Galatians 1:3 :
Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
Grace simply means “favor.” Here, it is a word used to describe how God favors us, and that because he favored us we have peace with God. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, our punishment was paid for. Before this was done, we were not at peace with God. There was a division between us.
God is a just God, and because of this, He does not allow any sin to go unpunished. In the Bible, forgiveness doesn’t mean to “allow to go unpunished.” With God, no sin goes unpunished. Actually, the punishment for sin is death and Jesus took that punishment for the sins of the world (past, present and future; and yes it includes horrible sins like murder, sexual sins, etc.)
God’s kind of favor is the kind that we definitely don’t deserve. We are sinners and He chose to pay for our sins at a significant cost to Himself rather than destroy us. Our peace, on the other hand, comes from an act of justice. The death of Jesus was the legal payment for our sin. We are rightfully free of our sin when we believe in the fact that Jesus paid for it. That is how we are “Saved.” Now God has made Jesus “Lord” over everything. God was very pleased with Jesus. He did exactly what He was supposed to do. As believers, we also recognize that Jesus is “Lord,” because by Him we are saved.
Because of what Jesus has done, God is now our Father. This is mentioned many times in the book of John too. It is sometimes hard to believe that we are that important, but the Bible makes it very clear that we are, and that God really is our Father. We are forgiven, and at peace with God now. We are greatly loved, and we have His favor.
John 1:16, 17 : From his fullness we all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
As it says in verse 14, Jesus is full of grace and truth. In verse 16 it says that because Jesus is full of grace, we receive it over and over again. This is a common theme in Christianity. Jesus gives us what He is already full of. We are to give to others out of the love that we are filled up with from God. God doesn’t expect us to come up with love out of nothing. He gives it to us out of His fullness. This one way to contrast Jesus Christ with the law of Moses.
The law of Moses was a very good thing in that it defined God’s holy requirements for man. Knowing God’s requirements does not make it any easier to do them, it just makes us aware of them. The law doesn’t cause us to understand the truth. We don’t get to ask “Why” when faced with a legal requirement. Imagine that you are pulled over in a car. You can’t strike up a conversation with the officer about why it is against the law to speed. The only truth the law cares about is whether or not you broke it.
Since Jesus is full of grace and truth we are given favor and told about why things are the way they are. In a world of law, this makes a big difference. It’s nice to know why something is the way it is. It is also nice to be favored by the judge. This is not to say that the judge is going to let us off easy just because He likes us. God would not be a good judge if He showed favoritism. The law is good because it clearly defines good and bad.
The law tells us what “good” means (Romans 7: 7, 8). God is good and will live by His own laws. He will not tolerate any lawbreakers (Romans 2:12-16). It isn’t that He’s mean, He’s just upholding the law for the sake of justice and goodness. The Bible shows us that Israel was unable to get to God by the law. So how does Christianity work if God didn’t get more lenient and man didn’t get any better? Jesus made the difference by paying the price for our sin and God sees what Jesus did. What Jesus did was acceptable to God as punishment for the wrong doing.
Because the price has already been paid, God is able to freely show us His favor or grace and to talk to us about the truth as friends (John 15:14, 15).
John 1:14 : The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Since it’s so easy to look things up in the Bible these days, I encourage you to look up the verses that are listed by reference in these lessons.
Here we read that Jesus became a real person. He wasn’t a ghost or some kind of spirit. He was a real “flesh” and bone person. John, in I John, talks much more about the physical reality of Jesus. Some people say that Jesus was not a real person but a non-physical entity. It is very clear from the Bible that Jesus was “flesh.” He really lived on earth and he really displayed His glory. I think that the glory he is talking about here is the glory that John witnessed at the transfiguration; a time when Jesus appeared to His disciples in his heavenly glory while he was on earth. There are accounts of this event in the Bible (see: Matthew 17:1-6)
This verse also says that Jesus is the only son of God. This may be confusing because he just got done writing earlier that we are God’s children too. It is important to realize that we are not children like Jesus is. The Bible says that we are children of God because of what Jesus did. Jesus is a child of God because He is God. In that sense He is the only one who is a Son of God in the way He is. We, on the other hand are God’s children because of Jesus. You can read more about the fact that you are a Son of God by reading more in I John 2:28 – 3:2.
Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” I have been a believer for long time and I am still only beginning to appreciate this. The grace of Jesus is His favor for us. He likes us, just because He likes us. He doesn’t like us because we are so good or beautiful or popular or anything else. He just likes us because he decided to. On top of this, he gives us truth. He didn’t just give us commandments. He gave us truth. When you know the truth, you get to believe, not just follow orders. We know that when you believe something you do follow orders because you want to. Someone who does what they want all the time is free. Logically, I can see that the truth is connected to freedom, but only when I believe in Jesus.