Daily Archives: January 18, 2018

January 18 Proclaiming God’s Preeminence

We were predestined “to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).

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In salvation, as in everything else, God is preeminent. He deserves all the credit.

The word preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. Only God is truly preeminent, worthily so.

Ephesians 1:12 underscores that truth. You were redeemed and were granted an eternal inheritance so that God might be glorified. Certainly you benefit greatly from salvation, but God’s glory is the primary issue.

Our man-centered culture doesn’t share that perspective. Sadly, its self-seeking and self-glorifying mentality has crept into the church, and even the gospel itself has been subjected to its influence. For example, sin is often defined by how it affects man, not by how it dishonors God. Salvation is often presented as a means of receiving what Christ offers, not as a mandate to obey what He commands. Many modern-day evangelists have reduced the gospel to little more than a formula by which people can live a happy and more fulfilling life. The focus has shifted from God’s glory to man’s benefit.

Such a convoluted gospel fuels the fire of self-love and self-exaltation.

As believers we know better than that. We know that the purpose of life is to glorify God. In other words, living to His glory is to govern everything we do.

What higher or more noble purpose could life afford? “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14). Keep that goal clearly in mind in all you do today. By doing so, your day will be “to the praise of [God’s] glory.”

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His preeminence in all things. ✧ Pray for opportunities to speak of His preeminence to others, remembering that they will see Him in your actions as well as in your words.

For Further Study: Read Job 38:1–42:6. ✧ How did God convince Job of His surpassing knowledge and power? ✧ What was Job’s response?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

JANUARY 18 THE TRUE CHRISTIAN IS THE PRACTICING CHRISTIAN

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

2 PETER 1:3

The supreme purpose of the Christian religion is to make men like God in order that they may act like God. In Christ the verbs “to be” and “to do” follow each other in that order.

True religion leads to moral action. The only true Christian is the practicing Christian. Such a one is in very reality an incarnation of Christ as Christ is the incarnation of God; not in the same degree and fullness of perfection, for there is nothing in the moral universe equal to that awful mystery of godliness which joined God and man in eternal union in the person of the Man Christ Jesus; but as the fullness of the Godhead was and is in Christ, so Christ is in the nature of the one who believes in Him in the manner prescribed in the Scriptures.

Just as in eternity God acted like Himself and when incarnated in human flesh still continued in all His conduct to be true to His holiness, so does He when He enters the nature of a believing man. This is the method by which He makes the redeemed man holy.

The faith of Christ was never intended to be an end in itself nor to serve instead of something else. In the minds of some teachers faith stands in lieu of moral conduct and every inquirer after God must take his choice between the two. We are presented with the well-known either/or: either we have faith or we have works, and faith saves while works damn us. This error has lowered the moral standards of the church![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 18, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Body is a Temple of The Holy Spirit

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (6:19–20)

As Christians our bodies are not our own. Paul puts sting into this verse by framing it as a sarcastic question. They are the Lord’s, members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit, who has been given by God to indwell us. So Paul calls for sexual purity not only because of the way sexual sin affects the body, but because the body it affects is not even the believer’s own. Understanding the reality of the phrase the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God should give us as much commitment to purity as any knowledge of divine truth could.

To commit sexual sin in a church auditorium, disgusting as that would be, would be no worse than committing the sin anywhere else. Offense is made within God’s sanctuary wherever and whenever sexual immorality is committed by believers. Every act of fornication, every act of adultery by Christians, is committed in God’s sanctuary: their own bodies. “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). The fact that Christians are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is indicated in passages such as John 7:38–39; 20:22; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:9; and 1 Corinthians 12:3. The fact that God sent the Holy Spirit is clear from John 14:16–17; 15:26; and Acts 2:17, 33, 38.

We no longer belong to ourselves because we have been bought with a price. We were not “redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from [our] futile way of life inherited from [our] forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18–19).

Christians’ bodies are God’s temple, and a temple is for worship. Our bodies, therefore, have one supreme purpose: to glorify God. This is a call to live so as to bring honor to the person of God, who alone is worthy of our obedience and adoration.

A friend once took a visitor to a large Catholic cathedral in the east. The visitor wanted to pray at the station of his favorite saint. But upon arriving at that station, he was startled to find no candles lit, and a sign saying, “Do not worship here; closed for cleaning.” The Corinthians provided no divine focus, either, no place for seeking souls to worship, since they were unclean. That, Paul said, had to change.[1]


18–19 Paul is now ready to sum up in a general way how a Christian should react with respect to sexual matters. Believers should “flee from [all forms of] sexual immorality.” This is a general and all-embracing statement. But what does Paul mean when he says (lit.), “Every sin [the Greek text does not have a word for the NIV’s “other”] whatever a person commits is outside the body”? We in the twenty-first century can think of many sins a person can commit against his or her own body—addiction to alcohol or drugs, gluttony, and suicide, to name a few. Among the possible understandings of this text, the one that seems to fit best is to see this statement as another maxim cited by the triumphalist Corinthians. In keeping with their other maxims as cited in 6:12–13, here certain Corinthians are suggesting that sin doesn’t matter since the body (which will be destroyed) doesn’t matter to God. Thus any activity that might directly affect one’s body is not to be considered sin: “Every (true) sin a person commits is not connected with the body.”

Paul’s response to this pagan viewpoint is, also once again, to stress that the body does matter and that sins of immorality are indeed against one’s body. This does not deny, of course, that there might be other sins against the body; Paul’s sole concern in this section is with porneia. In fact, as he goes on to say, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (once again, introduced by a “do you not know,” v. 19). This, then, is a second significant reason why the body is important and why we are not free to do with our bodies as we please: Not only will God raise the human body someday, as he did the physical body of Christ, but he also comes to abide within us through his Spirit. Imagine that! God, through his Holy Spirit, inhabits our bodies! Do we need any further proof that the Lord places a high value on the human body?

20 As a final summary, Paul emphasizes, as he did in 6:11, that we as believers have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. His blood is the price paid for us (cf. Rev 5:9, which also uses agorazō, “to purchase,” GK 60). This means, of course, that we belong to him—body, soul, and spirit (see comments at v. 17 above). Because we belong to him, we must “glorify” (doxazō, GK 1519; NIV, “honor”) him with our bodies. To glorify God means to reflect by the way we live the glory of God. That is, when people see us, they should be able to see by our actions how glorious and majestic is our God, who has changed us from sinners into saints living holy lives before him. As far as Paul is concerned, no one doing so will commit sexual immorality. May God give us the strength to present this picture to church members today who are faced with a host of temptations via TV, movies, and the Internet to commit sexual immorality in thought, word, and deed.[2]


6:19 / Paul turns more directly to religious imagery in the following lines. In this verse he reiterates the point he made earlier in 3:16, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s pronouns are plural, addressing the entire body of believers in Corinth. He does not single out only those who have been fornicating, for while those particular persons have acted inappropriately, they have acted in a manner that ultimately touches and shapes the life of the Christian community. Thus, the community is in need of instruction, for in different but complementary ways all have been involved in the degradation of the body of believers.

Moreover, Paul qualifies his reference to the Holy Spirit by adding the phrases who is in you, whom you have received from God. All the pronouns are plural, indicating that Paul directs his remarks to all the believers at once. With these brief lines Paul registers at least four crucial theological truths. First, the Spirit is present and active among the Corinthians, empowering them to live the life to which they have been called. Second, the Spirit comes to them from God, whose will is to be manifest in the life of the Spirit-filled community of the Corinthian believers. God’s authority, will, presence, and power form and should inform the shape of the temple of believers in Corinth. Third, the Holy Spirit was received by the Corinthians. They did not earn or produce the Spirit’s presence among them; God acted graciously in bestowing the Spirit on the Christian community in Corinth. Fourth, the Spirit dwells in the temple so that the Corinthians are bound into an intimate relationship to God through the presence of God’s Spirit. They are not independently blessed, but they live in relation to the life that God lives among them.

Paul’s final words in this verse, you are not your own, may form the final part of the question that began at the outset of the verse: Do you not know that … you are not your own? The sense is self-evident: the Corinthians are neither autonomous individuals nor an autonomous community of human beings. God founded, forms, and holds a claim on the lives of these and all other believers. No greater truth can be brought home to the church and its members in every generation. How often do discussions of personal and community affairs (freedoms? rights? responsibilities?) take their start and find their course from the reality that every aspect of the life of believers belongs to God? Nothing we have is ours to have and to do with as we please. All of life belongs to God, and it is ultimately God’s will and work that is to be accomplished in our lives and in our life together. The believer and the believers find identity, purpose, direction, and meaning from the foundational nature of the relationship that God has established in creating us and in reclaiming us in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.[3]The habitation of the body by the Lord (19)

Paul’s fourth plea for Christ-centred purity is the habitation of our bodies by the Lord, by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are not simply physical shells of remarkable composition: they are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Earlier Paul affirmed that the whole church of God at Corinth was God’s temple, with stern warnings against any who might destroy that temple. Now he uses the same metaphor to remind individual Christians at Corinth that God has given to each the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, whom you have from God. In the earlier passage the reference was simply to ‘God’s Spirit’. Here he feels compelled to emphasize the call to holiness, ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit’ (19).

The redemption of the body by the Lord (19–20)

Paul’s final plea for purity is based on the cost of redeeming our bodies: You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. Before they began to experience the freedom for which Christ had set them free, the Corinthians were in the most servile bondage. They were slaves to themselves, their self-centred desires, self-indulgence and bodily passions. Then came a master with the resources to set them completely free. He paid the necessary ransom. They had been set free from the futility and servitude of their previous manner of life. Their bodies were no longer like chunks of flesh up for sale to the highest bidder in the slave-market, or available to a cult-prostitute for a fee.94 They had been bought with a price and they now belonged to a new master. His orders now mattered, not their own fancies or foibles. He now intended every physical faculty they had within them to express the glory of God. So far from despising their bodies, marked as they were by all the degradation and indiscipline of sin, he was committed to working out from within ‘the redemption of their bodies’. Flesh and blood, particularly such dissolute flesh and blood, could never inherit the kingdom of God;96 but the power of his redeeming love could—and would—complete what the Holy Spirit had already begun.

So we are urged to learn from the Spirit of God what it means to glorify God in our bodies: not to pander to them, make excuses for them, or be flippant about the many powerful temptations to abuse them. Paul forthrightly commands the Corinthians to flee two sins: immorality (6:18) and idolatry (10:14). Joseph had to run from the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife. Christians today do not have to be citizens of Corinth, or handsome visitors in the opulent courts of amoral Egyptian rulers, to discover the practical wisdom of running away from temptation when the odds are stacked too high against them.

This, however, is the negative (though necessary) aspect of Christ-centred purity. Paul’s last word on the subject is far more challenging and positive: glorify God in your body. Let Godet have the final comment on this call to purity: ‘Display positively in the use of our body the glory and especially the holiness of the heavenly Master who has taken possession of our person.’98 The poetic vision of the Psalmist is the perfect epilogue:

Thou didst form my inward parts,

thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.

Wonderful are thy works!

Thou knowest me right well;

my frame was not hidden from thee,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.

Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;

in thy book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.[4]


6:19. For this reason, the apostle appealed once again to a teaching which he had already given the Corinthians. The Christian’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in believers, making their bodies a holy place for the dwelling of God’s special presence. That the Holy Spirit resides in believers points to the new nature of believers’ bodies. Believers’ bodies are sanctified and holy, being in union with Christ. When a person in Christ engages in sexual immorality, that immorality runs contrary to the new nature and new identity of his body. The Christian has been redeemed for good works (Eph. 2:10), so he ought to use his body for good deeds and righteousness, not for sin.

Paul also reminded the Corinthians that they did not have rights to their own bodies. They were not free to use their bodies any way they wished. He insisted that Christ bought them at a price—his own blood. As a slave was bought in the ancient world, Christ bought his followers, body and soul, through the price of his own death. Because they belong to him, believers do not have the right to rebel against him by using their bodies in ways the Lord has prohibited.

Further, because this purchase results in redemption and salvation, it ought to inspire grateful obedience, not rebellion. In this reminder, Paul chastised the Corinthians and pleaded with them to obey Christ eagerly and thankfully.[5]


19. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? And you do not belong to yourselves.

  • “Or do you not know?” The comparative conjunction or provides an additional reason for fleeing sexual immorality. For the last time in this chapter, Paul rhetorically asks the Corinthians whether they have definite knowledge (see vv. 2, 3, 9, 15, and 16). They again have to give an affirmative answer to this query. We assume that on an earlier occasion Paul had taught them about the purpose, use, and destiny of their physical bodies.
  • “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.” Paul reminds the Corinthians of the sacredness of their bodies. He notes that the Holy Spirit makes his abode within them, so that their body is his temple. He writes the two words body and temple in the singular to apply them to the individual believer. Further, through the word order in the Greek, he places emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Paul literally writes to the Corinthians, “Your body is a temple of the one within you, namely the Holy Spirit.” That is, the physical body of the Christian belongs to the Lord and serves as the residence of the Holy Spirit.

What an honor to have God’s Spirit dwelling within us! Note that Paul writes the word temple (see the commentary on 3:16). The Greek has two words that are translated “temple.” The first one is hieron, which refers to the general temple complex, as in the city of Jerusalem. The second is naos, which denotes the temple building with the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (see, e.g., Exod. 26:31–34; Heb. 9:1–5). Naos is used in the present verse. For the Jew, this was the place where God dwelled among his people until the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70. For the Christian, not a fixed geographic site but the body of the individual believer is the place where God’s Spirit is pleased to dwell. In the early church, Irenaeus called individual Christians “temples of God” and described them as “stones for the Father’s temple.” If, then, the Spirit of God dwells within us, we should avoid grieving him (Eph. 4:30) or extinguishing his fire (1 Thess. 5:19).

  • “Whom you have from God.” In this brief segment of the verse, Paul teaches first that the individual believers possess and continue to possess the gift of the Holy Spirit. Next, he reveals that the Spirit’s origin is from God.
  • “And you do not belong to yourselves.” We are not the owners of our own bodies, for God created us, Jesus redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit makes his abode within us. The triune God claims ownership, but he leaves us free to consecrate and yield our physical bodies to him. By contrast, those who commit fornication desecrate the temple of the Holy Spirit and cause untold spiritual and physical damage to themselves and others. For this reason, Paul exhorts us to flee sexual immorality (v. 18). Because God owns our body, we are its stewards and must give an account to him. Therefore, we ought to guard its sanctity and protect it from defilement and destruction. God’s temple is holy and precious.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (p. 152). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 312–313). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (pp. 133–134). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Prior, D. (1985). The message of 1 Corinthians: life in the local church (pp. 103–104). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 101–102). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 201–202). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

JANUARY 18 FAITH AND OBEDIENCE

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

What is our answer to the many confused persons who keep asking: “How can we know that we have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?”

First, we stand together on the basic truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. A second fact is that men and women are saved by faith in Christ alone, without works and without our merit.

However, the fact that Christ came to save sinners is not enough—that fact in itself cannot save us. Now in our day, the issues of believing faith and the gift of eternal life are clouded and confused by an “easy acceptance” that has been fatal to millions who may have stopped short in matters of faith and obedience.

Faith is believing and receiving, as in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”; and as in John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

I praise You, Lord, for accomplishing the mission for which You came to this earth. I pray today for my family members and coworkers who have not put their faith in You. Bring them to Yourself, Father.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 18 Don’t Count on Sensationalism

“If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You.’ ”—Matt. 4:6a

Throughout history, sensationalism has often appealed to average people who are looking for dramatic events that titillate the senses and pander to fleshly curiosity. Toward the end of His ministry Jesus warned, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).

Even when signs are from God, they usually do not bring unbelievers to faith, but only confirm the faith of those who already believe. God’s many miracles on behalf of the wandering Israelites just made many of them more presumptuous and unbelieving, as did Jesus’ signs to the Jews who opposed Him. The apostle John writes, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” (John 12:37). Jesus Himself, as the Messiah and Son of God, was the greatest sign God ever gave to humanity, yet “He was despised and forsaken of men” (Isa. 53:3).

Demanding sensational signs, as Satan did from Jesus, does not manifest faith but rather skepticism and unbelief (cf. Matt. 12:39; 16:4). Because a fascination with the sensational is far removed from true faith, Jesus would take no part in it. For those who, apart from special signs, believe in God the Father and trust in His Son—our Savior—it is well evident that Christ has already proved Himself.

ASK YOURSELF

The best Christian witness in the world remains the power of a changed life. People will respond to your testimony of God’s love and mercy much more often than to a high-energy worship service. How are you making Christ known through your own life? Look for the simplest of ways.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 26). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 18 Compelled to Serve

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.

Ephesians 4:1

Do you have any idea of what a high calling it is to serve Christ?

Paul said, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). He also said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1).

In ancient times, a victor at the Olympic Games once asked, “Spartan, what will you gain by this victory?” He replied, “I, sir, shall have the honor to fight on the front line for my king.” May that be your response to the call of your King.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 29). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 18, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

23 Character traits, pride and humility. A humble spirit brings honor and respect. The verse contrasts consequences: pride leads to abasement, but humility brings exaltation. The lines are tied together with a paronomasia between “brings low” (tašpîlennû) and “lowly [šepal] in spirit.” McKane, 633, explains that the lowly one can learn, but “pride is a way of descent to mediocrity or worse” (see Lk 14:11; 18:14).[1]


29:23 A proud man can be sure of being brought low. It is the humble man who is elevated to a place of honor.

Professor Smith was climbing the Weisshorn. When near the top the guide stood aside to permit the traveler to have the honor of first reaching the top. Exhilarated by the view, forgetful of the fierce gale that was blowing, he sprang up and stood erect on the summit. The guide pulled him down, exclaiming, “On your knees sir; you are not safe there except on your knees.” Life’s summits, whether of knowledge, of love, or of worldly success, are full of perils. (Choice Gleanings).

O Lamb of God, still keep me

Close to Thy pierced side;

’Tis only there in safety

And peace I can abide.

With foes and snares around me,

And lusts and fears within,

The grace that sought and found me,

Alone can keep me clean.

James G. Deck[2]


29:23. The reverse effects of pride and humility warn against the one and encourage the other. Ironically pride, by which a person seeks to elevate himself, actually results in his being brought low (šāp̱al) whereas one who is of lowly (šāp̱al) spirit is elevated by others to a position of honor (cf. 3:34; 15:33; 16:18–19; 18:12). God hates pride (see comments on 6:17) because it influences a person to live independently of Him.[3]


29:23 The pride of a person will bring him humiliation Pride is seen as a destructive attitude throughout Proverbs (11:2; 16:18). Pride prevents people from accepting reproof or advice (12:15; 13:18).[4]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 232). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 866). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 968–969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 29:23). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

JANUARY 18 A MIGHTY MAN WAS DAVID

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

—Psalm 84:2

Perhaps David’s greatness and his significance for mankind lies in his complete preoccupation with God. He was a Jew, steeped in the Levitical tradition, but he never got lost in the forms of religion. “I have set the LORD always before me” (Psalm 16:8), he said once and again he said, or rather cried, for his words rise from within like a cry, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (42:2).

David was acutely God-conscious. To him God was the one Being worth knowing. Where others saw nature he saw God. He was a nature poet indeed, but he saw God first and loved nature for God’s sake. Wordsworth reversed the order and, while he is great, he is not worthy to untie the shoelaces of the man David.

David was also a God-possessed man. He threw himself at the feet of God and demanded to be conquered, and Jehovah responded by taking over his personality and shaping it as a potter shapes the clay.

Because he was God-possessed he could be God-taught….

He sent his heart to school to the Most High God, and soon he knew Him with an immediacy of knowing more wonderful than is dreamed of in our philosophies. WOS033-035

Lord, may I be as God-possessed as David. Give me a heart that cries out to You; then teach me and enable me to know You with immediacy and intimacy. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 18 Righteous Anger

“Walk … with all … gentleness.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Our anger must be under control and should occur only for the right reason.

After the previous lesson, you might think that Christians must always be quiet and passive, never getting upset or angry about anything. Actually, believers do have the right to get angry, but only under certain conditions. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” So there is a certain kind of anger that isn’t sinful. It must be under control, and it must be resolved expeditiously.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Someone who is out of control is vulnerable. He falls into every temptation, failure, and weakness. On the other hand, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32). One who rules his spirit has power and energy, but it’s under control. That same power and energy out of control creates nothing but chaos and sinfulness. Those who are easily angered are not gentle.

Gentle people, on the other hand, control their energies and strengths, but they do have a tough side. They don’t back away from sin or cease to condemn evil. Since the gentle person submits himself to God, he becomes angry over things that offend God, not himself. If someone offends him personally, he doesn’t seek revenge. But when God is maligned, the lion in him roars. Such anger is called righteous indignation. Under God’s control, anger reacts when it ought to react, for the right reason, and for the right amount of time.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask forgiveness if you are apt to get angry for the wrong reasons. Commit yourself to being gentle when you ordinarily would flare up in anger. ✧ If you don’t get angry when you see evil, ask God to make you sensitive to what He hates.

For Further Study: At the very time Moses was receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were involved in idolatry and debauchery. Read Exodus 32. What was Moses’ reaction to their sin? ✧ Did he hold a grudge against them (vv. 31–32)? ✧ How can Moses’ example be a pattern for your life?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 17 Daily Help

I GAZE on beauty, and may be myself deformed. I admire the light, and may yet dwell in darkness; but if the light of the countenance of God rests upon me, I shall become like unto Him; the lineaments of His visage will be on me, and the great outlines of His attributes will be mine. Oh, wondrous glass, which thus renders the beholder lovely! Oh, admirable mirror, which reflects not self with its imperfections, but gives a perfect image to those that are uncomely.

If thou dost continually draw thine impulse, thy life, the whole of thy being from the Holy Spirit, then shalt thou see God and Jesus face to face.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 21). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 17, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Nature of the Incarnation

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:14)

Verse 14 is the most concise biblical statement of the Incarnation, and therefore one of Scripture’s most significant verses. The four words with which it begins, the Word became flesh, express the reality that in the Incarnation God took on humanity; the infinite became finite; eternity entered time; the invisible became visible (cf. Col. 1:15); the Creator entered His creation. God revealed Himself to man in the creation (Rom. 1:18–21), the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20–21), and, supremely and most clearly, in Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1–2). The record of His life and work, and its application and significance for the past, present, and future, is in the New Testament.

As noted in the discussion of 1:1 in chapter 1 of this volume, the concept of the Word was one rich in meaning for both Greeks and Jews. John here clearly stated what he implied earlier in the prologue: Jesus Christ, God’s final Word to mankind (Heb. 1:1–2), became flesh.Sarx (flesh) does not have here the negative moral connotation that it sometimes carries (e.g., Rom. 8:3–9; 13:14; Gal. 5:13, 16–17, 19; Eph. 2:3), but refers to man’s physical being (cf. Matt. 16:17; Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:26; 2 Cor. 5:16; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 5:29; Phil. 1:22). That He actually became flesh affirms Jesus’ full humanity.

Ginomai (became) does not mean that Christ ceased being the eternal Word when He became a man. Though God is immutable, pure eternal “being” and not “becoming” as all His creatures are, in the Incarnation the unchangeable (Heb. 13:8) God did become fully man, yet remained fully God. He entered the realm of those who are time and space creatures and experienced life as it is for those He created. In the words of the fifth-century church father Cyril of Alexandria,

We do not … assert that there was any change in the nature of the Word when it became flesh, or that it was transformed into an entire man, consisting of soul and body; but we say that the Word, in a manner indescribable and inconceivable, united personally … to himself flesh animated with a reasonable soul, and thus became man and was called the Son of man.… The natures which were brought together to form a true unity were different; but out of both is one Christ and one Son. We do not mean that the difference of the natures is annihilated by reason of this union; but rather that the Deity and Manhood, by their inexpressible and inexplicable concurrence into unity, have produced for us the one Lord and Son Jesus Christ. (cited in Bettenson, Documents, 47)

No wonder Paul wrote of the Incarnation,

By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,

Was vindicated in the Spirit,

Seen by angels,

Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,

Taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16)

Charles Wesley also captured the wonder of the Incarnation in his majestic hymn “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail th’ incarnate Deity!

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Some found the Incarnation so utterly beyond human reason to comprehend that they refused to accept it. The heretical group known as the Docetists (from dokeō; “to seem,” or “to appear”), accepting the dualism of matter and spirit so prevalent in Greek philosophy at that time, held that matter was evil, and spirit was good. Accordingly, they argued that Christ could not have had a material (and hence evil) body. They taught instead either that His body was a phantom, or an apparition, or that the divine Christ spirit descended upon the mere man Jesus at His baptism, then left Him before His crucifixion. Cerinthus, John’s opponent at Ephesus, was a Docetist. John strongly opposed Docetism, which undermines not only the incarnation of Christ, but also His resurrection and substitutionary atonement. As noted earlier in this chapter, in his first epistle he warned,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1–3)

John was so horrified by Cerinthus’s heresy that, as the early church historian Eusebius records,

John the apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place, and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorted those with him to do the same, saying, “let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth, is within.” (Ecclesiastical History, book III, chap. XXVIII)

The eternal Son not only became man; He also dwelt among men for thirty-three years. Dwelt translates a form of the verb skēnoō, which literally means “to live in a tent.” Jesus Christ’s humanity was not a mere appearance. He took on all the essential attributes of humanity and was “made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7), “since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). As the writer of Hebrews goes on to explain, “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). And He pitched His tent among us.

In the Old Testament, God tented with Israel through His glorious presence in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–35) and later in the temple (1 Kings 8:10–11), and revealed Himself in some pre-incarnate appearances of Christ (e.g., Gen. 16:7–14; Ex. 3:2; Josh. 5:13–15; Judg. 2:1–4; 6:11–24; 13:3–23; Dan. 3:25; 10:5–6; Zech. 1:11–21). Throughout eternity, God will again tent with His redeemed and glorified people:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell [skēnoō] among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3–4; cf. 12:12; 13:6)

Though Jesus manifested God’s divine glory during His earthly life with a clarity never before seen, it was still veiled by His human flesh. Peter, James, and John saw a physical manifestation of Jesus’ heavenly glory at the transfiguration, when “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2; cf. 2 Peter 1:16–18). That was a preview of the unveiled glory to be seen at His return (Matt. 24:29–30; 25:31; Rev. 19:11–16) and the fullness of His heavenly glory as the only Light of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). But the disciples saw Jesus manifest God’s holy nature primarily by displaying divine attributes, such as truth, wisdom, love, grace, knowledge, power, and holiness.

Jesus manifested the same essential glory as the Father, because as God they possess the same nature (10:30). Despite the claims of false teachers through the centuries, monogenēs (only begotten) does not imply that Jesus was created by God and thus not eternal. The term does not refer to a person’s origin, but describes him as unique, the only one of his kind. Thus Isaac could properly be called Abraham’s monogenēs (Heb. 11:17) even though Abraham had other sons, because Isaac alone was the son of the covenant. Monogenēs distinguishes Christ as the unique Son of God from believers, who are God’s sons in a different sense (1 John 3:2). B. F. Westcott writes, “Christ is the One and only Son, the One to whom the title belongs in a sense completely unique and singular, as distinguished from that in which there are many children of God (vv. 12f.)” (The Gospel According to St. John [Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978], 12). Jesus’ unique relationship to the Father is a major theme of John’s gospel (cf. 1:18; 3:35; 5:17–23, 26, 36–37; 6:27, 46, 57; 8:16, 18–19, 28, 38, 42, 54; 10:15, 17, 30, 36–38; 12:49–50; 14:6–13, 20–21, 23, 31; 15:9, 15, 23–24; 16:3, 15, 27–28, 32; 17:5, 21, 24–25; 20:21).

Jesus’ manifestation of the divine attributes revealed His essential glory as God’s Son, “for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). The two attributes most closely connected with salvation are grace and truth. Scripture teaches that salvation is wholly by believing God’s truth in the gospel, by which one receives His saving grace.

The Jerusalem Council declared, “But we believe that we [Jewish believers] are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they [Gentiles] also are” (Acts 15:11). Apollos “greatly helped those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). Paul described the message he preached as “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). In Romans 3:24 he wrote that believers are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” while in Ephesians 1:7 he added, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Later in that same letter, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). He reminded Timothy that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). That same “grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11), with the result that believers “being justified by His grace … would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

There is no salvation grace except to those who believe the truth of the gospel message. Paul reminded the Ephesians, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). In Colossians 1:5 he defined the gospel as the “word of truth” (cf. James 1:18). Paul expressed to the Thessalonians his thankfulness that “God ha[d] chosen [them] from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). People are saved when they “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4; cf. 2 Tim. 2:25). On the other hand, “those who perish” will do so “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). Everyone will “be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thess. 2:12).

Jesus Christ was the full expression of God’s grace. All the necessary truth to save is available in Him. He was the full expression of God’s truth, which was only partially revealed in the Old Testament (cf. Col. 2:16–17). What was foreshadowed through prophecy, types, and pictures became substance realized in the person of Christ (cf. Heb. 1:1–2). Therefore He could declare, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.… If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 14:6; 8:31–32).

A vague belief in God apart from the truth about Christ will not result in salvation. As Jesus Himself warned, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Those who think they are worshiping God, but are ignorant of or reject the fullness of the New Testament teaching about Christ, are deceived, because “he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; cf. 15:23). In his first epistle John affirmed that “whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23; cf. 2 John 9). Those who reject God’s full revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ will be eternally lost.

Summarizing the magnificence of this verse, Gerald L. Borchert writes,

In analyzing this crucial verse of the Prologue it becomes quickly apparent that this verse is like a great jewel with many facets that spreads it rays of implication into the various dimensions of Christology—the theology of Christ. As a summary of this verse it may be said that the evangelist recognized and bore witness to the fact that the characteristics ascribed only to God by the Old Testament were present in the incarnate Logos, God’s unique messenger to the world, who not only epitomized in person the awesome sense of God’s presence in their midst as a pilgrim people but also evidenced those stabilizing divine qualities God’s people had experienced repeatedly. (John 1–11, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002], 121–22. Italics in original.)[1]


14 We now come to the most concise statement in Scripture regarding the incarnation. With eloquent simplicity born of brevity, John proclaims, “The Word became flesh.” The philosophical mind may have taken no exception to John’s teaching on the Logos up until this point. But any idea of the Logos (the eternal Reason) entering into our human estate would run counter to the fundamental Greek axiom that the gods were detached and separate from the struggles and heartaches of humanity (see Morris’s extended note, 115–26, on the Logos). By declaring that “the Word became flesh,” John answered the Docetics, who, while acknowledging that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, could not bring themselves to accept the fact that he was also fully human. They would claim that he only appeared (dokeō, GK 1506; used intransitively it means “to seem”) to be a real man. Throughout history Christian orthodoxy has always maintained the full humanity of Jesus, as well as his complete deity. He is the God-man. The incarnation is the embodiment of God in human form as Christ. In becoming human Jesus did not diminish in any way what he was before. While the voluntary restrictions of becoming human led him to resist any independent expression of his divine power, he was in no way less God by becoming human. He became what we are without relinquishing what he always has been and must be.

John goes on to say that the eternal Logos (God the Son) came and lived for a while (“made his dwelling”) among us. The reference is to his earthly ministry as Jesus of Nazareth. The verb skēnoō (GK 5012) means “to live in a tent [skēnē; GK 5008],” i.e., to take up a temporary abode. The term would call to mind the wilderness trek of Israel during which time God took up his abode in the tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting. During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, his followers recognized in him the very presence of God. He was the shekinah glory, the visible expression of the glory of God. He was, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3). The glory that his followers “saw” (a weak translation of theaomai, “to behold,” GK 2517, from theōria, “an appearance or spectacle,” GK 2556) was the glory of the one and only Son. The KJV’s “only begotten” incorrectly suggests that monogenēs (GK 3666) is derived from gennaō (“to beget,” GK 1164) rather than from ginomai (in this context, “to be born,” GK 1181). John is saying that the Son is unique, the only one of a kind. God has as sons all who have been adopted into his family on the basis of personal faith, but Jesus is the Son of God sui generis (unique). He came from the Father, “full of grace and truth” (the phrase modifies “the Word” or “the one and only Son” rather than “glory” as some have suggested). These two great Christian terms reflect the unmerited favor of a God who, true to his essential character, gives of himself for the eternal benefit of humanity.[2]


1:14. This may be the most important verse in the Bible on the doctrine of the incarnation. John went back to verse 1 to pick up one of his favorite themes, the Word. God became human; God showed us his glory; God offered us grace and truth; God literally “tabernacled” among us. Remember the tabernacle in the center of the camp? It represented the place of the law, the abode of God, the source of revelation, the site of sacrifice, and the focus of worship. Now in the new covenant, Jesus provides all these.

And not only was Jesus here, but he demonstrated the glory of the One and Only. Other prophets, including John the Baptist, were sent from God, but the Word came directly from the Father’s presence. Borchert reminds us of some important implications: “This text makes it absolutely clear that the mission of the Logos was unique in the history of the world. This uniqueness of the Son makes it impossible for Christianity to be a syncretistic religion. In our mission to the world we cannot say ‘Jesus and Caesar’ or ‘Jesus and Buddha,’ and so forth. Our confession is Jesus, the one and only! The early Christians suffered and died because they refused to recognize any other pattern than that which was revealed in Jesus Christ” (Borchert, p. 121).

Finally, we cannot pass lightly over the wonderful phrase, full of grace and truth. John used the word grace again in verses 16 and 17, then never mentioned it for the rest of his Gospel! He used truth many times, but here the combination grabs us. Jesus perfectly blended two of the most important qualities of the divine nature and displayed them in human personality.[3]


1:14. The glory of the Word at the incarnation is the theme of 1:14–18. The fact recorded in verse 14 is not later in time than what has been described in the preceding verses. Rather, it is greater in love. The incarnation—and the realization of its purpose, the crucifixion—is the climax of God’s condescending grace. This is clear from the context; note verses 10, 11: “In the world he was … but the world did not acknowledge him. To his own home he came, but his own people did not welcome him.” And yet in the midst of this ungrateful world he manifested his supreme love. From the infinite sweep of eternal delight in the very presence of his Father, the Word was willing to descend into this realm of misery, to pitch his tent for a while among sinful men: “Veiled in flesh the godhead see.”

And the Word became flesh. (See also 1 John 4:2; Rom. 1:3; 8:3; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:5–11; 1 Tim. 3:16; and Heb. 2:14. See on 1:1 for comments on “the Word.”) The verb became has a very special meaning here. Not “became” in the sense of ceasing to be what he was before. When the wife of Lot becomes a pillar of salt, she ceases to be the wife of Lot. But when Lot becomes the father of Moab and Ammon, he remains Lot. So also here: the Word becomes flesh but remains the Word, even God (see verses 1, 18). The second Person of the Trinity assumes the human nature, without laying aside the divine. John everywhere insists—over against heretics (see p. 33)—that the divine and the human nature of Christ became fully united without being fused. The true human nature of Jesus is taught throughout this Gospel (4:6, 7; 6:53; 8:40; 11:33, 35; 12:27; 13:21; 19:28). The relation of the two natures to one another will forever remain a mystery, far above our comprehension; but a better formulation than that which is found in the Symbol of Chalcedon will probably never be found:

“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood … to be acknowledged in two natures inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably (ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως); the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy fathers has handed down to us.”

The term flesh (σάρξ) has various meanings in the New Testament. In our passage it has reference to human nature, considered not as sinful (8:46), yet for a while with the curse due to sin resting upon it, so that until the ransom had been paid it is subject to weariness, pain, misery, death (4:6, 7; 11:33, 35; 12:27; 13:21; 19:30). It was that kind of “flesh” which the Word assumed in his incomprehensible, condescending love.

And dwelt among us as in a tent. These words (και ἐσκήνωσιν ἐν ἡμῖν) must not be regarded as a mere repetition of that which immediately precedes (“and the Word became flesh”). The idea is rather that the eternal Word which assumed the human nature permanently—though not permanently in its weakened condition—pitched his tent for a while among men, lived among them.

During that same period we—i.e., the evangelist and other eye-witnesses—beheld his glory. The verb beheld (ἐθεασάμεθα) indicates careful and deliberate vision which seeks to interpret its object. It refers, indeed, to physical sight; yet, it always includes a plus, the plus of calm scrutiny, contemplation, or even wonderment. It describes the act of one who does not stare absent-mindedly nor merely look quickly nor necessarily perceive comprehensively. On the contrary, this individual regards an object and reflects upon it. He scans it, examining it with care. He studies it, viewing and considering it thoughtfully (1:32; 4:35; 11:45; Acts 1:11). Thus, while Jesus was walking among them, the eye and mind of the evangelist and of other witnesses had rested on the Incarnate Word, until to some extent they had penetrated the mystery; i.e., they had seen his glory: the radiance of his grace and the majesty of his truth manifested in all his works and words (cf. 2:11), the attributes of deity shining through the veil of his human nature.

A glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. These words of verse 14 lend themselves to various interpretations.

The most natural meaning would seem to be that the glory which the eye-witnesses saw in Jesus was what could be expected with respect to One who is the only begotten from the Father. And this same Person—i.e. the only begotten from the Father—is full of grace and truth. The fact that the evangelist is actually thinking of the fulness of Christ is very clearly stated in verse 16: for of his fulness we all received grace upon grace. Thus, by reading on and on we arrive at the true meaning. We favor this interpretation for the following reasons:

(1) Jesus repeatedly declares that he came forth from God (παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ). See 6:46; 7:29; 16:27; 17:8.

(2) Unless there are sufficient reasons to do otherwise—and, indeed, there sometimes are!—it is a good thing to link a phrase with the substantive that stands closest to it. Hence, we construe from the Father as a modifier of the only begotten. And for the same reason we consider the words full of grace and truth to modify the only begotten from the Father. (Cf. Acts 6:3, 8; 7:55; 11:24.) As already pointed out, it is the fulness of this only begotten Son which receives further elaboration in verses 16 and 17, the context. (Objections against this interpretation are answered in a note. Other explanations are discussed in another note.35)

Accordingly, the glory on which John and others had fixed their adoring gaze is the proper and natural possession of the One whose name is the only begotten from the Father.

The question has often been asked: To what sonship does the term the only begotten from the Father refer? Is it the purely religious sonship, so that Jesus is here considered to have been a child of God in the same sense in which all believers are God’s children? This can be dismissed at once, for in that case the modifier “only begotten” would have no meaning. Is it, then, the Messianic sonship? But even those who maintain that the word μονογενής has nothing to do with the verb γεννάω and merely signifies that Christ was the “only” Son (the only, μόνος, member of a kin, γένος from γίνομαι), and being the only one, was therefore the beloved one, will have to admit that according to the context (see especially 1:1, 18) the sonship here indicated was present from eternity; hence, can have no reference to the Messianic office which was assumed in time. (On the question whether μονογενής should be connected with γίνομαι, to be born [Dutch: Eeniggeboren Zoon] or with γεννάω, to beget [English: only begotten Son] see G. Vos, The Self-Disclosure of Jesus, New York, 1926, pp. 218, 219.)

Is it, perhaps, the nativistic sonship that is discussed in this passage? If so, then the meaning would be that Christ’s human nature is here ascribed to the supernatural paternity of God. But in that case the evangelist would be thinking of one kind of sonship here in verse 14 and of another in verse 18, which is not probable. (See under verse 18.)

We conclude that the reference must be to Christ’s trinitarian sonship, i.e., to the fact that he is the Son of God from all eternity. This is favored by the context (1:1, 18) and by such passages as 3:16, 18, which prove that the Son was already the only begotten before his incarnation.

On this subject H. Bavinck states:

“But the name Son of God when ascribed to Christ has a far deeper meaning than the theocratic: he was not a mere king of Israel who in time became an adopted Son of God; neither was he called Son of God because of his supernatural birth, as the Socinians and Hofman held; neither is he Son of God merely in an ethical sense, as others suppose; neither did he receive the title Son of God as a new name in connection with his atoning work and resurrection, an interpretation in support of which John 10:34–36; Acts 13:32, 33; and Rom. 1:4 are cited; but he is Son of God in a metaphysical sense: by nature and from eternity. He is exalted high above angels and prophets, Matt. 13:32; 21:27; 22:2; and sustains a very special relation to God, Matt. 11:7. He is the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased, Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; the only begotten Son, John 1:18; 3:16; 1 John 4:9 ff.; God’s own Son, Rom. 8:32; the eternal Son, John 17:5, 24; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; to whom the Father gave to have life in himself, John 5:26; equal to the Father in knowledge, Matt. 11:27; in honor, John 5:23; in creative and redemptive power, John 1:3; 5:21, 27; in work, John 10:30; and in dominion, Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; 22:29; John 16:15; 17:10; and because of this Sonship he was condemned to death, John 10:33; Matt. 26:63 ff.” (The Doctrine of God, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1951, p. 270).

Now, with reference to this only begotten One we read that he is full of grace and truth. Of grace, for when he spoke, his messages were filled with unmerited favor for the guilty (e.g., for publicans and sinners), and the same attributes were revealed in his miracles of healing, yea, in his entire life and death, considered as an atoning sacrifice whose very purpose was to merit for his people the grace of God. Of truth, for he himself was the finalreality in contrast with the shadows that had preceded him. Great, indeed, was the glory of the only begotten![4]


1:14 The Word became flesh when Jesus was born as a Baby in the manger at Bethlehem. He had always existed as the Son of God with the Father in heaven, but now chose to come into the world in a human body. He dwelt among us. It was not just a short appearance, about which there might be some mistake or misunderstanding. God actually came to this earth and lived here as a Man among men. The word “dwelt” means “tabernacled” or “pitched His tent.” His body was the tent in which He lived among men for thirty-three years.

And we beheld His glory. In the Bible, “glory” often means the bright, shining light which was seen when God was present. It also means the perfection and excellence of God. When the Lord Jesus was here on earth, He veiled His glory in a body of flesh. But there were two ways in which His glory was revealed. First, there was His moralglory. By this, we mean the radiance of His perfect life and character. There was no flaw or blemish in Him. He was perfect in all His ways. Every virtue was manifested in His life in exquisite balance. Then there was the visible outshining of His glory which took place on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1, 2). At that time, Peter, James, and John saw His face shining like the sun, and His garments gleaming like bright light. These three disciples were given a preview of the splendor which the Lord Jesus will have when He comes back to the earth and reigns for a thousand years.

When John said, “We beheld His glory”, he was referring primarily, no doubt, to the moralglory of the Lord Jesus. He and the other disciples beheld the wonder of an absolutely perfect life lived on this earth. But it is likely that John also included the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration as well. The glory which the disciples saw indicated to them that He was truly the Son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, that is, Christ is God’s unique Son. God did not have any other Son like Him. In one sense, all true believers are sons of God. But Jesus is the Son of God—in a class all by Himself. As the Son of God, He is equal to God.

The Savior was full of grace and truth. On the one hand, full of undeserved kindness for others, He was also completely honest and upright, and He never excused sin or approved evil. To be completely gracious and at the same time completely righteous is something that only God can be.[5]


1:14 The Word (Gk. logos) who was (continuous existence) God (1:1) became (point action; Gk. ginomai) flesh (Gk. sarx) (1:14). Verse 1 speaks of Christ’s nature and works being outside of space and time, before creation. Verse 14 presents the irruption of Jesus Christ into time and space, even the history of humankind. The Son of God who was from all eternity, at a point in time, took humanity to deity (Phil. 2:5–9). God became human with limitations in time and space. Jesus Christ uniquely and thoroughly identified with us as both God and man. He was fully God and yet He became fully human (He did not have sin but then sin is not part of the nature of humanity, but is an intruder). Since nothing of the essential nature of deity was lost in this event, we might better understand “became” to mean “took to Himself” flesh. John uses the word flesh for the physical nature of persons, not for the sinful disposition (unlike the apostle Paul; Rom. 8:1–11). God the Son will forever exist as a man with a resurrected body (Acts 1:11; compare 1 John 4:2, 3). God dwelt among us, that is, among the apostles. Dwelt comes from the Greek word for tent. It was used in the Greek OT for the tabernacle where the presence of God dwelt. He was not an armchair dictator issuing orders from a parapet of heaven. Rather, He was a man among humanity. In the OT, glory refers to the divine presence (Ex. 33:18). As God manifested His glory in the tabernacle, so Jesus displayed His divine presence before the apostles (18:6; 20:26, 27). Only begotten (3:16, 18) means unique, one of a kind. The same term is used of Isaac (Heb 11:17), who was not the only physical son of Abraham, but was the unique son of promise. All who trust Christ are born of God. In the Gospel of John, these “born ones” are called children of God (vv. 12, 13), but Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God. He is the only Son who is fully God. He is also full of grace and truth. When God revealed Himself to Moses, He proclaimed Himself to be “abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). As applied to Jesus Christ, this phrase marks Him as the author of perfect redemption and perfect revelation.[6]


1:14. The Word (Logos; cf. v. 1) became flesh. Christ, the eternal Logos, who is God, came to earth as man. Yet in doing so, He did not merely “appear” like a man; He became one (cf. Phil. 2:5–9). Humanity, in other words, was added to Christ’s deity. And yet Christ, in becoming “flesh,” did not change; so perhaps the word “became” (egeneto) should be understood as “took to Himself” or “arrived on the scene as.”

“Flesh” in this verse means a human nature, not sinfulness or weakness. In the Greek the words lived for a while among us recall God’s dwelling with Israel in the Old Testament. The word “lived” is eskēnōsen, from skēnē (“tabernacle”). Much as God’s presence was in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34), so Jesus dwelt among people.

We have seen most naturally implies that the author was an eyewitness. His glory refers to the unique splendor and honor seen in Jesus’ life, miracles, death, and resurrection. The one and only Son (monogenous; cf. John 1:18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) means that Jesus is the Son of God in a sense totally different from a human who believes and becomes a child of God. Jesus’ sonship is unique for He is eternal and is of the same essence as the Father. The glorious revelation of God which the Logos displayed was full of grace and truth, that is, it was a gracious and truthful revelation (cf. John 1:17).[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 39–43). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 373). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 13). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, pp. 83–88). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1468). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1312). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 273). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

January 17: Cheer Up, Preacher

Genesis 28–29; Matthew 21:23–22:22; Ecclesiastes 7:1–5

Things are getting serious for the writer of Ecclesiastes (“the Preacher”), and sometimes confusing for us, as we follow him through the labyrinth of his discourse on the meaning of life. Death is better than birth, mourning is better than feasting, and sorrow is better than laughter? What happened to his “eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil” statements from earlier (Eccl 5:18)?

The Preacher might sound like he’s contradicting himself, but the twist in his argument is meant to show us exactly what folly we may be inadvertently embracing. It’s easy to brush over these verses while thinking in terms of standard, run-of-the-mill folly, or obvious sins.

But folly can even look like a daily routine: goals, successes, and our happy, fulfilling lives. It can take the form of anything that skims the surface of life, but keeps us from confronting our greatest need and the reality of eternity.

When life is good, it’s tempting to gloss over our need for God. Everything is going as planned, and it’s easy to rely on ourselves—not on Him. But the Preacher wants us to address this temptation. It might take death, or times of extreme pain and sadness, to help us realize the truth. Only when we attend a funeral or lose a family member does the veneer start to chip; then, we get a glimpse of the turmoil bubbling under the surface. Only when we’re convicted of our great need can we admit that we truly need a Savior.

Are your successes causing you to diminish your need for Christ?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.