The fullness and grace of God are found only in the “Word made Flesh,” Jesus of Nazareth – John 1:14-18.
John’s prologue to his gospel introduces its key themes – Life, Light, Witness, Truth, and Grace. Jesus is the Light of the world, the source of Grace and Truth, the True Tabernacle, the only-born Son of God, and the only one who has seen the Father. The prologue concludes by declaring that he is the only one who is qualified to interpret the unseen God.
The prologue concludes with a significant contrast – Jesus interprets the Father, NOT Moses. The purpose is to present Jesus, the “word made flesh,” as the one who reveals God and makes Him known (“He is in the bosom of the Father, he declared him”).
- (John 1:14-18) – “And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we gazed upon his glory, glory as an only-born from his Father, full of grace and truth… Because from his fullness we all received, even grace over against grace. Because the law was given through Moses, grace and truth through Jesus Christ came to be. No one has seen God at any time. The only born, the One who is in the bosom of the Father, He has interpreted…”
In contrast to Moses, “grace and truth came to be through Jesus Christ.” This declaration would be a challenge to beliefs about the Mosaic Law commonly held among the Jews of the first century.
“Interpreted” translates exégeomai, a verb that means to “lead out, explain, interpret” (Strong’s – #G1834). The verb has no direct object in the Greek clause, no “him” after “interpreted.” Here, the verb is intransitive. The end of the clause is open-ended. Jesus is the final interpreter of all that relates to God.
“Only-born Son” expands on verse 14 – “We beheld his glory, a glory as of an only-born from a father, full of grace and truth.” That is, “Jesus Christ,” the one who gives “grace and truth.” Throughout the gospel of John, he is the one who “interprets” and reveals the unseen God to humanity – (John 6:46, 8:38, 14:7-9, 15:24).
Jesus is not just another in a long line of prophets, but the ultimate expression and revelation of God. The Father can be seen and understood only in and through him. The gospel of John does not present a Messiah who is identical to the Father, but one who knows and reveals Him. Therefore, anyone who has “seen” Jesus has “seen” the Father.
The prologue contrasts the Son with the Mosaic legislation. All things were made according to the “Word,” the Logos, and not according to the Torah. Light and Life are found in Jesus, not in the Law. It is the “Word” that became flesh and revealed God’s “glory” to His children, including grace and truth, not Moses.
In Exodus, Moses was only permitted to see the “backside,” the afterglow of God’s glory while he was hidden in the hollow of a rock. In contrast, Jesus dwells in God’s very “bosom,” and therefore, he is the only one who can “declare” the unseen God – (Exodus 33:17-22).
The “Word made flesh” is the True Tabernacle in which the presence of God dwells. Moses certainly gave the Law, but “grace and truth” came through Jesus. The purpose of the prologue is not to denigrate Moses, but to stress the full and final revelation of God that is found in Jesus and nowhere else.