1 John 5:7 “And These Three Are One”
Note – If you like, you may now hear a teaching video made with brother Dave Flang, that gives a 30 minute summary of this article -
1 John 5:7-8 KJB – “For there are three that bear record IN HEAVEN, THE FATHER, THE WORD, AND THE HOLY GHOST: AND THESE THREE ARE ONE. AND THERE ARE THREE THAT BEAR WITNESS IN EARTH, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
1 John 5:7-8 – ESV, NIV, NASB – “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood: and these three agree.”
1 John 5:7-8 is the clearest witness in the Bible regarding the Holy Trinity, yet it is missing in many modern versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NET and Jehovah Witness New World Translation.
English Bibles that contain all these words in 1 John 5:7-8 are the first complete English Bible ever made by John Wycliffe in 1380. It was in Tyndale’s New Testament of 1525 – “For ther are thre which beare recorde in heuen the father the worde and the wholy goost. And these thre are one.”, the Coverdale Bible of 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible from 1557 to 1599 -“For there are three, which beare recorde in heauen, the Father, the Worde, and the holy Ghost: and these three are one.”, the Douay-Rheims of 1582 and the Authorized Version of 1611.
It is also in Mace’s New Testament of 1729, John Wesley translation in 1755 and Thomas Howeis N.T. 1795. It was included in Webster’s 1833 translation, James Murdock’s translation of the Syriac Peshitta done in 1852 – “For there are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.”, Julia Smith Translation 1855, A Translation of John Calvin’s Version (Calvin Translation Society) of 1856 and Young’s literal in 1898.
All the words are found in the NKJV 1982, the New Life Bible 1969, Green’s ‘literal’ translation of 2000, the Amplified Bible of 1987, the 2009 Sacred Bible – Catholic Public Domain Version, the Easter/Greek Orthodox Bible 2008, the Heritage Bible 2003, the Complete Apostle’s Bible 2005, the 2010 English Jubilee Bible, the 1994 KJV 21st Century Version, the 1998 Third Millennium Bible, the 2008 Sawyer N.T. and the Knox Bible of 2012 – “Thus we have a threefold warrant in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, three who are yet one.
The Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 in Chapter II, Of God, and the Holy Trinity gives 1 John 5:7 as their first reference.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
1 John v. 7; Matt. iii. 16, 17; Matt. xxviii. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; John i. 14, 18; John xv. 26; Gal. iv. 6.
The London Baptist Confession of 1689 also specifically mentions 1 John 5:7 as being the first verse used to teach and support the doctrine of the Trinity. They certainly believed it was inspired Scripture.
They write: “In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him. ( 1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Exodus 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:14,18; John 15:26; Galatians 4:6 )
The Catholic Connection
The entire reading was included in the earlier Catholic bibles like the 1582 Douay-Rheims and as late as the Douay version of 1950, but removed from later Catholic versions (St. Joseph NAB 1969, New Jerusalem bible 1985), but now once again the 2009 The Sacred Bible Public Domain Version has gone back to include it!
Foreign language Bibles that contain all these words are: the Clementine Vulgate – ” Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt.”, the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, 1960 and 1995 editions, La Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos 2005, La Biblia de las Américas 1997 (put out by the Lockman Foundation, the same people who give us the NASB that omits it) and the 2010 Spanish Reina Valera Gomez bible, “Tres son los que dan testimonio en el cielo: el Padre, el Verbo y el Espíritu Santo; y estos tres son uno.”
The words are included in the Italian Diodati Bible of of 1603 and 1649 and the New Diodati of 1991- “nel cielo: il Padre, la Parola e lo Spirito Santo; e questi tre sono uno.“, the French Martin 1744, the French Ostervald 1996 and La Bible de l’Epée 2005, -“dans le ciel, le Père, la Parole, et le Saint-Esprit, et ces trois-là sont un.“, the Portuguese de Almeida of 1681 and A Bíblia Sagrada em Portugués – “Porque três säo os que testificam no céu: o Pai, a Palavra, e o Espírito Santo; e estes três säo um.”.
Other foreign language Bible that include these words are the Afrikaans Bible 1853 – “die hemel: die Vader, die Woord en die Heilige Gees, en hierdie drie is een”, Smith and van Dyck’s Arabic Bible – “ فان الذين يشهدون في السماء هم ثلاثة الآب والكلمة والروح القدس وهؤلاء الثلاثة هم “, the Basque N.T.; the Western Armenian N.T. “Արդարեւ երե՛ք են՝ որ կը վկայեն երկինքի մէջ.- Հայրը, Խօսքը եւ Սուրբ Հոգին, ու այս երեքը մէկ են”, Czech Kralicka Bible, Dutch Staten Vertaling “Want Drie zijn er, Die getuigen in den hemel, de Vader, het Woord en de Heilige Geest; en deze Drie zijn Een.”, Finnish 1776 “Sillä kolme ovat, jotka todistavat taivaassa: Isä, Sana ja Pyhä Henki, ja ne kolme yksi ovate”, the Hungarian Karoli, Icelandic 1981, Latvian N.T. “Jo trīs ir, kas dod liecību debesīs: Tēvs, Vārds un Svētais Gars; un šie trīs ir viens.”, Maori -“Tokotoru hoki nga kaiwhakaatu i te rangi, ko te Matua, ko te Kupu, ko te Wairua Tapu: kotahi ano enei tokotoru., Lithuanian “Mat yra trys liudytojai danguje: Tėvas, Žodis ir Šventoji Dvasia; ir šitie trys yra viena.” and the Tagalog Ang Salita ng Diyos Bible of 1998 – “May tatlong nagpapatotoo sa langit, ang Ama, ang Salita, ang Banal na Espiritu at ang tatlong ito ay iisa.”
The words are in the Romanian Cornilescu Bible and the 2009 Romanian Fidela Bible – “Pentru ca trei sunt cei care aduc marturie in cer: Tatal, Cuvantul si Duhul Sfant; si acestia trei una sunt.“, Russian Synodal 1876, Russian Victor Zhuromski, the German Schlachter Bible of 2000, the Thai Bible, the Czech BKR - “na nebi: Otec, Slovo, a Duch Svatý, a ti tři jedno jsou.” Ukranian Kulish 1871, the Vietnamese bible 1934 – “ấy là Ðức Thánh Linh đã làm chứng, vì Ðức Thánh Linh tức là lẽ thật.“, The Indonesian – Terjemahan Baru (TB) – “Sebab ada tiga yang memberi kesaksian di dalam sorga: Bapa, Firman dan Roh Kudus; dan ketiganya adalah sati.“, the Ukranian New Testament – “Бо три їх, що сьвідкують на небі: Отець, Слово і сьвятий Дух, і сї три – одно.”, the Xhosa language Bible, the Modern Greek Bible and the Modern Hebrew bible – כי ושלשה המה המעידים בארץ הרוח המים והדם ושלשתם לאחת המה:שלשה המה המעידים בשמים האב הדבר ורוח הקדש ושלשתם אחד
Here is just a partial list of those who contended for the authenticity of this verse.
Cyprian – 250 AD, Athanasius 350 A.D., Priscillian -385 AD, Jerome 420 AD, Fulgentius (late 5th century), Cassiodorus, Isidore of Seville, Jaqub of Edessa, Thomas Aquinas, John Wycliffe, Desiderus Erasmus, Stephanus, Lopez de Zuniga, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, Cipriano de Valera, John Owen, Francis Turretin, John Wesley, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Andrew Fuller, Thomas F. Middleton, Luis Gaussen, Frederick Nolan, Robert L. Dabney, Thomas Strouse, Floyd Jones, Peter Ruckman, George Ricker Berry, Edward F. Hills, David Otis Fuller, Thomas Holland, Michael Maynard and Donald A. Waite.
Those who say this verse is not part of Holy Scripture will often say it is not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts and for this reason it should not be included in the Bible.
It is true that the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth” are not found in the majority of remaining Greek manuscripts that exist today. However there is very much and weighty evidence for its inclusion.
Those who argue that it is not in the majority of texts are being totally inconsistent when they bring up this argument. Most of the people like James White and Daniel Wallace who use this majority argument, do not care one bit for the majority of texts and what they might read. They themselves follow the constantly changing UBS/Nestle-Aland/Vatican Critical Greek text which itself departs from the majority readings in literally thousands of places.
Westcott and Hort, the very men who introduced the Critical Text methods found in the RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, themselves said: “A few documents are not, by reason of their paucity (few number), appreciably less likely to be right than a multitude opposed to them” (Introduction to the Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament, 1881, p. 45
Isn’t it ironic that the very reason these two Bible critics gave for choosing a few manuscripts over hundreds suddenly becomes an ‘issue’ for them when it comes to the ONLY clear cut verse stating that “These Three are ONE”, that is, the Godhead or the Trinity?
It should also be noted that Michael Maynard significantly points out that there are only 5 remaining Greek manuscripts that even contain the epistle of 1 John in whole or in part that date from the 7th century or before. That is a whole lot of time to have past by with only 5 partial Greek witnesses that remain today that were written within the first 700 years of Christianity.
And among these 5 early manuscripts only 2 of them agree with each other in 1 John 5:6-8. Sinaiticus does not agree with Vaticanus, or Alexandrinus or with 0296. Sinaiticus and A both say “by water and blood AND SPIRIT” in verse 6 instead of “by water and by blood”. Then Alexandrinus “not by water only but by water AND THE SPIRIT” instead of “not by water only, but by water and the blood” and 0296 omits the verb “are” (εισιν) in verse 7 and has the unique word order of “by water AND SPIRIT and blood” in verse six.
As the KJV Today article says: What it demonstrates is that scribes were prone to alter this portion of 1 John based on theological or stylistic motivations. By 350 AD this portion of 1 John 5 was already corrupt in the Greek tradition. Since verse 6 is corrupt in Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, and verse 7 in 0296 does not have “εισιν,” there are only two manuscripts (Vaticanus and 048) from before the 7th century which read exactly as the Nestle-Aland from verse 6 to 7.”
See the KJV Today article on 1 John 5:7 for other examples of textual corruption and disagreement just in 1 John among the so called “oldest and best manuscripts” here -
What then is the textual evidence for 1 John 5:7?
It is found in several Greek texts – Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, Elziever, Scrivener and Modern Greek Bible; it is quoted by several church fathers as Cyprian 250 AD, Athanasius 350 A.D., Priscillian -380 AD, Varimadum 380 A.D., Jerome 420 AD, Victor Vitensis 430 A.D., Fulgentius (late 5th century), Cassiodorus 580 A.D, and is found in many ancient versions of the Bible including the Old Latin, and is found in some copies of the Syriac, Armenian, Georgian and Slavonic ancient versions.
Although not found in most Greek manuscripts, the Johannine Comma is found in several. It is contained in 629 (fourteenth century), 61 (sixteenth century), 918 (sixteenth century), 2473 (seventeenth century), and 2318 (eighteenth century). It is also in the margins of 221 (tenth century), 635 (eleventh century), 88 (twelveth century), 429 (fourteenth century), and 636 (fifteenth century).
It was part of the text of the Old Latin Bible that was translated in the second century, as it witnessed by some remaining copies that we have today. It is found in “r”, a 5th century Old Latin manuscript, “q”, a 5th to 7th century O.L. mss, and “l” another 5th century O.L. mss.
The old commentators on 1 John 5:7 – John Calvin, John Gill, Matthew Henry, John Wesley.
JOHN WESLEY commented on 1 John 5:7 saying: ” I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, just as they lie in the text: “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one.”
“As they lie in the text :” — but here arises a question: Is that text genuine? Was it originally written by the Apostle, or inserted in later ages? Many have doubted of this; and, in particular, the great light of the Christian church, lately removed to the Church above, Bengelius, — the most pious, the most judicious, and the most laborious, of all the modern Commentators on the New Testament. For some time he stood in doubt of its authenticity, because it is wanting in many of the ancient copies. But his doubts were removed by three considerations: (1.) That though it is wanting in many copies, YET IT IS FOUND IN MORE; AND THOSE COPIES OF THE GREATEST AUTHORITY: — ( 2.) That IT IS CITED BY A WHOLE GAIN OF ANCIENT WRITERS, FROM THE TIME OF ST. JOHN TO THAT OF CONSTANTINE. THIS ARGUMENT IS CONCLUSIVE: FOR THEY COULD NOT HAVE CITED IT, HAD IT NOT BEEN IN THE SACRED CANON: — (3.) That we can easily account for its being, after that time, wanting in many copies, when we remember that Constantine’s successor was a zealous Arian, who used every means to promote his bad cause, to spread Arianism throughout the empire; in particular the erasing this text out of as many copies as fell into his hands. And he so far prevailed, that the age in which he lived is commonly styled, Seculum Aranium, — “the Arian age;” there being then only one eminent man who opposed him at the peril of his life. So that it was a proverb, Athanasius contra mundum: “Athanasius against the world.”
JOHN CALVIN – “There are three than bear record in heaven” The whole of this verse has been by some omitted. Jerome thinks that this has happened through design rather than through mistake, and that indeed only on the part of the Latins. But as even the Greek copies do not agree, I dare not assert any thing on the subject. Since, however, the passage flows better when this clause is added, and AS I SEE THAT IT IS FOUND IN THE BEST AND MOST APPROVED COPIES, I AM INCLINED TO RECEIVE IT AS THE TRUE READING.”
MATTHEW HENRY on 1 John 5:7 – “We are stopped in our course by the contest there is about the genuineness of v. 7. It is alleged that many old Greek manuscripts have it not. It should seem that the critics are not agreed what manuscripts have it and what not; nor do they sufficiently inform us of the integrity and value of the manuscripts they peruse…There are some rational surmises that seem to support the present text and reading.”
“The seventh verse is very agreeable to the style and the theology of our apostle…Facundus acknowledges that Cyprian says that of his three it is written, Et hi tres unum sunt—and these three are one. NOW THESE ARE THE WORDS, NOT OF V. 8, BUT OF V. 7. They are not used concerning the three on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; but the three in heaven, the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Ghost…If all the Greek manuscripts and ancient versions say concerning the Spirit, the water, and the blood, that in unum sunt—they agree in one, then it was not of them that Cyprian spoke, whatever variety there might be in the copies in his time, when he said it is written, unum sunt—they are one. And THEREFORE CYPRIAN’S WORDS SEEM STILL TO BE A FIRM TESTIMONY TO V. 7.”
“It was far more easy for a transcriber, by turning away his eye, or by the obscurity of the copy, it being obliterated or defaced on the top or bottom of a page, or worn away in such materials as the ancients had to write upon, to lose and omit the passage, than for an interpolator to devise and insert it. He must be very bold and impudent who could hope to escape detection and shame; and profane too, who durst venture to make an addition to a supposed sacred book.” “I think, in the book of God,… THE TEXT IS WORTHY OF ALL ACCEPTATION.”
JOHN GILL commenting on 1 John 5:7 – “As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerome, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters.”
“And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition the compilers of which made use of various copies; AND OUT OF SIXTEEN ANCIENT COPIES OF ROBERT STEPHEN’S, NINE OF THEM HAD IT.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible.)
These manuscripts underlying the Complutensian Polyglot and the 16 ancient copies of Stephanus no longer exist.
Speaking of the citations of the early church fathers John Gill continues: “And yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius, in the beginning of the “sixth” century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerome, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the “fourth” century; AND IT IS CITED BY ATHANASIUS ABOUT THE YEAR 350; AND BEFORE HIM BY CYPRIAN, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE THIRD CENTURY, ABOUT THE YEAR 250; AND IT IS REFERRED TO BY TERTULLIAN ABOUT THE YEAR 200; AND WHICH WAS WITHIN A HUNDRED YEARS, OR LITTLE MORE, OF THE WRITING OF THE EPISTLE, WHICH MAY BE ENOUGH TO SATISFY ANYONE OF THE GENUINENESS OF THIS PASSAGE; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation.”
CYPRIAN (Latin: Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (c. 200 – September 14, 258) was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249 and eventually died a martyr at Carthage.
As a side note, the entire quote by Cyprian is this: In his De catholicae ecclesiae unitate 6, he says, “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one’; and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.” This cannot be said of verse 8 where it says: “the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” That verse is not referring to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Only verse 7 does this.
You can see the quote from Cyprian in context here - http://www.pennuto.com/bible/1jn5_7.htm
THE TREATISES OF CYPRIAN
Ante-Nicene vol. 5 page 423
The Lord says: ”I and the Father are one;” “(4) and again IT IS WRITTEN OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, ANDOF THE HOLY SPIRIT, “AND THESE THREE ARE ONE.”(5)
(4) John X. 30.
(5) I John V. 7 .
(End of shorter Article on 1 John 5:7)
Additional Information about 1 John 5:7
It is sometimes erroneously asserted that this text originated close to the time of Erasmus. However, even the UBS Greek NT (4th ed.) notes that the “comma” is attested by the Latin church fathers (Cyprian) (d. 258), (Pseudo-Cyprian) (4th century), (Priscillian) (d. 385), the Speculum (5th century), Varimadum (UBS date “445/480″), Pseudo-Vigilius (4th or 5th century), and Fulgentius (d. 533), as well as a few manuscripts. And these notes are found in the very Greek editions of those who oppose its inclusion in the New Testament!
The UBS critical text keeps changing both its Greek texts and the footnotes found at the bottom of its pages. In addition to the names found in the UBS 4th edition that supported the inclusion of the Three witnesses in heaven – Cyprian, Priscillian and Fulgentius, the UBS 3rd edition also lists Varimadum, Cassian and Ansbert.
Varimadum was an anti-Arian work compiled by an unknown writer in 380 A.D. that states: “And John the Evangelist says, . . . ‘And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one’.” Additionally, Cassian (435 AD), Cassiodorus (580 AD), and a host of other African and Western bishops in subsequent centuries have cited the Comma.
Both UBS texts list Priscillian (380 AD) bishop of Avila, in support of the Three heavenly witnesses in 1 John 5:7 and many sites list him as “a Spanish heretic”. And What exactly was his heresy? He DIDN’T BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY! Yet he himself writes in Liber Apologeticus: “As John says “and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.”
More on Athanasius
To read their entire quotes in context, see this site: http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2007_04_22_archive.html
Athanasius appears to have quoted the Comma in Disputatio Contra Arium:
“Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»”
“But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, ‘and these three are one.'”
ONLINE LINK to Disputatio Contra Arium
The clause “and these three are one”, attributed to John, is quoted here explicitly in the context of the Trinity (of Matthew 28:19). If this work is indeed by Athanasius, then the Comma was cited in Greek by the 4th century. There is in fact no reason to doubt the Athanasian authorship, other than the fact that anti-Comma critics in modern times have done so in order to discredit the quotation of the Comma. Even if this work was by someone else, a “Pseudo-Athanasius,” the work is still support for a Greek witness to the Comma well before 1000 AD. Thus the often heard claim that the Greek Church was unaware of the Comma for over a millennium is false.
In English Francis Cheynell pointed this out as early as 1650; before that, in Latin is Estius (1614). The divine triunity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ; or the blessed doctrine of the three co-essential substances in the eternal Godhead without any confusion or division of the distinct substances, or multiplication of the most single and entire Godhead (1650)
“This Text is cited by the Ancient Fathers, by Athanasius in his dispute with Arrius at the counsel of Nice, and Arrius never denied it for to be Scripture, which certainly he would have done, it there had been any doubt made of it in the Primitive times.”
A Defense of the Johannine Comma
Setting the Record Straight on I John 5:7-8
The next to rely upon I John 5:7 in his work is Athanasius, the great (Greek) defender of the orthodox faith in the first half of the fourth century. Gill observes that Athanasius, around 350 AD, cited the verse in his writing against the Arians. A clear citation of the Comma is also found in the Synopsis, also know as the Dialogue between an Athanasian and an Arian, attributable to Athanasius. Critics have attempted to dismiss the Dialogue as spurious, largely on the basis of stylistic arguments (i.e. the style of the Dialogue is not consistent with Athanasius’ other writings). For example, one early critic to make this argument was the 18th century classics scholar Richard Porson. However, Charles Forster refuted this line of argument by showing that the style and type of citation employed in the Dialogue is entirely consistent with that which appear in other works of Athanasius that are accepted as genuine by all. Additionally, David Martin (who believed that one of Athanasius’ contemporaries was the author) writing in 1772, observed that the Dialogue itself speaks of the Emperor Constantine in the present tense, as ruling with his son Constantius, which would argue for a date of composition in the first half of the 4th century. Hence, there is no real reason to accept the arguments that the Dialogue is spurious or late – a position which appears to exist for no other reason than to try to get around the evidence testifying to the authenticity of the Comma. Further, as Forster points out, even if the Dialogue were attributable to one Maximus, writing in the 7th century, as some revisionists allege, this would still clearly demonstrate the existence of the Comma in the Greek witness at an extremely early date, which destroys the claims of critics that the Comma only appeared in Greek at a very late date.
(73) – See John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, comments on I John 5:7, where he states that Athanasius cites the verse in his Contr. Arium.
(74) – Forster, op. cit., pp. 48-63
(75) – See D. Martin, The Genuineness of the Text of the First Epistle of Saint John, Chap. v., V. 7, pp. 137-8
Tim Dunkin, who is far more qualified than I to defend the historical authenticity of this verse, has written a very good defense of 1 John 5:7. He supports the contention, made by John Gill and others, that Athanasius did refer to this verse. Here are some of his quotes and the link to his site. He also demolishes the common claim that no Greek texts before the 16th century contained 1 John 5:7.
A Defense of the Johannine Comma
Setting the Record Straight on I John 5:7-8
The next to rely upon I John 5:7 in his work is Athanasius, the great (Greek) defender of the orthodox faith in the first half of the fourth century. Gill observes that Athanasius, around 350 AD, cited the verse in his writing against the Arians. A clear citation of the Comma is also found in the Synopsis, also know as the Dialogue between an Athanasian and an Arian, attributable to Athanasius. Critics have attempted to dismiss the Dialogue as spurious, largely on the basis of stylistic arguments (i.e. the style of the Dialogue is not consistent with Athanasius’ other writings). For example, one early critic to make this argument was the 18th century classics scholar Richard Porson. However, Charles Forster refuted this line of argument by showing that the style and type of citation employed in the Dialogue is entirely consistent with that which appear in other works of Athanasius that are accepted as genuine by all. Additionally, David Martin (who believed that one of Athanasius’ contemporaries was the author) writing in 1772, observed that the Dialogue itself speaks of the Emperor Constantine in the present tense, as ruling with his son Constantius, which would argue for a date of composition in the first half of the 4th century.
Hence, there is no real reason to accept the arguments that the Dialogue is spurious or late – a position which appears to exist for no other reason than to try to get around the evidence testifying to the authenticity of the Comma. Further, as Forster points out, even if the Dialogue were attributable to one Maximus, writing in the 7th century, as some revisionists allege, this would still clearly demonstrate the existence of the Comma in the Greek witness at an extremely early date, which destroys the claims of critics that the Comma only appeared in Greek at a very late date.
- See John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, comments on I John 5:7, where he states that Athanasius cites the verse in his Contr. Arium.
In addition to the ones listed above, D.A. Waite is reported to have identified manuscripts #634 and Omega 110 as containing the Comma, and Holland notes that the Comma appears in the margin of #635. Finally, there are at least two Greek lectionaries (early didactic texts usually containing copious scriptural citations) in which the Comma appears (Lectionaries #60, dated to 1021 AD, and #173, dated to the 10th century).
Go to this site to actually see for yourself the Facsimile of a portion of I John containing the Comma, as it appears in Codex Montfortianus, a 13th century miniscule (reproduced from T.H. Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 241, Robert Carter and Bros.:NY, 1854).
Even more to the point is the testimony of Jerome (347 – 420 A.D.) on this matter. Jerome was commissioned by Damasus, the bishop of Rome, to prepare a standard Latin translation of the Holy Scriptures to replace the former Latin translations which had grown in multiplicity by the late 4th century. Jerome did this, utilizing the Greek as his source for revision of the Latin New Testament for his Vulgate. At one point in his work, Jerome noted that the trinitarian reading of I John 5:7 was being removed from Greek manuscripts which he had come across, a point which he specifically mentions. Speaking of the testimony of these verses he writes,
“Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.” – Jerome, Prologue to the Canonical Epistles, from the text of the prologue appended to Codex Fuldensis, Trans. T. Caldwell.
Thus, we see that Jerome specifically mentioned that this verse was being removed from Greek manuscripts in his day. Logically, we can suppose that for him to recognize the absence of this verse as an omission from the Greek texts, he must have been aware of Greek manuscripts which contained the Comma in the time of his preparation of the Vulgate for the general epistles (395-400 AD), a time much earlier than is suggested by the dating of currently known Comma-containing Greek mss. (end of selected portions from Setting the Record Straight on 1 John 5:7)
Another witness to the Athanasius witness
The Antijacobin review and true churchman’s magazine (1816) William Hale
But further, is not that quickening and sanctifying baptism, productive of remission of sins, without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful, by the thrice blessed appellation? [of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.] And beside all these [texts,] John affirms, “and these three are one.” – Athanasius. op. Paris, 1698, Vol. II. p. 229, or Travis, p. 143.
“This admirable collection and condensation of texts relative to Baptism and the Trinity, concluding with an express appeal to the disputed clause; namely, Mark i. 3; Matt. iii. 11; John iii. 3 – 5; Tit. iii. 5; Matt, xxviii. 19; 1 John V. 7 ; is so conformable to the spirit of the Synopsis, and so worthy of Athanasius himself, that I can scarely be persuaded that it was written by any other.”
Please notice that the quote from Athanasius is not just “and these three are one” but he prefaces this quote with “John affirms “and these three are one.” It was written in the first epistle of the apostle John!
“Majority text” or “minority readings”
It is also fallacious and hypocritical to suggest that just because the reading found in 1 John 5:7 is not “in the majority of texts” that it therefore cannot be legitimate, when the very men who are behind the ever-changing modern critical text admit that the true reading may be found in a few or even one manuscript.
Westcott and Hort, the very men who introduced the Critical Text methods found in the RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, themselves said: “A few documents are not, by reason of their paucity, appreciably less likely to be right than a multitude opposed to them” (Introduction to the Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament, 1881, p. 45)
J. K. Elliott, a modern textual critic comments on transcriptional probabilities: “By using criteria such as the above the critic may reach a conclusion in discussing textual variants and be able to say which variant is the original reading. However, it is legitimate to ask: can a reading be accepted as genuine if it is supported by only one ms.? There is no reason why an original reading should not have been preserved in only one ms. but obviously a reading can be accepted with greater confidence, when it has stronger support.”
Even Kurt Aland says: “Theoretically, the original readings can be hidden in a single mss. thus standing alone against the rest of tradition,” and Tasker has a similar comment: “The possibility must be left open that in some cases the true reading may have been preserved in only a few witnesses or even in a single relatively late witness.” – The Effect of Recent Textual Criticism upon New Testament Studies,” The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology, ed. W. D. Davies and D. Daube (Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 1956)
Sure, there are a few minority readings in the King James Bible, but for every one in the KJB there are at least 20 minority readings found in the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV and that is no exaggeration.
Another very common objection to 1 John 5:7 is the allegation that Erasmus said he would include the verse if he found a Greek manuscript that contained it. Then almost made to order, hot off the presses, one appeared. Bruce Metzger who was partly responsible for propagating this urban myth at least had the integrity to retract this false accusation in the 3rd edition of his book. Here is the exact quote from Mr. Metzger himself.
“What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus’ promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in the light of the research of H. J. DeJonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion.” Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of The New Testament, 3rd Edition, p 291 fn 2.
You can see the article by DeJonge in the pdf format at this site here -
The church Council of Carthage in A.D. 415 is highly significant. Prior to this council, a conflict had arisen between the Arians and a group of bishops from North Africa. An assembly was called at Carthage where I John 5:7-8 was insisted upon by Eugenius, the spokesman for the African bishops. The bishops included the Johannine Comma as a first line of defense for their confession of Christ’s deity. Acting as spokesman for some 350 church bishops Eugenius confessed his faith and the faith of his brethren with these words: “…and in order that we may teach until now, more clearly than light, that the Holy Spirit is now one divinity with the Father and the Son. It is proved by the evangelist John, for he says, ‘there are three which bear testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” Victor of Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africanae Prov, Translated by Michael Maynard in A History of the Debate Over 1 John 5:7-8.
The Council of Carthage of 484 AD -
In English one of the interesting summaries is given in the
Irish Ecclesiastical Record “Victor Vitensis on the Vandal Persecution”.
Part II is in the 1898 edition, p. 24-37 by Philip Burton.
And the basics are that there was a confession of faith presented, and that confession of faith included and emphasized the heavenly witnesses. Summaries are given, e.g. William Aldis Wright (1831-1914):
“It is also cited by a contemporary African writer, Victor Vitensis, in his history of the Vandal persecution, written about the year 484, who, in his third book, thus represents the clause as contained in the Confession of Faith, drawn up by Eugenius, bishop of Carthage, and signed by 400 bishops. ” Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in ccelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus; et hi tres unum sunt.”
Victor Vitensis (b. circa 430) was an African bishop of the Province of Byzacena (called Vitensis from his See of Vita). His importance rests on his Historia persecutionis Africanae Provinciae, temporibus Geiserici et Hunirici regum Wandalorum. This is mainly a contemporary narrative of the cruelties practised against the orthodox Christians of Northern Africa by the Arian Vandals.
Victor throws much light on social and religious conditions in Carthage and on the African liturgy of the period. His history contains many documents not otherwise accessible, e.g. the Confession of Faith drawn up for the orthodox bishops by Eugenius of Carthage and presented to Huneric at the conference of Catholic and Arian bishops in 484.
Victor of Vita: history of the Vandal persecution (1992)
Council of Carthage 484 – confession of faith, with heavenly witnesses, English translation (emphasis added):
And so, no occasion for uncertainty is left. It is clear that the Holy Spirit is also God and the author of his own will, he who is most clearly shown to be at work in all things and to bestow the gifts of the divine dispensation according to the judgment of his own will, because where it is proclaimed that he distributes graces where he wills, servile condition cannot exist, for servitude is to be understood in what is created, but power and freedom in the Trinity. And so that we may teach the Holy Spirit to be of one divinity with the Father and the Son still more clearly than the light, here is proof from the testimony of John the evangelist. For he says: There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.’ Surely he does not say ‘three separated by a difference in quality’ or ‘divided by grades which differentiate, so that there is a great distance between them ?’ No, he says that the ‘three are one.’ But so that the single divinity which the Holy Spirit has with the Father and the Son might be demonstrated still more in the creation of all things, you have in the book of Job the Holy Spirit as a creator: ‘It is the divine Spirit … (p. 56)
It is also important to note that most of the Greek copies that have existed throughout history are no longer with us today. Several well known Christians mention Greek texts that contained 1 John 5:7 that existed in their days centuries ago. Among these are Theodore Beza, John Calvin and Stephanus. Beza remarks that the reading of 1 John 5:7 is found in many of their manuscripts; Calvin likewise says it is found in “the most approved copies”. John Gill also believed in the inspiration of this verse.
When Cardinal Ximenes planned to print his Polyglot in 1502 he included 1 John 5:7-8. He stated that he had taken care to secure a number of Greek manuscripts; and he described some of these as very “ancient codices” sent to Spain from Rome. Why haven’t the manuscript detectives given us a complete list of these “ancient codices”? They must have contained 1 John 5:7 because Ximenes included the verse.
A Trail of Evidence
We find mention of 1 John 5:7, from about 200 AD through the 1500s. Here is a useful time line of references to this verse:
Scholars often disagree with each other, but John Gill, in his well known commentary on the entire Bible, remarks concerning 1 John 5:7: “It is cited by Athanasius about the year 350 (Contra Arium p. 109); and before him by Cyprian in the middle of the “third” century, about the year 250 (De Unitate Eccles. p. 255. & in Ep. 73. ad Jubajan, p. 184.) and is referred to by Tertullian about, the year 200 (Contr. Praxeam, c. 25 ) and which was within a hundred years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage.”
200 AD – Tertullian’s quote is debated, but he may well be referring to the phrase found only in 1 John 5:7 when he says: “And so the connection of the Father, and the Son, and of the Paraclete (Holy Ghost) makes three cohering entities, one cohering from the other, WHICH THREE ARE ONE entity, not one person. Just as it is said “I and the Father are one entity” refers to the unity of their substance, not to oneness of their number.”
250 AD – Cyprian of Carthage, wrote, “And again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it is written: “And the three are One” in his On The Lapsed, On the Novatians. Note that Cyprian is quoting and says “IT IS WRITTEN, And the three are One.” He lived from 180 to 250 A.D. and the scriptures he had at that time contained the verse in question. This is at least 100 years before anything we have today in the Greek copies. If it wasn’t part of Holy Scripture, then where did he see it WRITTEN?
350 AD – Priscillian referred to it [Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Academia Litterarum Vindobonensis, vol. xviii, p. 6.]
350 AD – Idacius Clarus referred to it [Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 62, col. 359.]
380 AD – Priscillian in Liber Apologeticus quotes “and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.”
In his book A History of The Debate Over 1 John 5:7, Michael Maynard, M.L.S, has at least two references to this quote. On page 39 he writes: 380 Priscillian. Liber Apologeticus. (This quote as given by A.E. Brooke from Schepps. Vienna Corpus, xviii) As John says “and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh, the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are on in Christ Jesus.”
Then on page 239 of his book, Mr. Maynard quotes from a Mr. Claude Jenkins’ 1942 article titled A Newly Discovered Reference to the Heavenly Witnesses (1 John 5:7). From this book Mr. Maynard says: Jenkins made an especially valuable comment here: “Since the days of Porson, the most important contribution on the Latin side has been the discovery of the tractates of Priscillian in the Wurzburg MS. which throws the evidence back to the fourth century and quotes the passage (Priscillian Tractate i.4).”
Likewise, the anti-Arian work compiled by an unknown writer, the Varimadum (380 AD) states: “And John the Evangelist says, . . . “And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one”. (Varimadum 90:20-21).
415 AD – Council of Carthage. The contested verse (1 John 5:7) is quoted at the Council of Carthage (415 A. D.) by Eugenius, who drew up the confession of faith for the “orthodox.” It reads with the King James. How did 350 prelates in 415 A.D. take a verse to be orthodox that wasn’t in the Bible? It had to exist there from the beginning. It was quoted as “Pater, VERBUM, et Spiritus Sanctus”.
450-530 AD. Several orthodox African writers quoted the verse when defending the doctrine of the Trinity against the gainsaying of the Vandals. These writers are:
A) Vigilius Tapensis in “Three Witnesses in Heaven”
B) Victor Vitensis in his Historia persecutionis [Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Academia Litterarum Vindobonensis, vol. vii, p. 60.]
C) Fulgentius in “The Three Heavenly Witnesses” [Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 65, col. 500.]
500 AD – Cassiodorus cited it [Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 70, col. 1373.]
527 AD – Fulgentius in Contra Arianos stated: “Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo. Pater, Verbum et Spiritus, et tres unum sunt.”
550 AD – The “Speculum” has it [The Speculum is a treatise that contains some good Old Latin scriptures.]
636 AD – Isidor of Seville quotes the verse as it stands in the KJB.
750 AD – Wizanburgensis, a Latin mss., contains the reference.
800 AD – Jerome’s Vulgate has it [It was not in Jerome's original Vulgate, but was brought in about 800 AD from good Old Latin manuscripts.] It is also in the Clementine Vulgate today.
157-1400 AD. Waldensian (that is, Vaudois) Bibles have the verse.
Now the “Waldensian,” or “Vaudois” Bibles stretch from about 157 to the 1400s A.D. The fact is, according to John Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza, that the Vaudois received the Scriptures from missionaries of Antioch of Syria in the 120s A.D. and finished translating it into their Latin language by 157 AD. This Bible was passed down from generation, until the Reformation of the 1500s, when the Protestants translated the Vaudois Bible into French, Italian, etc. This Bible carries heavy weight when finding out what God really said. Theodore Beza, John Wesley and Johnathan Edwards believed, as most of the Reformers, that the Vaudois were the descendants of the true Christians, and that they preserved the Christian faith for the Bible-believing Christians today.
Many critics of this passage like to say that 1 John 5:7 occurs in no ancient language version except the Latin. Well, not only is the passage found in the Latin Vulgate, but it is also in some Old Latin manuscripts, and the Old Latin translation dates from around 200 A.D. As far as I know we do not have any specific manuscript from this date, but we do have some later copies of this ancient translation. The known Old Latin affirmations of the Comma (some with variations from the “canonical” version) are:
m — around the 5th century in the Catholic Epistles
p — 13th century
c — 12th -13th centuries
dem — 13th century
div — 13th century
q — 7th century
The Old Latin translation was first made 150 years before anything we have in the remaining Greek copies. In addition to this, the newest UBS critical text has now admitted that it is found in some Armenian manuscripts.
The first printed edition of the Armenian Bible was published in 1666 by Bishop Uscan. It contains 1 John 5:7. Also Giles Guthier, using two Syriac manuscripts published an edition at Hamburg in 1664. This edition places the passage in the text. There is a fairly modern translation of the Syriac that includes the verse done by James Murdock in 1852. It contains 1 John 5:7 in full. And the first printed Georgian Bible, published at Moscow in 1743 contains 1 John 5:7.
Dr. Schrivener mentions a “few recent” Slavonic manuscripts as having the passage. (Jack Moorman, “When the KJV departs from the majority text” 2nd. edition.)
Dr. Thomas Holland, who recently wrote “Crowned with Glory”, a very good book which defends the King James Bible, states: “The strongest evidence, however, is found in the Greek text itself. Looking at 1 John 5:8, there are three nouns which, in Greek, stand in the neuter (Spirit, water, and blood). However, they are [preceded] by a participle that is masculine. The Greek phrase here is oi marturountes (who bare witness). Those who know the Greek language understand this to be poor grammar if left to stand on its own. Even more noticeably, verse six has the same participle but stands in the neuter (Gk.: to marturoun). Why are three neuter nouns supported with a masculine participle? The answer is found if we include verse seven. There we have two masculine nouns (Father and Son) followed by a neuter noun (Spirit). The verse also has the Greek masculine participle oi marturountes. With this clause introducing verse eight, it is very proper for the participle in verse eight to be masculine, because of the masculine nouns in verse seven. But if verse seven were not there it would become improper Greek grammar.”
Michael Maynard, M.L.S. in his 382 page book “A History of the Debate over 1 John 5:7-8″ quotes from Gregory of Nazianzus (390 AD) who remarks concerning this verse in his Theological Orations: . . . “he has not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourselves disclaim in the case of Deity?”
Mr. Maynard concludes: “Thus Gregory of Nazianzus objected to the omission of 1 John 5:7.” It is clear that Gregory recognized the inconsistency with Greek grammar if all we have are verses six and eight without verse seven.
Other scholars have recognized the same thing. This was the argument of Robert Dabney of Union Theological Seminary in his book, “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek” (1891).
Bishop Middleton in his book, “Doctrine of the Greek Article,” argues that verse seven must be a part of the text according to the Greek structure of the passage.
Even in the famous commentary by Matthew Henry, there is a note stating that we must have verse seven if we are to have proper Greek in verse eight.
Dr. Edward F. Hills argues the same grammatical points in defending the legitimacy of 1 John 5:7 in his book “The King James Version Defended” on pages 211-212. Dr. Hills says: “…the omission of the Johannine comma involves a grammatical difficulty. The words spirit, water, and blood are neuter in gender, but in I John 5:8 they are treated as masculine. If the Johannine comma is rejected, it is hard to explain this irregularity. It is usually said that in I John 5:8 the spirit, the water, and the blood are personalized and that this is the reason for the adoption of the masculine gender. But it is hard to see how such personalization would involve the change from the neuter to the masculine. FOR IN VERSE 6 THE WORD SPIRIT PLAINLY REFERS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE THIRD PERSON OF THE TRINITY. SURELY IN THIS VERSE THE WORD SPIRIT IS “PERSONALIZED,” AND YET THE NEUTER GENDER IS USED. Therefore, since personalization DID NOT bring about a change of gender in verse 6, it cannot fairly be pleaded as the reason for such a change in verse 8. If, however, the Johannine Comma is retained, as reason for placing the neuter nouns spirit, water, and blood in the masculine gender becomes readily apparent. IT WAS DUE TO THE INFLUENCE OF THE NOUNS FATHER AND WORD, WHICH ARE MASCULINE. Thus the hypothesis that the Johannine comma is an interpolation is full of difficulties.” (Emphasis mine.)
Dr. Gaussen in his famous book “The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures” uses the same grammatical argument and concludes: “Remove it, and the grammar becomes incoherent.”
Regarding the grammatical argument in favor of the inclusion of 1 John 5:7, King James Bible critic Gary Hudson made this erroneous comment: “As far as we have been able to discover, this argument was first suggested by Robert L. Dabney in 1871. Aware of the fact that the manuscript (external) evidence for the verse is extremely scant, Dabney introduced a new argument in its favor based upon what he believed to be an important internal consideration:” (I John 5:7 Grammatical Argument Refuted, Gary Hudson)
Mr. Nolan employed usage of this “grammatical argument” in 1815, that is, 56 years prior to Hudson pinning it on Robert Dabney. Nolan discusses it on pages 259-261,294, and 304 of his work.
Gregory Nazianzus in “Oration XXXII: Fifth Theological Oration: On the Holy Spirit, c.XIX acknowledges such a grammatical difficulty as well.
Another King James Bible critic, Doug Kutilek, says: “No Greek-speaking Christian writer before the year 1215 A.D. shows any knowledge of the disputed words.”
On the contrary, Mr. Kutilek is refuted by Ben David in his work, “Three Letters Addressed to The Editor of The Quarterly Review, In Which is Demonstrated The Genuineness of The Three Heavenly Witnesses- I John v.7.” Mr. David informs us, “If we turn to the Greek fathers, we shall find them equally well acquainted with the verse, and equally reluctant to quote it. I will notice a few of those who have been brought forward as vouchers for its genuinenss: “Basil paraphrases the text, but is afraid to quote it: “Oi pisteuontes eis Theon, kai Logon, Kai Pneuma, mian ousan theoteta. WHO BELIEVE IN GOD, AND THE WORD, AND THE SPIRIT, BEING ONE GODHEAD.” (Ben David, pg. 57)
Continuing with Ben David: “Theodorus, the master of Chrysostom and a contemporary of the emperor Julian, wrote in “A treatise on one God in the Trinity, from the Epistle of John the Evangelist” ( Eis ten Epistolen Ioannou tou Euaggelistou peri tou eis Theos en Triadi.) This is a remarkable testimony, as it implies the existence and notoriety of the verse about the middle of the fourth century.”
“Cyril, in his Thesaurus, attempts to prove that the Holy Spirit is God. With this view he extracts the 6th and 8th verse, and omits the 7th: yet he inserts an argument which demonstrates that this verse lay before him, though he was too much afraid directly to use it. Cyril’s words are these: Eirekos gar oti to pneuma esti tou Theou to marturoun mikron ti proelthon, epipherei, a marturia tou Theou meizon esti. Pos oun esti poiema to ton olon Patri suntheologoumenon kai tes agias triados sumplerotikon – “For having said that it is the Spirit of God that witnesses, a little forward he adds, the witness of God is greater: How then is he a creature WHO IS SAID TO BE GOD WITH THE UNIVERSAL FATHER, AND COMPLETES THE NUMBER OF THE HOLY TRIAD.” The words in capitals form the substance of the seventh verse which Cyril wished to quote, as being direct to his purpose; yet through fear he declined to produce it in express terms. This was in the fifth century.
Mr. Frederick Nolan stated in 1815: “instead of “the Father, Word, and Spirit,” the remaining passage would have been direct concessions to the Gnostics and Sabellians, who, in denying the personal difference of the Father and the Son, were equally obnoxious to those avowed adversaries, the Catholics and the Arians. Nor did the orthodox require these verses for the support of their cause; they had other passages which would accomplish all that they could effect; and without their aid, they maintained and established their tenents.” (An Inquiry Into The Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament, Rev. Frederick Nolan, 1815, pg. 278-279)
Mr. Nolan gives two reasons why I John 5:7 is seemingly scanty in reference to quotations from the church fathers:
One – The passage in I John 5:7 is among those like I Timothy 3:16 and Acts 20:28 that have all been tampered with in the manuscript tradition, all three having to do with the deity of Christ as “God.”
Two – That the major reason for NOT QUOTING I John 5:7 was based on its wording, chiefly, purporting Jesus Christ as the “WORD” instead of the “SON.” Hence, with the Sabellian heresy being debated that Jesus Christ is the Father with no distinction, I John 5:7 would further propagate that notion. Therefore it wasn’t quoted.
Jesse Boyd also suggests the following reasons why the passage may have “dropped out” of 1 John 5:7. He says: “The heresy of Gnosticism is also of notable importance with regard to the historical context surrounding the Johannine Comma. This “unethical intellectualism” had begun to make inroads among churches in John’s day; its influence would continue to grow up until the second century when it gave pure Christianity a giant struggle. The seeds of the Gnostic heresy seem to be before John’s mind in his first epistle; the Johannine Comma would have constituted an integral component of the case the Apostle made against the false teachings of the Gnostics, especially with regard to the nature of Christ. The Gnostics would have completely disregarded the truth promulgated in the Johannine Comma. In fact, they may have excised it from the text in the same way that Marcion took a butcher knife to the New Testament in the second century. Also, the Arian heresy, which taught that Jesus was not God but a created being, grew out of Gnosticism. In fact, it was widespread in the Church during the third and fourth centuries. Not long after the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), an ecumenical council that denounced Arianism, “the whole world woke from a deep slumber and discovered that it had become Arian.” Perhaps the prevalent influences of these heresies were responsible for the text falling out of many manuscripts and versions of the New Testament. This hypothesis is at least as plausible as competing theories which suppose that someone added the verses to combat heretical teaching.”
There is another argument based on internal evidence that anyone can clearly see just by reading the Holy Bible in English. This has to do with the spiritual significance of numbers. We all know how significant the number 7 is, representing the spiritual perfections of the Godhead.
There are many highly significant words or titles that are found either 7 times or in combinations of 7 only in the King James Bible. Words like Son of man (49×4) Son of God (49 or 7×7 in the New Testament), Most High (49), Jesus Christ (196 or 49×4 – different numbers in Critical Texts), Word of God (49 – different numbers in Critical Texts), My Beloved Son (7 times), It is written (63 or 7 times 9 in N.T.), Firstborn (7), Kingdom of God (70), Holy Spirit (7 in the KJB), Church (77 – different numbers in Critical Texts), Worshippers (7), Jerusalem (144 times in Textus Receptus, 21 times 7, different numbers in Critical Texts since they omit Jerusalem in Luke 2:42; 24:49 and Acts 18:21) and only when 1 John 5:7 is included does the title referring to Jesus Christ as the Word occur 7 times.
It is found in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.”
1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Revelation 19:13 “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Not only does the expression “The Word”, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ occur 7 times with the inclusion of 1 John 5:7, but also in the epistle of 1 John itself, the word “ho logos” (the word) occurs exactly 7 times when including this verse. See 1 John 1:1,10; 2:5,7,14; 3:18; and 5:7. Just another coincidence – huh?
If you are looking to scholars to settle the issue for you, there will never be any certainty at all. Those who criticize the King James Bible as being just another fallible book, riddled with errors, have nothing sure and certain to give you in its place. They set themselves up as the final authority but they constantly differ among themselves. It is like playing “scholar poker”. “Well, my scholars can beat your scholars.” No, they can’t. I’ll see your scholars and raise you two more.”
They may say that Dr. So and So went to Dallas Theological Whatever and he doesn’t believe 1 John 5:7 should be in the bible. Well, on the other hand, there are many learned men with just as much knowledge who absolutely believe 1 John 5:7 belongs in the Holy Bible.
Again, here is just a partial list of those who contended for the authenticity of this verse.
Cyprian – 250 AD, Athanasius 350 A.D., Priscillian -385 AD, Jerome 420 AD, Fulgentius, Cassiodorus, Isidore of Seville, Jaqub of Edessa, Thomas Aquinas, John Wycliffe, Desiderus Erasmus, Lopez de Zuniga, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, Cipriano de Valera, John Owen, Francis Turretin, John Wesley, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Andrew Fuller, Thomas F. Middleton, Luis Gaussen, Frederick Nolan, Robert L. Dabney, Thomas Strouse, Floyd Jones, Peter Ruckman, George Ricker Berry, Edward F. Hills, David Otis Fuller, Thomas Holland, Michael Maynard and Donald A. Waite.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” is found in 10 remaining Greek manuscripts, at least 7 Old Latin manuscripts, is quoted or referred to by at least 8 church fathers, is in some ancient versions like the Syriac, Armenian and Slavic versions, in the Waldensian Bibles from 157 AD till the time of the Reformation, is in thousands of Vulgate Latin manuscripts, is in the Spanish Reina Valera used throughout the entire Spanish speaking world today, the Italian Diodati, the French Martin and Ostervald bibles, the Russian Synodal, the Portuguese de Almeida and Bíblia Sagrada, pre and post Lutheran German bibles, and in most English versions till 1881.
It is important to note that the Greek Orthodox Church’s New Testament contains 1 John 5:7 both in the ancient and in the Modern Greek versions. The first printed text of the entire Greek New Testament was the Complutensian Polyglot Bible of 1520. It included all of 1 John 5:7 and it continues to be found in the Greek New Testaments used by the Greek Orthodox Churches today. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Λόγος καὶ τὸ ῞Αγιον Πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι·
Pre-Lutheran German Bibles that include 1 John 5:7
1466 A.D. Strassburg: Johann Mentel
1470 A.D. Strassburg: H. Eggestein
1475 A.D. Augsburg: Gunther Zainer
1476 A.D. Augsburg: Gunther Zainer
1476 A.D.Nuremberg: Johammes Sensenschmidt & Andreas Frisner
1477 A.D.Augsburg: Gunther Zainer
1478 A.D. Kolner Bible, Die Neiderdeutschen Bibelfruhdrucke
1483 A.D.Nurember: Anton Koberger
1485 A.D. Strassburg: Johann Reinhard de Gruningen
1490 A.D. Augsburg: Johann Schonsperger:
“wann drey sind, die da geben gezeugknub auff der erde, der geyst, das wasser, onnd auch de blutt, onnd dise drey sind eyns. Und drey sind die da geben gezeugknub im hymmel. Der vater, das wortt, onnd der heylige geyst, on dise drey sind eins. Ob wir auffnemen.”
And it is in the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 today – “7 Denn drei sind es, die Zeugnis ablegen im Himmel: der Vater, das Wort und der Heilige Geist, und diese drei sind eins;”
The full text of 1 John 5:7 is found in several of the surviving Old Latin copies. The Clementine Vulgate of 1592 includes the verse. In the Clementine Vulgate it reads just like the King James Bible: “Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo : Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus : et hi tres unum sunt.”
The Clementine Vulgate can be seen here:
Either God has been faithful to preserve His pure words with nothing added or He has failed and the scholars of today who do not believe any Bible on this earth is the perfect word of God are right. You decide.
The numerical “coincidences” will not convince the gainsayers, but one brother posted the following example of numerical symmetry regarding this most disputed verse.
Standing Up for The King James Bible: Beauty of Gods Perfect Word.
The First Verse and Last Verse in King James Verse Bible: Who knows what lies in between!
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Now this last verse: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
Count the number of letters in the first verse of the KJB 44
Count the number of letters in the last verse of the KJB + 44
Count the number of letters in 1 John 5:7 in the KJB 88
Count the number of vowels in the first verse of the KJB 17
Count the number of vowels in the last verse of the KJB + 17
Count the number of vowels in the 1 John 5:7 in the KJB 34
Count the number of consonants in the first verse of the KJB 27
Count the number of consonants in the last verse of the KJB + 27
Count the number of consonants in 1 John 5:7 in the KJB 54
Therefore the total number of letters, consonants, and vowels in the 1 John 5:7
equal those in “the first and the last” verse in the Holy Bible.
Now if that’s not enough proof…
The first verse’s words – 10
The last verse’s words – 12
The words in the verse 1 John 5:7 -22
For further study and documentation about the authenticity of 1 John 5:7, may I recommend a well done article by my Christian brother and friend, Marty Shue. He has written a response to Daniel Wallace’s criticism of this verse found here:
Here is another good one on 1 John 5:7 by brother Joshua Alvarez at his site KJV Only Education
Another good site is KJV Today. It has a lot of historical references to 1 John 5:7 and other evidence proving that 1 John 5:7 is inspired Scripture and belongs in our Bible
Additional comments: At our Which Version club – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/whichversion/ – we were discussing the textual and historic evidence for 1 John 5:7 and one of the members wrote in with these questions:
“I know there are other reasons why ya’ll claim the comma (1 John 5:7) should be included, but doesnt it makes sense to just admit that the KJV is assumed to be right, and where evidence supports it, that evidence reigns supreme, and if the same type or even the same exact evidence does not support it, that evidence is lacking in that case?”
I then replied: Hi Kevin, these are good questions. I think basically what you are asking is Why do we sometimes uphold a particular reading (1 John 5:7 for example) that does not share the same textual evidence as do many other verses that are in dispute?
Kevin, this is the problem faced by ALL translations and all Bible versions. Modern versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV, ISV, Holman, NKJV etc. ALL often will adopt or include a reading or omit an entire verse or several whole verses, even when the vast majority of texts and other Bible versions do not agree with them, and none of these modern versions agree all the way through with any other.
Sometimes the evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of a whole verse, but the NASB, NIV, RSV, Holman etc. will omit it all because it is not found in one or two mss. The KJB will also, though not nearly as often nor to the same extent, sometimes adopt a “minority” reading.
Very often, particularly in the book of Revelation, the textual evidence for certain readings is equally divided. If one takes a purely humanistic view of Scripture, then the only conclusion we can come to is that there is no complete and inerrant Bible in any language and that God has basically left the scene as far as preserving His words is concerned. This also means that God actually lied to us when He said that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His WORDS (NOT just the general, ballpark message) shall not pass away.
It is my belief that Textual Criticism or Textual Studies alone will never solve the problem or answer the question of “Do we have an inerrant Bible?” Generally speaking, the textual evidence is far and away in favor of the King James Bible readings, but there are a few notable exceptions.
What I believe we need to do to come to a final decision on the issue of an inerrant Bible is to look elsewhere than mere Textual Criticism (which is a totally confused mess, and I can prove it). We need to look at the internal evidence and the spiritual fruit produced by the two different approaches to God’s pure words.
The true Holy Bible will be internally consistent and always true (even if there are some “apparent” contradictions). I have found through my comparative studies that ONLY the King James Bible is internally consistent and doctrinally sound 100% of the time.
ALL other versions, especially the more modern ones like the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, Holman and the NKJV break down at several points and teach false doctrines, thus proving themselves to be false witnesses.
Here is one study you might like to look at called “No Doctrines are Changed?”
ALL modern versions like the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, Holman and the NKJV frequently (or sometimes as in the NKJV), reject the clear Hebrew texts, and God only gave His inspired words in the O.T. to the Jews – not to the Latins, Syrians or the Greeks.
Another huge difference is the spiritual fruit produced by the various bible versions. God has used the King James Bible like no other in history. It has replaced all other previous English Bible versions, and was the one God used in bringing about the worldwide modern missionary movement. People who use and still believe the King James Bible are the only ones who actually believe The Bible IS (NOT “WAS in the non-existent originals”) the inspired and inerrant words of God.
The fruit of the modern, multiple-choice and contradictory bible versions is the open denial of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture in any language. Unbelief in the inerrancy of Scripture is increasing more and more every day, and it will only get worse, not better. The Bible itself tells us that there will be a falling away from the faith in the last days, and this is happening now at an alarming rate.
For more information on this growing unbelief in the inerrancy of Scripture, may I suggest you read this article I have put together called “There is NO inerrant Bible”
The Battle for the Bible is a spiritual battle and only God can open the eyes of the blind, and He does this by His grace and mercy alone; not because we are more holy, or smarter, or pray and study more than others do. It is all by His grace and He often chooses the weak and the babes to reveal these things to.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Matthew 11:25-26
You either believe that the King James Bible is the inspired and inerrant words of God, or you become your own final authority and make up your own peculiar “bible version” as you go along and your version will differ from everybody else’s. You won’t even believe that “yours” is the 100% true and inerrant words of God Almighty.
Return to Articles – http://brandplucked.webs.com/kjbarticles.htm
Another site called King James Version has some useful information on how even among the so called “oldest and best manuscripts” like Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, we see textual differences and corruptions in 1 John 5:6 (the previous verse) and Why as well as How the words in verse 7 would have “dropped out” of the inspired text. You can see that article here: