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What is the meaning of John 1.16, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace”?

These are the words of John the apostle. There are several ways in which this verse has been interpreted. The best of these gives the meaning as “grace answering to grace”. The question is, therefore, in what sense does grace answer grace? Is it not by grace succeeding to grace? One grace, so to speak, following another – “grace upon grace”: grace is the stream answering to grace in the fountain. Thus, in Christ, there is infinite fulness, and what we receive out of that fulness is abundant, precious, lasting, divine and heavenly, according to those qualities in the source.

This is the portion of the least believer. All who have been saved can experience this grace. The Lord is both the Gift and the Giver. As to its meaning, we favour “one grace succeeding to another without failure, constantly fresh abundant supplies of new grace taking the place of old grace, continually filling up and supplying all our need.” This is real practical truth, and it concerns every believer. It pre-supposes that the child of God will seek personal communion with the Lord to experience this blessing. “Grace” is a familiar word to the believer, and is found in the New Testament a number of times, but only twice in the Old Testament (Ps 45.2; 84.11). The latter Scripture says “… the Lord will give grace and glory.” This is an interesting statement, which gives the promise of two gifts which God delights to give to His people. We need to be in the good of these blessings. We can apply it this way: grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummated. Another Scripture which fits our question well is 2 Timothy 2.1; “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Here is provision of grace for present need, but we must learn that fellowship with Christ is essential for being spiritually strengthened.

John J Stubbs

Please identify “one like the Son of man” and “the Ancient of days” in Daniel 7.13.

The contrast between the second and third night visions of the prophet is most marked (Dan 7.7, 13). In the second, Daniel sees a “beast, dreadful and terrible” but, in the third, he sees the glory of “one like the Son of man”. Instead of the text reading, “the Son of man came”, the statement presents a simile; “one like the Son of man came”. This in no way detracts from his personality; it simply draws attention to One “who would reflect the perfection of manhood” (J Allen).

In verses 13 and 14, the Son of man receives the fifth world kingdom: “there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom.” This final kingdom to be established in the earth will last for ever, and it will neither be superseded nor destroyed: “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” The times of the Gentiles will have come to an end, and the day of investiture of the Son of man will have arrived. The Son of man is Christ Himself; indeed, it is a Messianic title. It is used by the Lord Jesus of Himself in the four Gospels no less than 77 times: no doubt, it was a claim to be the One of whom Daniel wrote those centuries before.

In this third night vision, Daniel beholds the Son of man coming to “the Ancient of days”. This is a unique title for deity, used on two other occasions in this chapter; “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit” (v 9); “the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High” (v 22). The title is not found elsewhere in Scripture, and some commentators see it as identifying the Father as distinct from the Son. A very similar presentation is seen in Revelation 4 and 5. However, in observing the distinct Persons of the Godhead, we must be careful not to detract from the inscrutability of the one eternal God. So, whilst the title “Ancient of days” suggests the constant, everlasting One, who is unchanged by days and who stands outside of time, we are nevertheless reminded of the title used of Christ Himself: “thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb 1.12); and again, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (13.8).

David E West


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