WAKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXXVIII) 12/07/22

5:6 And Jesus the Anointed One was revealed as God’s Son by His baptism in water and shedding His blood on the cross – not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with His testimony.

Now, this removal of guilt cannot make us completely happy. What is it less than hell on earth to be under the dominion and pollution of every immoral lust? Therefore, to complete the happiness of the redeemed, the Anointed One is made for them not only wisdom and righteousness, the curing of our ignorance, our guilt, and our sanctification, to relieve us from the dominion and pollution of worldly corruption.[1] Jesus came not only by water but by blood, for purifying and pardoning. How complete and perfect a cure is the Anointed One.

Indeed, our sanctification cannot defend us before God, but it can verify our justification before the world. Is there no necessity or use for a holy life because it does not reward us with a right to stand innocent before God? Is the soul’s preparation for heaven, by altering its frame and temperament, nothing? Is the glorifying of our Redeemer, by a life of faith in the world, nothing? Does the work of the Anointed One render the work of the Spirit needless? God forbid! He came not only by blood but also by water.

We must realize that sin pollutes all nations of the world by nature and practice, which they will see and bitterly lament when the Light of the Gospel shines among them. This same Light will also determine that the only remedy for evil lies in the Holy Spirit of the Anointed One. It is the only fountain opened to all nations for sanctification and cleansing, making the Lord Jesus incomparably desirable in their eyes. O, how welcome the Messiah who comes to them, not by blood only, but also by water.[2]

Influenced by his Arminian view of salvation, Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) has much to say about verse six. His comments focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in verifying that Jesus was the true Messiah and Son of the Living God. Whitby writes that the witness, in this verse, is only styled as the Spirit, which enabled the Anointed One to heal diseases, cast out devils, raise the dead, and work all sorts of miracles, for confirmation of His mission. But in verse seven, the Holy Spirit distinctly signifies the inward gifts by which the understanding is amplified. The believer is enabled to perform things they could not do without the immediate workings of the Spirit, such as the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy, discerning of spirits, the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of them.[3] The basis for this distinction appears in the following considerations:

1. Our Savior, while He was on earth, gave His apostles and the seventy disciples power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons.[4] Yet the Apostle John informs us that the Holy Spirit was not in them as a comforter and guide because Jesus had not yet been glorified.[5] Our Savior also tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit would not come until He departed.[6] So also, the Apostle Peter says that with our Lord exalted to the right hand of God, the Father fulfilled our Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit.[7] Therefore, the Holy Spirit must signify something distinct from the power of working miracles.

2. The Apostle Peter’s mention of Joel’s prophecy as the promise on which the giving of the Holy Spirit has founded promises, visions, dreams, and predictions, but not miracles.[8] Furthermore, the gifts of the Spirit mentioned by the prophet Isaiah are only those of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, courage, holiness, and reverence for the Lord; no mention consists of signs and wonders.[9]

3. Throughout the book of Acts, where Luke mentions the miracles that the apostles and primitive believers performed, he always uses these words, signs, and wonders.[10] But Luke always indicates the Holy Spirit coming on them when people prophesied or spoke in tongues.[11] And lastly, where the Scripture mentions these things together, it puts a manifest distinction between signs and wonders and the gifts and distributions of the Holy Spirit. Thus God, said the apostles, bear witness to the doctrine they preached, by signs and wonders, many miracles, and distributions of the Holy Spirit.[12]

Therefore, the Spirit of God bears witness to the Anointed One on earth by enabling Him to do many mighty works to confirm His mission, to heal all manner of diseases, sicknesses, and disorders. Jesus commanded the wind and the seas to obey Him, cast our devils, and raise the dead. The Spirit also assisted Jesus’ Apostles and disciples in doing these same things in His name. And not only for His disciples but even our Lord himself, cast out devils by the Spirit of God, He expressly testifies.[13] Because Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah,[14] the Apostle Peter speaks like this to Cornelius and his friends. So you know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healed all that the devil oppressed.[15] And to these works wrought by the assistance of the Spirit of God, our Lord frequently appealed, as to a sure testimony that God had sent Him: “For, the works that I do in my Father’s name, bear witness of Me.”[16] It showed that the Father was in Jesus and He was in the Father.[17] [18]

With meticulous Greek text examination and confirmation, Johann Bengel (1687-1752), author of the “Gnomon of the New Testament,”[19] sees the Apostle John giving reasons why he attributes victory over the world to those who genuinely believe that faith in Jesus as the Son of God has invincible strength. Not only from the testimony of human witnesses but much more from the testimony of God, which has overcoming power. He does not say, coming, in the present, but “is come,” in the aorist tense, having the force of expressing a past action or state “was continuously manifested.”[20] Jesus is the One expected on account of the promises respecting Him; and who is genuinely come: whom the Spirit, water, and blood confirm with their testimony. 

The water, says Bengel, signifies baptism; hence John is called the Baptizer so Jesus might be manifested as the Son of God.[21] Moreover, baptism was monitored by Jesus’ disciples.[22] The blood is indeed the blood of One, and Jesus the Anointed One, which was shed at His passion, is drunk in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus, the Anointed One who came by water and blood, is, by this very fact, pointed out as the Messiah, not in water only. In verse six, “by” seems to refer more particularly to the water and the blood. John, who baptized with water, preceded the coming of Jesus, and Jesus came by (through) water: but Jesus, finished the work which the Father gave Him to do by shedding His blood; therefore, earlier He came by water, and now blood.

Jesus only undertook the task of fulfilling all righteousness when He came to baptism,[23] but He also completed it by pouring out His blood. When this was done, blood and water came forth from the side of Jesus the Anointed One, being dead on the cross. The apostle then declares what he means by the word Spirit, namely, the truth. But what does John mean by the word truth? There is no doubt that, in this professed list, he embraces in some way all things which connect to the testimony concerning Jesus the Anointed One, except the Divine testimony itself. The Scriptures testify of Jesus the Anointed One: Moses and the prophets,[24] John the Baptizer, testified.[25]

Afterward, the apostles testified,[26]  Now when the apostle collects the testimonies concerning Jesus Christ, as concerning Him who is come, be by no means overlooked the Gospel. He never calls it the Gospel; he generally calls it the testimony. But in this passage, it would be inconvenient to say there are three that bear witness, the testimony, the water, and the blood; therefore, instead of testimony, he tells the truth, namely, not only concerning knowledge but also with respect to its publication: and he distinguishes the truth by the name of the Spirit; with which subject the predicate, to bear witness, elegantly agrees. Therefore, let the name of Spirit be highly considered.

In this Spirit the prophetic testimony of the First Covenant, together with its fulfillment and demonstration. Again, John says, “Jesus the Anointed One came both by water and blood: he does not here say, “and the water and blood are they which bear witness.” Once more, John says, with great emphasis, “it is the Spirit which bears witness.” He does not say Jesus the Anointed One came “by the Spirit” or “in the Spirit.” The Spirit was bearing witness, even before the coming of the Anointed One, but the water and the blood were intimately connected with His very appearance. And the testimony is more appropriately ascribed to the Spirit than to the water and the blood: inasmuch as the Spirit has the power of bearing witness, and the water and blood obtain and exercise the same passion when the Spirit is added to them.[27]

After scholarly meditation and reflection on the text, James Macknight (1721-1800) offers the following points for us to consider: (1) He came by water and blood, even Jesus the Anointed One. Here, speaking of Jesus, the Messiah is His coming into public life, attested, or proved to be the Anointed Son of God. Jesus came certified, first, through His baptism in water; secondly, by means of His blood or death, and thirdly, His resurrection. The proof by water is mentioned before the evidence by blood because His baptism was before His death.

Concerning the Anointed One’s baptism, let it be remarked that it was not the baptism of repentance, for Jesus had no sin to be repented of.[28] But it was the baptism of righteousness,[29] that is, a baptism by which Jesus called Himself God’s Son, was manifested to the surrounding multitude. That’s what John the Baptizer declared.[30] Therefore, he should be made manifest to Israel; therefore, I am baptizing Him. John was sent to baptize people in water, that gathered they might hear and see Jesus proved to be the Son of God. Accordingly, when Jesus was baptized, coming up out of the water, “Behold a voice from heaven said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[31] This miraculous confirmation, Jesus called a greater witness of His being God’s Son than the witness which John the Baptizer provided Him. And this witness after His baptism, John had good reason to say, this is He who came attested as the Son of God by means of water.


[1] 1 Corinthians 1:30

[2] Flavel, John: The Method of Grace: How the Spirit Works, Ch. 1, pp. 14, 23; Ch. 13, p. 231

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

[4] Matthew 10:8; Luke 10:9

[5] John 7:39

[6] Ibid. 16:7

[7] Acts of the Apostles 2:33

[8] Ibid. 2:17; Joel 2:28

[9] Isaiah 11:1-3a

[10] Acts of the Apostles 2:43; 5:12

[11] Ibid. 10:44; 11:15

[12] Hebrews 2:4; See Romans 15:19; Galatians 3:5

[13] Matthew 12:28

[14] Luke 4:18-29

[15] Acts of the Apostles 10:38

[16] John 5:36; 10:24

[17] Ibid. 10:37-38; 14:10-11

[18] Whitby, Daniel: Critical Commentary and Paraphrase, op. cit., pp. 439-470

[19] Gnomon has various meanings from sundial pillar to carpenter’s square ruler, but Bengel’s used it as an “interpreter

[20] See 1 John 1:2; see also 4:2; 5:20 “is come

[21] John 1:33-34

[22] Ibid. 4:1-2; Acts of the Apostles 2:38

[23] Matthew 3:15

[24] Ibid. 5:46; 1:46; Acts of the Apostles 10:43

[25] John 1:7

[26] Ibid. 15:27; 19:35; 1 John 1:2; 4:14; Acts of the Apostles 1:89; 2:32

[27] Bengel, Johann: Gnomon of the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. 4, pp. 143-144

[28] 1 Peter 2:22

[29] Matthew 3:14-15

[30] John 1:31

[31] Matthew 3:17

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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