Help with "grace for grace" John 1:16

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Puritan Board Sophomore
John 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. (NKJV)

Hi all,

I'm interested in how to understand "grace for grace" in John 1:16. I didn't particularly find the NIV84 helpful or the ESV enlightening beyond what is there. After reading Matthew Henry's commentary I can't say that I have anything more than a general understanding of what it may mean. As in, I sort of understand the average of the sum of interpretations that I have read and generally agree with it!

In a nutshell - "grace for grace" seems to mean an expansion on "merely" grace. As in, the grace that brought salvation would have have been enough, but the grace we have received has not only raised us with Christ but also seated us in the heavenly places with Christ.

I would really appreciate thoughts on my "in a nutshell" understanding - if I am missing the mark or how better I could state it etc.

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I think the key is understanding what anti means in charin anti charitos (grace upon grace).

Is it one blessing upon another, as in the believer is successively blessed, or is it meaning "instead of", as in the grace of God through our Lord Christ's that replaces the grace of the Law given by God through Moses (see verse 17).

I suspect John intended both views. The grace of God in Christ supercedes God's grace through Moses and continually feeds the Christian.

Calvin is also instructive here:

"And, grace for grace. In what manner Augustine explains this passage is well known - that all the blessings which God bestows upon us from time to time, and at length life everlasting, are not granted as the reward due to our merits, but that it proceeds from pure liberality that God thus rewards former grace, and crowns his own gifts in us. This is piously and judiciously said, but has nothing to do with the present passage. The meaning would be more simple if you were to take the word for (ἀντὶ) comparatively, as meaning, that whatever graces God bestows on us, proceed equally from the same source. It might also be taken as pointing out the final cause, that we now receive grace, that God may one day fulfill the work of our salvation, which will be the fulfillment of grace. For my own part, I agree with the opinion of those who say that we are watered with the graces which were poured out on Christ; for what we receive from Christ he does not bestow upon us as being God, but the Father communicated to him what would flow to us as through a channel. This is the anointing with which he was anointed, that he might anoint us all along with him. Hence, too, he is called Christ, (the Anointed,) and we are called Christians."


Puritan Board Junior
I read in the far distant past two interpretations which can be helpful as well as the orthodox
rendering of a successive largesse of grace. Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness above
His fellows, and we receive time and time again of that fullness.
But one view is, that the grace lost in Adam is bountifully bestowed from the fullness in the last Adam.
Another also goes. the grace of the old covenant, is shed more abundantly through Christ in the new
covenant." Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
" Thou fairer art than sons of men:
into Thy lips is store
Of grace infus'd; God therefore Thee
hath bless'd for evermore.
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