What is favor upon favor? That’s the way to define a more familiar term. See the video or stay here with the text version!
But notice: He opens His hand and satisfies His children with good things – Psalm 104:28. And in John 1:16, the Apostle underscores this point in an unusual way:
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
Grace Upon Grace
When you read that verse the first time, it sounds like some words are missing or the writer had a brain cramp. But the actual Greek phrase is grace “anti” grace. The word anti is a Greek preposition that can have several meanings. The New King James Version translates it for, but most translators prefer using the word upon. Out of the fullness of His own grace, Jesus gives us grace upon grace, grace on top of grace.
So we should take a second to define terms. What is grace? Here’s how it’s defined in Strong’s:
Grace: That which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
But grace is set alongside another Greek word we see as upon. And this combination of terms helps us understand. Notice:
Upon – Greek = anti…definitions
- Over against, opposite to, before
- For, instead of, in place of (something)
- Instead of
- For that, because
- Wherefore, for this cause
It’s enlightening to combine those terms in different ways. But a word picture may be even better. Think of the ocean surf—one wave crashing after another in unending succession. If the ocean is God’s grace, then we are on its edge, with wave after wave of His grace splashing over us. And even that picture has limits – our oceans are vast but finite. Our Father’s ocean of grace is as limitless as the universe! And it is from this supply of grace that He deals with and supplies His children.
But we aren’t limited to pictures we can dream up on our own. Think about these:
- The clouds of Noah’s day that kept pouring out rain
- Granaries in Joseph’s time that held endless reserves of grain
- A rock in the wilderness that gushed out water for a nation
- A vessel of oil in Elijah’s time that kept issuing oil
- The cup from Psalm 23 that ever overflows – signifying our eternal welcome
Other Views: Favor Upon Favor
The New International Version renders this verse as:
From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.
And the idea of God’s continuous blessings is not unique to John’s Gospel. It is alive and well in the New Testament and the Old Testament. Ephesians 1:3 says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Psalm 68:19 gives the same idea in a very similar manner,
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.
We all know life has its burdens and challenges, but God has grace upon grace for it all. That’s His blessing to all who believe. Our Father really does delight in giving good gifts to His children. And I can’t stop without including another translation. The Amplified Bible translates John 1:16 this way:
Out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift].
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