I John 5:6-12 — A Sermon

Introduction

John gives a bit of an apologetic here for the humanity of Jesus Christ. Remember His letter is concerned, at least in part, with dismissing the gnostic heresy that Christ was not very man of very man (I John 4:1-3, II John 7). And so in light of that, following God’s proscription in Dt. for witnesses to confirm truth, John brings forth his witnesses.

Either as a verb, a participle, or a noun, the word “testify” appears ten times in verses 6-11

The word in Greek is “martureo” {mar-too-reh’-o}, from whence we get the word “Martyr,” and it means:
1) “to bear witness, i.e. testify”
2) “to give evidence for, to bear record:

John takes seriously the Deuteronomic legal requirement for the testimony of two or three witnesses to establish truth and so John, playing somewhat the role of an Attorney making his case brings forth His witnesses.

Keep in mind that I John has in the background the Gnostic denial of the humanity of Jesus Christ. By appealing to these tactile human realities of water and blood as witnesses John may be seeking to undercut the denial of the Gnostic heresy.

I.) # 1 Witness Testifying For The Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

Water and Blood

A.) Baptism and Lord’s Table — Sacraments
B.) Water and Blood from the Lord’s Side (John 19:34)

This water and blood that is mentioned flows from Christ side and is mentioned here in order that the faithful may know the cleansing is found in Christ and that they might know that what all the sprinklings of blood formerly presignified was fulfilled.

If this is what John is alluding to then this likewise serves as a good apologetic against the Gnostics. The blood and water that flowed from Jesus side after His death attested to the reality of His death and the wound left testified to the reality of Jesus bodily resurrection. This would have been especially powerful against the gnostics since they denied both the death and resurrection of He who was very man of very man.

C.) Water and Blood typifying OT Sacrificial system — Thus teaching that Christ is fulfillment of OT Sacrifice

Water for Cleansing from pollution of sin
Blood for expiating (taking away) the presence of sin and securing reconcilliation

D.) Baptism and Crucifixion

This would have been especially effective against the Gnostic / Docetic heresy if that is what John has in mind here for there were people of this cult who taught that the Logos descended on Christ at Baptism but left before the Crucifixion.

Thus the beginning of Jesus ministry is book-ended along with the end of his ministry.

Now some may ask how inanimate object like water and blood can be called as witnesses in order to give testimony but here we must seek to think in a more Hebrew fashion. In a Hebrew mindset impersonal objects can testify. In Genesis 31:48 we find a “heap of stones” serving as a witness. In Isaiah 55:12 that which is impersonal ( fields and trees) sing and clap their hands. In the Scriptures stones are said to cry out.

Illustration — Tolkien & Glamdring

Notice that this witness of “water and blood” is an appeal to the Historicity of Jesus and the events surrounding His life. This reminds us why we can never accept theological paradigms that would create a distinction between what we might call historical history and heavenly history — the former of which is history concerned w/ the real events that happen on earth and heavenly history that suggest that while something may not be literally true on earth it could be spiritually true because it is true in a heavenly history that is inaccessible.

John begins with a Historical fact (vs 6) with noting that Jesus came and builds on historicity by appealing to the historical reality of water and blood.

II.) #2 Witness Testifying For the Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

The Spirit — who is truth (vs. 6)

It is interesting that throughout the life of our Lord Christ it is the Spirit of Christ …. the Spirit who is the truth who is testifying to Christ

A.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s birth (conception — Matt. 1:20 // Luke 1:35, 2:25-32)
B.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Baptism (Mt. 3:16, Lk. 3:22).
C.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s teaching (John 6:63)
D.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Ministry (Luke 4:18)

It is not a wonder then Jesus can later comfort the believers with the promise that the Spirit will lead them into all truth. (John 16:13).

We should also note again that the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of truth.

At this point there is disagreement about the nature of the text. Some versions add vs. 7 and much of vs. 8. I do not believe that the point of what John is teaching is altered by the addition of the text neither do I think that if those verses are deleted that we lose anything that we can not gain elsewhere in the Scriptures.

If we are to add vs. 7-8 then we could easily say that John is marshaling heaven and earth to give witness to the humanity of Christ, because 7-8 give us the testimony of the trinity.

III.) #3 Witness Testifying for the Credibility of the Humanity of Jesus Christ

Vs. 9 begins as a less to greater argument. If we receive the witness of men, then we should receive the witness of God for that witness if a greater witness.

A.) The Spirit of Christ (The Witness of God) in us (Romans 8:16)

John, like Jesus in John 5:31-39 dismisses all contradiction by appealing to Christ in us.

Many are the evidences that we can appeal to in order to verify the truths of Scripture. Indeed, we live in world that is saturated with divine evidences but if men do not begin with God they will never see the evidences that scream at them in a 1000 different languages.

So, John brings forth the witness of God. He who believes God has the witness of God.

This should remind us that the burden of proof for the reality of God does not lie on the believer. Belief in God is properly basic and the burden of proof is on the liar to prove that God does not exist.

Vs. 10 refers to the opposition as “Liars.” They are of their Father the Devil, who Jesus said was a liar from the beginning and when they lie they speak their native tongue.

Conclusion

What is the end of all this?

John says the end of all this is Eternal life.
John connects this eternal life to the Human / Divine Son
Apart from Christ all is death

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

4 thoughts on “I John 5:6-12 — A Sermon”

  1. Pastor,

    Thank you for addressing this point in your sermon. However, I have some comments regarding your presupposition to address.

    You said in your manuscript: “At this point there is disagreement about the nature of the text. Some versions add vs. 7 and much of vs. 8. I do not believe that the point of what John is teaching is altered by the addition of the text neither do I think that if those verses are deleted that we lose anything that we cannot gain elsewhere in the Scriptures.”

    You speak to us continually about understanding the presuppositions of the speaker. Here I start to understand your point.
    By saying: “Some versions add” and “neither do I think” and “gain elsewhere in the Scriptures” three things are presupposed. First, in taking the position that something was added, you presuppose that the omitted content is superfluous. By saying that something was added instead of the reality that something has been taken away you diminish the importance of every word of Scripture being God-breathed. Second, you set yourself up as an authority to determine that the text does not need those “added” parts that are in fact God-breathed and a distortion is acceptable. You also become the authority to interpret what this “new” incomplete text means. Finally, you say that John’s message in this text should be accepted absent the “added” text though if it were left in as it was originally included in some of the oldest translations, like the Geneva Bible of 1560 and the KJV, it stands alone on its own merits and harmonizes more completely with itself and the rest of Scripture. The question is not whether Bret McAtee or Rob Risko is OK with the deleted text but whether the original text is God-breathed and worthy of a God-fearing defense.

    You also said in your manuscript: “If we are to add vs. 7-8 then we could easily say that John is marshaling heaven and earth to give witness to the humanity of Christ, because 7-8 give us the testimony of the trinity.”

    The meaning of your statement above is very different from that of the complete text as recorded in the Geneva Bible or KJV (and other translations from the Textus Receptus. In the complete text the “testimony” is easily seen as “the testimony of the
    [T]rinity.” We don’t have to “easily say” it because that is in fact what the complete text says. It stands alone as such and is in harmony. Leaving these parts out makes the connection to the source of the “testimony” incomplete. The Spirit, water and blood “agree in one” but agree with what? With the text removed it becomes contentious where it is, in the complete text, clear. The testimony of the means and mode of Salvation through Jesus Christ is the Trinity in Heaven. It is no earthly decision. We can ONLY agree along with the Spirit who lives in us (as the redeemed) through the testimony of our participating in Christ’s atonement and justification through the sacraments.

    In Christ,
    Rob

    1. Rob,

      1.)If I thought the content was superfluous I would not have made the note that we can find the truth that is taught here elsewhere in Scripture. The fact that the teaching can be found elsewhere in Scripture means that we do not lose the teaching of the text in divine revelation by not having it in this place.

      2.) You assume that something has been taken away. You have not, and I would say, cannot prove that. It has been debated for centuries and there is not a universal consensus on the Comma Johaneum.

      Textual critic Bruce Metzger informs,

      “The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except four, and these four contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate. (Which itself was a translation from the Greek.) Metzger goes on to add, “If the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission … by copyists of HUNDREDS of Greek manuscripts.”

      Calvin’s editor (John Owen) writes of the Comma Johaneum,

      “As far as the authority of the Manuscript and versions and quotations goes, the passage is spurious, for it is not found in any of the Greek Manuscripts prior to the 16th century, nor in any earlier versions, except the Latin, nor in some of the copies of that version; nor is it quoted by any of the early Greek fathers, except a very few, and their quotations have been disputed. These are the facts which no refined conjectures can upset….

      As to the construction of the passage, as far as grammar and sense are concerned, it may do with or without the interpolation equally the same.”

      Owen’s point in that last sentence is the very point I was making Rob which you cite as proof of my having a low view of the authority of Scripture. (Your quip about “diminish.”) There is more I can quote from Owen if you like.

      3.) I didn’t go into all this during the sermon because the sermon was not on textual criticism but on God’s testimony given for Christ’s humanity.

      4.) I trust you see that I did my homework on the text and did not look to the wisdom of Bret McAtee to determine the authenticity of the text.

      5.) The meaning of my statement “John calls on heaven and earth to testify to the humanity of Christ,” is the same point that John makes. I can “easily say” that because that is what is clearly said by John. I’m not quite sure what point you are trying to make there.

      6.) “But agree with what,” you ask.

      Answer — Agree with one another.

      I think you have read far far more into matters then was there to read. I am not a KJV only guy though I do understand the merits of uniquely embracing the Textus Receptus. It eliminates the confusion. However, given what I discovered in my study I do believe that I handled the text in the best way possible when it came to the discrepancy.

      I’m perfectly ok with people disagreeing with me.

  2. Pastor,

    Based on your response, I have read my comments more critically and ask for your forgiveness as to the tone of my statements. As the Bereans tested what even the Apostle Paul said, so testing the text of your sermon as presented is appropriate as many may only have the benefit of reading it here and are deserving of the full treatment of the point you included to prevent confusion. But it would appear that I have offended instead of causing a dialog to begin based on mutual respect and Christian love toward one another.
    As to the points of my comments and yours, I am willing to concede that I was not in attendance on Sunday and therefore do not know any of the amplifying remarks made in the sermon or afterward. Certainly you must have felt a need to address the omission/addition in light of my inquiry last week and yet, had it not been appropriate to include because of the sermon points you intended to make in the sermon, then it would seem reasonable that it not be brought up at all unless it were to receive a full treatment of point and counterpoint.
    While you repeatedly prove your competence in study, I would ask if the flock is expected to simply accept your words as Truth or are we to do as Paul commends for and test what is delivered in light of Scripture? And if we are to test, then are we to be offended when our presupposition is challenged or are we to present all of the evidence of proof of the argument on each side in humble submission to God for our mutual benefit?
    Regarding point 2 above, while I have not presented any evidence or defense of my point yet, you have presupposed that I cannot. And so I have some small point of dissatisfaction with your argument for you appear to have found someone that, on the one hand, agrees with the presupposition that something was added and yet, that someone still saw fit as editor to leave that “addition” in the Geneva Bible. Are we then questioning the scholarship and motivation of the likes of Calvin and those translators in their selection of “original Greek manuscripts?” It is right to do so! Is it the Roman Catholic line of manuscripts that omits the text? Is it the English translations produced after the mid-1800’s that contain the omissions? Is there a question of scholarship for any translation such that both sides must be examined? You have discovered a notable editor that produced the Geneva Bible who nevertheless included the “additions” begging a setting aside of presuppositions (save that the God-breathed Scripture is infallible) and discern the Truth. There is a right and wrong and it is not to our injury but, in fact, to our benefit to discern the Truth such that we can make a defense of the Word by putting our false teaching of which an incomplete Bible is no Bible at all.
    I am not a KJV or Geneva Bible (1560) only guy, yet. My beginning fact is that there are professing “Bibles” that disagree in content. I wish only to discern the Truth regarding them so that the Truth of Scripture is plain in Scripture as the clear Communicator of Scripture would have inspired it. You may be convinced, but I find some gaps in the information that I have seen so far and am only seeking out that information, as much as humanly possible to discern, without accompanying deprecation.
    In regards to point 4, we all look to our own presuppositions when we communicate what we are convinced of. There is no other way to speak with conviction except that we have been taught of the Holy Spirit through the counsel and discernment of a renewed mind. There was never an assumption that the topic “homework” would not be accomplished only that the presentation of that “homework” was one-sided so as to remove the process for the readers to be persuaded of the accuracy and Truth of that presentation.
    As to point 5, I began my paragraph on that subject in the wrong way so as to create confusion. Clearly the rest of Scripture provides ample evidence of the Testimony of the Trinity and the Agreement of the Spirit, water and blood. But here I would ask if John would send a letter expecting that his readers might have access to the Canon such that they would be required to connect the dots to formulate the plain meaning of the text or would he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prevent confusion by including the clarifying text?
    This leads to point 6 for which I still have some disagreement. The Spirit, water and blood agreeing with one another is clearly consistent with the Law of God regarding two or more witnesses. Yet the agreement in the “added” version is such that they agree with the Trinity who establishes the Testimony from the foundations of the world such that there is a double-witness that is in the perfect and Holy Godhead.
    So here we have a dialog, I trust, that can be continued in mutual respect and treatment of one another as brothers who love one another as we love ourselves and would treat ourselves with kindness, forbearance, mercy and grace as we have been shown much grace.
    In Christ through the Holy Spirit for the glory and enjoyment of God,
    Rob

    1. Rob,

      By all means be Berean. Challenge my conclusions. It would be wrong of any minister to think that he was the final word just as it would be wrong on any thoughtful laymen to think they and their Pastor are always going to agree on the Pastor’s conclusions. Such challenging to one another should always be done in the spirit of Charity. However, surely you realize that at the end of the day people are not always going to agree and so at some point the conversation ends with each person being satisfied that they held up their end of the polite and engaging dialogue.

      Every sermon preached by every pastor on every Sunday requires decisions as to the meaning of the text. There will be discrepancy in the experts the preacher consults and a good preacher will see how a given text could possibly go in one direction or another. At that point he has to choose which understanding seems most in keeping with the analogy of faith and accept that other good men have decided in other directions. Of course, as you doubtless understand, we are not talking about historic points of doctrine here but matters, though important, that do not rise to the level of heterodoxy.

      In order to show that I am taking your comments seriously I want to break up what you wrote in chunks so as to converse on the whole matter.

      RR wrote,

      And if we are to test, then are we to be offended when our presupposition is challenged or are we to present all of the evidence of proof of the argument on each side in humble submission to God for our mutual benefit?

      BLM responds,

      I was not offended by the challenging of my presuppositions, although I was a bit miffed by what I took to be a tendency to extrapolate beyond the proper boundaries. For example you said in your previous post,

      “you presuppose that the omitted content is superfluous. By saying that something was added instead of the reality that something has been taken away you diminish the importance of every word of Scripture being God-breathed. Second, you set yourself up as an authority to determine that the text does not need those “added” parts that are in fact God-breathed and a distortion is acceptable. You also become the authority to interpret what this “new” incomplete text means.

      I explained how it is the case that I did not take the omitted content to be superfluous in my last response (not superfluous because the truth articulated in the Comma Johaneum can be found elsewhere in Scripture) and I do not know how you could know what was in my mind as I was considering the text (i.e. — “I won’t include this because I think it is superfluous”). Then your “diminish” comment and your “set yourself up as an authority” comment were extrapolations that were unwarranted. It is possible I made a mistake but if I made a mistake it was not because I thought the text superfluous, or because I was seeking to diminish the importance of every word of Scripture being God breathed, or because I was setting myself up to be an authority to determine the text. If I made a mistake it was because I think we need to be just as careful of adding to God’s word as we are to be careful of deleting from God’s word.

      Regarding point 2 above, while I have not presented any evidence or defense of my point yet, you have presupposed that I cannot. And so I have some small point of dissatisfaction with your argument for you appear to have found someone that, on the one hand, agrees with the presupposition that something was added and yet, that someone still saw fit as editor to leave that “addition” in the Geneva Bible. Are we then questioning the scholarship and motivation of the likes of Calvin and those translators in their selection of “original Greek manuscripts?” It is right to do so! Is it the Roman Catholic line of manuscripts that omits the text? Is it the English translations produced after the mid-1800′s that contain the omissions? Is there a question of scholarship for any translation such that both sides must be examined? You have discovered a notable editor that produced the Geneva Bible who nevertheless included the “additions” begging a setting aside of presuppositions (save that the God-breathed Scripture is infallible) and discern the Truth. There is a right and wrong and it is not to our injury but, in fact, to our benefit to discern the Truth such that we can make a defense of the Word by putting our false teaching of which an incomplete Bible is no Bible at all.

      1.) I believe that text is inspired. I do not believe all textual critics are inspired. I do not believe that all Protestant textual critics are inspired. Calvin himself said of this text, “but as even the Greek copies do not agree, I dare not assert anything on the subject,” though he does add that “I am inclined to receive it as the true reading.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.

      2.) Sure we are questioning the scholarship of those who have gone before. Just as they questioned the scholarship of those who went before them and just as those who come after us will question our scholarship. No generation is beyond questioning, though I quite agree with you that we have to question the presuppositions of every generation as to why they are questioning what was accepted before.

      3.) I don’t agree with all the later scholarship of the 19th century but that doesn’t mean they were universally wrong.

      4.) Just as a bible that is incomplete is no bible at all so it is that a Bible that has additions is no bible at all.

      “I am not a KJV or Geneva Bible (1560) only guy, yet. My beginning fact is that there are professing “Bibles” that disagree in content. I wish only to discern the Truth regarding them so that the Truth of Scripture is plain in Scripture as the clear Communicator of Scripture would have inspired it. You may be convinced, but I find some gaps in the information that I have seen so far and am only seeking out that information, as much as humanly possible to discern, without accompanying deprecation.

      Nobody likes deprecation. If I have deprecated you, I ask for your forgiveness. I have not tried to, and in re-examining the previous conversation I don’t see where I did deprecate. I did say I was not “KJV only” but I did not mean to deprecate anybody who is “KJV only,” by observing that I am not “KJV only.”

      In regards to point 4, we all look to our own presuppositions when we communicate what we are convinced of. There is no other way to speak with conviction except that we have been taught of the Holy Spirit through the counsel and discernment of a renewed mind. There was never an assumption that the topic “homework” would not be accomplished only that the presentation of that “homework” was one-sided so as to remove the process for the readers to be persuaded of the accuracy and Truth of that presentation.

      Rob, you’ll have to tease that out as I’m not sure I understand the point.

      As to point 5, I began my paragraph on that subject in the wrong way so as to create confusion. Clearly the rest of Scripture provides ample evidence of the Testimony of the Trinity and the Agreement of the Spirit, water and blood. But here I would ask if John would send a letter expecting that his readers might have access to the Canon such that they would be required to connect the dots to formulate the plain meaning of the text or would he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prevent confusion by including the clarifying text?

      I think that since John’s Gospel contains that very point about the testimony of the Trinity that John makes in his 1st epistle,

      Father,

      12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

      Holy Ghost,

      15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

      Word,

      John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

      It is not a stretch to believe that those who received John’s Epistle would have been aware of that Testimony.

      This leads to point 6 for which I still have some disagreement. The Spirit, water and blood agreeing with one another is clearly consistent with the Law of God regarding two or more witnesses. Yet the agreement in the “added” version is such that they agree with the Trinity who establishes the Testimony from the foundations of the world such that there is a double-witness that is in the perfect and Holy Godhead.

      You can read it the way you are suggesting but I would submit that it can also be read that those three witnesses (Water, Blood, Spirit) are agreeing w/ one another thus not requiring 7-8 in order to make sense of the passage.

      Please keep in mind that when I preached this text, I preached it as 7-8 were part of the text. I only said I did not think it mattered as to the cash value of the text.

      Thanks for the conversation Rob.

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