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  • Writer's pictureDr. Roger D Duke

What is Meant by This “Water of Life?”

What is Meant by This “Water of Life?” [1]

From the Writings of

John Albert Broadus

(Broadus’s writings are in the Public Domain.)

By this term, WATER, an opposition to sin is presented unto us. Sin is compared to water, to deadly waters, and man is said to drink it, as one that drinketh waters. “How much more abominable and filthier is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16). So, then, that grace and the Spirit of grace is compared to water, it is to show what an antidote grace is against sin; it is, as I may call it, counter poison to it. It is that ONLY thing by the virtue of which sin can be forgiven, vanquished, and overcome.

By this term WATER, you have an opposition also to the curse, that is due to sin, presented unto you. The curse is compared to water; the remedy is compared to water. Let the curse come into the bowels of the damned, saith the psalmist, like water (Psa 109:18). The grace of God also, as you see, is compared to water. The curse is burning; water is cooling: the curse doth burn with hell-fire; cooling is by the grace of the holy gospel: but they that overstand the day of grace, shall not obtain to cool their tongues so much of this water as will hang on the tip of one’s finger (Luke 16:24, 25).

Water is also of a spreading nature, and so is sin; wherefore sin may for this also be compared to water. It overspreads the whole man and infects every member; it covereth all as doth water. Grace for this cause may be also compared to water; for that it is of a spreading nature, and can, if God will, cover the face of the whole earth; of body and soul.

Sin is of a fouling, defiling nature; and grace is of a washing, cleansing nature; therefore grace, and the Spirit of grace, is compared to water. “I will,” saith God, “sprinkle clean water upon you, my Spirit, (v 27) [sic] and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you” (Eze 36:25).

Water: the element of water naturally descends to and abides in low places, in valleys and places which are undermost; and the grace of God and the Spirit of grace is of that nature also; the hills and lofty mountains have not the rivers running over the tops of them; no, though they may run “among them. “ But they run among the valleys: and “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble,” [and] “to the lowly” (John 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Prov 3:34).

The grace of God is compared to water, for that it is it which causeth fruitfulness; water causeth fruitfulness, want of water is the cause of barrenness; and this is the reason why the whole world is so empty of fruit to Godward, even because so few of the children of men have the Spirit of grace in their hearts.

As there is a great special signification in this term WATER, so there is in this term LIFE, water of life. “He showed me the water of life.” In that, therefore, there is added to this word water, that of life, it is, in the general, to show what excellent virtue and operation there is in this water. It is aquae vitae, water of life, or water that hath a health and life in it. . ..

It also shows us that there is not anything in the world, or in the doctrine of the world, the law, that can make them live. Life is only in this water; death is in all other things. The law, I say, which is that that would, if anything in the whole world, give life unto the world, but that yet killeth, condemneth, and was added that the offence might abound; wherefore there is no life either in the world or in the doctrine of the world. It is only in this water, in this grace of God, which is here called the after of life, or God’s aquae vitae.

It is also called the water of life to show that by the grace of God men may live, how dead soever their sins have made them. When God will say to a sinner, “live,” though he be dead in his sins, “he shall live.” “When thou wast in thy blood, I said unto thee, Live; yea, when thou wast in thy blood, I said, Live” (Eze 16:6). And again, “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). That is, when he speaks words of grace, and mixeth those words with the Spirit and grace of the gospel, then men shall live; for such words so attended, and such words only, are spirit and life. “The words that I speak unto you,” saith Christ, “they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

In that this grace of God is here presented unto us under the terms of water of life, it is to show that some are sick of that disease that nothing can cure but that. There are many diseases in the world, and there are also remedies for those diseases; but there is a disease that nothing will, can, or shall cure, but a dram of this bottle, a draught of this aquae vitae, this water of life. This is intimated by the invitation, “let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). And again, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev 21:6). This is spoken to the sick, to them that are sick of the disease that only Christ, as a physician, with his water of life, can cure (Mark 2:17). But few are sick of this disease, but few know what it is to be made sick of this disease. There is nothing can make sick of this disease but the law and sin, and nothing can cure but the grace of God by the gospel, called here the water of life.

[1] John Bunyan, The Water of Life. The electronic version states on the title page: “London: Printed for Nathanael Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1688.” This was excerpted from The Complete Works of John Bunyan, available from the E4 Group Electronic Software Library CD, internet This treatise Bunyan seeks to explain what is available to all who would come to Christ. According to, this treatise was published in 1688, the year of John Bunyan’s death. The interested reader is also encouraged to see the online library located at;, for more of Bunyan’s works.

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