1 John Lesson Eleven: 1 John 5:6-13 – The Full Assurance of Our Relationship to God

Jesus Christ—He is the One who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water  and by blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood —and these three are in agreement. If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that He has given about His Son. 10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar,  because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.) 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 

12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (HCSB)

As John nears the completion of this letter, he drives home a point that directly challenges the false teaching from the Gnostics that he was confronting; Jesus is God. 

I’ll be splitting this lesson into two parts.

  • Jesus is God – verses 6-10.
  • Believers have eternal life – verses 11-13.

Jesus is God

In the previous section of the passage, verses one to five, John placed emphasis on trusting in Jesus and overcoming the world. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is fundamental to the Christian experience. But how do we know that Jesus is God? 

Some of those alive at the time called Jesus a liar and a deceiver – Matthew 27:63. Others said that Jesus was a religious fanatic, a madman, or perhaps a zealous Jew who was sincere but sadly mistaken. We also need to remember the false teaching the recipients of this letter were receiving from the Gnostics. The false teaching of the Gnostics had two main points.

  • The “Christ” came upon the man Jesus when He was baptized.
  • Before Jesus died on the cross, the “Christ” left Jesus, and He died like any other person.

John’s letter refutes this false teaching by presenting three infallible witnesses to prove that Jesus is God.

  • Before we look at the three witnesses, we need to remember Jewish law. In order to confirm testimony, at least two witnesses were required.
    • Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness cannot establish any wrongdoing or sin against a person, whatever that person has done. A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
    • John 8:17 – Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid.
  • The first witness is the water.
    • The water refers to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River at the beginning of His ministry.
    • Matthew 3:13-17 – Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him.  17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
  • The second witness is the blood.
    • Blood refers to the shedding of Jesus’ blood at His crucifixion and subsequent death.
    • As the time drew near for Jesus to die, God spoke from heaven.
      • John 12:28b – Then a voice  came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!”
      • This was a reference to both what had already occurred and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
    • There are also Scripture references to the glorification of Jesus during His crucifixion.
      • Matthew 27:45 – From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.
      • Matthew 27:50-53 – Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.  51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 
      • Matthew 27:54 – When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”
  • The third witness is the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit was sent to bear witness to Jesus. We can trust the Holy Spirit because it is the Spirit that is truth.
      • John 15:26 – When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about Me.
      • John 16:14 – He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.
      • Romans 8:15-16 – For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 
      • 1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated  spiritually.
  • John is showing that all three testify to the truth of Jesus being the Son of God, the incarnation of the divine, and the pathway to redemption and restoration with God.
  • If human testimony is accepted on the basis of two or more witnesses, how much more should God’s testimony be accepted?
  • John makes two points in verses nine to eleven.
    • Divine testimony should be accepted because it is greater than human testimony, which everyone accepts.
    • Willful unbelief is sin. If we trust human testimony, why shouldn’t we trust God, who is more trustworthy than people?
  • When we consider these two points, we see the following three facts, which lead to one conclusion.
    • The Father witnessed at Jesus’ baptism.
    • The Father witnessed at the cross.
    • The Holy Spirit witnesses today within each believer.
    • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Those who reject these facts are calling God a liar.
  • There is no middle ground in this discussion.
    • You are either with God and part of His spiritual family, destined to spend eternity in heaven.
    • Or you are against God, excluded from His spiritual family, and destined to spend eternity in hell.

Believers Have Eternal Life

  • John makes this point clear in the final three verses of this passage.
    • Those who accept the truth of the Father’s testimony concerning Jesus have life.
    • The life John is referring to in verse eleven is eternal life in heaven.
      • Life is contained in accepting the testimony about Jesus.
        • Those who accept the testimony about Jesus have the Son.
        • Those who accept the Son have life.
      • Death occurs for those who reject the testimony about Jesus.
        • They will have a physical death.
        • They will have a spiritual death, eternity in hell.
    • John is reminding and encouraging the recipients of his letter that those who believe in the testimony about Jesus have eternal life.

Before we take a summary look at this passage, let’s remember the situation that John was addressing. False teachers had permeated the early church, teaching heresy and leading some astray. Let’s consider the modern-day church. Few would argue that false teachers promoting heresy have permeated the church, leading believers astray.

Now, let’s consider three points essential to John’s writings.

  • The “blood” must remain central to all we are and preach. The “blood” refers to the cross.
    • In 1 Corinthians 1-4, Paul talks about the “foolishness” of the cross. Paul isn’t saying the cross is foolish. He is saying it is foolishness to those who reject the truth. 
    • As believers, we can never demote the significance of the cross.
    • 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 – But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
      • Christ is the power of God.
      • Christ is the wisdom of God.
    • Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the gateway to redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life.
  • The Holy Spirit is the preserver of truth.
    • However, John isn’t clear on how this is done on a practical level.
    • It could be spiritual discernment.
    • However, since John references water and blood, it makes the most sense he is referring to “what was at the beginning.” This understanding would point not to personal creativity and innovation but to the foundations on which the church was built.
      • The confessions and traditions of the original church.
      • The recitation of creeds.
      • An alarming trend has been noted by theologians.
        • The foundations for all of what we believe are no longer recognized by many “believers.” One of the more common is the teaching that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are fictional.
        • The validity of belief for many now appears to be functional.
      • One enlightening example is from a commentary author talking about his last year of seminary. The students were required to read one sermon per day for ten weeks. An observation from that exercise is that older sermons, those from pre-1950, contained a higher level of theological sophistication, which is lacking in many modern sermons. I’m sure many, if not all, who are reading this, can remember examples where the sermon they heard was light on sin, hell, love, and sacrifice. At the same time, those sermons may have been heavy on how to feel better about yourself or that God was still “love” even when we are engaged in willful sin.
    • Theology is losing ground to false teaching because churches have stopped pursuing and teaching truth.
  • Any claim to being a genuine follower of Christ is illegitimate if it denies what God has said about Jesus.
    • Jesus is both fully human and fully divine during the entirety of His life.
    • Any theology that rejects incarnation Christology must be dismissed as false theology.
    • Anyone who teaches false theology, whether knowingly or unknowingly, is part of Satan’s attempt to undermine and destroy the church.


  • Do you understand and believe in the absolute and unconditional truth that Jesus is who God the Father says He is? If not, examine why in light of what John wrote in this passage. Water, blood, and the Holy Spirit all testify about who Jesus is. 
  • If you hear or read about false teaching, confront it. Remember to always correct in a spirit of gentleness while not tolerating compromise.
  • Are you confident in your eternal destination? John is clear that if we believe the truth about Jesus and place our faith in Him, we have eternal life. If you have doubts in this area, determine why you doubt and pray for reassurance.

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