O.K. Matthew, Here is my response to what you say below: First, I have no
problem of seeing the allusion to Genesis 1:6-8 in Jn 1 as referring to the Holy
Spirit as a "water from above". But this still differentiates the Holy Spirit
(the "water from above") from the Baptist's "water" (= the Law and the Prophets,
which is really also from above, since the Father is the One who acts through
them). As I said in my paper, and as you state below, John is not against "the
Law and the Prophets". Rather, he points out their rightful purpose- to
witness to Christ, and their fulfillment in Christ. But, although perfect for
the purpose for which they were given, they are not "salvation".
Secondly, in Jn 2 the "water" becomes "wine". Again, in my paper I show how John
connects "wine" with the Holy Spirit, and how indeed Luke, in Acts 2, plays on
this symbolic meaning in the fulfillment of the Joel 2 passage and how the
disciples were accused of being drunk with "wine". But I still do not see how
you are connecting the Holy Spirit to "water" in Jn 2 except that the "water"
was transformed into "wine", which I see rather as the transformation of
dispensations of the Father's to the Spirit's through the Son's.
Thirdly, in Jn 3, you again want to identify "water" with the Holy Spirit since
the preposition that governs both "water and the Spirit" seems, in your view, to
make these two identical. I have a hard time seeing this also, as many have
pointed out that John only has Jesus explain to Nicodemus what it means to be
born of the Spirit; he has no need to offer an explanation of what it means to
be born of "water" (= the Law and the Prophets) since Nicodemus accepts the Law
and the Prophets. What he needs to accept is the Son ("even as Moses was lifted
up, so too must the Son be lifted up so that all who believe in Him might have
life" Jn 3). By accepting the Son, he becomes born of the Spirit, which is what
the true birth of the "water" (= the Law and the Prophets) points to.
Fourth, yes, here the Holy Spirit is connected to "water", but specifically
"living water". This "living water" is contrasted with "water" from Jacob's
well. So if you want to apply this to all 4 beginning chapters, I have no
problem in saying that the Holy Spirit is symbolized by a "water from above"
(although I still do not see this in ALL 4 chapters- perhaps only in chapters 1
and 4), but this "water from above" is being contrasted with John's other
"water" as found in Jn 1-4.
Hope this helps.
From: Matthew Miller <logosmadeflesh@...
Sent: Tue, August 17, 2010 2:38:20 PM
Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Water and Blood in 1 John 5:6
I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this conversation. For a long time
I've looked for others who know the literature of John well enough they can
challenge me and my blind assumptions. Thank you. I hope this discussion
has been equally profitable to all who have been reading.
Matt you said,
"it only makes sense to follow the rhythm of the first four chapters in
trying to figure out what the term "water", by itself, refers to.
Jn 1: the Baptist's "water" compared and contrasted to the Holy Spirit.
Jn 2: the "water" from the jars compared and contrasted to the "wine" that
Jn 3: the "water" of Nicodemus birth compared and contrasted to the birth of
Holy Spirit (I do not believe that you make a good case for these two to be
interpreted as one and the same).
Jn 4: the "water" from Jacob's well compared and contrasted to "the living
water" that Jesus provides."
I understand what your saying. I recognize the pattern that you see. But
instead of limiting yourself to an exact verbal correspondence I ask that
you open your eyes to see the conceptual one.
Jn 1: Water from Above = Holy Spirit (Based upon an allusion to Genesis
Jn 2: Water become Wine = Holy Spirit
Jn 3. Water (from Above) = Holy Spirit It might be helpful to here quote
from D. A. Carson in his commentary on the gospel of John (pgs 194), "First,
the expression is parallel to 'from above' (anothen, v.3) Second, the
preposition 'of' governs both 'water' and 'spirit'. The most natural way of
taking this construction is to see the phrase as a conceptual unity: there
is a water-spirit source (cf. Murray J. Harris, NIDNTT 3. 1178) that stands
as the origin for this regeneration." At the very least I might suggest
taht 'born of water and spirit' like much of John's terminology is
purposefully ambigious. Perhaps John wants us to see water as both a
representation of a physical birth and at the same time a representation of
Jn 4. Living Water = Holy Spirit
Instead of a singular description of water which equals the Holy Spirit we
have four (water from above, water become wine, water ('from above' implied)
and living water. While 'living water' in John 4 may be the clearest
statement of a 'water' which equals the Holy Spirit up to this point in the
gospel it is not the first time Christ's water is described nor is this the
only description of water used in reference to the Spirit. John 4 is simply
the continuation of a theme and a motif that John has been developing. The
material water of earthly ritual is impotent to perform the genuine
transformation that God requires. Only the Holy Spirit represented as water
weather described as living, wine, or from above can bring it about.
If water does equal the law and the prophets, I 'm at the moment truly
wrestling with this possibility, than John is revealing through these
stories that the Law and the prophets have come up short. While this lower
water looks forward to the work of Christ (in the same way that John's
baptism in water points to Jesus baptism in the Holy Spirit) this lower
water is impotent (in the same way that the wine has given out and the
waterpots are empty, in the same way the Samaritan woman must continually
come and draw, and the lame man waits for its stirring) to perform the
transformation that only Jesus can perform. Just as this water testifies to
Christ's water so the Old Testament testifies to the fuller revelation
brought about in Christ. I should have seen this before. John is saying
the Old Testament and earthly rituals of purification and worship are
profitable if and only when they point to Christ (John 5:39). John is not
hostile to water baptism, as I once believed, just as he's is not opposed to
the Old Testament. Both are entirely appropriate when they fulfill their
proper role in leading people to Christ.
Thanks Matt for being patient with me on this point. I hope just as I've
found a new interpretation of the lower water you also will see that the
higher water, the Holy Spirit, is represented in more than just the phrase
Canby Bible College
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