The Glory of the Incarnation (John 1:14)

By | December 13, 2023

John 1:14 captures the incarnation of the Son of God and the glory thereof in these memorable words: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Incarnation of the Word

By this point in John 1:14, John has already identified the Word. Summarizing John 1:1–9, the Word was in the beginning with God, created all things, has life in Himself, and is the light of the world. The Word is clearly the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

By calling Jesus the Word, John repurposed a philosophical term from his day and, more importantly, pointed to Jesus as the One who personifies the acts of God in the Old Testament. Consider these passages: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made”; (Ps 33:6); “Now the word of the Lord came to me” (Jer 1:4); “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction” (Ps 107:20). As the Word, Jesus is Creator, Revealer, and Deliverer. He created all things, reveals the truth of God, and delivers man from sin and its punishment.

“And the Word became flesh”—the Son of God became human. He was “born of woman” (Gal 4:4), “being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). “The children share in flesh and blood,” and “He Himself likewise partook of the same things” (Heb 2:14). He is “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).

Moreover, the Word “dwelt among us.” The verb “dwelt” (skēnoō) speaks of a temporary dwelling, related to the noun (skēnē) translated “tent” or tabernacle” (e.g., Acts 7:44; Heb 11:9). Whereas God temporarily dwelt in the tabernacle (Exod 40:34–35; Acts 7:44) and the temple thereafter (1 Kings 8:10–11), God now dwelt among the people of the world in the Son. He will one day come down and dwell among His people forever (Rev 21:3).

Says one commentator of the incarnation, “This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that the Infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the Invisible became visible; the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural. In the Incarnation, however, the Word did not cease to be God but became God in human flesh.”1

This brings us to…

The Glory of the Word

John related his personal experience: “We have seen His glory.” What was seen of Jesus was glorious—not only His everyday appearance, being both God and man, but especially His glory at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:32, “they saw His glory”), an event anticipating the greatest expression of His glory when He comes again to dwell with men forever (Rev 21:3, 23). His glory is unique, being the divine Son of the Father and the very “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3).Modifying “glory,” the phrase “full of grace and truth” likely refers to aspects of the glory of God that He declared of Himself to Moses in Exodus 33–34. Among many of His attributes, God is gracious and truthful (Exod 33:18–19; 34:6–7). The Son of God came to show mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness to all who believed in Him (cf. Exod 34:6–7).  He provided the means for mercy and forgiveness by offering Himself on the cross for you and me.

In the incarnation, the Son of God took on flesh to dwell among man, die for us, be raised for us, and will come again for us one day. In all these things, He is glorious, and as we love Him, we will one day see His incarnate glory forevermore!2

Image by Andreas Böhm from Pixabay

  1. John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), John 1:14. Logos edition. []
  2. For all of the above, see D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), 126–30, and John F. MacArthur, Jr. John 1–11 (MacArthur New Testament Commentary; Chicago: Moody, 2006), 39–43. []

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