"The Word Became Flesh" John 1:14
John 1:14. Was made flesh; became man. The statement here made, taken in connection with what is said of the Word in the opening verses of the chapter, seems to be so direct and unequivocal, that the doctrine of the inhering of a divine nature in the person of Jesus Christ, and that of the inspiration of the Word, of God, must be received or rejected together. It seems impossible to reject the one without renouncing the other.
Verse 14. And the Word was made flesh. The word flesh, here, is evidently used to denote human nature or man. See Mt 16:17; 19:5; 24:22; Lu 3:6; Ro 1:3; 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 John 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 John 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." 1Jo 4:2. "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." See also 1Ti 3:16; Php 2:6; 2Co 8:9; Lu 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, 1Jo 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 18:1-9. To this same evidence Peter also appeals, 2Pe 1:16-18. John was one of the witnesses of that scene, and hence he says, "WE beheld his glory," Mr 9:2. The word glory here means majesty, dignity, splendour.
The evangelist having asserted the divinity of Christ in the foregoing verses, comes now to speak of his humanity and manifestation in our nature: The word was made flesh.
Where note, 1. Our Saviour's incarnation for us.
2. His life and conversation here among us. He dwelt or tabernacled for a season with us. In the incarnation or assumption of our nature,
Observe, 1. The person assuming, The Word, that is, the second person subsisting in the glorious Godhead.
Observe, 2. The nature assumed, flesh; that is, the human nature, consisting of soul and body.
And the Word was made flesh - That very person who was in the beginning - who was with God - and who was God, John 1:1, in the fullness of time became flesh - became incarnated by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin. Allowing this apostle to have written by Divine inspiration, is not this verse, taken in connection with John 1:1, an absolute and incontestable proof of the proper and eternal Godhead of Christ Jesus?
7And the Word was made uflesh, and xdwelt among us, (and we beheld his yglory, the glory zas of the only begotten of the Father,) afull of grace and truth.
7. That Son who is God from everlasting took upon himself man's nature, so that one and the selfsame might be both God and man, who manifestly appeared to many witnesses that saw him, amongst whom he was conversant and unto whom by sure and undoubted arguments he showed both of his natures.
u. That is, man: so that, by the figure of speech synecdoche, the part is taken for the whole: for he took upon himself our entire nature, that is to say, a true body, and a true soul.
x. For a time, and when that was ended, he went up into heaven: for the word which he uses is used with reference to tents: and yet nonetheless he is always present with us, though not in flesh, but by the power of his spirit.
y. The glory which he speaks of here is that manifestation of Christ's majesty, which was as it were openly placed before our eyes when the Son of God appeared in the flesh.
z. This word "as" does not indicate here a likeness, but rather the truth of the matter, for his meaning is this, that we saw such a glory which suited and was proper for the true and only begotten Son of God, who is Lord and King over all the world.
a. He was not only a partaker of grace and truth, but was full of the very substance of grace and truth.
14. And the Word, &c.--To raise the reader to the altitude of this climax were the thirteen foregoing verses written.
was made flesh--BECAME MAN, in man's present frail, mortal condition, denoted by the word "flesh" (Isa 40:6; 1Pe 1:24). It is directed probably against the Docetś, who held that Christ was not really but only apparently man; against whom this gentle spirit is vehement in his Epistles (1Jo 4:3; 2Jo 1:7,10-11), [LUCKE, &c.]. Nor could He be too much so, for with the verity of the Incarnation all substantial Christianity vanishes. But now, married to our nature, henceforth He is as personally conscious of all that is strictly human as of all that is properly divine; and our nature is in His Person redeemed and quickened, ennobled and transfigured.
and dwelt--tabernacled or pitched his tent; a word peculiar to John, who uses it four times, all in the sense of a permanent stay (Re 7:15; 12:12; 13:6; 21:3). For ever wedded to our "flesh," He has entered this tabernacle to "go no more out." The allusion is to that tabernacle where dwelt the Shekinah (see on Cmt. on Mt 23:38), or manifested "GLORY OF THE LORD," and with reference to God's permanent dwelling among His people (Le 26:11; Ps 68:18; 132:13-14). This is put almost beyond doubt by what immediately follows, "And we beheld his glory" [LUCKE, MEYER, DE WETTE which last critic, rising higher than usual, says that thus were perfected all former partial manifestations of God in an essentially Personal and historically Human manifestation].
v6-14 John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men's minds, than that when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not. When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them. All the children of God are born again. This new birth is through the word of God as the means, 1Pe 1:23, and by the Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But now that the fulness of time was come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the things he was to reveal.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. The Word assumed a human form and became incarnate as the child of Mary.
And the Word became flesh (kai ho logos sarx egeneto). See verse John 1:3 for this verb and note its use for the historic event of the Incarnation rather than Ín of verse John 1:1. Note also the absence of the article with the predicate substantive sarx, so that it cannot mean "the flesh became the Word." The Pre-existence of the Logos has already been plainly stated and argued. John does not here say that the Logos entered into a man or dwelt in a man or filled a man. One is at liberty to see an allusion to the birth narratives in Mt 1:16-25; Lu 1:28-38, if he wishes, since John clearly had the Synoptics before him and chiefly supplemented them in his narrative. In fact, one is also at liberty to ask what intelligent meaning can one give to John's language here apart from the Virgin Birth? What ordinary mother or father ever speaks of a child "becoming flesh"? For the Incarnation see also 2Co 8:9; Ga 4:4; Ro 1:3; 8:3; Php 2:7; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 2:14. "To explain the exact significance of egeneto in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter" (Bernard). Unless, indeed, as seems plain, John is referring to the Virgin Birth as recorded in Matthew and Luke. "The Logos of philosophy is, John declares, the Jesus of history" (Bernard). Thus John asserts the deity and the real humanity of Christ. He answers the Docetic Gnostics who denied his humanity. Dwelt among us (eskÍnŰsen en hÍmin). First aorist ingressive aorist active indicative of skÍnoŰ, old verb, to pitch one's tent or tabernacle (skÍnos or skÍnÍ), in N.T. only here and Re 7:1-15; 12:12; 13:6; 21:3. In Revelation it is used of God tabernacling with men and here of the Logos tabernacling, God's Shekinah glory here among us in the person of his Son. We beheld his glory (etheasametha tÍn doxan autou). First aorist middle indicative of theaomai (from thea, spectacle). The personal experience of John and of others who did recognize Jesus as the Shekinah glory (doxa) of God as James, the brother of Jesus, so describes him (Jas 2:1). John employs theaomai again in John 1:32 (the Baptist beholding the Spirit coming down as a dove) and John 1:38 of the Baptist gazing in rapture at Jesus. So also John 4:35; 11:45; 1Jo 1:1; 4:12,14. By this word John insists that in the human Jesus he beheld the Shekinah glory of God who was and is the Logos who existed before with God. By this plural John speaks for himself and all those who saw in Jesus what he did. As of the only begotten from the Father (hŰs monogenous para patros). Strictly, "as of an only born from a father," since there is no article with monogenous or with patros. In John 3:16; 1Jo 4:9 we have ton monogenÍ referring to Christ. This is the first use in the Gospel of patÍr of God in relation to the Logos. MonogenÍs (only born rather than only begotten) here refers to the eternal relationship of the Logos (as in John 1:18) rather than to the Incarnation. It distinguishes thus between the Logos and the believers as children (tekna) of God. The word is used of human relationships as in Lu 7:12; 8:42; 9:38. It occurs also in the LXX and Heb 11:17, but elsewhere in N.T. only in John's writings. It is an old word in Greek literature. It is not clear whether the words para patros (from the Father) are to be connected with monogenous (cf. John 6:46; 7:29, etc.) or with doxan (cf. John 5:41,44). John clearly means to say that "the manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son" (Bernard). Cf. John 8:54; 14:9; 17:5. Full (plÍrÍs). Probably indeclinable accusative adjective agreeing with doxan (or genitive with monogenous) of which we have papyri examples (Robertson, Grammar, p. 275). As nominative plÍrÍs can agree with the subject of eskÍnŰsen. Of grace and truth (charitos kai alÍtheias). Curiously this great word charis (grace), so common with Paul, does not occur in John's Gospel save in John 1:14,16-17, though alÍtheia (truth) is one of the keywords in the Fourth Gospel and in 1John, occurring 25 times in the Gospel and 20 in the Johannine Epistles, 7 times in the Synoptics and not at all in Revelation (Bernard).
Drawn from: Abbott Barnes Burkitt Clarke FBN Geneva JFB MHCC MHWBC PNTC.
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