By Water and the Blood

1John 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

This verse is a refutation of a doctrine that was being taught by a man named Cerenthius. Cerenthius was teaching that Jesus was just a man and not God. He was teaching that at the time of his baptism, Christ, the divine, took over his body and stayed until just before the Garden of Gethsemane. At this time Christ flew out of the body of Jesus and the spirit returned to the body of Jesus. It was Jesus and not the Christ that cried tears of blood in the garden and it was Jesus and not the Christ that endured the cross. Of course the Bible nowhere makes this separation between divinity when referring to the Son of God as Jesus, as Christ, as Jesus Christ, or as Christ Jesus.

In this verse 1 John 5:6 we have the Holy Spirit teaching us that Jesus Christ, notice John puts the humanity and the divine together, came by water and blood. He then repeats himself to make this very important distinction from the false teaching of the day. He then says,

Not by water only,

which was the teaching of Cerenthius, “but by water and the blood.” The water here in this verse speaks of the baptism in water that was the ordination of Jesus and marked the beginning of His ministry. The blood here refers to the blood that was shed by Jesus on the cross on our behalf.

So John is telling us that Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, came by water, which was his baptism. John is telling us that Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, came not by water only, but by water and blood. Jesus didn’t become the Christ at his baptism and didn’t give up being divine at or before his crucifixion. If he did than we are still lost in our sins. It took the perfect, divine sacrifice to fulfill the demand of a holy God. The Bible says that He, Jesus the Christ, was slain before the foundation of the world.

Again, this book was written as a refutation of heresy that was being taught at the time.  The book was written between 85 and 95 AD. While the Bible does not mention Cerenthius by name, but is spoken about by Irenaeus of Lyons in his book, “Against Heresies”. This work was written in the latter half of the second century, some 89 to 90 years after the death of the Apostle John. In the book, Irenaeus recounts a story told by Polycarp. Polycarp was a martyr and a follower of John. Polycarp told how John was going to the bath in Ephesus when he saw Cerenthius inside the bath and jumped out of the bath without bathing, for fear that the bath would fall down since Cerenthius, the enemy of the truth, was inside.

This verse from 1 John and this story from Polycarp, show how the apostle viewed doctrine which denied the deity of Christ. The Holy Spirit also thought that it is important enough to combat false doctrine by delivering this refutation to us through His servant John. “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” John obviously also believed and practiced what he said,

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds”. This is 2John 1:10 through 11.

The purity of the Gospel of Christ is a very important matter, in fact it is of utmost importance. Do we practice today the words of the apostles and the actions of the apostles toward those who add to and take away from the Gospel? Or have we, the church, become so complacent as to bid “Hello” to these enemies of the cross of Christ Jesus?

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