Sometimes, the Bible is hard to understand. Reading First John 5:6-12 is one of those times. So, over the next two days, I’ll try to make it a bit easier to understand.
Here’s what John writes:
This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
In order to understand this passage, it’s important to remember the context in which John is writing. According to 1 John 2:19, several people had seceded from John’s churches. Furthermore, according to 2:22-23 and 4:2-3, these secessionists denied cardinal truths about Jesus. Finally, according to 2:26, they attempted to deceive the orthodox Christians who remained in John’s churches. John wrote 5:6-12 in order to provide evidence to the orthodox Christians that their beliefs were true and those of the secessionists false.
I have served on a jury three times in my life, one civil case and two criminal cases. A juror has two basic responsibilities: to hear evidence and to render a verdict based on the evidence. As a juror, I asked myself two basic questions whenever I heard a witness being examined: (1) What is the character of the witness? Is he credible? And (2) What is the content of his testimony? As I read 1 John 5:6-12, I found it helpful to keep these two questions in mind.
In my opinion, the easier of these two questions to answer is the second one regarding the content of the testimony. Why? Because John explicitly states the answer: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If I had to summarize the content of this testimony, I’d use these fives words: God’s life through God’s Son.
Now, if I read 1 John correctly, the secessionists denied the truth of this testimony. They believed in God, and it seems they believed in the possibility of our eternal life. What they denied was that Jesus Christ was the connection between the two. John offered testimony to refute them, but are his witnesses credible? We’ll find out tomorrow.
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