1 John 5:6-8, “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. 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.” (NKJV)
1 John 5:6-8, “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (NASB)*
Now comes some fun! As you will undoubtedly notice, I have presented two versions of Scripture; the New King James Version of which I use in most of my teaching and the New American Standard Bible which I use in most of my preaching! In all honesty, I love the reading of both and I will tell you up front, I am not a King James Only believer and though I won’t get into it in this study, if that is an affront to you, I’m truly sorry!
But suffice it to say that since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and some of the earliest manuscripts that have been found that date far, far earlier than those used to translate the Bible into the 1611 King James Version, I have no problems with using some of the newer texts in study. However, I will always come back to these two versions listed above when it comes to comparison and study. That’s MY personal preference.
However, since we will be delving into an area of some controversy that has been evolving over the years I will state this fact and many of you who HAVE followed my teaching know I am adamant about this: The Holy Spirit IS Truth. (As we shall see in some following Scripture). I firmly believe that He inspired the written Word, though it was written by many different hands, it has His Signature on each and every book recognized as Biblical Canon. I further believe that the Holy Spirit did NOT stop inspiring mankind, but even today, ACCORDING to the written Word is STILL leading, guiding and counseling His servants through His inspiration. Thus, through the generations, I believe that those translators who deemed to provide a more accurate reading AND translation for study AND instruction were also inspired by the Holy Spirit, who guided them in their translation efforts.
As proof, when it comes to the necessity of being born-again, saved, spiritually reborn, or whatever term you use to denote Salvation and Redemption, you will find the necessary Scriptures in each translation authorized by reputable translators. They express the Deity of Jesus as the Son of God and as the Anointed One, the Christ, and they express His relationship to the Father, God Almighty and to the Holy Spirit Whom He sent upon His Ascension to the Throne. As a guide that is meant to open up man’s relationship to the Heavenly Father through Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, these modern translations do just that! The key is as the Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy; “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15, and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Therefore as just a little bit of food for thought, when we as Christians stand before the Lord on that Judgement Day and He asks us about our service to Him, I DON’T think He’s going to be asking what version of the Bible we used any more than He will ask what denomination we belonged too!
So, let’s get on with these next verses. A lot of discussion has been given over the many years as to the EXACT meaning of what the Beloved Apostle was referring too when he mentioned the water and the blood. The discussion isn’t whether Jesus is the One, or even if He is the Son of God, but it’s about the witness or the testimony of “the water and the blood!” Personally, the more I have prayed about it, the more I have studied different Bible resources, I just don’t see why there even IS any type of controversy.
First of all, let’s set some ground-work. The Old Testament, the covenant between God and mankind, specifically His children was set up with a series of laws and rituals that were never meant to accomplish the act of Redemption, but rather, when taken in faith as a type and shadow of the coming Savior, it was the faith by which God’s chosen children were justified. You can read this throughout the Book of Hebrews. In the ritual sacrifices, water AND blood were a main component in the preparation of the offerings.
Here are a few of the instances that scholars have taken into consideration. Jesus came to earth, All God and All man. We have established that in the past already. When He was born, He was born of a woman and as with all child-birth, water AND blood is involved. When His ministry began, it began at the Jordan river where John, baptized Jesus in water and the Heaven’s opened up and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. (Matthew 3:13, Mark 1:9, Luke 3:21).
Others point out the part of the story of the crucifixion that John, the Apostle himself witnessed and was the only one to remark in this way. “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” – John 19:34. There are those who reference the water as a type that symbolizes the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus and the blood was of course that shed at Calvary.
Still others say John presents this as he does the whole theme of his Epistle, as an argument against the Gnostics of his day who believe that up until the time of His baptism and right at the time the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, Jesus was JUST a man. A perfect, moral man, but just a man until the Holy Spirit POSSESSED Him and He then became the Christ, the Anointed One. The Gnostics believed that He was Christ while performing His ministry on earth up until the time of His passion-plea in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Holy Spirit then departed Him so that He could then die on the cross. Of course, if He wasn’t All God at that time as well as All man, then the atonement was for nothing! Thus John is stating that it is not just water as a witness or testimony to His Christ-hood, but as the Apostle states, it is the water AND the blood!
Now my thinking on this, is to NOT limit what the Holy Spirit might be trying to tell us as He inspired John to remember and to write this. I see absolutely nothing wrong with ALL of these scenarios for the POINT that the Apostle is making under that inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that our appointed Sacrifice, the Sacrifice given for OUR sins followed the Old Testament covenant in presenting the water and the blood. Just like in the Temple, water was present and so was blood. Now in the New Testament Temple(s), we are washed in the water AND the blood! THAT is the real point. Remember, it was the Apostle Peter
who wrote, “There is also an antitype which now saves us–baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, . . .” – 1 Peter 3:21. The word the New King James Version uses is antitype which could be replaced by a “type” or even “corresponding too” as the New American Standard Bible states it. All it means is that we are baptized (by the water and the blood) as an act of a good conscience, as a confession of what we truly believe and not just the ritual, because Christ Jesus performed all of that on the Cross!
There is nothing about any of this, and especially those who choose to make it a controversy, that takes away from the Deity of Christ or the Sacrament of His Sacrifice for our atonement. As a matter of fact, it just lends to the testimony or witness of the Holy Spirit, Himself. John reminds us that the Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Truth and against such there can be no denying.
Now pressing onward this is the part that always surprises me, the controversy, the debates that take place over verses 7 and 8. There are those that as I stated earlier are die-hard 1611 King James Version, old English, translated from other translations, people who believe there can be no other version of the Bible and if you use another, well, your salvation is at risk. All I can say with all the love I can muster is “study to show yourself approved and have faith when you do it.” If that is the limit to a person’s faith then I can’t complain because that is still a mighty big faith!
But here’s something I want to ask you or at least to have you think about. There are three basic types of people when it comes to analysis or thinking. Those who can’t see the forest for the individual trees (they see the individual beauty of each tree, but can’t quite see the forest as a whole), or those who can’t see the trees for the forest (they see the forest as a beautiful whole, but do not identify the individual trees that make it up) or there are those that can do both, they see the forest as a beautiful whole made up of individually beautiful trees.
The same thing applies to people and their Bibles. I am NOT criticizing one or the other but rather showing that of either of the two types of people, there are limitations when it comes to Biblical understanding. There are those who can quote you a Scripture and expound on it and explore every intricate detail and nuance, but don’t ask them about the Book or Epistle that it is in because it is made up of a lot of individual treasures. Then there are those who can look at a Book or Epistle of the Bible and go on and on about why it was written, the setting, the structure and yes even some of the key verses. Each has it’s limitations though. This is the reason many, many times for the controversies and debates that arise from various versions.
When you realize the purpose of the WHOLE Bible, the reason God gave it to mankind to begin with, then when you open it up, the Books as a whole and Letters written as a whole start to make sense and the true treasures found in the individual Scripture verses can also be plumbed.
When you take verses 7 and 8 together, whether you read or study it in the NKJV or the NASB it is still telling you one thing. There are THREE that testify to the truth of Jesus Christ and these three are in agreement!
Yeah, but Brother Roland, verse 7 is not acknowledging the Trinity in the modern versions! They don’t specifically say, the Father, the Word (the Son) and the Holy Spirit! See, they are BAD versions meant to deceive. Let me ask you something; are you going to stop believing or have doubts about the Triune God because in this ONE verse they left out specifically stating their titles? Keep in mind that everywhere else in the Bible their Deity is evident and acknowledged. In other words, when the translation JUST says, “For there are three that testify: . . .” that is going to destroy your whole belief in the Triune God?
Let me ask you another question; what is the Apostle talking about starting in verse 6? Wasn’t he making the point that it isn’t just the Holy Spirit that testifies of Jesus Christ, which by the way should be evidence enough, but that it IS the water and blood itself that witnesses or testifies to the Deity and atonement of Christ Jesus. What is a habit that the Apostle has in his writing that I have stressed over and over? Isn’t it that he makes a point and then goes back and reiterates that point to make sure we “get” it? So, John is talking about the water, and the blood, and the Holy Spirit bearing witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. In verse 7, the Trinity not withstanding and not being denied, John states simply, “For there are three that testify: . . .”
Oh, by the way, did you notice the colon? Remember what the colon does in English grammar? It connects that thought to the next thought coming after it. In other words, take away the verse numbers and here is what you get: “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” WOW!! John just reiterated his thought from verse 6!! That must have been a pretty important thought! (Do you think he might have been arguing with the Gnostics back in the day?).
John didn’t detract from the Trinity, for he wasn’t even talking about the Trinity to begin with. He’s writing to whom? Do you remember? The last address to those he was writing too was made in 1 John 4:4, “Little children.” In other words, those whom he already considered part of his family and the children of our Heavenly Father, God Almighty! So – maybe they already believe and trust in the Triune God and he didn’t HAVE to put it there. So, whether you want to acknowledge it in the NKJV or read on as presented in earlier writings such as what the NASB and others came from, the point and the train of thought remain the same!
As a child of God’s, we have the ASSURANCE not JUST from the Holy Spirit which should be evidence enough that Jesus Christ took upon Himself our sins and that as the atoning sacrifice, acceptable before God, His/our Father, our faith and belief and acceptance of Him abiding in us brings about our Salvation and Redemption and that witness is also of the water and blood that through that sacrifice is applied to us!
All I can say as write this is that we serve an AWESOME GOD! Praise His Exalted Name to the Highest Heavens! Amen and AMEN!