By Stan Brown
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.
I am treating these three verses together because they belong together. This has to be one of the passages in Scripture that is right at the top in the race for most possible interpretations. Barnes, in his commentary Barnes’ Notes on the Bible includes at least ten (I lost track of the exact number) if you include sub interpretations. Everyone agrees that it has to do with the authentication of who Jesus is. There is no question concerning who the Spirit is but water and blood bring out disagreements among the commentators. To summarize, the commentators agree on the fact that John is affirming who Jesus is but spends a lot of time figuring out who the witnesses are. I am going to give a simple straightforward interpretation of the passage and let you look at the commentaries should you desire. BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED (Matt. 18:16 from Deut. 19:15).
This passage is certainly central to John’s epistle in that it strongly demonstrates who Jesus is. He is God Himself who came to earth as the incarnate Son of God in order to die for our sins and rise from the dead as a demonstration of the validity of that sacrifice and His victory over death. It is an affirmation of who Jesus is that would fly in the face of the antichrists who were denying the person of the Son of God. John says that there are three that testify to who Jesus is. The Spirit, (that is the Holy Spirit, that is God Himself) is central to that testimony. The Spirit is Truth just as Jesus is Truth (John 14:6) and God is Truth (Isa. 65:16; 1John 1:5). The message that He certifies is true because the Spirit is truth. The testimony of the water refers to the Baptism of the Son by John the Baptist as He was miraculously declared to be who He was, that is the Son of God. The testimony of the water declares who He already is. It was a testimony that John the Baptist accepted as he said He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God (John 1:33-34). In fact, the Father Himself testified at that time This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matt. 3:17)” This leaves only the blood which refers to His death which offers the cleansing from sin to all people and was validated by His resurrection from the dead as well as His ascension into Heaven.
Although the commentators may discuss the details forever, there is really no question about the point John is making. The one in whom we trust is the Son of God. This is confirmed by three witnesses (the water, the blood and the Spirit). This Jesus is the One who makes possible all that John affirms in this letter. He is the One whose blood cleanses us from all Sin; He is the One who enables us to be born of Him; He is the One who procures our fellowship with the Creator; He is the One who leads us into the light, He is the One who enables us to be God’s message of love. He truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The truth contained in these three verses (BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES) validates everything that we believe.