WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XLII) 12/13/22

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.

With expertise in holiness doctrine, Daniel Steele (1824-1914) points out that the identity of the Rabbi of Nazareth with the eternal Son of God is again emphasized as the central truth of Christian theology. This reception is necessary to attain victory over the world and transferred out of the moral ignorance of darkness and into the marvelous spiritual enlightenment of truth. Then follow the witnesses to this truth: which are “the water and the blood.” Many are the explanations for these words. The ritualists understand them to signify baptism’s sacraments and the Lord’s Supper. Others see only symbols of purification and redemption.

But it seems that John uses these words as a summary of the Anointed One’s earthly life and mission, baptism in the water of Jordan, and His sacrificial death by the shedding of His blood for the world’s redemption. The cardinal truths of His gospel are here briefly stated; for at His baptism with water with the Holy Spirit attending the Divine announcement of His Sonship to God implied that He is God’s Son in a sense unique and peculiar. It was a sufficient opening and explanation of His whole ministry. His public and tragic death is at once the close and the description of His life of self-sacrifice.

Now, the Gnostic teachers, against whom John is writing, admitted that the Anointed One came “through” and “in” water; at His baptism, they said, that the Divine Word united Himself with the human Jesus. However, they denied that the Divine Anointing had any share in what was achieved “through” and “in” blood. According to them, the Word departed from Jesus at Gethsemane. John emphatically assures us that there was no such separation. It was God’s Son who was baptized; it was the Son of God who was crucified; and it is faith in this vital truth that produces brotherly love, that overcomes the world, and is eternal life. Besides, the Spirit’s testimony to the Divinity of the Anointed One and the absolute truth of His Gospel.[1] There are six other witnesses cited in John’s Gospel: The First Covenant Scriptures,[2] John the Baptizer,[3] the Disciples,[4] the Anointed One’s works,[5] His words,[6] and the Father.[7]

In this Epistle, John adds two more witnesses, the water and the blood, thus making eight witnesses in all. That John is not a favorite with the so-called liberal religious teachers is not extraordinary. “The Spirit is truth.” Hence His testimony is infallible in glorifying the Anointed One[8] identifying Him as Jesus. “Just as the Anointed One is Truth,[9] the Spirit sent in His name is Truth.”

With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD), notes that the Latin Vulgate Version reads thus: “The Spirit is He who testifies that Christ is the Truth” with a very vigorous style, to denounce those who deny the reality of our Savior’s human body. To this, he responds: “Since, therefore, the Spirit testifies that the Anointed One is the Truth and since He surnames Himself the Truth, and John the Baptizer proclaims Him to be the Truth, and the Son of thunder in his evangel heralds Him as the Truth, let the blasphemers who dogmatically declare that He is a phantom hold their tongues; let their memory perish from the earth who deny either that He is God or that He is a real man.” The whole truth revealed by the Anointed must be believed no matter how much one may disagree. It is morally impossible to be a picky believer, receiving only the pleasant parts of Christianity. It is putting corrupt taste above the infallible Teacher, to whom the human intellect and the human will must bow when we exercise saving faith. Here, John’s speech concerning the Anointed One is also said of His representative, the Holy Spirit.[10]

After sufficient examination of the Greek text, Brooke F. Westcott (1825-1901) notes that the two parts of the historical witness to the Anointed One are distinguished by the different forms of outward symbols used in corresponding clauses. He came “by water and blood,” and again “not in water only, but in water and in blood!” The pronoun “He” (KJV) in verse six goes back to the subject of the last sentence of verse five, “That Jesus is the Son of God.” The compound title at the end of the clause, “Jesus the Anointed One,” emphasizes the truth established by the manner of the “coming of” Jesus. He came, whose Divine Office is expressed by the full name He bears, Jesus the Anointed One.

Now, the verb “came” is used with an apparent reference to the technical sense of “He that comes.”[11] Thus “He that came”’ is equivalent to “He that fulfilled the promises to the patriarchs, as the Savior sent from God.”[12]  The sense of “He that came” distinctly points to a historical fact and determines that these terms must have historical meaning and refer to actual events characteristic of how the Lord fulfilled His office upon the earth. He was proven to be the Anointed One – by water and blood. “Water” and “blood” contributed in some way to reveal His work’s nature and fulfillment. There can be no doubt that Death on the Cross satisfies the conception of “coming by blood.”’ By so dying, the Lord made known His work as Redeemer; and opened the fountain of His life to humanity.[13]

After observing the Apostle John’s attention to detailJohn Stock (1817-1884) states that the Apostles delighted to dwell upon the Lord Jesus, His salvation, and His name to those who love the Lord like ointment poured out on His name.[14] John here asserts that our Lord came by water and blood, both of which, in what they signify, are indispensably requisite for salvation. Not only by water or blood alone, both of which issued from His pierced side[15] denoting His death. All who believe are sanctified and perfected by His blood allowing His Spirit access to work in them to will and do everything according to God’s good pleasure.[16] One sanctification protects us from sin and its deserved death; the other remold us into the lost image of God. Our Lord saves His people from their sins, guilt, and power, saying, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.[17] Had the Lord only come by blood, salvation from death would not have qualified us for heaven. By bringing deliverance to the pit where there was no water,[18] He came by water, and His Spirit makes us eligible to be partakers of the saints’ inheritance in the Light.[19] [20]


[1] John 15:26

[2] Ibid. 5:39-47

[3] Ibid. 1:7

[4] Ibid. 15:27; 16:30

[5] Ibid. 5:36; 10:23, 38

[6] Ibid. 8:14, 18; 18:37

[7] Ibid. 5:37; 8:18

[8] Ibid. 16:14

[9] Ibid. 14:16

[10] Bede, The Venerable: Ancient Christian Commentary, Bray, Gerald, ed., op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 223

[11] Matthew 9:3; Luke 7:19ff; cf. John 1:15, 27; 6:14; 11:27; 12:13; see also John 1:30; 10:8

[12] John 2:18

[13] Westcott, Brooke F., The Epistles of St. John: Greek Text with Notes op. cit., p. 181

[14] Song of Solomon 1:3

[15] John 19:34

[16] Luke 12:32

[17] Romans 6:14

[18] Zechariah 9:11

[19] Colossians 1:12

[20] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 315-316, 323-324

About drbob76

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