“He Who Came By Water And Blood”—1 John 5:6-13

1 John 5:6 (NKJV)

6 This is HE WHO CAME BY WATER AND BLOOD—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but BY WATER AND BLOOD. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

John’s Epistles were written primarily to defend the humanity and incarnation of Jesus against the heresies of the Docetic Gnostics, who taught that Jesus did not actually come in the flesh (2 John 1:7); He only made an “appearance” (or illusion) of being human.

In tackling this error, John explains in 1 John 5:6 that Jesus came by “water and blood.” He is referring to John 19, where He was pierced by a Roman soldier on the Cross.

John 19:34-37 (NKJV)

34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately BLOOD AND WATER came out. 35 And HE WHO HAS SEEN HAS TESTIFIED, and HIS TESTIMONY IS TRUE; and he knows that HE IS TELLING THE TRUTH, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”

Why does John say “He came by water and blood“? Because his whole epistle (1 John) is to prove the humanity of Jesus (which the Gnostics denied). By saying “He came by blood and water,” he is saying that “Jesus actually came as a Man.” He was flesh and blood and he himself witnessed Him die (John 19:35)! Blood and water gushed out of His pierced body to indeed prove His humanity.

John continues in vs. 6 “not ONLY by water, but by water and blood.” He uses “water” figuratively here for Jesus’ purity of life and doctrine (i.e. His divinity, which was clearly portrayed in His conduct on the Earth). Water is an emblem of purity in the Jewish thought (see Eze 36:25; Isai 1:16; Jer 4:14). John is pointing to the baptism at Jordan, which affirmed Jesus’ righteousnesss.

Matthew 3:13-17 (NKJV)

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I NEED TO BE BAPTIZED BY YOU, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us TO FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and HE SAW THE SPIRIT OF GOD DESCENDING LIKE A DOVE AND ALIGHTING UPON HIM. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.”

Here, God testifies of Jesus by an audible voice (“this is My beloved Son“), and by the Spirit descending upon Him. This was to further illustrate His sinless life. He was not baptized for His sins, but was simply baptized to “fulfill all righteousness.

John’s argument is this: Jesus did not merely come “by water” i.e. sinlessly (like the Gnostics taught), but “by water and blood” (i.e. He was also human). As a human, He actually died to redeem man. The Gnostics denied this fact, since to them all matter is sinful, therefore they taught that Jesus came “by water” only (i.e. in a divine form, sinlessly, righteousnesssly), without human flesh (“water and blood“).

Vs. 6 continues, “…And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.” The Spirit bears witness from the Old Testament Scriptures and the writings of the Apostles that Jesus came in the flesh (see 2 Pt 1:20-21, Isai 7:14, 9:6-7, John 1:14, Luke 1:35, Rom 1:3, Gal 4:4, Philip 2:6-8, 1 Tim 3:16, Heb 2:14)! This witness can also be readily found in Jesus’ earthly life, as He affirms Jesus by descending upon Him at the Jordan baptism.

Vv. 7-8 say, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: (the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth:) the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

Note that the bracketed sentences above are not original. They were interpolated into the text around the 15th Century. So the text may be better read without them:

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

Observe the phrase “bear witness.” It is a legal term (“martureó” in the Greek) which means “to give evidence.” It was common practice in ancient times, as it is today, for proof to be brought before the Court of Law. Where the evidence/proof/witness is credible, the party which presents it is more readily believed. To affirm Jesus’ humanity, three bear witness: the Spirit, the water, and the blood “in heaven.

In heaven” should not be mistaken for “out of the Earth.” It is to simply show the divine nature of the witnesses i.e. they are not earthly. “The Spirit” refers to the Spirit’s testimony in the Scriptures and in Jesus’ life. “The water” speaks of Jesus’ sinless life, which was affirmed by His baptism in water. “The blood” alludes to His flesh and “blood.” These three bear witness to His humanity, and they agree as one.

Vs. 9 says, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.” It was common custom in Bible days to receive testimony by the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deu 17:6, 19:15, Heb 10:28). John’s argument here is this: if men’s words could be accepted as evidence, then God’s witness (the Spirit, the water and the blood) should be more readily believed! Since God is greater than men, His words/testimony should be reckoned more trustworthy (see Heb 6:16-18).

Vs. 10 says, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself.” The “witness” is the Spirit, Who indwells all who believe (Rom 8:15-16, Gal 4:6). It continues, “he who does not believe God has made Him a liar because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” The one who yet rejects God’s own testimony of Jesus’ humanity makes God out to be or portrays Him as a liar.

To reject Jesus’ humanity is to reject the very Life He gives, since it was for this purpose that He became flesh (i.e. to give Life). Vs. 11 says, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” This is the sum total of God’s testimony about Christ; it culminates in finding Life in Him.

Vv. 12-13 then say, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Note that the phrase “and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” is not original to the text. Those who have believed have Life in Christ as an eternal consequence (see John 1:4, 3:16, 6:33, 51, 54, 58, 10:10, 14:6).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *