By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Near the end of the Apostle John’s First Epistle, he makes a powerful statement about the Godhead:
1 John 5:7-For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
What is tragic is that many versions of the Bible completely omit this passage of Scripture. Those Bible translations today which retain this passage (such as the New King James Version) usually have a footnote which says this verse was based on only a few very late manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.
Well, what are the facts of this passage of Scripture? Please notice the following:
“Only 300 of the 5, 300 plus manuscripts have 1 John. Of these 300 , only ten Greek manuscripts ranging from the fourteenth century to the eighteenth century, contain the Johannine Comma ; Manuscripts 61, 629, 918, 2318 , 2473, 88, 177, 221, 429, 636 . Ni n e Latin manuscripts , ranging from the 10th to 16th centuries include the Comma. These facts are used by some scholars to teach that the Comma was never in the original text of 1 John…..First John 5: 9 10 refer to the event recorded in Matthew 17:5 where God the Father spoke out of heaven and testified that Jesus was His Son. If we leave the Comma in , we have the witness of the Trinity and the witness of man in verses 7- 8 . Verse 9 contrasts the witness of men, describe in verses 6 and 8 with the witness of God in verse 7 and 10- 11 . If we leave out the Comma , we have verses 10- 11 referring back to a non- existent clause…Several ancient church fathers quote or allude to this passage. Cyprian says: The Lord says, ‘ I and the Father are one; ’ [ John 10:30 ] and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy S pirit, ‘a nd these three are one ’ [1 John 5:7- 8]. Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6 , AD 250…Jerome commented in his Latin Vulgate that the Greek church created a controversy when they decided to leave out the Johannine Comma . His Greek copies, now non- existent, contained the Johannine Comma and he refused to alter the Scriptures! The general epistles are not the same in the Greek Church a s they are for the Latin Church . .. The general epistles have been correctly understood and faithfully translated into Latin [from the Greek] in their entirety, without ambiguous or missing information; especially the verse about the unity of the Trinity found in 1 John . Unfaithful translators have created much controversy by omitting the phrase “ Father, Word, and Spirit , ” while leaving the phrase “water, blood and spirit , ” which only serves to strengthen our faith and show the Father , Son , and Holy Spirit are of the same substance. I do not fear those who call me a corrupter of Scriptures ; I refuse to deny the truth of Scripture to those who seek it. Jerome , Prologue to the Canonical Epistles , Codex Fuldensis , AD 541- 546…Tertullian stated that 1 John 5:7 is saying these three are one in substance, and this is what Jesus meant when He said that He and the Father are One in John 10:30. Jesus did not mean He was the Father. “‘These Three are one’ in essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and M y Father are One,’ in respect of unity of substance , not singularity of number.” Tertullian Against Praxeas 25 , AD 200…We have 86,000 quotes of Scripture from the ancient church fathers (AD 32- 325). Here are just a few of the ones who either quoted , or alluded to , the Johannine Comma. 215, Tertullian, Against Praxeas 25 250 , Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6 250 , Cyprian, Epistle to Jubaianus 635, Athanasius, Books 1 & 10 , cited three times 380, Priscillian , Liber Apologeticus 385, Gregory of Nazianzus , Theological Orientations (Holy Spirit ) 390, Jerome, Prologue to the General Epistles 450, Author Unknown, De divinis Scripturis suie Spaculum 500, Jerome, Codex Freisingensis 527, Flugentius , De Trinitate.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Word Of God: KJV Only Or Not? 112-117 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added M.T.))
From this information, several conclusions may be drawn.
First, from a contextual point of view, 1 John 5:6-9 implies the need for verse 7. Without verse 7, there is an obvious “vacuum” in the text.
Second, the textual evidence for 1 John 5:7 is actually very strong. Not only is this verse found in several of the Greek manuscripts, it is included in several of the early versions of the New Testament and it is quoted by several of the early “church fathers.” With that in mind, it seems that there is good reason to include the Comma in the text of the Scripture.
Third, it is interesting that Jerome points out that his manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament contained the Comma, and that it is inserted into every one of the Latin Vulgate manuscripts which contain 1 John.
Fourth, it is possible that there were some in the early church who attempted to tamper with some of the manuscripts of the Bible, just as Jehoiakim tried to cut up and burn the scroll of the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36). Nevertheless, just as in the case mentioned above, the Word of God stands true. As God promised, He has preserved His Word (Psalm 12:6-7)!
Fifth, it is important to realize that the truths taught in 1 John 5:7 are amply taught elsewhere in the Scripture. For example, the Old Testament makes several references to the Godhead (Genesis 1:26-27; Isaiah 6:8; 48:16; Psalm 45:6, etc.) as does the New Testament (John 1:1-5; 10:30; 20:28; Acts 5:1-3; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Corinthians 13:14, etc.). As such, I would not encourage a person to totally dismiss a Bible translation based on that translation’s treatment of this one verse. Instead, I would encourage a balanced view of regarding some translations as stronger and some as weaker.
It is important to remember that Jesus and His Apostles often quoted from the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament and called it the Word of God, despite its’ obvious weaknesses.
The entire Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) has made a tremendous sacrifice to save you from sin (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
Will you not today turn to the Son of God Who loved you, died for your sin, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)?
Will you not as a believer repent of your sin and be baptized by the authority of Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:36-38)?
If you are an erring Christian, I plead with you today to be restored back to your relationship with Christ (Galatians 6:1-2) by repenting and praying (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.