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. NASB

Many explanations of this ambiguous verse reference Jesus' crucifixion and the water and blood that flowed from him or some aspect of baptism.

Or as the NLT boldly proclaims, (having abandoned the word 'came' altogether)

And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross

There seems little merit to this approach as they seem to totally ignore the word 'came'.

4 Answers 4


“Came” references fulfilling Gods plan of salvation. With his birth Gods plan of salvation was realized. That plan was for The Branch, His Passover Lamb & Royal High Priest to fulfil the Law by offering himself as the proper sacrifice for sin eternally.

Hebrews 10:7 Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the (HEAVENLY) scroll (GODS PLAN OF SALVATION)-- I have come to do your will, my God (FULFILL THAT PLAN ON EARTH).

Matthew 6:10 your kingdom come, your will (HEAVENLY SCROLL OR PLAN) be done, on earth as it is (WRITTEN) in heaven.

RE: Water: The Lamb is described as fully human or came in the flesh. Flesh is G4561 sarki which is defined as:

Thayer 2a) The body of man.

  1. Earthly nature of man APART FROM ANY DIVINE INFLUENCE, and therefore prone to sin & opposed to God. So water is the testimony of our Messiah being born in the womb, fully human, our brother not our God.

Blood: Relates to his lineage to the throne of David through his father Joseph & on his mothers’ side he was a blood descendant of the priesthood through House of Aaron. The blood testifies our Messiah was the rightful Royal High Priest.

Spirit is the testimony that upon his resurrection he becomes the firstborn (begotten) son of God. Note our Messiah was declared divine upon his resurrection not his birth.


http://www.tyndale.com/nlt/ This is the translation philosophy of NLT:

The New Living Translation combines the latest biblical scholarship with a clear, dynamic writing style that communicates God’s Word powerfully to all who hear and read it. It renders the message of the original texts of Scripture into clear, contemporary English that was written to be read aloud. With a focus on clarity, The New Living Translation invites readers to go deeper into the biblical text to discover God’s story for their lives and the world.

This dynamism explains why NLT is more interpretive than NASB. NLT did not totally ignore the word 'came'. They interpreted it, perhaps over-interpreting it. NASB gives the readers more leeway to interpret the verse.

The baptism in water idea in NLT has been expressed by many commentators.

Pulpit Commentary

The Divine Son Jesus Christ came not by water only at his baptism, but by blood also at his death.

For this verse, the NLT translation is not all that controversial.

  • thx, if that's what John meant - I doubt he would say it like he did. The context has nothing about these matters of baptism or dying - but of an overall accomplishment of the son of God and the resultant eternal life that is now available thru him alone.
    – steveowen
    Apr 10, 2021 at 21:55

Let us not debate the translation philosophy of the NLT, which by it own admission, is part-way to a paraphrase. It makes no attempt to translate literally. That is not to denigrate the version at all - such are useful but we cannot press tight meanings on them.

The very literal meaning of the Greek of 1 John 5:6 is given by such versions (in this instance) as: NIV, ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, etc. Of these the closest to the Greek here is BLB:

This is the One having come by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the One testifying, because the Spirit is the truth.

This verse simply describes that Jesus came during His incarnation with water, presumably Jesus' baptism" and His baptism of others (see also Matt 28:19), and blood - a reference to Jesus' crucifixion. There may also an allusion to "blood and water" when the soldier pierced Jesus to confirm His death (John 19:34).

The fact that Jesus "came" is a result of Jesus being "sent" of the Father of which there are numerous references such as:

  • John 3:13 - No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.
  • John 3:31 - The One [= Jesus] who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all.
  • John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 8:38 - I speak of what I have seen in the presence of the Father
  • John 13:1, 3 - It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end. ... Jesus knew that the Father had delivered all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.
  • John 16:27, 28 - for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

The NT makes much of Jesus coming in the flesh: 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:2, 3, 2 John 7 all describe Jesus as having come in the flesh.

  • thx, but you basically reiterated the question. Why does his 'coming' begin with the baptism? There is no context for this idea unless you can find support elsewhere.
    – steveowen
    Apr 10, 2021 at 22:34
  • @user48152 - Jesus began His ministry with His baptism - no ministry preceded His baptism. Thus, Jesus' incarnation was entirely bracketed with water baptism and finally blood.
    – Dottard
    Apr 10, 2021 at 22:38
  • yeah, but why does John put this truth like he did? The baptism was just a marker was it not? Him receiving the spirit was much more significant - this is what started his ministry after the subsequent temptation. The context seems lacking for this to have sufficient credibility.
    – steveowen
    Apr 10, 2021 at 22:43
  • 1
    @user48152 - I have no idea what you are alluding to - please make your question clearer. Jesus' ministry was marked by water baptism and blood death and this what John alludes to in 1 John 5:6.
    – Dottard
    Apr 10, 2021 at 22:50
  • ok, that's your understanding, ty.
    – steveowen
    Apr 10, 2021 at 22:58

In this passage the author lays out the testimony of God, “given through the Spirit,” regarding his Son:

v. 9 for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.

v. 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.

The words “the One who came“ echo verses from other parts of the text that reference Jesus as the one who comes or has come into the world:

  • for the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” — John 6:33
  • I came forth from the Father and have come into the world —John 16:28
  • She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.” — John 11:27

It seems possible, therefore, that the word “came” is a reference to Jesus’ incarnation. If so, then the water and the blood may pertain to Jesus’ dual nature. The water, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, represents his divinity:

  • “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He said in reference to the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive —John 7:37-39

And the blood, as in his flesh and blood, represents his humanity.

  • Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil —Heb 2:14

The passage lays out the case that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God by affirming both his divine and human attributes. For this interpretation, the word “came” is key. That said, there tends to be an air of mystery and impenetrability whenever the Spirit is invoked, and this passage is no exception.

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