1 John 5:6-8, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”

Throughout our study of 1 John, we have seen the importance of the Incarnation and how essential it is to John’s thinking and biblical Christianity. Now, John moves to explain and defend the Incarnation in one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament in 1 John 5:6-8.

1 John 5:6-8 teaches that Jesus came by water and blood, and how the Holy Spirit testifies to them concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, most modern commentators believe this particular reference to water and blood is to Jesus’ baptism and death. To them, this understanding assumes John is refuting the heretic Cerinthus who said “the spirit of Christ” descended upon Jesus at His baptism and then left just before His death. By asserting Jesus came by the water, and the blood (v.6) would make John say that Jesus remained the God-Man even in His death and thus had a true Incarnation.

Another interpretation of this passage teaches that the blood and water refer to the wound in Jesus’ side that confirmed His death and resurrection (John 19:34; 20:25). By reading this passage this way, we can refer to the events described in John’s Gospel and state the Holy Spirit testifies to this wound (1 John 5:7-8). John thus demonstrates how Christians must confess the death of a genuinely Incarnate Savior.

Now, I’m not making an argument here for either interpretation, just explaining the two options that make the most sense in light of the evidence. With all that said, it’s evident in this passage. John defends the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Docetic teaching embraced the “spirit of Christ” without the Incarnation of Jesus. They could not lay claim to orthodoxy in John’s day or ours because the Holy Spirit testifies to the Incarnation (1 John 5:7-8). Those who claim today to be a Christian but deny Jesus is truly God and truly man likewise deny the Lord Jesus.

As the early church dealt with a variety of heretics those who held to biblical orthodoxy were united on the absolute necessity of the full deity and full humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ so must we be today as God’s people. They realized that only God Himself through Christ alone could rescue man from their desperate plight through the finished and sufficient work of the Lord Jesus. Please spend some time meditating on John 1:1-18 and Romans 5:12-12 and thank the Lord for His becoming Incarnate for the sake of His people.