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John 1:16

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16, ESV)
I have been pondering this verse for the last hour, and I am still no closer to comprehending its full meaning.

"...from his fullness..." can easily be understood as, the full, complete reality of who Jesus Christ is.  He is God, He is man, He is messiah, He is light, He is life, etc.  His fullness... and it is from this fullness that we are the recipients of "...grace upon grace."  This is where I am stumped. Simply put, we are recipients of God's unmerited favor, but why grace upon grace?

That little word "upon" is normally, possibly 90% of the time, translated to mean in place of.  For example, and eye for an eye.  That is the same greek word, and nearly every time that greek word shows up in the New Testament, it has that replacement meaning.  That is interesting to me because I have always taken this to mean grace on top of grace, a little like saying heaps and loads of grace.  But if this means grace for grace or grace in place of grace, that seems like it means something different.

Is this a significant difference?  Is there some meaning in grace in place of grace?  I have considered the possibility of it meaning that God was gracious already, He was already known for his steadfast love and faithfulness, but now there is a new sort of grace, a completely revealed grace, that is found in Jesus Christ.

I will have to do some more digging into this one.  I pray that God will give me wisdom before it is time to preach this passage.


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