on John 1 :14
And the Word was made flesh - That very person who was in the beginning - who was with God - and who was God, John 1:1, in the fullness of time became flesh - became incarnated by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin. Allowing this apostle to have written by Divine inspiration, is not this verse, taken in connection with John 1:1, an absolute and incontestable proof of the proper and eternal Godhead of Christ Jesus?
And dwelt among us - Και εσκηνωσεν εν ἡμιν, And tabernacled among us: the human nature which he took of the virgin, being as the shrine, house, or temple, in which his immaculate Deity condescended to dwell. The word is probably an allusion to the Divine Shechinah in the Jewish temple; and as God has represented the whole Gospel dispensation by the types and ceremonies of the old covenant, so the Shechinah in the tabernacle and temple pointed out this manifestation of God in the flesh. The word is thus used by the Jewish writers: it signifies with them a manifestation of the Divine Shechinah.
The original word, σκηνοω, from σκια, a shadow, signifies:
1. To build a booth, tent, or temporary hut, for present shelter or convenience; and does not properly signify a lasting habitation or dwelling place; and is therefore fitly applied to the human nature of Christ, which, like the tabernacle of old, was to be here only for a temporary residence for the eternal Divinity.
2. It signifies to erect such a building as was used on festival occasions, when a man invited and enjoyed the company of his friends. To this meaning of the word, which is a common one in the best Greek writers, the evangelist might allude, to point out Christ's associating his disciples with himself; living, conversing, eating, and drinking with them: so that, while they had the fullest proof of his Divinity by the miracles which he wrought, they had the clearest evidence of his humanity, by his tabernacling among, eating, drinking, and conversing with them. Concerning the various acceptations of the verb σκηνοω see Raphelius on this verse.
The doctrine of vicarious sacrifice and the incarnation of the Deity have prevailed among the most ancient nations in the world, and even among those which were not favored with the letter of Divine revelation. The Hindoos believe that their god has already become incarnate, not less than nine times, to save the wretched race of man.
On this subject, Creeshna, an incarnation of the supreme God, according to the Hindoo theology, is represented in the Bhagvat Geeta, as thus addressing one of his disciples: "Although I am not in my nature subject to birth or decay, and am the Lord of all created beings, yet, having command over my own nature, I am made evident by my own power; and, as often as there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, I make myself evident; and thus I appear from age to age, for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of virtue." Geeta, pp. 51, 52.
The following piece, already mentioned, Luke 1:68, translated from the Sanscreet, found on a stone, in a cave near the ancient city of Gya in the East Indies, is the most astonishing and important of any thing found out of the compass of the Sacred Writings, and a proper illustration of this text.
"The Deity, who is the Lord, the possessor of all, Appeared in this ocean of natural beings, at the beginning of the Kalee Yoog (the age of contention and baseness.) He who is omnipresent, and everlastingly to be contemplated, the Supreme Being, the eternal One, the Divinity worthy to be adored - Appeared here, with a Portion of his Divine Nature. Reverence be unto thee in the form of (a) Bood-dha! Reverence be unto the Lord of the earth! Reverence be unto thee, an Incarnation of the Deity, and the Eternal One! Reverence be unto thee, O God! in the form of the God of mercy! the dispeller of Pain and Trouble, the Lord of All things, the Deity who overcometh the sins of the Kalee Yoog, the guardian of the universe, the emblem of mercy towards those who serve thee! (b) O'M! the possessor of all things, in Vital Form! Thou art (c) Brahma, (d) Veeshnoo, and (e) Mahesa! Thou art Lord of the universe! Thou art under the form of all things, movable and immovable, the possessor of the whole! And thus I adore thee! Reverence be unto the Bestower of Salvation, and the ruler of the faculties! Reverence be unto thee, the Destroyer of the Evil Spirit! O Damordara, (f) show me favor! I adore thee who art celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms, in the shape of Bood-dha, the God of mercy! Be propitious, O most high God!" Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 284, 285.
(a) Bood-dha. The name of the Deity, as author of happiness.
(b) O'M. A mystic emblem of the Deity, forbidden to be pronounced but in silence. It is a syllable formed of the Sanscreet letters a, o o, which in composition coalesce, and make o, and the nasal consonant m. The first letter stands for the Creator, the second for the Preserver, and the third for the Destroyer. It is the same among the Hindoos as יהוה Yehovah is among the Hebrews.
(c) Brahma, the Deity in his creative quality.
(d) Veeshnoo. He who filleth all space: the Deity in his preserving quality.
(c) Mahesa. The Deity in his destroying quality. This is properly the Hindoo Trinity: for these three names belong to the same God. See the notes to the Bhagvat Geeta.
on John 1 :14
And the Word was made flesh - The word "flesh," here, is evidently used to denote "human nature" or "man." See Matthew 16:17; Matthew 19:5; Matthew 24:22; Luke 3:6; Romans 1:3; Romans 9:5. The "Word" was made "man." This is commonly expressed by saying that he became "incarnate." When we say that a being becomes "incarnate," we mean that one of a higher order than man, and of a different nature, assumes the appearance of man or becomes a man. Here it is meant that "the Word," or the second person of the Trinity, whom John had just proved to be equal with God, became a man, or was united with the man Jesus of Nazareth, so that it might be said that he "was made flesh."
Was made - This is the same word that is used in John 1:3; "All things were made by him." It is not simply affirmed that he was flesh, but that he was made flesh, implying that he had pre-existence, agreeably to John 1:1. This is in accordance with the doctrine of the Scriptures elsewhere. Hebrews 10:5; "a 'body' hast thou prepared me." Hebrews 2:14; "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." 1 John 4:2; "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." See also 1 Timothy 3:16; Philippians 2:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Luke 1:35. The expression, then, means that he became a man, and that he became such by the power of God providing for him a body. It cannot mean that the divine nature was "changed" into the human, for that could not be; but it means that the λόγος Logos, or "Word," became so intimately united to Jesus that it might be said that the Logos, or "Word" "became" or "was" a man, as the soul becomes so united to the body that we may say that it is one person or a man.
And dwell among us - The word in the original denotes "dwelt as in a tabernacle or tent;" and some have supposed that John means to say that the human body was a tabernacle or tent for the λόγος Logos to abide in, in allusion to the tabernacle among the Jews, in which the Shechinah, or visible symbol of God, dwelt; but it is not necessary to suppose this. The object of John was to prove that "the Word" became "incarnate." To do this he appeals to various evidences. One was that he "dwelt" among them; sojourned with them; ate, drank, slept, and was with them for years, so that they "saw him with their eyes, they looked upon him, and their hands handled him," 1 John 1:1. To "dwell in a tent with one" is the same as to be in his family; and when John says he "tabernacled" with them, he means that he was with them as a friend and as one of a family, so that they had full opportunity of becoming familiarly acquainted with him, and could not be mistaken in supposing that "he was really a man."
We beheld his glory - This is a new proof of what he was affirming - "that the word of God became man." The first was, that they had seen him as a man. He now adds that they had seen him in his proper glory "as God and man united in one person," constituting him the unequalled Son of the Father. There is no doubt that there is reference here to the transfiguration on the holy mount. See Matthew 17:1-9. To this same evidence Peter also appeals, 2 Peter 1:16-18. John was one of the witnesses of that scene, and hence he says, "we beheld his glory," Mark 9:2. The word "glory" here means majesty, dignity, splendor.
The glory as of the only-begotten of the Father - The dignity which was appropriate to the only-begotten Son of God; such glory or splendor as could belong to no other. and as properly expressed his rank and character. This glory was seen eminently on the mount of transfiguration. It was also seen in his miracles, his doctrine, his resurrection, his ascension; all of which were such as to illustrate the perfections, and manifest the glory that belongs only to the Son of God.
Only-begotten - This term is never applied by John to any but Jesus Christ. It is applied by him five times to the Saviour, John 1:14, John 1:18; John 3:16, John 3:18; 1 John 4:9. It means literally an only child. Then, as an only child is especially dear to a parent, it means one that is especially beloved. Compare Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:12, Genesis 22:16; Jeremiah 6:26; Zechariah 12:10. On both these accounts it is bestowed on the Saviour.
1. As he was eminently the Son of God, sustaining a special relation to Him in His divine nature, exalted above all human beings and angels, and thus worthy to be called, by way of eminence, His only Son. Saints are called His "sons" or children, because they are born of His Spirit, or are like Him; but the Lord Jesus is exalted far above all, and deserves eminently to be called His only-begotten Son.
2. He was especially dear to God, and therefore this appellation, implying tender affection, is bestowed upon him.
Full of grace and truth - The word "full" here refers to the "Word made flesh," which is declared to be full of grace and truth. The word "grace" means "favors," gifts, acts of beneficence. He was kind, merciful, gracious, doing good to all, and seeking man's welfare by great sacrifices and love; so much so, that it might be said to be characteristic of him, or he "abounded" in favors to mankind. He was also "full of truth." He declared the truth. In him was no falsehood. He was not like the false prophets and false Messiahs, who were wholly impostors; nor was he like the emblems and shadows of the old dispensation, which were only types of the true; but he was truth itself. He represented things as they are, and thus became the "truth" as well as "the way and the life."
on John 1 :14
1:14 Flesh sometimes signifies corrupt nature; sometimes the body; sometimes, as here, the whole man. We beheld his glory - We his apostles, particularly Peter, James, and John, Luke 9:32. Grace and truth - We are all by nature liars and children of wrath, to whom both grace and truth are unknown. But we are made partakers of them, when we are accepted through the Beloved. The whole verse might be paraphrased thus: And in order to raise us to this dignity and happiness, the eternal Word, by a most amazing condescension, was made flesh, united himself to our miserable nature, with all its innocent infirmities. And he did not make us a transient visit, but tabernacled among us on earth, displaying his glory in a more eminent manner, than even of old in the tabernacle of Moses. And we who are now recording these things beheld his glory with so strict an attention, that we can testify, it was in every respect such a glory as became the only begotten of the Father. For it shone forth not only in his transfiguration, and in his continual miracles, but in all his tempers, ministrations, and conduct through the whole series of his life. In all he appeared full of grace and truth: he was himself most benevolent and upright; made those ample discoveries of pardon to sinners, which the Mosaic dispensation could not do: and really exhibited the most substantial blessings, whereas that was but a shadow of good things to come.