwells," is appropriated in later Judaism to the Divine presence. When in the O.T. Yahweh is said to dwell in a place, the Targums, to avoid anthropomorphism, preferred to say that He "caused His Shekinah to dwell." The Shekinah was the form of His manifestation, which was glorious; but the glory is distinct from the Shekinah, which is used as equivalent to the Divine Being Himself. Thus the Targum of Isa 60:2 is: "In thee the Shekinah of Yahweh shall dwell, and His glory shall be revealed upon thce." Again, Lev 26:12, "I will walk among you and be your God," becomes in the Targum "I will place the glory of my Shekinah among you, and my Memra shall be with you." Or again, Isa 6:1, "I saw the Lord," becomes in the Targum "I saw the glory of the Lord" (see on Jn 12:41).

Now by bilingual Jews the representation of Shekinah by skene was natural, and when skenoun or kataskenoun is used in the later books of the LXX or the Apocalypse of the dwelling of God with men, the allusion is generally to the doctrine of the Shekinah (cf. Rev 7:15). Accordingly, eskenosen en humin kai etheasamentha ton doxan autou also carries a probable allusion to the glory of the Shekinah which was the manifestation on earth of God Himself.

δοξαν ως μονογενους παρα πατρος

The glory of the Word is described as "a glory as of the Only-begotten from the Father." Neither Son nor Father has yet been mentioned, and the sentence is a parenthesis explanatory of the doxa of the Word. We may connect para patros either (a) with monogenous or (b) with doxan.

If (a) be adopted, then we have the parallels Jn 6:46 Jn 7:29 Jn 16:27 Jn 17:8, in all of which passages Jesus says of Himself that He is para theou or the like, a phrase which means more when applied to Him thus than it means in Jn 1:6, where John Baptist has been described as apestalmenos para theou, or in Jn 9:16,Jn 9:33, where the Pharisees say that Jesus was not para theou. But monogenes para would be an unusual combination, especially in Jn., who always has ek theou, not para theou, when he wishes to say "begotten of God" (So the original Nicene Cread ran gennethenta ek tou patros monogene). It is true, indeed, that the distinctions between para, apo, and ek were being gradually obliterated in the first century, and that we cannot always distinguish para from ek (see on Jn 6:46), but the point is that Jn. never uses para with gennasthai.

(b) If we connect doxan with para patros, the meaning is "the glory such as the only Son receives from his Father." Cf. Jn 5:41ff for doxan para tou monou theou. "No image but the relation of a monogenes to a father can express the twofold character of the glory as at once derivative and on a level with its source." (Hort, Two Dissertations, p13. cf. Phil 2:6). The manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son. Cf. Jn 8:54

The word monogenes is generally used of an only child (e.g. Jdg 11:34, Tob 3:15 Tob 6:10ff, Lk 7:12 Lk 8:42 Lk 9:38, {{Heb|11|17), the emphasis being on mono — rather than on genes. Thus Plato speaks of monogenes ouranos (Tim. 31); and Clement of Rome (25) describes the legendary bird, the phoenix, as monogenes, sc. it is the only one of its kind, unique (cf. the LXX of Ps 25:16). Some of the O.T, texts (a e q) render monogenes here by unicus, which is the original meaning, rather than by unigenitus, which became the accepted Latin rendering so soon as controversies arose about the Person and Nature of Christ.

An only child is specially dear to its parents; and monogenes is used to translate יהיד in Ps 22:20, Ps 35:17 where we should expect agapetos. Conversely agapetos is used for an only son, Gen 22:2; cf. Amos 8:10. And in every place where Jn. has monogenes (except perhaps in this verse), viz. Jn 1:18 Jn 3:16ff, 1Jn 4:9, we might substitute, as Kattenbusch has pointed out, agapetos for it, without affecting the sense materially. (D.C.G, "Only-Begotten", and cf. Harris Bulletin of John Rylands Library, July 1922).

At this point, however, the meaning is clear. The glory of the Incarnate Word was such glory as the only Son of the Eternal Father would derive from Him and so could exhibit to the faithful.


πληρης χαριτος και αληθειας

If kai etheasameta ... patros is parenthetical, as we take it to be, then pleres is in apposition to logos at the beginning of the verse, and the construction is regular and simple. If the adj. pleres were always treated as declinable (as it is, e.g., Mk 8:19, Mt 14:20 Mt 15:37, Acts 6:3), this would be the only possible construction of the passage.

pleres, however, is often treated as indeclinable by scribes, in the N.T., the LXX, and the papyri; and it is possible, therefore, to take it in the present passage (the only place where it occurs in Jn.) as in apposition either to doxan or to autou or monogenous in the previous line. For pleres here D reads plere, which apparently was meant by the scribe to be taken with doxan. Turner has shown (JTS, 1899, p123f., 1900, p.561) that Irenaeus, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and later Greek Fathers did not connect pleeres with ho logos, but (generally) with doxan. And the Curetonian Syriac (Syr. sin. is deficient at this point) will not permit pleres to be taken with logos. (See Burkitt, JTS, 1900, p562).

On the contrary, Origen seems to favour the connexion of pleres with logos or monogenes (Comm. in Ioann) The O.L. (followed by vulg.) has plenum in apposition with uerbum; and internal evidence seems to favour this construction, despite the authority of most Greek Fathers. For to speak of the glory of Christ as being "full of grace and truth" is not as intelligible as to speak of Christ Himself being pleres xharitos kai aletheias; cf. Acts 6:8, Stephanos pleres charitos kai dunameos, and for this constr. of pleres as descriptive of a man's quality, see Acts 6:3ff, Acts 7:55, Acts 11:24. Further, in v. 16 the pleroma from which Christians receive grace is that of Christ Himself, which shows that pleres here refers to Him.

The problem is one of grammar rather than of exegesis, for on any rendering grace and truth are specified as characteristic attributes of the Incarnate Word, or of His manifestation of Himself in the world. These two words charis and aletheia must now be examined.

The characteristically Christian word charis does not appear in Jn. except here and the following verse, in the Prologue. It is never placed in the mouth of Jesus by any evangelist (except in the sense of thanks, Lk 6:32ff Lk 17:9), and is not used at all by Mk. or Mt. In Lk. it is applied occasionally to the special favour of God to individuals (Lk 1:30 Lk 2:40 Lk 2:52), as it is several times in the LXX (e.g. Gen 6:8). But its Christian use as grace is derived from Paul, who habitually employs it to designate the condescending love of God in redemption, as contrasted with the legalism of the Mosaic economy (Rom 5:21 Rom 6:14 and passim); and the influence of Paul's terminology appears in Acts (e.g. Acts 20:24, Heb 10:29, 1 Pet 1:13, etc. So we have charis in the specially Christian sense in Barnabas, § 5, and Ignatius (Magn. 8), and thenceforth in all Christian writers. But Jn. never uses charis except here and vv. 16, 17, and this is an indication of the faithfulness with which the primitive Christian phraseology is preserved in the Fourth Gospel. He does not even speak of the grace of God, when he writes egapese ho theos ton kosmon (Jn 3:16), although what Paul meant by charis is behind his thought.

On the other hand, aletheia is one of the keywords of the Fourth Gospel. The question of Pilate, "What is truth?" (Jn 18:38) has received its answer. It was the purpose of Christ's mission that He should "bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18:37; cf. Jn 5:33). The Word of the Father which He came to proclaim is truth (Jn 17:8). He emphasises the truth of His pronouncements to His disciples (Jn 16:7) and to the multitude (Jn 8:45). He is "a man that hath told you the truth" (Jn 8:40). Truth came through Him (Jn 1:17); he is "full of truth" (Jn 1:14); He is the Truth itself (Jn 14:6). So he will send the Spirit of Truth (Jn 15:26, Jn 14:17; cf. 1Jn 4:6, 1Jn 5:7), who is to guide the faithful into all the truth (Jn 16:13). Christ's disciples will "know the truth, and the truth shall make them free" (Jn 8:32); "he that doelh the truth cometh to the light" (Jn 3:21; cf. 1Jn 1:6; and Christ's prayer for His chosen is that they may be "sanctified in the truth" (Jn 17:17ff). Every one that is of the truth hears His voice (Jn 18:38).

The word aletheia occurs 25 times in the Gospel and 20 times in the Johannine Epp., while it is only found 7 times in the Synoptists and not at all in the Apocalypse. The distribution of alethes and alethos is similar, while that of alethinos (see on v. 9) is somewhat different, as it is common in the Apocalypse. These figures show that the idea of Truth is dominant with John (as with Paul, cf. 2 Thes 2:10) and that the truth of Christ's teachings is one of his deepest convictions. He represents Christ as claiming to teach and to be the Truth; and although the Synoptists do not dwell upon it, yet this feature of Christ's claim appears in their account of His controversy with the Pharisees at Jerusalem during the last week of His public ministry (Mk 12:14, Mt 22:16, Lk 20:21). "We know," they said, "that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth"; i.e. they began by a verbal recognition of the claim that He had made for Himself, a claim directly recorded by Jn. alone. While then, the emphasis laid in the Fourth Gospel upon the truth of Christ's teaching is partly due to the circumstances in which the book was produced, and the desire of Jn. to assure his readers not only of the spiritual beauty but also of the solid foundations of Christian doctrine, we need not doubt that it gives a representation faithful to historical fact, when it describes Jesus as Himself claiming to be the Ambassador and Revcaler of the Truth. In the Galilaean discourses we should not expect to find this topic prominently brought forward, and the Synoptists are mainly occupied with Galilee. But when they bring Jesus to the critical and intellectual society of Jerusalem, they indicate that His claims to the possession of absolute truth had been noticed by those who wished to disparage and controvert His teaching.

Various explanations have been offered of the combination "grace and truth" as the two pre-eminent attributes of the Incarnate Logos. As we have seen, grace is what Jn. prefers to describe as love (God's love descending on men), and truth brings light (cf. Ps 43:3)); accordingly some exegetes refer back to v. 4, where the Divine life issues in light. But even if we equate charis' with agape we cannot equate it with zoe; and further Jn. does not represent alethia as issuing from charis. Rather are xharis and aletheia and co-ordinate.

The combination is found again in v. 17, where grace and truth, which came through Christ, are contrasted with the Law, which was given through Moses. In the O.T. xharis and aletheia are not explicitly combined, but eleos and aletheia occur often in combination as attributes of Yahweh (Ps 40:11, Ps 89:14 cf. Ex 34:6), and in Ps 61:7 as attributes of the Messianic King. As we have seen above (p. 21), the meeting of eleos and aletheia is associated in Ps 85:9f with the dwelling (kataskenosai) in the Holy Land of the Divine doxa. And it is to this passage in the Psalter, more than to any other passage in the O.T., that the words and thoughts of Jn 1:14 are akin. The idea of the Divine compassion (eleos), of which the O.T. is full, is enlarged and enriched in the N.T. by the idea of Divine grace (charis). (Cf. Augustine (de pecc. mer., ii. 31), who notes that when you compare Jn 1:14 with Ps 85:10 you have to substitue gratia for misericordia).

This entry includes text from the International Critical Commentary on John.



And the Word was made flesh. The word flesh, here, is evidently used to denote human nature or man. See Mt 16:17, Mt 19:5, Mt 24:22 Lk 3:6 Rom 1:3, Rom 9:5.

The "Word" was made man. This is commonly expressed by saying that he became incarnate. When we say that a being becomes incarnate, we mean that one of a higher order than man, and of a different nature, assumes the appearance of man or becomes a man. Here it is meant that "the Word," or the second person of the Trinity, whom John had just proved to be equal with God, became a man, or was united with the man Jesus of Nazareth, so that it might be said that he was made flesh.

Was made. This is the same word that is used in Jn 1:3.

"All things were made by him." It is not simply affirmed that he was flesh, but that he was made flesh, implying that he had pre-existence, agreeably to Jn 1:1.

This is in accordance with the doctrine of the Scriptures elsewhere. Heb 10:5: "A body hast thou prepared me." Heb 2:14

"As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." 1Jn 4:2. "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." See also 1 Tim 3:16 Phil 2:6 2Cor 8:9

Lk 1:35. The expression, then, means that he became a man, and that he became such by the power of God providing for him a body. It cannot mean that the divine nature was changed into the human, for that could not be; but it means that the Logos, or "Word," became so intimately united to Jesus that it might be said that the Logos, or "Word" became or was a man, as the

soul becomes so united to the body that we may say that it is one person or a man.

And dwelt among us. The word in the original denotes "dwelt as in a tabernacle or tent;" and some have supposed that John means to say that the human body was a tabernacle or tent for the Logos to abide in, in allusion to the tabernacle among the Jews, in which the Shechinah, or visible symbol of God, dwelt; but it is not necessary to suppose this. The object of John was to prove that "the Word" became incarnate. To do this he appeals to various evidences. One was that he dwelt among them; sojourned with them; ate, drank, slept, and was with them for years, so that they saw him with their eyes, they looked upon him, and their hands handled him, 1Jn 1:1.

To dwell in a tent with one is the same as to be in his family; and when John says he tabernacled with them, he means that he was with them as a friend and as one of a family, so that they had full opportunity of becoming familiarly acquainted with him, and could not be mistaken in supposing that he was really a man.

We beheld his glory. This is a new proof of what he was affirming- that THE WORD OF GOD became man. The first was, that they had seen him as a man. He now adds that they had seen him in his proper glory as God and man united in one person, constituting him the unequalled Son of the Father. There is no doubt that there is reference here to the transfiguration on the holy mount. See Mt 18:1ff.

To this same evidence Peter also appeals, 2 Pet 1:16ff. John was one of the witnesses of that scene, and hence he says, "WE beheld his glory," Mk 9:2. The word glory here means majesty, dignity, splendour. The glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. The dignity which was appropriate to the only-begotten Son of God; such glory or splendour as could belong to no other, and as properly expressed his rank and character. This glory was seen eminently on the mount of transfiguration. It was also seen in his miracles, his doctrine, his resurrection, his ascension; all of which were such as to illustrate the perfections, and manifest the glory that belongs only to the Son of God.

Only-begotten. This term is never applied by John to any but Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to Jesus, Jn 1:14, Jn 1:18, Jn 3:16, Jn 3:18 1Jn 4:9.

It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is peculiarly dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved. Comp. Gen 22:2, Gen 12:16, Jer 6:26 Zech 12:10.

On both these accounts it is bestowed on Jesus.

1st. As he was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a peculiar relation to him in his divine nature, exalted above all men and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, his only Son. Saints are called his sons or children, because they are born of his Spirit, or are like him; but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called his only-begotten Son.

2nd. He was peculiarly dear to God, and therefore this appellation, implying tender affection, is bestowed on him.

Full of grace and truth. The word full here refers to the Word made flesh, which is declared to be full of grace and truth. The word grace means favours, gifts, acts of beneficence. He was kind, merciful, gracious, doing good to all, and seeking man's welfare by great sacrifices and love; so much so, that it might be said to be characteristic of him, or he abounded in favours to mankind. He was also full of truth. He declared the truth. In him was no falsehood. He was not like the false prophets and false Messiahs, who were wholly impostors; nor was he like the emblems and shadows of the old dispensation, which were only types of the true; but he was truth itself. He represented things as they are, and thus became the truth as well as the way and the life.

-- edit commentary

Personal tools
related