What does it mean that Jesus came by water and blood? And what does John mean when he says that the water and the blood testify about Jesus?
“This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
1 John 5:6-8 NIV
@Sarah_Waymire Great question A few things to note. In the Old Testament, both the Holy Spirit was sometimes referred to via the imagery of water - so (as noted in linked Connect thread), when Jesus tells Nicodemus you must be born of ‘water and Spirit’, He is really just saying you must be born of the Spirit. In this particular passage, it appears John was refuting some form of false teaching. Below are a few options as to what John may have meant by ‘water and the blood’.
Today’s passage teaches us that Jesus came by water and the blood and that the Spirit testifies with them concerning the person of Jesus. Most modern commentators believe John’s reference to the water and the blood is a reference to the historical facts of Jesus’ baptism and death. This understanding assumes John is refuting the heretic Cerinthus who said the “spirit of Christ” descended upon Jesus at His baptism and left just before His death. By asserting Jesus came by water and blood (v. 6), John would thus be saying Jesus remained the God-man even in His death and thus had a true incarnation.
A second interpretation says the blood and water refer to the wound in Jesus’ side that confirmed the reality of His death and resurrection (John 19:34; 20:25). This understanding has the advantage of referring to events described in John’s gospel and by stating that the Spirit testifies with this wound (1 John 5:7–8), John demonstrates believers must confess the death of a truly incarnate Savior.