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The One and Only Son

John 1:14- And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:16 - For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

John 1:18 - No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Background:

John 1:14 refers to Jesus Christ, the Word, as the "only begotten of the Father," and verse 18 refers to Him as the "only begotten Son." The Greek word that is translated only begotten is the also used in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Only begotten is probably not the best translation of this Greek word, because the use of the word begotten sounds like the Bible is teaching that the Son of God had a beginning. We know that's not true-- the eternal Son of God always existed! The truth of His eternal Sonship is clearly taught in John 1:1-2: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God."

What it gets down to is this: the Greek word translated only begotten doesn’t really meanbegotten! A better translation would leave out the misleading word begotten. The Greek term actually has to do with the uniqueness of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Thus a better translation would be "the One and Only Son."

The Lord Jesus Christ is the One and Only Son of God. By very nature He is God. He possesses every attribute of God. These ideas are all involved in the term only begotten. There is no idea in this term of a "beginning."

When John wrote his Gospel in about 85AD, the seeds of an early Christian heresy known as Gnosticism had already been planted. One of the false teachings of this early heresy was that the man Jesus was not fully God. The gnostics believed that there was no way that God, who is pure Spirit and inherently good, would allow Himself to take on a material body, because (in their view) matter was inherently evil. Thus the gnostics taught that Jesus was only a man upon whom the "Christ-spirit" came at his baptism and left at his death. Therefore, said the gnostics, the man Jesus was not God. There are many modern-day gnostics in the cults all around us today. The seeds of Gnosticism are clearly refuted in John 1:14-18.

Doctrinal / Teaching Point

The incarnation was not a subtraction, but an addition!

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory...full of grace and truth." Verse 14 says that Jesus Christ became flesh. The word flesh here doesn't mean sinful flesh--it means human flesh, or humanity. This verse does not say that the Word appearedto be flesh, and it does not say that the Word came upon flesh. It doesn't say that the Word became partly flesh and it doesn't say that the Word changed into flesh. It says that the Word became flesh. The eternal Word took on flesh without in any way ceasing to be the eternal Word. The incarnation was not a subtraction, but an addition! No attribute of deity was subtracted when God the Son, the eternal Word, became flesh – that is, when He took on humanity and became Man.

When the eternal Son of God became flesh, He became Man forever! The incarnation was not a quick flash of deity taking on humanity. The God-Man lived among us. His glory was seen! His moral glories, His sinlessness, and His perfections were seen throughout His life on earth. In the Old Testament, God dwelt in the midst of His people, and His glory was seen, focused in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. But now with the coming of the Messiah, the glory of God was focused and seen in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who became Man forever!

Practical Application

"Grace for grace" means one blessing after another!

"Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." Grace upon grace means one blessing after another! Verse 14 says that the Lord Jesus Christ is “full of grace and truth”– and that grace has been extended to us, not only in salvation but also in blessings every day.

Think of an ocean labeled "God's Grace." Now think of standing on the beach at the edge of the surf, as wave upon wave comes in to shore and laps at your feet. As Christians, we’ve all received blessings out of the ocean of God’s grace, and we continue to experience it, wave after wave – one blessing after another!

Looking back on the past year, we should take a few moments to count our many blessings. Blessings in our families, blessings in our church fellowships, blessings of answered prayer, blessings of God’s grace in areas or things about which we have never even prayed! How thankful we should be that God has brought waves of grace – one blessing after another -- into our lives every day of the year.
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