“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (Gospel of John 1:16-18)

As the Protestant Christian movement emerged, one of the biggest disagreements between those who would one day become Protestants and those who would remain Roman Catholic was the issue of the law’s function in the life of the believer. One of the five most important theological “shortcut” phrases of the Reformation was, “sola fide” which means, “by faith alone”. This phrase indicated how one was “saved” from God’s eternal judgment. This 15th-16th-century conflict between Protestants and Catholics was later read back into the Pauline writings and projected back into Paul’s own words. Today, hardly anyone will object to that fact that Paul must be read through a first-century Israelite interpretive lens and not through the later lenses of a Catholic-vs-Protestant conflict historically unrelated to Paul.

While the juxtaposition of the law and the gospel was present in the Church Fathers, it is not until the time of the Reformation that the juxtaposing of law and grace became so pronounced.[1] This became a dominant emphasis of the Reformation. The opposite of grace became law; the opposite of law became grace. However, scripturally the opposite of law was never grace but lawlessness. Just as the opposite of grace was never law but disgrace.

Like Paul, John has also been greatly misunderstood and interpreted anachronistically. In John 1:17, for example, some important English Bible translations (such as KJV and NET Bible) insert the additional word – “but”. This word is not present in the original Greek. Moreover, even when modern translations do not add the word “but” (see the ESV quoted above) the verse is normally understood as if the “but” is implied. It is almost impossible for us to read this text and not juxtapose law and grace in our contemporary minds (Try it! You too will have a hard time.)

If one ignores the negative reading and instead interprets the phrase (in verse 17) positively – “The Law came through Moses; (and) grace and truth come through Jesus Christ” – then the text flows organically. In this case, it is obviously connected with the previous confession by the Gospel’s author that grace was given in addition to the grace already provided. (16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”) Perhaps a translation that can help us get rid of this inbred dichotomy would read like this:

For the Torah was given through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

God’s desire is that we come to know Him intimately. We come to know Him through the study of His Word. If you desire a deeper understanding of God’s Word, it is essential that you understand the Jewish background and culture.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

282 COMMENTS

  1. This is such amazing article Dr Eli, I have to read over and over again! I realized I don't have to juxtaposed Law and Grace but it is truly true for a believer of 21st century you cannot see the subtleties of but! So it is like when you read the Bible, Old Testament is optional extra because in our mind(not Jewish perspective) we are save by Grace and Law is not something that we should dwell so much! But in reality an accurate word would be junction, Grace has supply the necessities for us to apply the Law! SHALOM

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    • I have found the true meaning of grace in this verse:Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Tit 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; I asked myself: How did grace appear? The word of God, in the flesh, appeared. Jesus Christ appeared. What does that have to do with grace? Living our lives in the word of God is living our lives in grace. Living our lives in the Spirit of the word of God is living our lives in the truth of the word of God. The word of God is the word of grace. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of grace. In Him we are living in grace, and spreading grace We can only enter into this grace by love for the word of God, even the word of God in the flesh. It is love that for the word of God that brings faith, and by faith we enter into this grace.

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    • Hi I hope I am not off track on this subject of Gace and Law! This is what came to me from reading on this subject. When a person becomes baptized, he becomes part of Christ. If we believe that we are saved by Grace. then we should follow God's laws out of love. John 14:21, 23; John 15:10; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; 2 John 1:6. Hi have a friend who is gay, and he told me he was saved, that the law was done away with. That he was now free. How do you answer?

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    • I believe it is much simpler than that — It is not about Juxtaposition as much as it is about FINALITY. The Lar/Torah is not for the righteous person/believer (1 Timothy 1:8). I walked a Torah observant lifestyle as a Christian for over a decade. The Torah is holy, just & good but it cannot make us holy, just or good. required the reunification of our spirits with Yahuweh’s Spirit. This is accomplished by being born again, (1 Corinthians 6:17). Once you do this you have the Spirit of the living God, his Holy Spirit living inside you.Ronans 8:14
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  2. “1:18 No one has seen ELOHIM ever yet. That one and only begotten Elohim356, Who is in the bosom of the ABBA, He has shown the way to HIM.” Excerpt From Book of The Covenant
  3. Footnote to Jn 1:18 #356 – only begotten Elohim - that same ‘Elohim’ mentioned in vs 1. Addressing the Mashiach as “Elohim” (Mighty One) is valid only in the Hebraic scripture context and is not to be confounded with YHWH ELOHIM HIMSELF. In Hebraic context, the title “elohim” is also applied to mighty malachim or mighty servants of YHWH (see Ps 45:6; 82:6, 97:7, 89:6, 138:1; Ex 4:16, 21:6, 22:8; 1Sa 28:13). YAHshua is the only begotten Elohim sent by YHWH. He is not YHWH, WHO is “The ELOHIM of Elohim” – the one and only “EL ELYON” (Most High
  4. ...“ELOHIM), the only EL SHADDAI (Almighty ELOHIM). See also Jn 1:1, 10:33-36; Phi 2:6; Heb 1:8; Jn 20:28.” Excerpt From Book of The Covenant
  5. John 1:17 "For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.(NKJV) if the word "but" is not in the Greek then where did John get "but " in to his book. I want know more explanation
    • Could this mean, the Law id Instructions for Christ’s Followers to become one with the Father. If one, we perhaps are given grace and truth in oneness with Jesus and the Father?
    • In the KJV, you will observe that "but" is in italics. This is the system KJV applies when it believes it needs some extra word not in the original to help it make "more sense" of the original. The only problem, is that its "more sense" may actually stand against the truth. And, in this instance, it does.
  6. Unraveling! Yes the law was given to me, but how? A. through Moses, or B. Moses was read (2 Cor 3:15). The answer is B so what does THROUGH Moses mean? What did I see by having the Law read? A. His goodness, or B. His glory? The answer is A and God's goodness lead me to repentance (Rom 2:4). What was made known after repentance? The Father and I are one. (John 1:18) Important because I prayed to God and Jesus revealed Himself. Question, "the Father's side" seems different than slain lamb (Rev 5).
    • The Son is in the Father from eternity. The Son is the Father's Word. Can any of you separate me from my word, my voice? That's me actually. It is one with me, and so the Word eternally in the bossom of the Father is one with the Father.
  7. The problem with not all, but certain people within the grace movement is that they see it as a way of excusing their iniquities. Grace (Jesus) came to free us from sin; Not to free us to sin. Heaven and earth will pass away, not a iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:18 ESV).
    • So my question would be, when Yeshua said "it is finished!" (teleo,reached its goal), was not all accomplished? Are not all promises Yes! in Him? and did He not say that the Law and the prophets prophesied UNTIL John the Baptist and that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist? (Matt 11) It seems clear to me that some things HAVE passed from the Law, ie. no more ritual sacrifice with, instead, the living sacrifice of our lives and the aroma of prayer as incense, a new priesthood, a different thinking of temple,etc
    • I hope you are not saying that the Jewish People are without Grace - they lived and still live by God's amazing Love and Grace and they endeavor to keep 613 Commandments given to them (as a part of them bringing the Light to the Nations - goyim) It is incumbent for non-Jews to live also in Love and Grace (which originate in Adonai) and keep the Noahide Laws. Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David (Yeshua) and I worship God in Truth and live in His Righteous - I do not worship the Moshiach - together we worship Adonai.

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  8. I have a simple to ask question, what is Grace. My second question, is what is the meaning of any Hebrew Word, synonymous to the English Word Grace. I understand, Grace ias gift from the authority held by the giver. In English, a King or Queen, has Grace to Give to or take away from someone. It can be actual gifts or position, or just a privileges.
    • God loves us so much that he provided the way for us to be restored to relationship with Him, through the blood of Jesus. What do we need to do? Believe. It is not through following law that we are made righteous. It is Jesus' blood that makes us righteous and if we truly understand God's Grace, that we are no longer bound by sin, then righteous living is the result.

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    • George titus 2:11-12 shares with us that the Holy Spirit teaches us away from ungodliness. Meaning that grace is the power from the Holy Spirit to stop sinning. We know we are in grace when we see ourselves and our minds changing to a Godly way of living. We get the change feom studying scripture (all) to see what God’s agenda is vs our own.
  9. I guess you are just going to throw out the warnings of Galatians that Paul wrote about this issue of mixing grace and the law as well as throw out Acts 15 as well. I'm tired of those who are Torah observant trying to yoke the Law to Gentiles where is states in Galatians that in order to do so you throw the grace of Christ out the door. Also it was determined by the Jewish council of Acts what specific laws Gentiles are supposed to follow.
    • You are prejudging me :-). I say you should read of my take on things before painting me with this kind of brush :-). Look for the section on Jewish Apostle Paul and explore (right bar in the blog section). You may be surprised about what I would say.

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    • James you have a valid concern about the supposed torah observant crowd but Dr Eli is not one of those. If you read the text again without inserting the projection it may be easier to see. As stated you do have valid concern. Dr Baruch Korman said it is impossible to be completely Torah observant when the temple does not exist. Your point is that teaching adherence to laws that do not save is concern. Only Belief in Christ saves us. Scripture will teach us what is praiseworthy to God. We can go after that. :)
    • James, I do not know everyone of course, but I do not know any Torah-observant people who believe that is what brings their salvation.

      I also see from greater context (Tanakh and apostolic writings in general, Jewish and other ancient writings) that the issue in Acts15 was ritual (extra-biblical) conversion to Judaism. These Jewish believers held that only Jews had a place in the world to come, and so believing Gentiles must obviously become Jews. For Paul to buck his sect on this was significant.

      Surely it is clear that the four abstentions were not Gentiles' only instructions for life.
  10. Shalom Dr. Eli. Thank you for this. I agree that the law and grace are not mutually exclusive to one another and are not contrary to one another or opposed as polar opposites, meaning that they can organically exist and abide simultaneously. Yeshua did not come to cancel out, negate or eliminate the existence of the law but to fulfill the law (fill in the gaps that the law could not cover due to inherent human weaknesses). I believe Yeshua is a safety net of grace. What the law cannot do, grace can.
    • When Jesus says that He came to fulfill the law, he meant to fulfill it as prophetical. He said, "The law was until John (the Baptist), since then the Kingdom of God is preached." Luke 16:16; Mat. 11:13 See also Jeremiah 31:31-34. The born-again from above person is not under any legal covenant. He is under grace by faith through the Blood of Christ which Jesus said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. See Romans 6:14 and 7:1,4 & 6. Also II Corinthians 3:6-11 Here God refers to the legal covenant as "A ministration of death."
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