Biola Broadcaster - 1969-03

by Lloyd T. Anderson Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church West Covina, California

SiudisA in I John

W E HAVE already noted that the previous paragraph begins and ends with a reference to faith, viz. believing that the human Jesus is (i.e. is the same Person as) the Christ (1), or the Son of God (5). John’s full formula of Christian faith is that Jesus is “the Christ come in the flesh” (4:2; II John 7). But how can we come to faith in the divine-human Person of Jesus? John’s answer here, as in the Gospel, is that faith depends on testimony, and that the reasonableness of be­ lieving in Jesus is grounded upon the validity of the testimony which is borne to Him. Verses 6-9 describe the nature of the testimony (by the “three witnesses” 8, RSV) and verses 10-12 its results; while in verses 13- 17 the Christian’s consequent assur­ ance is unfolded. Verse 6 — Jesus, who has been called “the Christ” (v. 1) and “the Son of God” (v. 5), is now further and more fully described, particular­ ly with regard to His mission on earth. “This is he that came by wa­ ter and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.” Various interpretations have been given to these phrases, which Plummer calls the “most perplexing” in the Epistle. There can be little doubt that John was using an ex­ pression which was already familiar to his readers, either through his own teaching or through that of the false teachers, and which is not so readily understood by us. There have been three principal suggestions about the meaning of water and blood. First, some commentators (in­ cluding Luther and Calvin) have seen in them a reference to the two sacraments of the gospel. This is ex­ tremely doubtful, at least as the pri- 30

mary thought. If water stands for baptism, blood would be an unprece­ dented symbol for the Lord’s Supper. It would also be an unnatural sym­ bol, both because blood is one of the things signified, not one of the signs, and because no reference is made to the body of Christ. Further, although it might be possible to describe Jesus as “coming” through the sacraments, it is difficult to see how it could be said that He came (aorist, ho elthon ) through them. The verb clearly in­ dicated not some present activity of Jesus but His past historical coming. The second interpretation (adopt­ ed by Augustine and other ancient commentators) links the p a s s a g e with the spear thrust and the issue of blood and water from the side of Jesus recorded in John 19:34, 35. Certainly, both passages are Johan- nine, and both are associated with testimony, and the flow of blood and water was a past, historical event. Even so, it would be forced to say that in this incident Jesus came by (that is, /‘through”) water and blood, when in/'fact they came out of Him. Moreover, the link between blood and water and testimony, which we have observed in both passages, is not identical. In the Gospel it is the Evan­ gelist fvho bears witness to them; here if is they which bear witness to Christ Again, if in the Gospel they are tafcen as bearing any witness it must be to the reality of Christ’s death, and perhaps to the saving effi­ cacy of it; out here in the Epistle they bear witness to Christ’s divine- human Person. We feed therefore to find an in­ terpretation of the phrase which makes water and blood both histori­ cal experiences “through” which He passed jand witnesses in some sense

Made with FlippingBook flipbook maker