Why Does the Bible Say that Jesus Came by Water and Blood?

Some words and imagery stick in people’s minds more than others. Two of these words are blood and water. These two words trigger specific images in the mind and often specific memories. Maybe these two images can now stick together for everyone who considers Christ and what He has given to each and every person. The numerous references to water and blood together is amazing from one end of the Bible to the other.

The water and the blood of Jesus testify that Jesus is the Christ. First John 5:6–8 reports,

This is He who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

How did Jesus come by water and blood? Those familiar with the Bible instantly think of specific associations. In this case, this passage from 1 John is speaking of Jesus coming by the water of baptism and Jesus coming in blood — Christ’s death. There is an inseparable connection made between these two elements.

The spiritual implications of blood and water are very important to God. Why are these so important? The water is important in its resemblance to cleansing, and because of the significance of blood in God’s plan of atonement that is the appeasement between God and man who is guilty and separated from God by his sins (Rom 3:23; 5:10–11; 6:23; Isa 59:1).

Why Blood

Why is blood so important to God? Does this have something to do with how Abel’s blood cried out to God (Gen 4:10–11)? The Bible reveals that the life of flesh is in the blood (Lev 17:11–14; Deut 12:23). There is spiritual life in the blood too. Note more about blood in God’s command to Noah. Genesis 9:4–6 reports,

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.”

Man is made in God’s image and the life of man is in His blood. This is why man’s blood is so important.

Why Blood Purifies

According to the Law of Moses, “almost all things were purified with blood,” since “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22). God established His covenant with Israel by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices on the altar of the temple and the people (Exod 24:5–8). Hebrews 9:18–20 tells how Moses used both blood and water when he sprinkled. Israel dedicated God’s covenants with blood. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.” Christ’s blood established the everlasting covenant (Heb 13:20).

Blood Sacrifices

In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices was for the atonement between God and man (Exod 30:10). There is a lot of blood in the Old Testament. The temple area had to be stained with blood. Blood was poured out on the altar, and sprinkled in the temple (Exod 29). With every sacrifice, blood was sprinkled before the Temple and poured out on the sides of the altar (Lev 1; cf. Exod 23:18). Israel offered 100 bulls, 200 rams, and 400 lambs for the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:17). Solomon sacrificed 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep in dedicating the temple (1 King 8:63). In consecrating the temple, Moses placed blood on the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of Aaron and his sons (Lev 8). Their priestly garments were sprinkled with blood too. Everything was sprinkled with blood! This is all a great example to present Christ. Furthermore, Hebrew 9:11–14 reveals,

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Blood of Christ

The importance of blood does not stop here. The blood of the Passover lamb saved the firstborn of Israel and saved Israel from slavery. God instructed Israel to put the blood on the doorposts (Exod 12:13ff). Christ’s blood is described as “the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without spot or blemish” (1 Pet 1:19). Jesus is the better sacrifice than any those in the Law of Moses (Heb 9:23). First Corinthians 5:7–8 affirms,

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Do believers have the blood of Christ — the Passover — on the doorposts of their souls? Romans 5:9 declares, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” No believer should profane the blood of Christ with a life that is not completely dedicated to Him.

Blood and Water

How can someone be saved by the blood of Christ? What came from the side of Jesus in His death? Water and blood were together from the beginning to the end of Christ’s death. Jesus’s sweat became great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). John 19:34 depicts, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” The blood and the water were shed in Christ’s death. Romans 6:3–4 confirms,

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

No wonder the Hebrews writer states, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22). What are Christian hearts sprinkled with? It can only be Christ’s blood (Heb 10:19). Christians are not sprinkled by water but with the blood (1 Pet 1:2). Why would our hearts be sprinkled? That is where God put His laws as in the Old Testament where the Ark kept the law (Heb 10:16). See how the water and the blood are together to cleanse!

Accessing Christ’s Blood through the Water

God through Ananias told the “chief of sinners,” the apostle Paul, to rise and be baptized and wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Was he washed in the blood or the water? Paul was was immersed in water. Since the apostle John revealed that Jesus “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1:5; 7:14). Water and blood are shown to be essential together again. Matthew 26:28 teaches that Christ’s blood is “for the forgiveness of sins” while Acts 2:38 uses the exact same phrase and teaches that baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins.” Believers can only access the blood of Christ in water baptism that is in Jesus’s name (Acts 10:43, 47–48). Baptism and grace unite in the blood of Christ. Ephesians 1:7 affirms, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Communion and Forgiveness in Christ’s Blood

The apostolic doctrine also proclaimed the Lord’s death in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:26). First Corinthians 10:16 asks, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” God established a covenant with His people by the blood, so this is His agreement and contract for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus declared in Mark 14:24, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” Paul reported in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” When one is baptized that person contacts the blood of Jesus for Christ’s covenant of forgiveness, then that person is added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:41, 47).

The Church Bought with Blood

What does Jesus’s blood have to with His church? Christ’s temple was also purified with blood. Christ’s Church was bought by His blood (Acts 20:28; Rev 5:9). The monetary value of the whole world is not a fraction of the cost of the church of Christ. The church is that important to Christ, and it must be that important to every Christian or such believers profane the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ’s church is the only church that He bought (Eph 4:4). He did not buy a denominated and divided church. He bought no church of man and certainly no denomination. Of what church should the believer want to be a part? Those members of Christ’s body are the most costly possession of God. Christ’s church is His everlasting kingdom.

Christ Cleansing His Church with Water and Blood

Just as water and blood came from Jesus side, so Christ cleanses His church by water and His blood. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25–27). “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). There is no contradiction here. Christ’s blood is so powerful that nothing compares to this cleaning agent in the waters of baptism. Only the church of Christ can overcome enemies with the blood and the word of Christ (Rev 12:11).

Counting the Cost

Believers must remember the cost that Christ paid for His church. “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool’” (Isa 1:18). “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:5). Blood and water came from the side of Jesus! When someone thinks of the water and the blood, the believer must know that is where people are saved and when people are added to the church. Those who believe must not go another day condemned and lost. Jesus professed in John 3:5, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Baptism, Christ, Christianity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Why Does the Bible Say that Jesus Came by Water and Blood?

  1. Joan Spence says:

    A new perspective on the study of 1 John 5:1-12 (key verse 6) with Hebrews (key chapters 7-9)

    When John writes that Jesus Christ “came by water and blood” (1 John 5:6a), he is using “water and blood” as a synonym for covenant. As explained in Hebrews 9:16-22, it takes blood and water, together, to bring a will/covenant into effect – the blood represents the death of something or someone. If the covenant cannot come into effect nor has any value without blood and water then, “water and blood” is synonymous with covenant. An inspired John had just found a unique way of saying, “covenant”! Thus, what John means is, this one, Jesus Christ, came by covenant—the new covenant God had made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, to forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more (Heb. 8:8-12).
    Not only did Jesus come by covenant, He was the sacrificial lamb of the very covenant that had brought Him to earth—to take away sin from both Jew and Gentile. John declared, when he saw Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29a: NIV). Jesus is also the mediator or High Priest who ratified the covenant (Heb. 7-8). He brought it into effect through His own body as blood and water flowed from His pierced side on Calvary’s cross (John 19:34).
    God, who is faithful, has not left anything undone; He has kept His promise to forgive wickedness and sins. He gave us a Savior and High Priest, Jesus, His Son, our eternal intercessor (Heb. 7:24-25). Messiah!!

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  2. Pingback: Born of Water and the Spirit = Baptism in Jesus’ Name? | Seeing God's Breath

  3. Back to water and the blood, one is born of water in 1 John 5, which is baptism as shown above in this article. This is probably the best passage.

    First Peter 1:3, “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” that refers to Col. 2:12 and Rom. 6:3-7 words about baptism.

    We are born of again of imperishable seed being purified by obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22-23).
    Also, we are children of God via baptism (Gal. 3:26-27).

    These premises conclude that born of the water is the baptism of water in Jesus’ name.

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  4. Julian,

    Another point to consider is that if John 3:5 is speaking of the water of physical birth being essential to salvation then unborn children will of necessity be denied, which is a clear contradiction to Jesus’ words (Matt. 19:14). See “unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (3:5).

    What we’re looking for is a way to be born of water in a spiritual manner. Jesus said ” unless one is born again” (v3), and parallels saying “unless one is born of water and the spirit” (v5). Examine the simple grammar. Notice that verse 5 does not place “unless” before “of the Spirit” and after “born of water”, but includes both in being essential. Add to this that this verse does not say “born of water and born of the Spirit”, but that the birth is being “born of water and the Spirit”. Baptism in Jesus’ name is essential. There are only two reference to water salvation, which intersect, and these are the water of life that Jesus’ offered at the well (John 4) and baptism (Mark 16:16). The water of John 4 contains immersion in Jesus’ name. Born of the word and water intersect. This is in Ephesians 5:26. Jesus cleansed the Church by the washing of the water by the word.

    There is no other water for salvation in the Scriptures. This is why I am convinced that John 3:5 is referring to immersion in light of the context immediate, remote, and whole of the NT.

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