1 John 5:7

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In the King James Version of the Bible, 1 John 5:7-8 states:

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]

The bracketed words are not in the original Greek manuscripts. It is one of the few things that all New Testament scholars agree on. These added words are referred to as the “Johannine Comma.” [2]

The original Greek text

The King James Version contains an addition to 1 John 5:7–8, called the “Johannine Comma” or "Comma Johanneum" (comma = sentence or clause), which made its way into the Latin texts of the Bible but did not exist in the Greek manuscripts prior to the 9th century.

The Johannine Comma is absent from almost the whole of the Greek textual tradition, including the quotations in the church fathers. It is transmitted by only eight Greek minuscule (a specific type of Greek manuscript), where it probably entered via the Latin textual witnesses. None of these manuscripts can be dated before 1400, and only four of them appear in the text; the others are marginal additions.

The Johannine Comma is also absent from the manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate before 750AD and is absent from all Coptic, Ethiopian, Arabic, and Slavic translations up to 1500AD.

In 1592, the Comma Johanneum was incorporated into the official Catholic edition of the Vulgate where it reads as follows (italicized):

7 Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant
in caelo: 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.

The Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition issued a decretal on 13 January 1897, forbidding anyone to question the authenticity of the Johannine Comma: its genuineness could neither be denied nor doubted. Pope Leo XIII confirmed this judgment two days later. On 2 June 1927, however, a new official declaration by the Holy Office, as the successor institution to the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition, made Roman Catholic exegetes again free to discuss the question of the Johannine Comma. From that time it has been generally recognized in Roman Catholic scholarship also that the Johannine Comma is neither original nor authentic.[3]

How it got into the King James Version

Erasmus, a Dutch Catholic scholar, created a reliable Greek New Testament based on six incomplete Greek manuscripts. Because the words do not appear in the early Greek texts, he refused to include them in his 1516 and 1519 editions of the Greek New Testament. However, he faced pressure to include them from the Catholic church.

Erasmus still refused to include the Johanine Comma unless the Catholic authorities showed him a Greek text containing the Comma. He was shown a manuscript that was probably made in 1520, and Erasmus then included the words in his 1522 third edition, protesting all the while. Subsequently, however, he refused to include the words in future editions. But Erasmus’s third edition became the Textus Receptus which was used by the translators for the King James Version (KJV), dominant for the next four centuries.[4]

There are few critical issues on which there is greater agreement among scholars of all persuasions: the Greek text underlying the Johannine comma did not come from the Apostle John’s hand. They are not original.[5]

Here is how the passage reads in several modern translations:

NIV

7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.[6]

ESV

7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.[7]

NASB

7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.[8]

Quotes of William Branham

William Branham quoted the passage on numerous occasions and appeared to have no understanding the passage in the KJV was not in the origin Greek:

First John 5:7, said, “There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and…Father, Word, and Holy Ghost,” which was the Son, “and these three are one. And there’s three that bear record in earth, the water, Blood, and Spirit, and they agree in one.” Not one, but agree in one. You can’t have the Father without having the Son; you can’t have the Son without having the Holy Ghost, for they are inseparable, one. The trinity is in a one.[9]
There are three that bear record in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and Holy Ghost. These three are One. There are three that bear record in earth (First John 5:7), the water, the blood, and the Spirit. They are not one, but agree in one. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One, but water, blood, and Spirit agree in one, ’cause you can be justified without being sanctified. You can’t have the Father without having the Son. You can’t have the Son without having the Holy Ghost. So they are one. But when you are justified by faith, you are not sanctified yet, and you cannot be sanctified… and—and when you’re sanctified then you haven’t got the Holy Ghost yet.[10]


Footnotes

  1. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Jn 5:7–8.
  2. Carroll D. Osburn, “Johannine Comma,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 882.
  3. Georg Strecker and Harold W. Attridge, The Johannine Letters: A Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 188–189.
  4. J. E. McDermond, 1, 2, 3 John, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Harrisonburg, VA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2011), 309.
  5. Robert W. Yarbrough, 1–3 John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 293.
  6. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Jn 5:7–8.
  7. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Jn 5:7–8.
  8. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Jn 5:7–8.
  9. William Branham, 53-0608A - Demonology, Physical Realm, para. 57
  10. William Branham, 60-0611B - Fellowship, para. 30


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