What is the Meaning of Water and Blood in 1 John 5:6?

A Common Question

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6

John now gives a description of Jesus Christ as he that came by water and blood. No one knows exactly what John had in mind when he used these two symbols.

Tertullian’s guess seems to fit the facts best: the water is a reference to His baptism or inauguration, where the Voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son,” and established that Jesus was the Christ. The blood is a common symbol for His death, where there were also supernatural miracles to cause even the confirmed and cruel Roman centurion to realize that this man (Jesus) was more than a mere man (Matthew 27:54); also, by the Resurrection, the Father confirmed Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

This interpretation also fits the facts concerning the gnostic-type beliefs of Cerinthus who taught that the Christ came upon Jesus at the baptism but left Him before the Cross; John could have been refuting some such heresy. It is interesting that John called attention to the water, and the blood which came from the side of Jesus on the cross (John 19:34-35). At any rate, these were important symbols or witnesses to the deity of Christ in John’s mind. He also adds a third witness, the indwelling Spirit. Thus, according to John’s count here, there are three that bear record.

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

Latest posts by Dr. Elmer Towns (see all)