During our bible study on 1 John we came across a curious thing – 1 John 5:7 doesn’t read the same in various versions. So we took a closer look.
1 John 5:6-8 NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
1 John 5:6-8 AMP
6 This is He Who came by (with) water and blood [His baptism and His death], Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—not by (in) the water only, but by (in) the water and the blood. And it is the [Holy] Spirit Who bears witness, because the [Holy] Spirit is the Truth.
7 So there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One;
8 and there are three witnesses on the earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree [are in unison; their testimony coincides].
Commentary from KJV Study Bible
Water symbolizes Jesus’ baptism and blood symbolizes His death. These are mentioned because Jesus’ ministry began with His baptism and ended with His death.
John is reacting to the heretics of his day(Gnosticism) who said that Jesus was born only a man and remained so until His baptism. At that time they maintained that Christ descended on the human Jesus, but left him before his suffering on the cross – so that it was only the human man Jesus who died.
Throughout this letter John insists that Jesus is God as well as man(1 Jn 1:1-4,4:2,5:5). He now asserts that it was this God-man Jesus Christ who came into the world, was baptized and died. Jesus was the Son of God not only at His baptism but also at His death.
This truth is extremely important, because if Jesus died only as a man, His sacrificial atonement(1 Jn 2:2,4:10) would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of man’s sin.
The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in 2 ways: The Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism(Jn 1:32-34) and He continues to confirm in the hearts of believers the testimony that Jesus’ baptism and death verify that He’s is the Christ, the Son of God(1 Jn 2:27;1 Cor 12:3).