The piercing of Christ side and the flow of blood and water (John 19:34) are unique to John’s gospel and it’s clear from the testimony which follows it ( 19:35) the author sees in them a real significance.

Three times he swears to these events. (1) “He who has seen has borne witness” (2) “and his witness is true” (3) “and he knows that he is telling the truth…” (John 19:35)

His summary, “so that you also may believe,” foreshadows the very purpose of his gospel, as summarized in John 20:31. “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ…”

So striking is this testimony it has been called, “the most solemn protestation of accuracy to be found in the whole work.” Nowhere does John make a more passionate and personal claim.

What essential significance does John perceive in the piercing of Christ's side and the flow of blood and water?

10 Answers 10


There are three common answers to this question today.

  1. Real Human Death. John says the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side because when they came to hasten his death they unexpectedly found him already dead. The piercing is thus the soilders way of answering the question, “Has Jesus truly died?” John may have wanted to definitevly answer this question because some in his circle claimed that Jesus only appeared to have a body (1 John 4:2, 2 John 7) and/or to have died. And indeed several recent studies have shown the flow could have been the result of purely natural causes. John cites two scriptural fulfillments of this event (19:36-37). The first of which says "not a bone of his will be broken." This is a reference to the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:12; Psalm 34:20). However, the referant is the unfulfilled intention to break Jesus’ legs. The actual piercing and flow is not specifically related to this typlogy.

  2. Release of the Spirit. Water is an essential core symbol of the Gospel of John. We find it connected with baptism (1:26, 31, 33, 3:23), purification (2:6), tradition (4, cultic healing (5:7) and cleansing (13:5). John contrasts these earthly waters of purification with Christ’s offer of “living water” which he explicitly connects with the Holy Spirit (7:37-39). The flow in John 19:34 is a special fulfillment of this later verse, where Jesus' claims, "rivers of living water would flow from within." There, following his claim to be the true Exodus manna (John 6, Exodus 16), Jesus makes allusion to the water from the rock (Exodus 17:1-7). Here in 19:34 the flow points in like manner to the later day fountain for “sin and uncleanness” in Zachariah and Ezekiel flowing from Jerusalem and the temple. John’s second scriptural citation “they shall look on the one they have pierced” (Zach 12:10), found in the context of this escatological fountain, appears to support this conclusion.

  3. Symbols of the Sacraments. To a lesser extent, interpreters continue to debate the merits of a sacramental symbolism in the flow of blood and water. Water has indeed been associated with baptism in the Gospel of John (John 1:33,35) and blood with consuming Jesus’ body (John 6:53-56). What confuses those who argue for a sacramental symbolism is the order in which the elements appear. They neither match the historical occurrence of baptism and death in the life of Jesus or correspond to the spiritual practice in life of a believer. Most scholars conclude that if John is making a reference to the sacraments it is secondary at best.

But there is another explanation which doesn't rule out these popular explanations and appears to tie much of John together. The early church saw in John 19:34, the piercing of Christ’s side and subsequent flow of blood and water, an allusion to Eve’s creation (Genesis 2:21-22). By the end of the second century we find Tertullian saying,

If Adam was a figure of Christ, the sleep of Adam was the death of Christ who was to fall asleep in death; that in the injury of His side might be figured the Church, the true mother of the living.

According to Alban Maguire,

This teaching had been foreshadowed before the time of Tertullian, and after his time we can find no doctrine more honored among the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

How can the piercing of Jesus side and the flow of blood and water (John 19:34) have anything to do with the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:21-22)? The verbal and circumstantial parallels between the piercing of Christ side (John 19:34) and the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:21-22) boils down to these:

  1. Death as sleep. The piercing and flow follow the death of Jesus. Genesis tells us that prior to taking Adam’s side to form the woman he caused Adam to go into a deep sleep (tardema). Deep sleep is commonly used of a night’s sleep as in Job 14:13; 33:15 and Proverbs 19:15. But here in Genesis 2:21-22 it is the same special work of God as when Abraham slept before the covenant with God (Genesis 15:12). Since Jesus rises again, His death is likewise comparable to sleep. Jesus makes the comparison between sleep and death explicit in John 11:11 before the resurrection of Lazarus.

  2. Opened side. While “rib” is a good rendering of what God took from Adam in Genesis 2 it is unnecessarily restrictive. The Hebrew may refer to a rib but it more broadly means side. Besides it use in Genesis 2, it is used in the Old Testament for the sides of objects, buildings and hills. Side was also in the minds of the Greek LXX translators when they rendered the Hebrew as pleura. The substance God uses to form the woman is found in the man’s side. John 19:34 and Genesis 2 also share the unique fact that plerua is in both instances is singular when it normally occurs in the plural. It is the side (pleura singular) of Christ where John locates the piercing. Just as God takes from Adam’s side (pluera singular) so the solider pierces Christ’s.

  3. The Substance. In Genesis God takes a part of Adam to fashion a helper just like him. In a similar fashion, what flows from Jesus side is a representations of his two natures. The blood stands for his flesh or humanity while the water His spirit and divinity. You can somewhat see this in the standard views on the flow of blood and water reviewed above. Blood refers to Jesus' real humanity while the water represents the Spirit.

These verbal and circumstantial parallels are by no means definitive. But strengthening the connection are the multiple themes in the gospel which point to it. The greatest support for the connection may not necessarily be the ‘textual’ similarities in 19:34 but rather how it corresponds so neatly with John’s message and themes.

  1. New Creation. As a significant reference to creation this interpretation matches John's numerous allusions to Genesis' creation account. A new creation theme begins with John's opening allusion to Genesis 1:1 (“in the beginning”). John ascribes the creation of all things to the Word/Jesus (1:3) (1:14) and so declares that what came into being through Jesus was a new creation – a new beginning. As the author of creation, Jesus is the source of life and light (John 1;4, Gen. 1:3). And in the gospel we see Jesus offering life light to the man born blind in chapter 9 and life to dead man Lazarus in chapter 11. Jesus' Sabbath "work" is also tied to the creation narrative. When people object in John 5 to Jesus’ healing on the same day God rested from creation, Jesus responds, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (5:17). Jesus implies that neither the Father nor himself has ever stopped working. For Jesus, in John, there is yet to be a completion to the creation week. That is until Jesus declares “It is finished," echoing the completion of creation in John 19:30 (Compare John 19:28-31 to Genesis 2:1-3). John also points to Genesis by calling the place where Jesus was arrested, crucified, buried and raised a "garden" and by depicting the disciples reception of the spirit with similarities to God "breathing into" Adam the breath of life.

  2. New Birth. This interpretation makes sense of John's theme of new birth. The creation of Eve is the first birth recorded in scripture. The term "born again" comes from the gospel of John, when Jesus tells Nicodimus "no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3). But this isn't the only place where the theme of new birth appears. It forms the pivot of John's 18 verse interoduction, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13). And in John 16:21-22, Jesus compares his disciples expiernce of his crucifixion with a woman in labor. Indeed, it appears that John is depicting the flow of blood and water as a birth.

In this 2005 JETs article, J. Bergman Kline notes the following.

Elucidating more full the (re)creation symbolism of the blood and water flowing from Jesus side are certain OT idioms in which "what comes out from one's side refers to offspring. The following expressions refer to children or descendants: "that which comes out from your loins"; "the fruit of the belly/womb"; and "one who will come forth from your inward parts." In both the LXX and the the NT, koilia (which occurs in several of the aforementioned idioms) commonly refers to the womb.

The Phrase "the one who comes forth from the belly," can be equivalent to "the one who comes forth from the sides," as can be seen from the fact that each may refer to a son. This possible interchangeablity between kolia and pleura suggests a close relationship between Jesus' statement that "he who beleives in me...rivers of living water will flow from his belly (koilias)," and John's statement that "immediately blood and water came out" from the pierced side (pleuran) of Jesus (John 19:34).

  1. Marriage. This interpretation makes sense of John's marriage theme. The creation of Eve is the first marriage in scripture and in John allusions to marriage appear every time Jesus engages a woman. At the wedding of Cana (2:1-14), John casts Jesus as the bridegroom and later echoes a betrothal type scene (Genesis 24) in Jesus conversation with the woman by the well. John again echoes the Genesis betrothal type scene (Genesis 29) in Jesus encounter with Mary and Martha outside the tomb of Lazarus and makes allusion to Song of Solomon 1:12 in John 12:3 and context. John again alludes to the Song of Solomon (3:1-4) in his depiction Mary's encounter with the resurrected Jesus in the garden (John 20:1-17).

  2. Oneness. This theme makes sense of John's theme of oneness. The creation of Eve ends with man saying, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." "One flesh." The emphasis upon oneness between the Father and Jesus and Jesus and believers is stressed repeated throughout the gospel of John.

  • A lot of great stuff here. I see the allusion to Eve as an extension of the second theme: the release of the Spirit. There is a tight connection in John's writings between the Spirit, the bride and water, culminating in Rev. 22:17. Do you think there is any significance to the way John interweaves the resurrection narrative in chapter 20 between Mary and the disciples?
    – Soldarnal
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 16:05
  • I think there is an inclusio between John 1:35-51 and John 20:1-29 which extends into a larger narrative chiasm. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 18:54
  • Oh wow thats a really cook perspective I hadn't considered before regarding the Adam and Eve symbology. Great post. +1
    – Marshall
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 12:13

Some of the most significant aspects of this are "typological," i.e. they refer to a pattern established earlier in Scripture, now fulfilled in Jesus. (Paul reflects the NT handling of the OT in this regard in 1 Cor 10:6, 11, when he refers to Israel's wilderness experience as providing "patterns" for "us"—the word he uses is "tupoi," from which we derive the English word "types.")

Along these lines, John presents Jesus as the new Adam (note Mary meeting Jesus in the garden and thinking He was the gardener—Adam's first task; see Jn 20:15). Moreover, according to John, Jesus describes Himself as "the Bridegroom" (Jn3:29). When Adam was created, God opened up the flesh of his side to create Eve (the first bloodshed implied in Scripture). This happened while Adam was in a death-like sleep (tardemah). Thus the picture in John is the new creation of Christ's Bride from His own death.

The mention of water may allude to other imagery earlier in John, which depicts Jesus as the new Temple. In the eschatological temple of Ezek 47, water flows in a trickle from the threshold and becomes a great river that heals the nations. (Ezek 47 itself probably has Edenic imagery in mind, but that's another story.)


The Apostle John indicates that "eternal life" was made manifest in the flesh (1 Jn 1:2). This manifestation in the flesh was made possible because of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35). Thus eternal life was incarnated in human flesh, who was Jesus the Nazarene. As a person, he thus subsisted not only in mortal life (blood), but also in immortal life (water).

That is, Jesus equated his eternal life with "living water" (Jn 4:13-14). Those who believed in him would not perish, but would have this eternal life (Jn 3:16 and Jn 3:36).

Thus the person of Jesus subsisted in both his eternal life (water) and his mortal life (blood).

When he died on the cross, his eternal life and mortal life departed from his body. The separation and departure of water and blood from his body, respectively, were the visible evidence that he was dead: that is, eternal life and mortal life departed from his body.

So the person was not only dead physically (separation of body and soul), but the person had also died spiritually, since his eternal life was separated from his humanity. (Eternal life was no longer incarnated in human flesh.) That is, his body entered the grave, and his soul entered rest in Hades (Acts 2:27 and Acts 2:31), but his spirit had returned to his Father that was in heaven (Lk 23:46).

When the Roman soldier pierced his side to see if he had expired, the result was not only the visible evidence that he was physically dead (outflow of blood), but also that the person was also spiritually dead (outflow of water). Remember: the person subsisted in two natures, therefore the person was both physically and spiritually dead. Both water and blood departed his body.

Since the person's eternal life was indestructible (Heb 7:16 in NASB), it was "impossible for death to hold him" (Acts 2:24 in NASB). That is, he died for sins, but the death he suffered was vanquished, and therefore swallowed by eternal life -- so he rose from the dead. In other words, spiritual death is not more powerful than eternal life. Romans 4:25 states that he was raised from the dead "because of our justification" (NASB translation), which means that his eternal life was greater than spiritual death, whose sting ("poison") is sin (1 Cor 15:56). To put it another way, he had reversed the law of death-killing-life (condemnation), to life-killing-death (justification). His resurrection "swallowed" death (1 Cor 15:54). The feat therefore eliminated the condemnation of sin.

So while his blood takes away our sins, it is his water (eternal life) that takes away our spiritual death (1 Cor 15:20-22). The Holy Spirit gives us this eternal life as a free gift, and therefore we are born afresh, or rather we should say "born again" through water and spirit (Jn 3:5).


Short Answer: John sees the piercing of Jesus' side as a fulfillment of prophecy about the Christ. He uses this evidence to convince his readers to believe that Jesus was the Christ. In addition, he may have specifically mentioned "water" to pick up on two themes that appear throughout his Gospel: that water is a symbol of the Spirit, and that the Spirit comes forth from Jesus.

Since we are seeking to understand the significance that John sees in the piercing of Jesus' side, we should consider John's flow of thought (in the literary context surrounding his mention of this event), John's overall purpose in writing his Gospel, and the common style and themes that we observe throughout John's Gospel.

Context (John's flow of thought)

First, let's examine the literary context in which John mentions this event:

Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” -John 19:31-37

So the structure of the passage is as follows:

  • The Jews wanted to break their legs because it was the day of preparation

    • They broke the legs of the other two folks... but they did not break Jesus legs. Instead they pierced His side.

      • "I'm telling the truth... so that you may believe."
    • These things happened to fulfill the Scriptures, which say that His bones shall not be broken, but that He will be pierced.

  • (v.38-42 -- Jesus placed in tomb because it was the day of preparation.)

(If you like chiasm, notice where the focus of the section is: "I am you this truth so that you may believe.") It is clear from John's presentation that he sees the piercing of Jesus' side as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy, and that he includes this event -- with an explanation of the prophecies that it fulfills -- so that his readers would believe.

Context (John's purpose in writing)

We can get a bit more resolution by reviewing John 20:31, which tells us that John's overall purpose in testifying in this Gospel was:

so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. -John 20:31

This purpose is clearly seen in every part of John's Gospel. So (even if you don't like the idea of there being a chiasm in John 19:31-42) it is clear from John's overall purpose in writing that the reason he included this passage was so that His readers would believe (19:35). Believe what? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31). How does the piercing of Jesus' side show that He is the Christ? Because this event fulfilled two very significant prophecies about the Christ, which John clearly explains in the next two verses (19:36-37).

Context (John's style and themes)

Matthew Miller has convinced me that John may have specifically mentioned "water" flowing from Jesus' side to pick up on a water theme that he had been working with throughout his entire Gospel. Water is a symbol which God established long ago as a reference to the Spirit, and which Jesus (and John) use repeatedly throughout the Gospel to refer to the Spirit. John may very well have been coloring this story (by specifically mentioning the "water") in order to provide yet another indication that the Spirit would come forth from Jesus as a result of His work on the cross.


Matthew Miller has done an excellent survey of traditional answers and has nearly produced a sensus plenior answer.

With some minor additions and corrections I would nominate his as the SP answer as well.

The nature of prophetic riddle is such that it always points forward to a reality AFTER the cross. Even the actions of Jesus before the cross point to a reality after. He is his own type.

As such, Eve is a type which matches the blood and water, which together speak of a reality after the cross.

Blood = life Le 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood:

We don't rely upon inference alone to derive symbols, but we exegete the meaning from the formation of the Hebrew words.

Blood 'dam' דם - The commandment ד fulfilled by the son of man ם. [1] This is a reference to the blood of Christ on the cross.

Waters מים 'mayim' waters

מ-י-ם The promise of the Father n the first thought of creation י fulfilled by the Son of Man ם.

מי-ים the waters (teaching) above (Holiness) מי and the waters below ים (Love)

שמם - desolation

שמים - heaven

Notice that heaven שמים was desolate שמם before creation י was added. The symbol of desolation is that there has not been fruitfulness yet. Because the formation of words is foreign to most, let's linger here and appreciate it a bit.

John says that there are three who testify in heaven, the Father מ the Word (who is the Son) ם and the Spirit ש. The gematria of heaven שמים is 3; for desolate שמם it is 2. Two are desolate until there are three. The Father מ and the Son ם are one. They are both mems. The Spirit ש hovered over the face of the waters ש|מים . John was playing with the formation of the word for heaven expressing holiness.

He was doing the same for 'earth' ארז. The gematria is 3. the letters represent the Spirit א the Water/Word ר and the blood ז. These express love.

The Father is the one who arranged the marriage;the promise of the Father. The mem מ is formed by the joining of the Son of God; represented by the kof כ ,joined to the bride; represented by the zayin ז, at the top. The final mem ם is formed by joining them at the top and bottom. The promise or arrangements made in heaven were consummated on earth.

Prophetic riddle plays with ideas; metaphors. Words are just symbols of the metaphor and imprecisely define the idea, since they only represent one aspect of that idea. Furthermore, the metaphor has a primary application, and secondary applications. 'Waterloo' represents an event in history as it's primary meaning, but it can be applied to other circumstances. The primary metaphor for a letter is derived from the strokes. This is a topic for a paper of its own.

The 'Divine meaning' rule [2] for SP says that a metaphor must always have the same meaning. This refers to the metaphor, not the verbal expression of it. The metaphor may be referred to by the actor, the action, or the result of the underlying idea. The mem, by formation is the promise of the Father. He arranged the marriage. This is the action. John uses the actor: Father. Paul says we are 'called' before the world began, this is the same idea as an action, or as a result.

So is the water the revelation of the Son, or the Spirit. Yes. It is both. But the primary metaphor is that of the Revelation. The Spirit is one actor in it. He is the Spirit of Revelation (Eph 1:17) who guides us in all truth (Joh 16:13).

Now we are getting somewhere. Blood and water is the same idea stated in Mt 4:4. Man does not live (life is in the blood) by bread (the cross: his body given for you) alone, but by every word (water) which proceeds from the mouth of God.

The primary idea is that of life and word. We have life as we abide in his word.

The water and blood symbolize the birth and marriage of the church; as the later reality. How did marriage get slipped in there? One word for marriage is 'laqach' לקח which also means 'doctrine'. The bride of Christ is those who are taught by him.

With eating as a metaphor for learning, the marriage feast of the lamb is the explosion of doctrine that took place after the cross. The feast is a whole lot of learning, the marriage is people being taught doctrine.

At Passover they put aside the leaven (teaching) in preparation for the teaching of the cross; the Passover lamb.

Water is the revelation of God; represented by the rosh ר. It is the result of the revelation; the Children of Abraham as sand being washed by the sea. It is the birth of a living creation in the Father and the Son מים . In baptism it is the death by the word of God, where-after we are raised to live in the Spirit (air). It is the teaching by the Spirit leading to renewed minds.

Because the word points to the idea, the idea can be expressed in many ways. Usually Greek theologians like to debate them rather than correlate them through collaboration.

The ante-type is that reality which exists after the cross; in the fullness of the idea represented in so many ways.

*formation of words is called: Notarikon - Interpretation by dividing a word into two or more parts in the 32 rules of Rabbi Eliezer ben Jose de Galili

(1) https://sensusplenior.net/wiki/Pneumnemonic_Hebrew_for_Beginners

(2) https://sensusplenior.net/wiki/Rules


As the question states, it is clear the author sees a real significance in the flow of blood and water, not only because this only occurs in John's Gospel. Three times he swears to these events, saying that because this really happened, we might believe (John 19:35d):

John 19:35: [1.] And he that saw it bare record, [2.] and his record is true: [3.] and he knoweth that he saith true ...

ICC New Testament Commentary suggests the solemn attestation of verse 35 was added because John regarded the incident as so extraordinary as to be difficult of credence. It had not been narrated by earlier evangelists, and exceptionally good testimony would be necessary if it were to be believed. And the use of repetition, typically three times, was a rhetorical technique sometimes used in John to verify the facts stated. Nevertheless, the significance of the flow of blood and water has remained a mystery that theologians continue to puzzle over.

Tony Badillo has proposed an exquisite explanation that may resolve this mystery. He reminds us John wants readers to believe Jesus symbolises the sacrificial lambs of the Passover. Jewish historians say that at this time 250,000 lambs were slaughtered and their blood washed into a drain that emptied into the Kidron Valley, previously mentioned in John 18:1. Badillo says this is the missing key in John's explanation: the riveting image of the Temple drains spewing their torrent of blood and water into the Kidron below. To John, and to his readers, the blood and water were proof that the Temple building and its sacrifices paralleled Jesus' body and his crucifixion (John 2:19-21).

John 2:19-21: Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.


It is very likely that there have been questions raised (even among those professing to be followers, think of upcoming views like gnosticism) whether Christ had really died. The separating of blood (cells) from water (serum) within the organs and then separate coming forth indicated He had truly died. The severe injuries even before the nailing of Him had lead to the death before bones would have to be broken.

  • 1
    I'm not sure why this was downvoted. John insisting it's true seems to follow that he expects the facts to be later verified, and certainly plasma is capable of separating from blood that has clotted. Occam's razor would argue we take the simplest, most factual interpretation. Just because it isn't flashy doesn't mean it isn't an invalid interpretation.
    – c1646091
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 11:07


First, John was fully aware of the significance of and interpretation for this verse. Jesus opened his eyes. See:

Lk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures..

Also, the Book of John ties the whole Bible together.

Before I go into the specific interpretation of John 19: 34 & 33 let us look at several important verses that have to do with the right approach to true interpretation (read these very carefully):


(ESV) 1 Cor 4:6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Deut 12:32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

(My note: I placed this verse here because the same language is used in several other places in the Bible. It means this also applies to the whole Bible -see Is 46:10 below.)

Prov 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

(My note: The above 4 sets of verses are collectively telling us not to add in anything, including our own ideas or assumptions nor omit anything that is Biblical.)

Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

2 Cor 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.

(My note: this means we are no longer to approach the bible with a "human" point of view nor treat it as a literary or academic work or as poetry, etc. as that is not what the Bible is about. The Bible is the textbook of life, what it is & what it is not from God's point of view.)

Jn 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(My note: John the Baptist was a human like us, indicating that our "humaness" must decrease, while Jesus must be increased within us, pointing to the verse above this one.)

1 Cor 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

2 Pet 1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Jn 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Jer 31:36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”

(My note: The fixed order of the universe & the earth & things on earth are the fixed "earthly" things used in the Bible which the Bible uses to describe & explain the fixed "Heavenly" things = God & Jesus do not change and neither does the truth that stands forever unchanged.)

Hos 5:10 The princes of Judah have become like *those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water.

(My note: There are both physical & Spiritual landmarks in the Bible.)

Lk 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

(My note: In other words, everything written in the Bible has a fixed position & we are not allowed to change anything, including its meaning & interpretation.)

Is 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,

(My note: In other words, the etire Bible is a prophecy, having many parts through out the whole Bible -i.e. At the end God shall once again divide the waters from the waters, this time permanently.)

*Jn 3:12 If I have told you "earthly" things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you "heavenly" things?

(My note: This is probably the most important "anchor" verse in the whole BIble as it is the base on which all true Biblical interpretation rests, using things we can see to show & explain Heavenly things to us that we can't see.)

ANCHOR VERSES: The above verses are what I call "anchor" verses. They set the boundaries, limits and God's fixed order that we must stay within if we intend to find and adhere to true interpretation, as given by God through Jesus not man. While the first answer for this question "almost" goes to the right interpetation, it drops the ball and then adds error.


Jn 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

The first thing we must do is look at earthly things connected to this verse in order to begin to understand the true interpretation for what its trying to tell us. The first thing that will help us understand this verse is to understand more about "bones" relative to Jesus. We need to look at:

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We also know the Bible is the word of God. Therefore, Jesus is the Bible (given to us to enlighten us about God, Jesus and Heaven & about the problems & faults that can prevent us from knowing these things -our unrighteousness gets in the way).


See Jn 19:33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

The OT covenant was rigid. It has a set of laws & violation of the law brought serious consequences, some immediate. Since Jesus is the word, the OT is Jesus' skeleton made up of bones, one of which is a rib (blood is made in the bone marrow). The NT is Jesus' flesh. Flesh is soft, pliable =the NT covenant brings in grace and forgiveness. Jesus' leg was not broken because Jesus fulfilled the law. He never broke the law. Bones give form (& strength) to our flesh. While under the NT covenant the OT law is to guide us giving form to our life in Jesus. (The Romans unknowingly fulfilled Scripture as many do today.)


In the OT you will find the term "life blood". See:

Lev 17:14 For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. [2] Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.

Blood goes to all living cells, bringing everything they need to keep them alive. Now look at:

Jn 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Now we apply Jn 3:12 (see "anchor" verses above). Therefore, the more important understanding is that blood has a direct connection to the Holy Spirit & the NT covenant (the OT has more to do with "earthly" things & the NT has more to do with "Heavenly" things relative to earthly things).


Now what about water? Humans need to drink water every day or you will dry out, that is you will dehydrate. Water also gives us nutrients and minerals. However, an important point, water must be "processed" to be useful to our bodies. See:

Rev 10:9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”

Your stomach processes food & water while your mind processes the word of God (the more you study the Bible the more Spiritual water Jesus can "pour" into you):

Ref, =Job 34:3 for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food.

Water is also used to carry impurities out of our bodies (purification -the word is for purification of our minds). We also use water to cleanse our bodies. In other words, the use of the word "water" in the Bible is regarding the fact that the word was given to us to give us Spiritual nourishment, to keep us Spiritually hydrated and is for our Spiritual purification as we pursue knowing and following Jesus. We must also be aware that water can destroy and be used to destroy people, even those whom misuse or use it in wrong ways.

The word is also giving us directions on how to live and build a true "Spiritual" church of God. Equating and applying the term "eternal life" or "Spirit" to water is a wrong application as it sets a limit on what "Eternal Life" encompasses. Eternal life & what that is about is what the whole NT speaks to and the OT points to. Eternal Life (a gift to the saved from God) exists on it own, separate from any processing, which is not the case with regard to the use of water. See:

Jn 1:33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

(My note: Notice that water & the Spirit are being referred to separately here. This is an important distinction. Water [the word] leads us to what is Spiritual. In other words, the word explains to us what is Spiritual and what is not.)

Spiritual water brings us "toward" eternal life but, again water isn't eternal life -indicated here:

Jn 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

(My note: We can drink water but you can't drink eternal life. The Spirit of God is above & moves the water but is not within the water molecules themselves.)

Like we need to drink water every day we need to read the Bible every day. See:

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.


1 Cor 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

(My note: Here we see that there is a relationship between Adam [sinner] in the Garden of Eden and Jesus [perfect], God's life-giving Spirit.)

Now we can apply all these things to verse 34 to see the proper interpretation of its contents:

What is the significance of blood & water "pouring" out of Jesus' side? First, there was the "earthly" imperfect sinner, Adam (the 1st chosen, not necessarily the 1st human). Jesus is the Second "Heavenly" perfect sinless Adam. Like the first Adam Jesus had His side opened. In the case of Adam, God put him into a deep sleep and made "earthly" Eve using a part of Adam, his rib (there are "laws" [God knows & used Laws of Physics] involved in creating things, which would have been followed for the creation of Eve.

Adam, being created as the dominent one (a leader) he would have "poured" himself (both his spirit & his knowledge to become one flesh) into Eve, a kind of vessel (so that she would know him, become a better helper & doing this would also make her better at raising his children). You will notice that in making Eve from Adam it doesn't mention God giving Eve the breath of life as she was made out of "living" Adam.

The same is true regarding Jesus (the Bridegroom). See:

Jn 3:29 [John the Baptist speaking about Jesus] The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

Jesus' death (a deep sleep) was needed to bring forth the new more perfect Eve, that is the birth of the Spiritual church (the Spiritual "mother" of Jesus' church, Spiritual Israel (not the Catholic version), the second Eve, the bride to be). The new Eve is conceived by the "pouring" out of Jesus, the "life" blood (Jesus' Spirit giving life to His church, through Spiritual Physics =the Spiritual rib) and the "pouring" out of water (the word =the Bible) to His bride, the new more perfect Spiritual Israel. See the following verses:

Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the "marriage of the Lamb" has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.

(My note: This is why Jesus never married on earth.)

Jn 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

(My note: In order for the OT covenant to end it was a requirement that it be fulfilled in full. Jesus was the pefect sacrifice [the Lamb of God], whom fulfilled the OT Law even becoming the absolute perfect sacrifice to once and for all have the ability to take all the sins of the world upon Himself, thus terminating the OT covenant.)

1 Pet 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The major issue is that one must be very careful when trying to interpret Scripture. Many have made the mistake of putting forth wrong interpretations (intentionally & unintentionally). Even to this day many are still paying for these mistakes, some fatal for many. I can't stress this enough, be very careful not to go beyond what is written.

  • This is hard for me to follow, but not impossible, and I appreciate the effort you've gone to, to try and communicate your method. It will be difficult for you to explain this kind of thinking on this site as I think it will be unfamiliar to many. If I might venture a couple of suggestions: a) aim for clarity and conciseness (perhaps more background reasoning to footnotes) b) make careful use of markdown formatting to help structure your posts (you've done that to a degree here but not to the extent of (for example) Matthew's post on this question which uses formatting very well. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 8:33
  • I did this in wordpad b/c I sometimes have problems with my computer. I'm an old guy & haven't kept up with tech stuff so for now thats the best I can do. I used wordpad so I can save my work outside the browser. If the browser locks up I loose what I wrote. Its a lot more work to then transfer everything to this site's formatting (the site doesn't save the "draft" after a certain point so I don't want to take a chance -already lost some work). Thanks for your comment.
    – user9712
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 8:54
  • Also, I would love it if they enlarged the area for typing text & raise the text size by 1 or 2 sizes. I also think it would be better if the "preview" was beside the text writing area instead of beneath. My eyes aren't what they used to be.
    – user9712
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 3:44
  • Have you tried the zoom feature of your browser? Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 7:38
  • @JackDouglas : The zoom doesn't work & reinstalling the browser didn't fix it. Anyway as best I could I tried to make my post easier to read. If you have any more suggestions on this I will try to make more changes to make it better for everyone. Thanks again.
    – user9712
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 7:52

When Exodus explains the laws of Passover, it includes this stipulation: “You shall not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46 - Numbers 9:12). John compares Jesus to the lamb of Passover; his body was treated the same way as that of the Passover lamb.

Now pay close attention to the structure of the sentence: σπήλαιον καὶ λίθος

Ἰησοῦς οὖν πάλιν ἐμβριμώμενος ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἔρχεται εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον· ἦν δὲ σπήλαιον καὶ λίθος ἐπέκειτο ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ. John 11:38

Jesus, therefore, again groaning in himself, cometh to the tomb, and it was a cave, and a stone was lying upon it, Young's Literal Translation John 11:38

Noting this in John 19:34,

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. New American Standard Bible John 19:34

The second noun characterizes the quality of the first noun.

Blood was shed like water.

This refers to the sacrifice of the firstborn.

19 “All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the Lord your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You shall eat it, you and your household, before the Lord your God year by year at the place that the Lord will choose. 21 But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. Deuteronomy 15:19-23 English Standard Version (ESV)


Firstly, one has to note that the evangelists are not so much interested in what actually happened as they are interested in linking events to Sacred Scripture:

The early communities were not recalling the ‘facts’ of the death of Jesus. They were about the business of making sense of it. Here it is not a question of history remembered but of prophecy historicised. They began looking for prophecies that would help them understand the social disgrace of the death of Jesus. The use of scriptural citations of Psalms (Ps. 2:1,7; 16:8–11; 22:1, 18, 22; 69:21, 30; 110:1; 132:11) and Prophets (Am. 8:9; Is. 50:6, 7; Zch. 12:10) became a shorthand way of dealing with the meaning of Jesus’ death.
Source: The memorable invention of the death of Jesus

Even religious artists are interpreters and not historians.

Keep in mind that only in John's Gospel does the Roman soldier "pierce his side." Here is the text:

John 19:33-37 NRSV

3 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." 37 And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

Here are the passion fulfillment texts in Mark:

  • 14:18 Betrayal by friends Ps 41:9
  • 14:34 A soul full of sorrow Pss 42:6, 11; 43:5
  • 15:24 Garments divided Ps 22:18
  • 15:29 Derision of onlookers Pss 22:7; 109:25
  • 15:34 ‘My God, my God ...’ Ps 22:1
  • 15:36 Vinegar to drink Ps 69:21

So, in John’s Gospel, the author introduces two brand new fulfillment texts: Ps 34:20 and Zech 12:10 [clearly misquoted so as to fit the context in John's passion story]: See The Case of Mistaken Piercing in Zechariah 12:10 and John 19:37.

Now, to completely affirm how Gospel writers were keen to bring in fulfillment texts into their narrative, let's look at Matthew's Gospel. Does the "piercing his side" text find its way into your translation of Matt 27:49? Check it out. Some manuscripts have it; some don't. The suspicion is that some copyists were so influenced by John's use of Zech 12:10 that they inserted it into Matthew's Gospel that they were copying. To understand this corruption of ancient texts, see Matthew 27:49 Was Jesus Pierced before His Death?.

  • Hi, Agarza. I give you permission to edit my post as you see fit. I am unable to do so. AM Commented Mar 27 at 0:12

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