And the Word became 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. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1: 14-15)
The Son of God who was from eternity became human, with limitations in time and space (Phil. 2:5–8). This is the doctrine of the incarnation: God became human. Nothing of the essential nature of deity was lost in this event; we might rephrase became as “took to Himself.” John uses the word flesh to refer to the physical nature of humans, not to our sinful disposition (Rom. 8:1–11).
Christ became (1) the perfect teacher – in Jesus’ life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think (Phil. 2:5-11); (2) the perfect example – as a model of what we are to become, He shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way (1 Peter 2:21); (3) the perfect sacrifice – Jesus came as a sacrifice for all sins, and His death satisfied God’s requirements for the removal of sin (Col. 1:15-23).
The word “dwelt” comes from the Greek word for tent that was used in the Greek Old Testament for the tabernacle, where the presence of God dwelt. In the Old Testament, glory refers to the divine presence (Ex. 33:18). As God manifested His glory in the tabernacle, so Jesus displayed His divine presence before the apostles (John 18:6; 20:26, 27).
Only begotten (John 3:16, 18) means unique, one of a kind. The same term is used of Isaac (Heb. 11:17), who was not the only physical son of Abraham, but was the unique son of promise. All who trust Christ are born of God. In the Gospel of John, these “born ones” are called children of God (John 1: 12, 13), but Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God. He is the only Son who is fully God. He is also full of grace and truth. When God revealed Himself to Moses, He proclaimed Himself to be “abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). As applied to Jesus Christ, this phrase marks Him as the author of perfect redemption and perfect revelation.
When Christ was born, God became a man. He was not part man and part God; He was completely human and completely divine (Col. 2:9). Before Christ came, people could know God partially. After Christ came, people could know God fully because He became visible and tangible in Christ. Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form. The two most common errors people make about Jesus are to minimize His humanity or to minimize His divinity. Jesus is both God and man.
Jesus was born after John the Baptist (Luke 1:36) and began His ministry later than John the Baptist. Yet John the Baptist said Jesus was before him, meaning that Jesus’ existence is from eternity past (John 1:30).
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1: 16-18)
Most people take the words of John 1:15 to be John the Baptist’s. Probably the words of John 1:16–18 are those of John the writer of this Gospel, although they too may be John the Baptist’s. Grace for grace means grace piled upon grace. The background of this doubled term, as well as the use of the term in John 1:17, is found in Ex. 32:34. Moses and the people had received grace, but they were in tremendous need of more grace (Ex. 33:13).
Throughout the New Testament, grace is God’s favor expressed to sinful humankind apart from any human works or worth. Though there was abundant grace and truth expressed by God through the Law He gave Moses, it is in the person of Jesus Christ that grace and truth are realized to the fullest.
Law and grace are both aspects of God’s nature that He uses in dealing with us. Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. Moses could only be the giver of the law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17). The nature and will of God were revealed in the law. However, now the nature and will of God are revealed in Jesus Christ. Rather than coming through cold stone tablets, God’s revelation (“truth”) now comes through a person’s life. As we get to know Christ better, our understanding of God will increase.
God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and is invisible (Col. 1:15, 1 Tim. 1:17) unless God chooses to reveal Himself. Humans cannot look at God and live (Ex. 33:20). Abraham, the friend of God, did not see God. Even Moses, the lawgiver, could not look at God’s face (Ex. 33:22, 23). However, the Son is in intimate relationship with the Father, face-to-face with God (John 1:1; 6:46; 1 John. 1:2). God became visible to human eyes in the man Jesus. It is through seeing the Son that we see God. We cannot see Him today, but we know Him through His word. The bosom, or chest, is used here to designate a close and intimate relationship (John 13:23; Luke 16:23). The One who is the Father’s only begotten Son and who knows God intimately came to earth and declared Him. Declared can also mean “explained.”
God communicated through various people in the Old Testament, usually prophets who were told to give specific messages. But no one ever saw God. “God the One and Only” is a title showing that Jesus is both God and the Father’s unique Son. In Christ, God revealed His nature and essence in a way that could be seen and touched. In Christ, God became a man who lived on earth.
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.