Let’s read 1st John 5:5-8: “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with water only, but with the water and blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” (NASB).

We have in these verses THREE WITNESSES who testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood. It is obvious from verses 6-7 that their testimony has to do with Jesus Christ. But what exactly is their testimony?  There are two main interpretations and we will give a brief description of them.

  1. They testify that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD. In this view the “water” refers to the baptism of Jesus Christ and the “blood” speaks of His death at Calvary. When He was baptized there was a public declaration that He was the Son of God. Matthew 3:16-17 say, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (NKJV). At His death, there was another testimony that He was the Son of God. First of all, we see in John 19:30, “And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” The thought is that no mere man could yield up his spirit to God as Jesus did, so He must have been the Son of God. Some add another testimony to Jesus being the Son of God in Matthew 27. After yielding up His spirit we read in verses 51-52, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” The “earthquake” and the “resurrection” were signs that He was indeed the Son of God and added to this is the testimony of the centurion in verse 54, “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things which happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’.” The Spirit’s witness would be His inspiring men to write of these events which proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.
  1. They testify to THE VALUE OF THE WORK THAT JESUS CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED ON THE CROSS. This view emphasizes one verse, which is John 19:34. It reads, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” According this this interpretation, the “blood” and the “water” not only testified that Jesus was truly dead, but they testified to the DOUBLE CLEANSING that a sinner obtains through Christ’s death on the cross. The BLOOD speaks of JUDICIAL CLEANSING and how a repentant sinner can know he is cleansed from the GUILT OF SIN. God, as the sinner’s Judge, proclaims that the believing sinner is cleansed from his sins in 1st John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin.’ The WATER speaks of MORAL CLEANSING, where the believer can experience practical deliverance from the POWER OF SIN. This is accomplished through the Word of God, which is symbolized many times in Scripture by WATER. Jesus said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” And the Apostle Paul echoes the same truth in Ephesians 5:25-26, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” The old hymn “Rock of Ages” refers to this double cleansing in these words, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me! I am hidden safe in Thee: For the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Have of sin the double cure, cleansed me from its guilt and power.” The Spirit testifies to the value of Christ’s work on Calvary over and over again “through the Word of God.” (211.1)  (DO)