Vincent Word Studies - John 1:16 - 1:16

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to

Vincent Word Studies - John 1:16 - 1:16

(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

And (καὶ)

But the correct reading is ὅτι, because, thus connecting the following sentence with “full of grace and truth” in Joh 1:14. We know Him as full of grace and truth, because we have received of His fullness.

Of His fulness (ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ)

These and the succeeding words are the Evangelist's, not the Baptist's. The word fullness (πλήρωμα) is found here only in John, but frequently occurs in the writings of Paul, whose use of it in Ephesians and Colossians illustrates the sense in John; these being Asiatic churches which fell, later, within the sphere of John's influence. The word is akin to πλήρης, full (Joh 1:14), and to πληροῦν, to fill or complete; and means that which is complete in itself, plenitude, entire number or quantity. Thus the crew of a ship is called πλήρωμα, its complement. Aristophanes (“Wasps,” 660), “τούτων πλήρωμα, the sum-total of these, is nearly two thousand talents.” Herodotus (iii., 22) says that the full term of man's life among the Persians is eighty years; and Aristotle (“Polities,” iv., 4) refers to Socrates as saying that the eight classes, representing different industries in the state, constitute the pleroma of the state (see Plato, “Republic,” 371). In Eph 1:23, Paul says that the church is the pleroma of Christ: i.e., the plenitude of the divine graces in Christ is communicated to the Church as His body, making all the body, supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, to increase with the increase of God (Col 2:19; compare Eph 4:16). Similarly he prays (Eph 3:19) that the brethren may be filled unto all the pleroma of God: i.e., that they may be filled with the fullness which God imparts. More closely related to John's use of the term here are Col 1:19, “It pleased the Father that in Him (Christ) should all the fullness (τὸ πλήρωμα, note the article) dwell;” and Col 2:9, Col 2:10, “In Him dwelleth all the pleroma of the Godhead bodily (i.e., corporally, becoming incarnate), and in Him ye are fulfilled (πεπληρωμένοι).” This declares that the whole aggregate of the divine powers and graces appeared in the incarnate Word, and corresponds with John's statement that “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among men, full of grace and truth;” while “ye are fulfilled” answers to John's “of His fullness we all received.” Hence John's meaning here is that Christians receive from the divine completeness whatever each requires for the perfection of his character and for the accomplishment of his work (compare Joh 15:15; Joh 17:22).

Have - received (ἐλάβομεν)

Rev., we received: rendering the aorist tense more literally.

Grace for grace (χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος)

The preposition ἀντί originally means over against; opposite; before (in a local sense). Through the idea of placing one thing over against another is developed that of exchange. Thus Herodotus (iii., 59), “They bought the island, ἀντὶ χρημάτων, for money.” So Mat 5:38, “An eye for (ἀντὶ) an eye,” etc. This idea is at the root of the peculiar sense in which the preposition is used here. We received, not New Testament grace instead of Old Testament grace; nor simply, grace added to grace; but new grace imparted as the former measure of grace has been received and improved. “To have realized and used one measure of grace, was to have gained a larger measure (as it were) in exchange for it.” Consequently, continuous, unintermitted grace. The idea of the development of one grace from another is elaborated by Peter (2Pe 1:5), on which see notes. Winer cites a most interesting parallel from Philo. “Wherefore, having provided and dispensed the first graces (χάριτας), before their recipients have waxed wanton through satiety, he subsequently bestows different graces in exchange for (ἀντὶ) those, and a third supply for the second, and ever new ones in exchange for the older.”