What does the Bible mean, “Jesus Christ came by water and blood?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in 1 John 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.” There is a lot of discussion about this verse. In fact, it puzzled me for years. Recently, I took time to investigate the matter, paying particular attention to the surrounding verses. Fellow Bible students, I would be delighted to share with you what helped me to understand this verse of Scripture.

Like many people, even Bible commentators, I assumed that “water and blood” referred to the water and blood gushing forth from Jesus’ side after the soldier’s spear pierced Him on Calvary’s cross (John 19:34). However, when you carefully read 1 John 5:6, it does not make sense to insert details about Jesus’ crucifixion. First John 5:6 is not referring to Jesus’ death but rather His coming. Remember, it reads, “he that came by water and blood….” The only possible explanation is that this is His arrival on Earth—that is, His incarnation, His physical birth, when water and blood poured forth from Mary’s womb as He was born a baby. Water baptism, and water as a type of the Word of God, are two other explanations that are offered to demystify 1 John 5:6, but they do not make sense in the context either. Christ’s physical birth is the only plausible explanation of 1 John 5:6. But, why would John emphasize Christ’s physical birth here?

The assumption is that before you read 1 John 5:6, you read chapter 4. John already provided details in chapter 4 that prove useful in interpreting chapter 5. Notice 1 John 4:1-3: “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. [2] Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: [3] And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” And, 2 John 7 supplements: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

Did you notice how Jesus’ incarnation is thrice accentuated? “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” is a clear reference to His humanity. There are some in John’s day—and even in our day—who assert that Jesus is fully God but not at all man. John is writing his books to combat such heresy, especially in light of the Antichrist. You should especially see how “came” in 1 John 5:6 links with “is come” in 1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John 7. They all refer to His incarnation, when He took upon Himself the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus was not merely God, or merely man, but God and humanity in one. Why is it necessary for John’s audience to understand this?

God, being a Spirit (John 4:24), does not have blood. However, if He were to take on our humanity, He would have blood. That is exactly why Jesus Christ was born of a woman. He left Heaven in order to live on Earth. In order to live on Earth, He had to have a physical body. In order to deal with sin, He had to have a human body. Adam was a man who had introduced sin into the world; Jesus Christ had to become a man in order to take care of sin. This is the theme of Romans 5:12-21. When John is writing in 1 John, he is teaching Israel that her sin problem must be dealt with if they are to be God’s people. In Jesus Christ, the God-Man, their sins are paid in full. It was God’s blood shed, and yet, it was man’s blood shed. God’s righteousness and man’s blood, now able to save Israel from her sins and deliver her from Satanic captivity (Hebrews 2:6-18).

Also see:
» What does, “Born of water and of the Spirit,” mean?
» Can you explain 1 John 5:8—“the Spirit, the water, and the blood?”
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?