Can you explain 1 John 5:8?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN 1 JOHN 5:8—“THE SPIRIT, THE WATER, AND THE BLOOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8). There are three that bear witness in earth—“the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.” Scripture says these three “agree in one.” Exactly on what do they agree? The key to understanding this verse is to look at the context. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

We read in 1 John chapter 5: “[6] 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. [7] For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. [8] And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. [9] If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. [10] He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. [11] And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

The idea that stands out in the above passage is “bearing witness,” “bearing record,” and “testifying.” In Greek, these all are nearly the same word. Note:

  • Verse 6: “beareth witness” (martureo)—verb
  • Verse 7: “bear record” (martureo)—verb
  • Verse 8: “bear witness” (martureo)—verb
  • Verse 9: “witness” x3 (marturia x3)—nouns
  • Verse 9: “testified” (martureo)—verb
  • Verse 10: “witness” (marturia)—noun
  • Verse 10: “record” (marturia)—noun
  • Verse 11: “record” (marturia)—noun

For simplicity’s sake, we will say this to summarize. The record/testimony/witness/report is in verses 10 and 11: “[10] He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. [11] And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” The testimony (or “record”) is twofold: (1) God gave of His Son, Jesus Christ, and (2) eternal life is in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, there are three elements or witnesses that bear record of: (1) God giving of His Son Jesus Christ, and (2) eternal life is found in Jesus Christ. In contrast to the three members of the Godhead who bear record in heaven (1 John 5:7 in the King James Bible), there are three that bear record in earth (verse 8). Let us look at them.

THE SPIRIT

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8).

This “Spirit” is obviously the Holy Spirit. The Word of God written by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21) proves that Jesus is Christ/Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus fulfilled the various Old Testament prophecies that Messiah was expected to come and fulfill one day (Luke 24:44-48; Acts 3:18; Acts 13:26-41; et al.). Once Jesus was water baptized, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and lighted upon Him. Then, Father God declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

The Holy Spirit bore record that Jesus is God’s Son, Christ/Messiah. Consider John 1:32-34: “[32] And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. [33] And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [34] And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit enabled John to bear record of Jesus as Christ/Messiah. In the coming years, while the so-called “New Testament” Scriptures were written, the Holy Spirit bore record that Jesus was Messiah. We can also read what the Holy Spirit wrote in John 1:32-34 to confirm Jesus’ Messiahship.

Furthermore, John 16:12-14 says: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come “testify of [Him]” (John 15:26). The Spirit would enable the apostles to testify of Jesus Christ as well (verse 27). Reading in John 15:26-27: “[26] But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: [27] And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

THE WATER

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8).

This “water” should not be confused with the water mentioned in verse 6 (see our study linked at the end of this article for more information). John the Baptist testified that his water baptism identified Jesus as the Messiah/Christ. That water baptism identified Jesus Christ with those Jews who had accepted Him as God’s Son (see also Luke 7:29-30).

Note John 1:29-34, especially verse 31: “[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. [30] This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. [31] And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. [32] And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. [33] And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [34] And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”

That water baptism for Jews was to symbolize God cleansing them of their idolatry (Ezekiel 36:25). Their water baptism was a sign of God giving them eternal life by Him cleaning them on the inside (1 Peter 3:21). They were identifying with their Messiah, and He was identifying with them.

THE BLOOD

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:8).

This “blood,” of course, is the sinless blood Jesus Christ shed on Calvary. Through Jesus’ shed blood, Israel’s sins will be forgiven. This blood will provide Israel with eternal life. Notice the following excerpts from the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 9:11-14: “[11] But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; [12] Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. [13] For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Hebrews 10:10-12: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”

Also see:
» What does the Bible mean, “Jesus Christ came by water and blood?”
» What does, “Born of water and of the Spirit,” mean?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching He was Christ?

2 responses to “Can you explain 1 John 5:8?

  1. Pingback: What does the Bible mean, “Jesus Christ came by water and blood?” | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  2. Pingback: Fast Teaching and Preaching | 333 Words of Grace

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