Which Jesus Are You Talking About

I John 5:6-8

6 This is He who came by water and blood-- Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. (NKJ)

This message was preached July 21, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

John begins this paragraph with "This is He" because he wants to define just which Jesus he is talking about. Now surely there was only one Jesus, right? Well that is not quite true. You see shortly after the spread of the Gospel and the development of Christianity, many false teachers came on the scene.

In John's day the most dangerous teaching was that of the gnostic. They taught that Jesus who was born was only quite human and not divine. They taught that Jesus did not take on His godness until His baptism. They taught also that this spirit that had come upon Him at His baptism left Him before His suffering.

Now some might be saying that, "I sure am glad we don't have those teachers any more." Well the bad news is that it is much worse today than back then. We have people that deny and distort the person of Jesus from almost every flavor in Christianity today.

Islam contends that Jesus was certainly not God in the flesh nor the Son of God in any way more than the rest of us. They deny that He suffered and died on the cross. Thus we see that they have more in agreement these early Gnostics than with Christians.

Then there are the cults. Groups like the JWs the Mormons, and a host of others that have followed them who teach that Jesus was but a man. JWs teach that Jesus body was not resurrected. Even the Unitarian Church fits into this category. They deny the deity of Jesus Christ as well as almost all the miracles of the Bible and the inspiration of the Scriptures.

And then there are the liberals who reject the deity of Jesus as well as the inspiration of the Bible.

All of these groups depend on one thing. They depend on the people not reading and studying their Bible. For if they did they would know the truth. The modern day Gnostics, with the exception of the liberals all have a book of higher revelation than the Bible. The Moslems have the Koran, the Mormons the Book of Mormon etc. and the JWs have their writing they sell from door to door.

Now all this makes the knowledge of the Word of God that more important. We need to implant the Word of God in our children's minds so that they can stand fast in faith. Now let us look at what John has to tell us.

  1. This is He who came by water and blood
    1. Jesus Christ; not only by water
      1. By water most believe that this refers to the baptism of Jesus.
      2. John had been sent by God to baptize.
      3. He had been sent to prepare a people for the Messiah.
      4. He was also sent to point out the Messiah.
        1. John 1:33-34 "I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." (NKJ)
        2. This John did.
      5. But also there was a witness from heaven.
        1. Matt 3:16-17 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." (NKJ)
        2. This was a perfect display of the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit all at the same time and place.
    2. but by water and blood.
      1. By blood John is referring to Jesus sacrificial death.
      2. Some in John's day denied that the Messiah could suffer and die.
      3. The way they handled this was to say that the Spirit of God, that had come upon Him at His baptism left Him before His sufferings.
        1. This came about because of the whole scheme of the Gnostics.
        2. They believed that God was too far separated from His creation to deal with it directly.
        3. They also believed that everything material was evil, just because it was material.
      4. But God had sent His Only Begotten Son to suffer and pay the sacrificial penalty for our sins.
      5. But in that time of suffering God had continued to witness to the deity of His Son.
        1. Three hours of darkness at mid day Mk 15:33
        2. When Jesus died the veil of the temple was torn in two.
        3. There was a great earthquake when Jesus died.
        4. And the graves of the saints were opened.
  2. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.
    1. Witness
      1. John uses this term 35 times, about half the number of times it is found in the New Testament.
      2. The point being that there was ample witness to Jesus the Christ.
      3. In the OT there had to be two or three witnesses.
      4. In John 5 and 8 Jesus is in constant battle with the Jews over the credibility of His claim.
      5. Jesus said that He had the witness of the Father. John 8:18 "I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." (NKJ)
  3. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
    1. Although the textual evidence of this verse is questioned, I think it is genuine.
    2. I think that it fits in well with the argument John is making.
    3. He has been talking about witnesses and then remarks that in heaven there are three and on earth there are three.
    4. This verse was first left out of the Revised Version in England and then the American Standard Version in the USA.
    5. But it is found in every English version before that time.
    6. It might have remained had not the translation committee been influenced by a Unitarian member.
  4. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
    1. This is John's summary before moving to the application in the next paragraph.
    2. I John 5:9-13

9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.

10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (NKJ)

Have you receive the witness of God in your life? Do You know that you have eternal life?

Notes on verse 7: The genuineness of the latter part of this verse, and the first clause of the next, it is well known has divided the opinions of learned men for nearly four centuries, nor is it yet decided. It is certainly wanting in many of the ancient MSS. and versions; and is not quoted by many of the Fathers: but the number of MSS. collated is but small, only about 400; it exists in some ancient confessions of faith and liturgies; is quoted by numerous Latin Fathers; and appears necessary from the connection in which it stands. It also seems more probable that the Arians should silently omit it in their copies, or that it should be left out by mistake, than that the trinitarians should forge and insert it; for the latter would only gain one argument for a doctrine which is abundantly taught in other Scriptures; but if it was admitted as the Word of God, all the ingenuity and diligence of opponents could scarcely avoid the inference naturally deducible from it. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Nelson CD

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, &c.] That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher’s copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens’s, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius {z}, in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius {a} about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian {b}, in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian {c} about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation."

{z} Respons. contr. Arian. obj. 10. & de Trinitate, c. 4.

{a} Contr. Arium, p. 109.

{b} De Unitate Eccles. p. 255. & in Ep. 73. ad Jubajan, p. 184.

{c} Contr. Praxeam, c. 25.

John Gill's Commentary on the Whole Bible