Tag Archive for 'D.A. Carson'

Repost: What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

I just noticed that this has become the most popular post on the blog, most likely because of search engine activity. It has surpassed Complete List of Paul's Prayers. So I thought I’d post it again after three years.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV), which is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. 


John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7 — The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

Quote of the Day

David said he ‘only sinned against God.’ But he actually sinned against many others also. The key is that no one is more offended than God himself.

–D.A. Carson

Psalm 51:4
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

“Not doing stuff” or “Doing stuff” – D.A. Carson

Some Saturday stream of consciousness thoughts:

In reading various blog posts and quotes from authors, I’m getting tired of hearing people talk about how we need to do stuff, not just learn stuff. Or how we need to learn stuff because we don’t know enough stuff before we can do stuff. If someone is regenerated and has God dwelling in them how could they not want to know God better and do the good works that He predestined us to do as part of living a holy life? Why emphasize one over the other?

I also see a general malaise in living holy lives. I’m afraid that our culture has influenced some of us to lower our standards.

Sometimes I’m saddened by what people say and do and are entertained by, but at the same time I have to look at my own life and some of the TV shows that I’m entertained by etc.

This all came up when I came across this quote by D.A. Carson today in some notes on a Q&A Session:

We haven’t concentrated on God and the gospel, that’s why we don’t have enough holiness. Everything is tied to that. Don’t think about it only in terms of ‘not doing stuff’ or ‘doing stuff’ and that reduces to moralism.

1 Peter 1:15-16
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ ”

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Quote of the Day from Exegetical Fallacies

Careful handling of the Bible will enable us to ‘hear’ it a little better. It is all too easy to read the traditional interpretations we have received from others into the text of Scripture. Then we may unwittingly transfer the authority of Scripture to our traditional interpretations and invest them with a false, even an idolatrous, degree of certainty. Because traditions are reshaped as they are passed on, after a while we may drift far from God’s Word while still insisting all our theological opinions are ‘biblical’ and therefore true. If when we are in such a state we study the Bible uncritically, more than likely it will simply reinforce our errors. If the Bible is to accomplish its worth of continual reformation–reformation of our lives and our doctrine–we must do all we can to listen to it afresh and to utilize the best resources at our disposal.

D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies

I just finished this book and found it excellent even if some parts were a bit over my head.

The above quote pretty much describes the course I’ve been embarking on starting about two years ago. I’ve barely scratched the surface and will probably not get much farther than that after a lifetime of study, but I hope I will be able to more correctly explain the word the truth (2 Timothy 2:15) as time goes on.