The prologue of John introduces key themes of his gospel – 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. It concludes by declaring that he is the only one who is qualified to interpret the unseen God.
The prologue concludes with a significant contrast – Rather than Moses, Jesus is the only one who interprets the Father. John’s purpose is to present him 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 challenges beliefs about the Torah held by many Jews in the first century.
The term rendered “interpreted” translates the Greek verb exégeomai, which means to “lead out, explain, interpret” (Strong’s – #G1834). Here, it has no direct object in the Greek clause, no “him” after “interpreted” since the verb is used intransitively.
Thus, the end of the clause remains open-ended. Jesus is the final interpreter of all things and words that relate to God.
The clause “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.” “Jesus Christ” is the one who gives and unveils “grace and truth.” Throughout the gospel of John, he is the one who “interprets” and reveals the unseen God to his disciples – (John 6:46, 8:38, 14:7-9, 15:24).
He is not just another in a long line of prophets, but instead, Jesus is the ultimate expression and revelation of God. The Father can be seen and understood only in and through him.
REVEALER OF THE UNSEEN GOD
The gospel of John does not present a Messiah who is identical to the Father, but one who knows and reveals the Living and True God. Therefore, anyone who has “seen” Jesus has “seen” the Father and received “grace and truth.”
The prologue contrasts the “only born Son” with the Mosaic legislation. All things were made according to the “Word,” the Logos, and not according to the Torah.
The Mosaic Law certainly has its place in God’s redemptive plan, but it has been superseded by the “Word made flesh.” Light and life are found only in Jesus. In him, God’s “glory” is being revealed to His children.
In the book of Exodus, Moses was only permitted to see the “backside,” the afterglow of God’s glory while he remained 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” have been unveiled in Jesus of Nazareth. The purpose of the prologue is not to denigrate Moses or the Law, but instead, to highlight the full and final revelation of God that now and forevermore is found in Jesus alone.