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1 John 5:6–8. Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 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. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
The phrase water and blood automatically makes us think of the incident during the crucifixion of Jesus when the soldier pierced his side and water and blood came out (John 19:34). However, this is probably not a reference to that event, but to Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion. Cerithus, a false teacher of that time, taught that Christ was a spiritual being who came down on the man Jesus when he was baptized, but left him before he was crucified. That way, Christ came through water (baptism) but not through blood (crucifixion). To correct this lie, John wrote that the one whom believers acknowledge to be the Son of God (v. 5) came not by water only, but by water and blood. The one who hung on the cross was the same person who was baptized in the Jordan River.
Our witness of what we have seen and heard (1:2, 4:14) is important, but there is a greater witness—the Holy Spirit (see John 15:26–27). The witness of the Spirit is joined to the witness of the water and blood, so that the three are in agreement.
The witness of the Spirit may be understood as the testimony of God (see v. 9) through the prophets (including John the Baptist) and the Scripture. All witnesses converge—the testimony of the Spirit through the prophets and Scripture, and the testimony of the historical facts of Jesus’ life from the beginning of his ministry (baptism) to the end (crucifixion).
By David Walls and Max Anders