1 John 5:6-9 / The Testimony of the Spirit (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on July 17, 2014


This is the twenty-first in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of 1 John. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the evening of July 13, 2014. This message explores the testimony of the Holy Spirit, briefly covers the Trinity, and explores the textual variants of 1 John 5:7. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

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1 John 5:6-9

Cerinthus was a contemporary of John, raised in Egypt, who led one of the first heretical sects of Christendom.

The heretical teaching of Cerinthus and his followers:

They distinguished between ‘Jesus’ and ‘the Christ’.

They held that Jesus was a mere man, born of Joseph and Mary in natural wedlock, upon whom the Christ descended at the baptism and from whom the Christ departed before the cross.

According to this theory of the false teachers, Jesus was united with (led by) the Christ at the baptism, but became separated again before the cross.

Elements of this teaching can be found in the 4th century Arian sect, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism.

It was to refute this fundamental error that John, knowing that Jesus was the Christ before and during the baptism and during and after the cross, described him as ‘the one who came through water and blood’.

The water refers to Jesus’ baptism

The baptism marks the visible beginning of His ministry. This is when people would begin to recognize Him as the Christ.

This event publicly identified Jesus as the Messiah.

It also fulfills the necessary historical basis of the statement the Jesus “came” by water and blood, and effectively answers the claims of the false teachers.

He also came into the Most Holy Place by the blood of the cross.

Hebrews 9:12

The water and blood were also confirmed at Jesus’ death.

John 19:34

Jesus Christ did not come by water only, as the false teachers believed.

He came by blood as well. His ministry was not only a baptizing one, but also a sacrificial one.

He was the Christ from from birth, and still the Christ after the death and resurrection. He is the Christ through out eternity.

Water and blood also became symbolic throughout Scripture.

This coming by water and blood is the basis of our salvation.

The coming by water confirms that Jesus is the Christ, and the blood confirms His sacrifice.

The third part of this is the Holy Spirit. He is the witness, it is He who testifies.

John 14:26

John 15:26

The Spirit bore witness in Jesus’ baptism.

John 1:32-33

The Spirit continues to bear witness today.

Ancient sale documents sometimes included the signatures of several witnesses attesting a sale. Likewise, the Old Testament courts always required a minimum of two dependable witnesses.

Deuteronomy 17:6

Deuteronomy 19:15

John cites three witnesses whose reliability could not be in dispute.

This verse carries the clearest and the most explicit statement of the doctrine of the Trinity.

However, it is only found in the Latin manuscripts, and the manuscripts of four Greek Bibles.

Because of this, many scholars believe it to be an addition or marginal annotation by ancient copyists.

If true, its not a major issue, since the doctrine of the Trinity does not depend on this verse. It is expressed elsewhere also.

Matthew 28:19

2 Corinthians 13:14

Genesis 1:2

John 1:1-3

Genesis and John together,, identify all three parts of the Trinity.

Not to mention the many other Scriptures that apply God’s own attributes to the Holy Spirit.

Even so, this verse does fit perfectly in the context, and certainly does not read like an add on.

In fact, the removal of the verse makes verse 8 largely redundant to v.6. However, with this verse, it flows very smoothly.

An alternative theory is that this verse was expunged from most of the available manuscripts during the height of the Arian controversy in the 4th century.

The arian sect did not believe in the trinity. they were a relatively small sect, but they caused a great stir.

They thrived in the area of Alexandria, Egypt.

Interestingly, many of the manuscripts in use today, date back to that time frame and that region.

Those same manuscripts are the basis for most modern translations, from which this verse has been removed.

It would seem to make sense that someone who didn’t believe in the Trinity or the inerrancy of Scripture would remove the verse.

One who believes in the trinity and the inerrancy of Scripture would seem far less likely to add to scripture.

Today, we can’t know for sure, and this is not to cast doubt on the majority of the modern Bible translations (I find many of them very useful). It’s simply to argue that this verse may well belong in the Scripture.

Logically, this verse would seem to strengthen the case for the validity of the three heavenly witnesses in verse 7.

At the baptism of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit testified to the Son.

Matt. 3:16–17

The Holy Spirit testified throughout Jesus’ life as to his identity.

Both the baptism and the crucifixion of Jesus are strongly attested historical facts.

They all testify to the same thing, creating a truly reliable witness.

We already know that the Holy Spirit, being God, is a person.

By speaking of them being in agreement, the water and blood are personified, meaning that they are manifested in the person of Jesus Christ.

John’s argument brings us right back to Jesus being the Christ.

We often have no problem believing what men say. but the witness of God is greater. . . and it is more often rejected.

However, God’s word reigns supreme. His word is final.

God Himself testified of His Son, and faith in Him is necessary for salvation.

We can completely trust God’s witness, and we need to reject any witness that contradicts it.

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