I John 5:6-12 — A Sermon


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.


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