Is 1 John 5:7 as it is worded in the KJV correct?

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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. KJV

Modern versions of the Bible do not include the full wording as found in the KJV

1 John 5:7 For there are three that testify: NIV

1 John 5:7 So we have these three witnesses– NLT

1 John 5:7 For there are three that testify: ESV

1 John 5:7 For there are three that testify: NASB

1 John 5:7 There are three witnesses:  GNT

1 John 5:7 For there are three witnesses —  ISV

But which is the correct rendering?

What I will not be doing in this writing is making an argument for the verses appeal to the trinity I have addressed that in a separate writing. I shall only be dealing with is the wording as found in the KJV correct? I will also point out that this is the only verse that, although I believe is scripture,  I would not use it in a debate if someone rejected it as I do believe that if we are going to engage in honest scholarly work, we must accept that there is much evidence against this verse being scripture but probably not as much as is commonly believed. 

It should also be stated before we start that the argument actually deals with verse 7 and 8 not simply verse 7. 

It is a common belief today, including most scholars, that the words of the verse as they appear in the KJV do not belong in scripture.

It is often stated today that they are not included in the majority of Greek manuscripts and didn’t enter into the Greek until the 16th Century when they were actually added by Erasmus in the 3rd edition of his Textus receptus.  He did not include them in his first 2 editions. 

In this writing I shall address both of these arguments against this wording of the verse as found in the KJV and also look at the other evidence that is available. 

I must note that it is at least in my own personally experience that these claims are often made by people that have not studied the subject in any great detail and are simply regurgitating the tiny but of information that they have either heard or read somewhere.

Before we look at the evidence for the and against the verse it is very important that we deal with the claims regarding Erasmus. 


Erasmus

Lets start with the claim that Erasmus added the words. 

There are actually 2 myths regarding Erasmus and his inclusion of the verse in his 3rd edition, which were not included in his first two editions of his Greek New Testament. 

The first and most popular being that Erasmus after excluding the wording as found in the longer reading in his first edition, had promised that he would include the Comma Johanneum in his future editions if a single Greek manuscript was found that contained it. A manuscript was then found and given to Erasmus. This manuscript, commonly believed to be  Codex Montfortianus was either found or was simply made to order.

This myth was propagated by Bruce Metzger.

Bruce Metzger wrote
“Erasmus promised that he would insert the Comma Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained the passage. At length such a copy was found–or made to order” (Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 1st and 2nd editions).  

The second and more recent myth being that Erasmus had challenged Edward Lee to find a Greek manuscript that included the Comma Johanneum. This myth started with Erika Rummel in 1986 in the book Erasmus’ Annotations. This claim was also repeated  by Dr James white in his book The Truth about the KJV-Only Controversy 1995. It is the latter who has likely made more of an impact with this claim.

“Erasmus protested that he was simply following the Greek texts. In responding to Lee, Erasmus challenged him to “produce a Greek manuscript that has what is missing in my edition”

James White the KJV only controversy pages 60-61

 

 

However, BOTH of these myths have been refuted by  H.J. de Jonge , the Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Rijksuniversiteit (Leiden, Netherlands).

In 1980 de Jonge, a recognised expert on Erasmian studies stated regarding Metzgers assertion regarding a promise that it “has no foundation in Erasmus’ work. Consequently it is highly improbable that he included the difficult passage because he considered himself bound by any such promise”.

Subsequently Metzger retracted his own assertion in his own 3rd edition of The text of the New Testament.

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” (Metzger, The Text of The New Testament, 3rd edition, p. 291, footnote 2).

In the fourth edition we find the following where Metzger outlines this claim after clearly stating that amongst the charges against Erasmus it APPEARED to be that of the charge of Jacobus Lopis Stunica…..

“Among the cricisms leveled at Erasmus, the most serious
appeared to be the charge of Stunica, one of the editors of Ximenes’
Complutensian Polyglot, that his text lacked part of the final chapter
of 1 John, namely the Trinitarian statement concerning “the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are
three that bear witness in earth” (1 John 5.7-8, King James Version).
Erasmus replied that he had not found any Greek manuscript that
contained these words, though he had in the meanwhile examined
several others besides those on which he relied when first preparing
his text. In an unguarded moment, Erasmus may have promised that
he would insert the Comma Johanneum, as k is called,^^ in future
editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained
the passage. At length, .such a copy was found—or was made to
order! 

Metger/Ehrman The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 4th edition page 146

But this was the claim as it APPEARED to be….but we now now the claim, that Metzger made in volume 2 and then outlined in volume 4, was not in fact true. 

 

However, this myth is still eluded to today, obviously by those who have through lack of a full study on the subject,  only read or are only aware of the assertion of Metzger and not the later retraction of the said assertion.

De Jong also refuted the claim of a challenge . De jong wrote in a letter dated June 13, 1995 to , Michael Maynard.


I have checked again Erasmus’ words quoted by Erika Rummel and her comments on them in her book Erasmus’ Annotations. This is what Erasmus writes [on] in his Liber tertius quo respondet … 13 Ed. Lei: Erasmus first records that Lee had reproached him with neglect of the MSS. of 1 John because Er. (according to Lee) had consulted only one MS. Erasmus replies that he had certainly not used only one ms., but many copies, first in England, then in Brabant, and finally at Basle. He cannot accept, therefore, Lee’s reproach of negligence and impiety. ‘Is it negligence and impiety, if I did not consult manuscripts which were simply not within my reach? I have at least assembled whatever I could assemble. Let Lee produce a Greek MS. which contains what my edition does not contain and let him show that that manuscript was within my reach. Only then can he reproach me with negligence in sacred matters.’
From this passage you can see that Erasmus does not challenge Lee to produce a manuscript etc. What Erasmus argues is that Lee may only reproach Erasmus with negligence of MSS if he demonstrates that Erasmus could have consulted any MS. in which the Comma Johanneum figured. Erasmus does not at all ask for a MS. containing the Comma Johanneum. He denies Lee the right to call him negligent and impious if the latter does not prove that Erasmus neglected a manuscript to which he had access. In short, Rummel’s interpretation is simply wrong. The passage she quotes has nothing to do with a challenge. Also, she cuts the quotation short, so that the real sense of the passage becomes unrecognizable. She is absolutely not justified in speaking of a challenge in this case or in the case of any other passage on the subject (emphasis in original) (de Jonge, cited from Maynard, p. 383).


Jeffrey Khoo also wrote:

Yale professor Roland Bainton, another Erasmian expert, agrees with de Jonge, furnishing proof from Erasmus’ own writing that Erasmus’ inclusion of 1 John 5:7f was not due to a so-called ‘promise’ but the fact that he believed ‘the verse was in the Vulgate and must therefore have been in the Greek text used by Jerome’” (Jeffrey Khoo, Kept Pure in All Ages, 2001, p. 88).

So we see both myths simply do not hold up under scrutiny.

Erasmus simply stated that he would have included the longer verse if any manuscript did include it but as already shown this in no way constituted a promise nor did he make a bet or make a challenge regarding the inclusion. An important note here is that Erasmus never stated that it was not scripture, or even that no Greek manuscript contained the comma, only it was not in any of the Greek manuscripts that he had access to at the time that he was producing his first edition. 

Erasmus only didn’t include the verse because the manuscripts that he had at the time of writing didn’t include them. But this leads to another incorrect assertion made against Erasmus, that he only had 6-10 manuscripts.

While this may be correct for his first edition, we know that Erasmus did work off of limited manuscripts in his earlier works. This did not mean they did not exist, just he did not have access to any at that time.  

Erasmus had been studying Greek manuscripts for many many years prior to his writing his TR. Nobody who has studied this in detail would assert Erasmus only knew of 6-10 manuscripts. He was well aware of variant readings and he subsequently produced 5 editions of his TR the latter 3 all containing the words. While the first was  done in haste, he was trying to publish his Greek text before anyone else (see the Complutenian Polyglot) and directly using limited manuscripts, this simply is not the case for his later editions and he most certainly had access to many more manuscripts prior to creating his first edition. Of course, Erasmus was also fully aware of the reading in the Vulgate where the verse was clearly evident. It is not as if Erasmus was totally ignorant of the verse despite some obviously thinking Erasmus was working in a vacuum where the verse was not known. 


It is therefore my postulation that Erasmus INCLUDED the words in his later editions rather than ADDING them. There is a fundamental difference between the 2. The words were already well known and attested to as we shall shortly see.

 

Majority Manuscripts

 

What about the assertion that the majority of Greek manuscripts do not contain them and they do not show in the Greek until Erasmus.

There most certainly is some truth in this but the reality is that it actually overestimated how much support this actually gives. It is very true that the majority of Greek manuscripts that we have available today do not include the words as found in the KJV.

There are a couple of things that need to be noted when someone appeals to this as support for the non inclusion of the words. 

Those that argue against the KJV using this fact, but use versions of the Bible other than the KJV are rather shooting themselves in the foot. While the majority text is obviously important and cannot simply be ignored, if the ONLY thing that confirms the authenticity of a scripture is the majority reading then the text that underlies the vast vast majority of modern versions such as the NIV, ESV, NASB, ERV, ISV, NLT etc face the exact same problem, as it departs away from the majority text reading in literally thousands of places. I wonder how many of those that reject this verse also stay consistent and reject all other minority readings. This would leave them unable to use their modern versions in literally thousands of verses. Either they are not aware of just how many minority readings are found in the modern versions or they are deliberately being disingenuous in their specific rejection of the words here. 

The men behind the origination of the text behind the modern versions, Westcott and Hort, themselves proclaimed that the true readings may be found in a minority reading.  

“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)

 

What CANNOT be contested by those that assert the authority of 1 John 5:7 is the lack of attestation in the Greek, in fact, most people, whether scholars or leymen, who affirm this verse as scripture, fully acknowledge that the Greek manuscript attestation are few. There are 10 Greek manuscripts in existence today that include the words as they are found in the KJV. 5 contain the words within the text and 5 contain them within the margin.

The manuscripts that include the words are:

 61, Montfortianus from either the 14th or 16th century (depending on who is dating the manuscript) this manuscript was called Codex Britannicus by Erasmus, (Adam Clarke who twice studied and examined the manuscript in person, dates the manuscript to the 13th Century) French theologian David Martin dates the manuscript even earlier as in the 11th Century. 918 from the 16th century, 2473 from the 17th century and 2319 from the 18th century but also we have 629 from the 14th century. Manuscript 629 is an important witness to the comma.  It was discovered in the Vatican in the 19th Century by Johann Martin Augustin Scholz.

It demonstrates that the comma did not, nor could not have entered the Greek in the 16th century like many assert that it did.

The text of both 629 and 61 are very similar. 

The manuscripts that have the words in the margin are: 

88 regius 12th century, 177 11th Century, this manuscript was only discovered in 2010 by Dan Wallace. 221 10th century, 429 14th century, 636 15th century

While at first this might sound overwhelming as we have over 5800 manuscripts available today, we must be aware this is not 5800 -10. There are not 5800 manuscripts that witness to this verse. There are only around 480 that contain any part of 1 John 5. However, this falls to just 262 manuscripts that contain 1 john 5:7 and therefore are witnesses to the inclusion or exclusion of the words. So the truth is we have a lot less manuscript evidence for 1 John 5:7 than I would expect most people would assume we have. 

Now, more importantly when it comes to these 262 manuscripts there are only 4 that date prior to the 6th Century.  

These are: 

  • 01 (4th century) Sinaiticus
  • A (5th century) Alexandrinus
  • B (4th century) Vaticanus
  • 048 (5th century)

All of these come from just one geographical area, Egypt.  

    We have no Greek manuscript witness at all that precedes the 4th Century so the manuscript evidence starts quite late. 

    Also worthy of note is that of the 127 existent Papyri today, not one of those papyri contains this part of the text. We have 2 Papyri that contain 1 John, P9 from the 3rd Century and P74 from the 7th century, but neither contain this passage so they are neither a witness for or against the reading of the KJV. We therefore do not have any papyri that witness to this verse at all either for the inclusion or the exclusion of the words. 

    So the exclusion of the verse might not be as well attested to as you once thought.  We simply do not have an abundance of early Greek witnesses to this part of 1 John 5.

    The earliest manuscript that we have that includes this section of 1 John 5 is Codex Vaticanus. Codex Vaticanus does not contain the verse as it is found in the KJV. However, this manuscript comes to us at least 200-250 years after 1 John had been written. If anyone has ever read any of my writings regarding this manuscript they will know that I argue that this manuscript, like other manuscripts of Alexandrian origin are corrupt. I won’t go into detail again here.

    Now its also worth noting, since it is most often not stated,  that even though Codex Vaticanus does not include the verse as found in the KJV, it does have an Umlaut (a triple dot) at the point of 1 John 5:7. Umlauts indicate that there is a textual variant known by the scribe.

    Below is an image of Codex Vatican and the Umlaut

    When it comes to Codex Alexandrinus when we get to 1 John 5:7 we note that there is a space between verse 7 and verse 8. `This is a clear indication that the scribe was aware of a textual variant at this point of the text. 

    It must also be noted that none of the 3 main codices, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus agree with each other on the rendering of this verse either.

    Supporting Evidence

    So what is the evidence for the inclusion.

    If the verse was originally in the text of 1 John 5 then it is evident that the verse dropped out of the Greek. 

    While the verse may well not have Greek manuscript attestation, this is completely the opposite when it comes to the Latin. 

     

    The words are found in almost every single Latin manuscript that we have that contain this part of 1 John 5. While at the time that the original manuscripts were penned Greek was the “common” language, similar to what English is today, Latin overtook Greek by the 4th Century as the “common” language of the Church. Therefore, Latin manuscripts carry great weight in their attestation to the verse. It is then, completely feasible that the verse was preserved within the Latin despite it having been lost in the Greek.  (we will look at the reasons for why it may have dropped out of the Greek in a bit). 

     

     

    Jerome and the Latin Vulgate. 

    Well, as already seen Roland Bainton eluded to that having been aware of the inclusion of the words in the Latin Vulgate and therefore it was very likely that Jerome had seen the words in the Greek manuscripts from which he translated into the Latin.  Erasmus was very familiar with the vulgate and so would have known that Jerome included it based on his Greek manuscripts at the time of his translation. Jerome stated that he used ancient Greek manuscripts during his translation of the Vulgate…..that’s ancient in 384 AD so they must have been very early indeed. 

    Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate from the Greek into Latin including the words over 1100 years before Erasmus would include them in his works.

    1 John 5:7  Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo : Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus : et hi tres unum sunt. 8 Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra : spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis : et hi tres unum sunt.”

    Furthermore, the very first complete English Bible, made by John Wycliffe in 1380 contained the words in full, 86 years before Erasmus was even born.

    John Wycliffe version

    1 John 5:7 For three be, that give witnessing in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost [For three be, that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, or Son, and the Holy Ghost]; and these three be one.

    The original words

    1 John 5:7  For thre ben, that yyuen witnessing in heuene, the Fadir, the Sone, and the Hooli Goost; and these thre ben oon.
    Wycliffe Bible

    Of course Wycliffe used the Latin for his translation not the Greek. 


    Some do claim that the Vulgate did not originally include the verse.  Codex Fuldensis (Codex F) (541-546 AD) which is the oldest manuscript witness to the vulgate does not contain the verse within the text of 1 John 5. However, the manuscript DOES contain the prologue of Jerome to the Canonical Epistles. In this prologue Jerome makes explicit mention to the heavenly witnesses. 

    Bruce Metzger makes note that the verse is not contained within the text, however, he fails to make mention of the inclusion of the prologue. 

    The fact that Metzger failed to mention the inclusion of the prologue in the manuscript cannot be by mistake, rather by reason of deliberate exclusion. The prologue of Jerome will be looked at later on in this study. 

    The manuscript has an undeniable providence. It was created by Victor of Capua.  Ernst Ranke Published the text in 1868.  The manuscript removed the objection that the prologue was not original to Jerome’s vulgate as it demonstrated that the prologue existed long before scholars had postulated that it had. It was at one time believed that the prologue had been added sometime in the 8th or 9th Century. This manuscript pre dated that postulation by 200-300 years. 

    Another MAJOR piece of evidence is the confession of faith of The Council of Carthage in the year 484 AD which makes attestation to the words in 1 John.

    Council of Carthage 484 – confession of faith

    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
    (page 56)

    The importance of this council in regards to the support of 1 John 5:7 being authentic should not be underestimated. This council was attended by 460 Bishops from all over the Empire, including from Africa, Greece and Rome. This then is not a single witness, but rather a mass witness from the heads of the churches in unison to the verse. The council was held in response to the Arian Vandal invasion (a detailed study of this should be engaged in for anyone wanting a more in depth understanding of the purpose of this council and the invasion by the vandals) .  The Arian vandals, had invaded North Africa in 429 AD and had been allowed to settle because the Roman army was unable to defeat them, this being 435 AD. In 439 AD the vandals continued their push into Africa. The vandals were torturing and killing anyone that did not convert to Arianism, the King, Hunneric,  challenged the trinitarians to defend their belief regarding homoousian. A confession of faith was produced by the 460 Bishops and then presented to Hunneric, King of the Vandals. Had this verse been added by the Bishops then they would have faced almost certain death by the Arians for corrupting the Bible in their argument for their belief. It is clear that the Bible that the Arians were using also contained the comma.  It simply would have not been possible to cite a verse that was not deemed scripture as evidence for their belief. They used a verse as support that must have also been known by the Arian vandals.

    Victor Vitensis, an African Bishop was an eye witness to the events and was also at the council, he records the details in his work Historia persecutionis Africanae Provinciae, temporibus Genserici et Hunirici regum Wandalorum (A History of the African Province Persecution, in the Times of Genseric and Huneric, the Kings of the Vandals) In which he records in detail the terrible torture techniques of the vandals. 

    This attestation to the verse (which would have come from the Latin Vulgate, attests to undeniable proof of the inclusion of the verse in the Vulgate. There is simply no way that these Bishops would have utilised the verse in the confession of faith if the verse was not 100% accepted as scripture and part of the Vulgate uncontested as authoritative scripture by those Bishops.

     

    Early church writers attestation. 

    Just a few of the people from Church history that attest the authenticity of this verse even before Jerome are Cyprian – 250 AD, Athanasius 350 A.D., Priscillian -382 AD. Varimadum 380

    Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250 A.D). —
    The Lord says ‘I and the Father are one’ and likewise it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one’” (De Unitate Ecclesiae, [On The Unity of the Church], The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Church Fathers Down to A.D.325).

    Cyprian quoted from both John 10:30 and 1 John 5:7. It is ONLY in 1 John 5-7 that we find the words “and these three are one”. He also clearly uses  “scriptum est” – it is written. 

    Many people do try to argue against the quote of Cyprian here, but they do so contrary to the actual evidence, it is clear that it is argued against simply because of a pre conceived belief the passage did not yet exist, and so of course Cyprian could not quote it. This is a clear example of not listening to the evidence but rather trying to explain away the evidence based on the preconceived belief. 

    Clement of Alexandria gives an allusion to the verse, even though he does not use the word, rather son, he states that Father, son and Holy spirit being witnesses,  it is only in 1 John 5:7 that we see all three referred to as witnesses in scripture. 

    “By two and three witnesses every word is established. By Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, by whose witness and help the prescribed commandments ought to be kept.”
    (Clement of Alexandria. Prophetic Extracts. 13.1; ANF, vol 8)


    Tertullian gives us an allusion to the verse. In “On Baptism”, Tertullian references the 3 witnesses, while the father, son and holy spirit are all mentioned in Matthew 28:19 regarding baptism, the reference of 3 witnesses is found in 1 John 5:7-8. 

    Not that in the waters we obtain the Holy Spirit; but in the water, under (the witness of) the angel, we are cleansed, and prepared for the Holy Spirit. In this case also a type has preceded; for thus was John beforehand the Lord’s forerunner, preparing His ways. Luke 1:76 Thus, too, does the angel, the witness of baptism, make the paths straight for the Holy Spirit, who is about to come upon us, by the washing away of sins, which faith, sealed in (the name of) the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, obtains. For if in the mouth of three witnesses every word shall stand: — while, through the benediction, we have the same (three) as witnesses of our faith whom we have as sureties of our salvation too — how much more does the number of the divine names suffice for the assurance of our hope likewise! Moreover, after the pledging both of the attestation of faith and the promise of salvation under three witnesses, there is added, of necessity, mention of the Church; inasmuch as, wherever there are three, (that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,) there is the Church, which is a body of three.

    On Baptism VI

     

     


    Priscillian 382AD

    Sicut Ioannes ait: Tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in terra: aqua caro et sanguis; et haec tria in unum sunt et tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in caelo: pater, verbum et spiritus; et haec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu.” (Liber Apologeticus, I.4)

    As John says, “There are three that give testimony in earth: the water, the flesh and the blood; and these three are one and there are three that give testimony in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Spirit; and these three are one in Christ 


    Priscillian quoted verse 8 also but it is likely that his version was corrupt at this point as he refers to the water, the body and the blood. 

     

    Senator Cassiodorus (485-585AD) 

    Cassiodorus started a monastery and created a library which he worked with Pope Agapetus I to put together, collecting the works of the Church fathers and translating them into Latin.  In fact, some of the works of the early church fathers only exist today in this form, the translation from the original Greek writing into Latin. 

    Cassiodorus quotes the Comma. 

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, &c.” He who believeth Jesus to be God, is born of God the Fathers; he without doubt is faithful, and he who loves the Fathers, loves also the Christ who is born of him. Now we so love him, when we keep his commandments, which to just minds are not heavy : but they rather overcome the world, when they believe in him who created the world. To which thing witness on earth three mysteries, the water, the blood, and the spirit, which were fulfilled, we read, in the passion of the Lord; but in heaven the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ; and these three is one God.
    (Cassiodorus, Commentary on the Epistles. 1 John 5)

    Cassiodorus translated a text by Clement of Alexandria where Clement refers to the spirit, water and blood, which is found in 1 John 5:8 


    • He says, “This is He who came by water and blood;” and again,
    “For there are three that bear witness, the spirit,” which is life, “and the water,”
    which is regeneration and faith, “and the blood,” which is knowledge; and
    “these three are one.” For in the Saviour are those saving virtues,
    and life itself exists in His own Son. (I John 5:6-8)
    • Clement : Adumbrationes, From the Latin Translation of Cassiodorus.
    <www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-02/anf02-74.htm>.

    But also we have more evidence from people such as Fulgentius 


    [De Trinitate ad Felicem] See, in short you have it that the Father is one, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit
    another, in Person, each is other, but in nature they are not other. In this regard He says:”The Father and I, we
    are one.”He teaches us that”one”refers to Their nature, and”we are”to Their persons. In like manner it is
    said:”There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three
    are one.”Let Sabellius hear”we are”[plural], let him hear”three”, and let him believe that there are three Persons.
    Let him not blaspheme in his sacrilegious heart by saying that the Father is the same in Himself as the Son is the
    same in Himself and as the Holy Spirit is the same in Himself, as if in some way He could beget Himself, or in
    some way proceed from Himself. Even in created natures it is never able to be found that something is able to
    beget itself. Let also Arius hear one; and let him not say that the Son is of a different nature, if one cannot be said
    of that, the nature of which is different.”
    (Fulgentius, On the Trinity, chapter 4; Translated by William A. Jurgens,
    1970, vol 3, p. 291-292)

    [Responsio contra Arianos] In the Father, therefore, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we
    acknowledge unity of substance, but dare not confound the persons. For St. John the apostle,
    testifieth saying, “There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the
    Spirit, and these three are one.” Which also the blessed martyr Cyprian, in his epistle de unitate
    Ecclesiae (Unity of the Church), confesseth, saying, Who so breaketh the peace of Christ, and concord,
    acteth against Christ: whoso gathereth elsewhere beside the Church, scattereth. And that he might
    shew, that the Church of the one God is one, he inserted these testimonies, immediately from the
    scriptures; The Lord said, “I and the Father are one.” And again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is
    written, ‘And these three are one.’ (1 John 5:7).” In the book on the Lord’s Prayer as well, to show that the Trinity is of one divinity and does not have any separateness among itself, he mentioned Daniel and
    the three boys who would say a prayer every three hours. Thus, by the course of three hours and the
    service of one prayer, he evidently showed that the Trinity is one God. We, therefore, do not worship
    one God, [consisting] of three parts; but retaining without beginning, of the perfect and eternal Father,
    not unequal in power, and equal in nature ; and we also confess, that the Holy Spirit is no other than
    God, neither different from the Father, nor the Son, nor confounded in the Son, nor in the Father.
    (Fulgentius, Against the Arians; Translated by Thomas Hartwell Horne, 1825; Horne, “IV. Sect. V. On
    the First General Epistle of John” in Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy
    Scriptures, 1825, vol 4, p. 448)

    [Contra Fabianus] For man, being the image of God, is not limited to only one person of the divine, but of the
    whole of the Trinity. From the holy writings are shown in the Trinity and the nature of the unit. The Trinity in
    Persons, and the Unity of Essence [of the Godhead] proved from the Holy Scripture. …This also the holy Apostle
    [St. Paul] confirms: Who, in respect to the distinction of persons [in the Godhead] syas,”One God the Father, of
    whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him; and that
    the faithful are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”Shewing also that the one God is a Trinity,
    he adds,”O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!”And a little afterwards,”For of him,
    and through him, and in him, are all things : to him be glory forever.”But the holy Apostle St. John [proceeds
    further, for he] plainly says,”And the three are one”; which text concerning the Father, the Son [Filio] and
    the Holy Ghost we alleged, as we did before when ye required a reason from us [our belief]. (Fulgentius,
    Contra Fabianus, Fragmentum 21; Translated by George Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon, 3rd edition, 1794, p.
    38-39)

    The usage of 1 John 5:7 in disputes in not contested by his opponents. This shows that not only was the verse in his own text that he used, but the verse was also in the text of those he was in dispute with. 




    Thomas Aquinas, Stephanus, John Calvin,  Theodore Beza, John Owen and John Wesley to name just a few more.

    It is evident that there were Greek manuscripts available during the time of John Calvin that are no longer available to us today.

    John Calvin himself stated:

    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.”
    John Calvin Commentary on the Catholic Epistles

    Robert Stephens in his 3rd edition of the Greek NT in the margin stated that 7 of the 15/16 manuscripts that he had in his possession contained the Johannine Comma.

    The printed New Testaments of the Greek Orthodox Church contain the words. The Greek Orthodox Church would not have based the inclusion of the words on anything other than the inclusion of the words in the Greek manuscripts. Being that they were the keepers of the Greek they just would not have based the inclusion of the words on the fact the words were found in the Latin.

    They are also found in early Latin manuscripts. “r “ from the 5th century and “q” which is dates 5th-7th century. It is also included in “i” again from the 5th century. We literally have hundreds of latin manuscripts that contain the longer reading.

    Furthermore, Jerome actually stated that there were scribes REMOVING this section from the Greek manuscripts, omitting the words Father, word and spirit.



    “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 EDITON 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.”

     The Prologue to the Canonical Epistles of Jerome

     

    Although Jerome attested to the verses witness to the Catholic faith we can clearly see that Jerome believed the wording of the verse to have not been added but being removed, through intention and not through mistake, from scripture. This is clear evidence that the wording of the verse was not only known but also considered scripture. 

     

    Socrates of Constantinople, a 5th century Church historian also claimed that 1 John was being corrupted for theological reasons. (although not specifically referring to 1 John 5:7) 

    Now in any event, he did not perceive that in the Catholic epistle of John it was written in the ancient copies, ‘Every spirit that severs Jesus is not from God.’  For the removal of this [passage] out the ancient copies are understandably by those who wished to sever the divinity from the human economy.  And thus by the very language of the ancient interpreters, some have corrupted this epistle, aiming at severing the humanity from the divinity.  But the humanity is united to the divinity, and are not two, but one.  Knowing this, the ancients did not hesitate to call Mary ‘Theotokos’. 

    Historia ecclesiastica, VII:32


    Eusebius, in a writing entitled Ecclesiastical Theology” III, 4-6, which is a writing against Marcellus of Ancyra,  makes a claim that the “the statement that the three (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are one is also Sabellian.”

    And thus once again the statement that the three (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are one is also Sabellian. Marcellus also expressed this same opinion and somewhere wrote: “For it is impossible for three existing hypostases to be united in a monad unless earlier the Triad should have its beginning from a monad. For St. Paul said that those things which in no way belong to the unity in God will be brought together in a monad; for only the Word and the Spirit belong to the unity in God. …

    Now, while Eusebius does not specifically quote the Comma here, the wording father, son and holy spirit are one is indeed found only within the comma so it must at least be a possibility that he was attesting to the comma.  

    So, it would seem that it was believed, at the time of Eusebius anyway that the comma was deemed and being used by the Sabellians as proof of their doctrine. So along with the attestation that the passage was being removed for theological reasons, it is at least plausible to conjecture that the passage was being removed by the church for the theological reasons as being a counter to its usage by Sabellianism.

    There is also very clear evidence that not just this verse but this section of 1 John had been tampered with. 1 John 5:6 shows major variants. Between the very manuscripts used to prove that 1 John 5:7 is not authoritative.

    In 1 John 5:6 Vaticanus reads that Jesus came by water and blood.

    1 John 5-6 “6 ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δι υδατος και αιματος ις χς ουκ εν τω υδατι μονω αλλ εν τω υδατι και εν τω αιματι· και το πνευμα τιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια

    Siniaticus and Alexandrinus both read that Jesus came by water, blood and the spirit.

    1 John 5:6 “6 ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δια υδατος και αιματος και πνς ις χς ουκ εν τω υδατι μονον αλλ εν τω υδατι και τω αιματι και το πνα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνα εστιν η αληθεια  – Siniaticus 

    1 John 5:6 “6 ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δι υδατος και αιματος και πνς ις χς· ουκ εν τω υδατι μονον· αλλα εν τω υδατι και εν τω πνι· και το πνα εστιν το μαρτυρουν· οτι το πνα εστιν η αληθεια  – Alexandrinus 

     

    0296 has the spirit before the blood

    1 John 5:6  ουτος ε[στι]ν ο ελθων [δι] υδατος και [π]νς· και αιμα[το]ς ις χς· ουκ [εν] τω υδατι – [αιμα]τ[ι] [κ]αι το [πνα] εστιν το [μαρ]τυρουν· οτι το πνα εστι[ν] η αληθεια – 0296

    The NIV, ESV, NASB and other modern versions are ALL silent regarding these variants at this point.

    To ignore these clear differences between these manuscripts in this verse while using them to disprove 1 John 5:7  is simply dishonest.

     

    There are Syriac versions that contain the comma.

    Tremellius translated the Comma from the Greek into the Syriac and placed it in the margin. However, he did also leave a blank space where the verse would fit.

    Tremellius’ Grammatica Chaldea Et Syra (1569)

    This at least gives rise to Tremellius having doubts regarding the non-authoritative nature of this verse. 

    Gutbier’s Lexicon Syricum concerdatntiale omnes N.T. Syriaci 1664 contains the comma also.

    It is very possible that there were manuscripts of the  Syriac that did agree with the TR and the KJV

    The Syriac actually gives a “hint” that the comma was in fact part of its text.

    In 1 John 5:8 the Syriac reads “ܘܐܝܬܝܗܘ ” “And there are…”

    This wording only appears in Bibles where the comma is present.

    The Syriac was copied from the Greek that while not containing the wording as in the KJV it clearly had the remnants of the introduction to verse 8 that appears only in those that contain the comma based on there being a cause in the preceding verse.

    Complutensian Polyglot Bible

    Another important witness to the Comma comes to us in the form of the Complutensian Polyglot. The comma was included in the Complutensian Polyglot in Greek published by Complutense University in Alcalá de Henares, Spain in 1514. This was prior to Erasmus and his inclusion of the verse in his 3rd edition of the TR.  Cardinal Ximenes oversaw the translation done by 42 Spanish Scholars that used Greek manuscripts that are believed to have come from the Vatican Library.  The manuscripts used for this Bible are no longer known to us and it is believed that some were lost and some were hidden, never returned to the Vatican Library. 

    Cardinal Ximenes stated that the Greek manuscripts were provided by Pope Leo X from the Vatican Library. 

    For Greek copies indeed we are indebted to [Pope Leo X], who sent us most kindly from the Apostolic Library very ancient codices, both of the Old and New Testament, which have aided us in this undertaking.’” (cited by Metzger, Text of the New Testament, p. 97; emphasis added.
    Daryl R. Coates, That Rascal Erasmus, page 5.

    Thus, there were Greek manuscripts that contained the verse that were not utilised by Erasmus 

    Furthermore, Emmanuel (Manuel) Calecas who died in 1410 AD, writing a commentary in Greek includes the words of 1 John 5:7 almost identical to that found in Scriveners text. 

    (…) Τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, (………..) ὁ Πατὴρ, ὁ Λόγος καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα (τὸ) ἅγιον. Calecas
    (ὅτι) τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες (εν τῷ οὐρανῷ) ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· Scrivener


    Also, Joseph Bryennios, who lived between 1350-1432 AD included the words as found in the KJV in his Greek commentary (he uses Spirit Holy rather than Holy Spirit). 

     ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατὴρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι· Bryennios

    ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· …καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. Scrivener

    Both texts include the articles. 

    So we see the verse used in Greek commentary with near KJV readings 100+ years before Erasmus. 

     

    In the 17th Century, Cyril Lucaris wanted all of the people to have a Greek Bible that they could read. He wanted to create a printed edition that contained Biblical Greek but also modern Greek. He was the Greek Patriarch of Alexandria (Cyril III) and then later he became the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (Cyril I.) 

    The Greek orthodox church was against this idea as they did not want the Bible printed in ordinary Greek. The Church destroyed the printing presses that Cyril had purchased in order to create his print. Cyril fled to England and later finished the Bible which was printed by Geneva in 1637. The Bible contained the Comma, including articles. 

    It was the intension of Cyril to produce a Bible that the common person could read and understand. His Bible included the comma which would have been rather strange if the verse was not considered by the Greek orthodox church as scripture. 

    In response to the translation the Greek orthodox and the eastern churches united to create a confession asserting that the reformation was a heresy and to state the doctrines that were believed. The verse was included within the confession. 

    Sometime around 1700 Ad the Greek orthodox church in Romania set up printing presses (it must be noted that the eastern church did not have printing presses until the 17th Century as opposed to the western which had them around the 15th century.) 

    the church in response to the heresy of the reformation wanted to print something from their Library to help demonstrate that the reformation was a heresy. They printed a work called the Panoplia written by Euthymius early in the 12th Century.
    The work corelated the writings of Early Church fathers. One such was a writing of Cyril of Alexandria from the 5th Century. In the writing of Cyril of Alexandria the heavenly and earthly witnesses can be found, with articles. This was a counter reformation argument, which used the manuscripts of the orthodox church of a writing that was produced in the 12th Century that included a work from the 5th Century. The fact that the comma was present is a vital witness to the authenticity and demonstrates that the verse was in works recorded in Greek long before Erasmus. 
     

    Grammatical evidence

    A vital piece of evidence comes to us through the Greek grammar of verses 7 and 8. 

    While it is not widely known, it is now getting a lot more recognition or at least attention amongst scholars. 

    There is a 

    Eugenius Voulgaris was the Archbishop of Cherson (in modern Crimea) and also a Greek linguist. 

    He state in a letter dated 10th December 1780 that he had noticed something in the Grammar that had not been noticed before, he talks about a Grammatical change if the words of the  Johannine Comma are not included. 

    “This, however, I am able to add here, something which, to my knowledge, has not been heretofore observed. Surely if the passage is absent, if it is secreted away through alteration, the result is that not even verse 8, which follows, would stand, unless verse 7 came first. It is this I wish to discuss. In the Latin version this is correctly expressed with the phrase in the masculine gender,(1) but in the original Greek text itself, if the prior verse is not there, it obviously by no means can stand without some violence to the syntax and through a most obvious solecism. Since τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα (the spirit and the water and the blood) are all neuter nouns, how will they agree with the preceding τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες (there are three who give witness) and the following καὶ οὑτοι οἱ τρεῖς κ.τ.λ. (and these three, etc.)? It is very well known, since all have experience with it, and it is clearly a peculiar genius of our language, that masculine and feminine nouns may be construed with nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the neuter, with regard to the actual sense (τὰ πράγματα). On the other hand no one has ever claimed that neuter noun substantives are indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns. However, we read as follows in the 8th verse: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισι. But, I ask, wouldn’t the natural and appropriate syntax here rather be: και τρια εισιν τα μαρτυρουντα εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και τα τρια εις το εν εισιν. But the former is written, not the latter. What reason can therefore be given for this failure to comply with the rule? It can only be the expression of the preceding 7th verse, which through the immediately following 8th verse is set forth symbolically and obviously restated, an allusion made to that which precedes. Therefore the three who give witness in heaven are first placed in the 7th verse, τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν. Then immediately the very same three witnesses are brought in, to confirm on earth the same witness, through these three symbols, in vs. 8: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν. And so our Evangelist might say “They are the same as those giving witness in heaven.” (This is sufficiently indicated through the particle καί, the force of which here is not simply connective but plainly identifying. [At this point, Eugenius shifts to Greek] Concerning what was said in the text [perhaps = manuscript] above, clearly the Father, the Word and the Spirit. These are the ones giving witness also on the earth, and they are made manifest to us through symbols. These symbols are the spirit, through which the Father is revealed, the blood, through which the Son is revealed, and the water, through which the Holy Spirit is revealed. But these three, who above by way of revelation through the divine names themselves are presented as giving witness in heaven, are the same on earth through remembrance in the divine plan presented repeatedly by way of symbols. But alas! I have made a cup, not a jug.(2)_________ Poltaviae, ad d. 10 December. 1780.

    Georgios Babiniotis who is one of the worlds leading Greek linguists today,  not only states that the argument regarding gender agreement is a correct argument but he also further states that verse 7 justifies verse 8 because of the syntactic parallelism of the two verses.  He is not a theologian and argues simply on the basis of language and grammar. 

    In an email response to Nick Sayers (who runs the website Textus-receptus.com) he said:

    I will not discuss the opinion of the really great theologist and scholar (yet not a linguist) bishop Ευγένιος Βούλγαρης as I do not know on what conditions it was formulated. However, linguistically —though with another explanation— Ευγένιος Βούλγαρης is right to consider verse 5.7 obligatory for the existence of verse 5.8.

    What you are asking has two aspects: a theological and a linguistic one. I can only say my own opinion on the linguistic aspect of the specific text within the frame of what is quite often used in regard to the Greek language and passages of New Testament Greek.

    The use of masculine gender and not neuter on 5.8.

    «καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ,
    τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα
    καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν»


    is linguistically justified on the pattern of “syntactic parallelism”, i.e. on the ground that it makes a pattern completely the same (“parallel”) in structure with that of 5.7.

    ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ,
    ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Λόγος καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα
    καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν είσι


    So for Modern Linguistic analysis what is important is not the mere grammatical “gender agreement rule” (which would lead to the usage of neuter gender : «καὶ τρία εἰσὶ τὰ μαρτυροῦντα ἐν τῇ γῇ…»), but the overruling schema of “syntactic parallelism” which is much more stronger than a simple gender agreement rule.

    Conclusion. The issue we refer to has more to do with the linguistic style of the passage; it is the result of a stylistic selection which is far beyond the usage of a grammatical/syntactic rule that would lead to neuter gender and which furthermore would eliminate verse 5.7.

    George later said in an email:

    “…I have given you my own linguistic explanation which is to keep verse 5.7. which justifies verse 5.8. It is grammatical and mainly “syntactic parallelism” of these two verses…”


    Steven Avery on his forum purebibleforum.com states 

    “Personally, I have talked of this parallelism for years, how the two verses are one grammatical unit, it is nice to see such a high-level explanation (and vindication :))”

    Barry Hofstetter gave a rebuttal to the Grammar argument, however, this rebuttal, has been shown to be inaccurate. 

    Here is a link to the full argument that Barry Hofstetter presented which can be found on James Snapp Jr’s blog ThetextoftheGospels.com 


    Hofstetter argued against the claims of Voulgaris and used 2 verses to support his argument 

    The first being Matthew 23:23: 

    Here is what Hofstetter wrote: 

    ● Matthew 23:23:  τα βαρυτερα του νομου την κρισιν και τον ελεον και την πιστιν – “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”…
                Here, we have an adjectival substantive which is in Greek neuter plural, “the weightier matters,” which is then particularized by three nouns in apposition, law, which is masculine, mercy, which is feminine, and faith, also feminine. 

    However, this example fails to do what Hofstetter claimed that it did. 

    The argument of Voulgaris does not argue against this example.  

    Voulgaris specifically stated: 
    “that masculine and feminine nouns may be construed with nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the neuter,”

    Which is EXACTLY what we have in the verse given by Hoftstetter as support against the argument of Voulgaris. Rather than disprove Voulgaris, this verse actually proves his statement. 

    The 3 nouns in apposition are masculine and feminine nouns,  NOT neuter nouns, and the adjectival substantive is in the NEUTER not masculine or feminine. 

    Voulgaris’ argument is in relation to the neuter nouns that are not indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns. 

    “On the other hand no one has ever claimed that neuter noun substantives are indicated by masculine or feminine adjectives or pronouns.”

    Matthew 23:23 is an example of the FIRST statement of Voulgaris, not the second. Therefore, it simply fails to disprove the argument. 

    This is the same in the case of 1 John 2:16: 

    • FirstJohn 2:16: οτι παν το εν τω κοσμω η επιθυμια της σαρκος και η επιθυμια των οφθαλμων και η αλαζονεια του βιου – “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”

    “All that is in the world” is a neuter substantive phrase that is then particularized by three nouns in the feminine, lust (twice) and pride.

    It would seem that Barry Hofstetter did not fully understand the argument of Voulgaris: 

    So basically we can sum this up 

    When we have a NEUTER Noun followed by Masculine noun, masculine noun, feminine noun (for example) this is perfectly fine. 

    It is ONLY when the Nouns that follow are Neuter that they must agree with the pronoun. 

    When we have a MASCULINE (or FEMININE) noun followed by Neuter noun, Neuter noun, Neuter noun- This is NOT correct grammar. 

    I would recommend a look at Steven Avery’s awesome refutation of Hofstetters argument on his forum.   PureBibleForum.com 
     

    I had the privilege of discussing this verse with Steven on the 7th October 2022.
    You can view the discussion here – Live discussion on Youtube 

    Erasmus discussed the grammar of the comma, making note that the passage would “torture grammarians” 

    It will torture the grammarians that the Spirit, water and blood are described by the phrases “there are three” and “these are one,” especially since the words “Spirit,” “water” and “blood” are grammatically neuter in Greek.
    Erasmus Annotations. 

    Erasmus even gave an explanation.

    “The Apostle pays more regard to the sense than to the words, and for three witnesses, as if they were three people, he substitutes three things: Spirit, water and blood. You use the same construction if you say: ‘The building is a witness to the kind of builder you are.’”
    Erasmus Annotations 

    We must ask WHY the experts that say this verse is an interpolation do not mention this when they discuss Erasmus and his first two editions of the TR. 

     As we have already seen, John Calvin stated the verse flowed better when the clause is added. 

    Since, however, the passage flows better when this clause is added,
    John Calvin Commentary on the Catholic Epistles

    The grammar issue was also noted as far back as the 4th Century. Gregory of Nazianzus made reference to it in his 31st oration. 

    Secondly, because 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 yourself disclaim in the case of Deity?”
    Gregory of Nazianzus Oration 31

    I am also going to give a possibility for how the longer reading was lost that is not based on deliberate omission but one of accidental oversight.  I am not at all stating that this IS the way in which it was lost from the Greek, I am simply offering a possibility. 

    lets have a look at verse 7 and 8 together as it appears in the TR 

    ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν

    καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἕν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἐν εἰσὶν

    Notice the start of each verse are identical except for the Ὅτι (hoti) at the beginning of verse 7 and the  καὶ at the start of verse 8 

    IF a copiest eye went from the μαρτυροῦντες (martyrountes) of verse 7 to the μαρτυροῦντες  (martyrountes) of verse 8 we would end up with a text that looks like this. 

    ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἕν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἐν εἰσὶν

    Which is almost identical to the text of the UBS/NA text

    ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.

    Whether you accept the words as they are in the KJV is ultimately down to your own personal understanding and conviction.

    However unlike it is very commonly portrayed by those who argue against the KJV, either through lack of study or through being disingenuous with the truth, there is actually plenty and indeed favourable supporting evidence for the inclusion of the Comma. We should not simply stop at the lack of existent Greek manuscripts but rather look at the full array of evidence, especially where we have good evidence that corruption of the verse was taking place. 

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