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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN - Chapter 5 - Verse 8
Verse 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth. This is a part of the text, which, if the reasoning above is correct, is to be omitted. The genuine passage reads, (1 Jo 5:7,) "For there are three that bear record, [or witness—marturountev,] the Spirit, and the water, and the blood." There is no reference to the fact that it is done "in earth." The phrase was introduced to correspond with what was said in the interpolated passage, that there are three that bear record "in heaven."
The Spirit. Evidently the Holy Spirit. The assertion here is, that that Spirit bears witness to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, 1 Jo 5:5. The testimony of the Holy Ghost to this fact is contained in the following things:
(2.) Christ was eminently endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit; as it was predicted that the Messiah would be, and as it was appropriate he should be, Isa 11:2; 61:1. Compare Lu 4:18; See Barnes "Joh 3:34".
(3.) The Holy Spirit bore witness to his Messiahship, after his ascension, by descending, according to his promise, on his apostles, and by accompanying the message which they delivered with saving power to thousands in Jerusalem, Ac 2.
(4.) He still bears the same testimony on every revival of religion, and in the conversion of every individual who becomes a Christian, convincing them that Jesus is the Son of God. Comp. Joh 16:14,15.
The Spirit of God has thus always borne witness to the fact that Jesus is the Christ, and he will continue to do it to the end of time, convincing yet countless millions that he was sent from God to redeem and save lost men.
That is, the baptism of Jesus, and the scenes which occurred when he was baptized, furnished evidence that he was the Messiah. This was done in these ways:
(1.) It was proper that the Messiah should be baptized when he entered on his work, and perhaps it was expected; and the fact that he was baptized showed that he had in fact entered on his work as Redeemer. See Barnes "Mt 3:15".
(2.) An undoubted attestation was then furnished to the fact that he was "the Son of God," by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and by the voice that addressed him from heaven, Mt 3:16,17.
(3.) His baptism with water was an emblem of the purity of his own character, and of the nature of his religion.
(4.) Perhaps it may be implied here, also, that water used in baptism now bears witness to the same thing,
(a.) as it is the ordinance appointed by the Saviour;
(b.) as it keeps up his religion in the world;
(c.) as it is a public symbol of the purity of his religion;
(d.) and as, in every case where it is administered, it is connected with the public expression of a belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
And the blood. There is undoubted allusion here to the blood shed on the cross; and the meaning is, that that blood bore witness also to the fact that he was the Son of God. This it did in the following respects:
(2.) The remarkable circumstances that attended the shedding of this blood—the darkened sun, the earthquake, the rending of the veil of the temple —showed in a manner that convinced even the Roman centurion that he was the Son of God. See Barnes "Mt 27:54".
(3.) The fact that an atonement was thus made for sin was an important "witness" for the Saviour, showing that he had done that which the Son of God only could do, by disclosing a way by which the sinner may be pardoned, and the polluted soul be made pure.
(4.) Perhaps, also, there may be here an allusion to the Lord's Supper, as designed to set forth the shedding of this blood; and the apostle may mean to have it implied that the representation of the shedding of the blood in this ordinance is intended to keep up the conviction that Jesus is the Son of God. If so, then the general sense is, that that blood—however set before the eyes and the hearts of men—on the cross, or by the representation of its shedding in the Lord's Supper—is a witness in the world to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and to the nature of his religion. See Barnes "1 Co 11:26".
And these three agree in one; eiv to en eisi. They agree in one thing; they bear on one and the same point, to wit, the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. All are appointed by God as witnesses of this fact; and all harmonize in the testimony which is borne. The apostle does not say that there are no other witnesses to the same thing; nor does he even say that these are the most important or decisive which have been furnished; but he says that these are important witnesses, and are entirely harmonious in their testimony.
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