Updated: Dec 7, 2022
"This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ." --- 1st John 5:6 ---
My wife asks some good questions. I love to give her the answers she deserves. Her latest question: what does "came by water and blood" mean.
The key to answering this question is by looking at the phrase "came by" indicating a single past event. The next part of 1st John 5:6 states that Jesus Christ came by "not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood."
Some would interpret this passage by teaching Jesus Christ "came by" His baptism by John the Baptist (the water) and later "came by" His crucifixion (the blood). Others would point to John 19:32-34 - "32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out."
The last part of 1st John 5:6 states - "It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth." This is followed by 1st John 5:7-8 - "7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement."
What is the Spirit testifying about? Jesus Christ is the Son of God. However, the Spirit and the water and the blood are testifying and they are in agreement. What are they in agreement with?
Gnosticism is the belief that physical matter is inherently evil and spiritual substance is inherently good. Gnostics embraced Docetism, an early Christian heresy that promotes a false view of Jesus’ humanity. The word Docetism comes from the Greek dokein, which means “to seem." Jesus Christ only seemed to have a human body like ours. He may have been in some way divine, but it denied His full humanity.
"The heresy of Gnosticism proved the greatest philosophical threat to early Christianity, presenting itself as an alternate way of viewing God and the gospel."
Kirk R. MacGregor, “Christianity, Overview of Early,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
The apostle John first addressed this heresy in John 1:1,14:
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He is fully human and fully God - "For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His followers. Luke 24:37 records that they thought "they were seeing a spirit." Jesus told them, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
The Son of God Came In The Flesh
The Spirit and the water and the blood testify and agree that Jesus, the Son of God, came by (literally 'through') water and blood in a real physical birth. The Son of God became flesh (John 1:4). If He did not become flesh then He would not have been able to suffer the excruciating death of crucifixion and thus die for our sins. The gospel of Christ would be null and void. My faith would be absolutely meaningless and I would die in my sins and spend eternity in hell!
1st John 4:1–3
"1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world."
"For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."
--- 2nd John 7 ---
They are still out there - beware!
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.