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Scripture Study: John 1:6-18

 6 ¶There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
What does it mean to be sent from God? Of what significance is the fact that John's father was given his name from God before he was even born? Of what significance is it that John was appointed from before his birth?

 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
John's mission was to "bear witness of the Light." How did he do that? Was John's purpose in life to say, "That guy right there is the Messiah?" Was that how he bore witness of the Light? If so, he did a very poor job, as evidenced later by the fact that he himself wasn't totally sure just who the Messiah was, and didn't teach his followers so (see later commentary). Instead, the primary content of his mission was to preach the doctrine of Jesus, not the person of Jesus. While he was preaching the doctrine of Jesus, he necessarily had to point on the false traditions of the incumbent religions. If you re-read what John said, and how he said it, you will find that his words were rougher than his clothing. Those who, finding the truth hard, assume it can't be from God are quite ignorant of the scriptures, indeed.
 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
True messengers do not spend their time directing people to follow them. They are not the light. Jesus is the light. True messengers spend their time directing people to follow Jesus.

 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

See commentary on John 1:1-5.
 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
 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:
 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus came to the Jews, a chosen people. Despite their chosen status, their birthright inheritance, they rejected him. Here we are taught that it is not a people's pedigree that determine their inheritance of God's power. Instead, is it an individual's degree of acceptance of God's word. The vast majority of the Jews started and remained without God's power (verse 12). God's power comes to "as many as receive him." If you do not have God's power, you have not yet received him, no matter what you think or what someone has told you. You have received some counterfeit, and need to get rid of it to receive the real thing. The real thing does not come from other men (the will of man) or because you want it (the will of the flesh). It comes of God, according to his word, and his conditions.

 14 And the Word was made 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.
In conjunction with the opening two verses, this verse literally means "Jesus was a spirit in the presence of the father until he came here and born into a body of flesh." John (and others) did (and have) seen Jesus in his glory, the same glory he had (and has) with the father, but did not show openly while here in mortality.

 15 ¶John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
John the Baptist was known before he was born. Yet, Jesus was greater than John. The spirit of Jesus is also older than the spirit of John.

 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
John (the apostle) is not saying that Christ's fullness has been received by all. He said he and some others have received it. They have received power from God, they have been in God's presence in glory. Not many can say that they have. However, the opportunity is open to all (see verse 12).

 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Grace and truth indeed come by Jesus Christ, and were possessed and lived by those who preceded Moses. The gospel did not begin with the law of Moses. It was given to Adam in the garden of Eden, and passed down by Adam to his righteous posterity until Noah. It was revealed anew to Abraham and passed down through his posterity to his great grandson Joseph. What saved a man in the days of Adam saved a man in the days of Jesus and will save a man today.

 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

There are many instances in the Bible and elsewhere where men have claimed to see God. For example:

And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:30)

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. (Exodus 33:11)

There are others. Clearly this verse cannot mean what most Christians take it to mean: that a man cannot see God. Instead, the possibilities are several. First, that a sinful man cannot see God. I believe this. Every man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, even when seemingly righteous people like Isaiah see God, he says "Woe is me! I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips." The Lord sends an angel with an ember to cleanse his lips. Likewise, to all the righteous that enter God's presence, he says "your sins are forgiven you." Without that statement, a man could not stand in God's presence. Second, in order to see God in his glory, one must have a covering of God's glory himself. This is why, when Moses came out of the presence of the Lord, his face was covered with light. A similar thing happened to Stephen when he saw God just before being stoned. God puts his glory on you so that you can withstand his glory. Another way of looking at it is that he temporarily brings you up to a higher level of glory so you can see him, then you slowly fade back to your native level of glory. Third, and importantly, no man has ever seen the father without or except it be by the son. Jesus is the only way to gain entrance into the father's presence. He must forgive you of your sins and bring you there. The father has given the son all judgment, and he is the only keeper of the gate of salvation.