We read in Jn 7: 37-38:

"On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

Going back to Old Testament, we read at Isaiah 58:11:

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

See that the verses of Isaiah make a good match for Jn 7:38, not a perfect match though, in that the words `living water' are missing from Isaiah.

My question therefore is: Which, according to the Catholic Church, is the writing in the Old Testament that Jesus is referring to in Jn 7:38?

  • And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem Zechariah 14:8. (Up-voted +1)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 11:15
  • Please be careful with tags and spelling. We do not need unusable tags.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 16:56
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but you are referring to John chapter 7? When I first looked this up, chapter 3 ends at verse 36.
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 18:27
  • I'm not a Catholic but spare Song of Solomon 4:12-15 a thought: A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed...A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Here, the living water is attributed to having originated inside the one that loves the Lover. It has already been referred to in John 4:10-14 in His wooing of the woman at the well. He is offering to be her (spiritual) husband if she believes & thus He is claiming to be God, "Your Maker is your husband" (Isaiah 54:5), in line with a chief purpose of John (John 1:1-14). Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 2:11
  • Actually, your quote of Is 58:11 looks as good as any. "Living water" is water that is (fresh and clean) moving water rather than stagnant, dirty, unmoving water. "A spring of water, whose waters do not fail" sounds very much like "living water" in just different words. +1. Maybe Isaiah has taken up the theme of Solomon, made it more clear, then our Lord Christ finishes by attributing the theme to himself. He is the ultimate originator of the living water that is found inside the heart of "my sister, my spouse" of the Song. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


The Catholic Bible on NewAdvent.org says that there is no exact match in known scripture.

HOLY BIBLE: John 7 says this:

On the last and greatest day of the feast Jesus stood there and cried aloud, If any man is thirsty, let him come to me, and drink;
yes, if a man believes in me, as the scripture says, Fountains of living water shall flow from his bosom.[5]
He was speaking here of the Spirit, which was to be received by those who learned to believe in him; the Spirit which had not yet been given to men, because Jesus had not yet been raised to glory.

[5] ‘His bosom’; it is not clear whether this refers to the believer, or to our Lord himself; the old commentators are not agreed. In either case, it is impossible to trace these exact words in any passage of scripture as we have it; cf. however Is. 44.3, Zach. 13.1. Some would punctuate differently, with a full stop, instead of a comma, after ‘believes in me’.

That Jesus was paraphrasing the scriptural imagery is a reasonable conclusion, regardless of one's denomination.

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