1 John 5:7 - Verifying Sources Again

1 John 5:7 KJV
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

For the sake of clarity, I am going to refer to the Traditional text as those Greek autographs for the New Testament that are the basis for the KJV, and NKJV translations, and the Critical text as the basis for all other English translations of the New Testament.  There are many copies of manuscripts that can be somewhat confusing at times to distinguish.  The Traditional manuscripts originate from the area of the old Byzantine Empire, which is where the Apostle Paul did his ministry, and the Critical manuscripts are a compilation of texts hinging primarily on some old Greek writings that originate from Alexandria Egypt.

Not long ago, I read an article by Dan Wallace on a website called bible.org concerning the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7) saying that some scribe named Roy forged a Greek text of the verse for Erasmus when he was compiling his Greek New Testament, which was part of the basis for the translation of the King James Version of the Bible.  It was said that Erasmus had pressure from somebody in the Catholic Church to add this verse, but allegedly didn't want to add it.  So this scribe Roy (no last name) came up with a make shift text for Erasmus to enter into his Greek New Testament.  Well, I tell you what, just check out the video for yourself.




I have to say that is quite a story.  But, is it enough to discredit the presence of 1 John 5:7 from the text of Scripture?  John Ankerberg who posted the video thinks so. So far, it has been difficult for me to find any references on this subject.  Theologians were quibbling over it in the days of Matthew Henry to the point that he took a pause in his commentary to write about it.  In the end, he defends the texts authenticity.  Not long ago, I ran across an Internet article about this subject, and it was titled "1 John 5:7 (Johannine Comma) - "These Three Are One" and the article is an excerpt from a book titled "Crowned With Glory." In the excerpt I found a reference tucked away that I had never seen on this subject. It basically stated that the story referenced above isn't supportable up against the historical evidence.  I thought, "there are a lot of people trying to refute Wallace on this," but when I saw the reference name I was astonished.  It was Bruce Metzger, who was one of the greatest advocates of the Alexandrian manuscripts, which led to the compilation of the Critical text.  In a book that I have read called "The Bible in Translation," Metzger referred to the Greek manuscripts used by the KJV translators "an inferior text."  So, I thought that I better verify this reference because it seemed too good to be true.  I thought that maybe it was just speculative and another desperate attempt to justify the Traditional text by those who want to defend its' good name (which happens a lot).  So, I did some digging.  The name of the book referenced is "The Text of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th edition)" and on page 291 at the bottom there is a shocking revelation at footnote #2.  It says 


"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 light of the research of H. J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion; see his Erasmus and The Comma Johanneum', Epemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, lvi (1980), pp. 381-9." 


Now, it doesn't defeat the skepticism of many concerning the Bible text, and I am pretty sure that Wallace has read this.  But, it does hang a dim cloud over the assertion that Wallace made on television about "Ole Roy." I think that we have to be careful when trying to prove a point to support something we believe in.  I said "We" because I have fallen into this trap.  It is so easy to state theory as fact when you want someone to believe you.  Evolutionists do this all of the time and do it so much that they have convinced the masses.  Wallace probably should have said something like, "this is my best guess and opinion based on what I have studied" before he told his story.    


The heavy reliance on naturalistic human reasoning and theory when it comes to Textual Criticism is good when dealing with human literary works, but when casting doubt on the book of all books, I think that we must be careful in how we approach this, and make sure we know what we are doing when we confidently make the assertion that something needs to be removed from the Scripture.  Personally, I think that this experiment has caused many to doubt and run away from the faith.  It would be one thing if there was a clear understanding based on some hard evidence, but I haven't seen anything yet that does it for me.  These guys who push the Critical Text seem to have scant evidence to defend their position.  They weave a cleaver system based on critical reasoning and harp on the idea that "Older is more accurate." This would be sufficient if the Bible were just another literary work like "The Odyssey." But, if men could corrupt the text between the second and seventeenth century, and God allowed it, they could corrupt it before then.  I heard somewhere that Bart Ehrman (Who co-authored the second book cited above with Metzger) believes that the Bible is so messed up that we don't even have anything close to the original.  He even denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I give him credit for being consistent.  At least if you are going to believe the Bible has been tampered with, why not go all of the way?  I don't know how he thinks that he knows that, but he is convinced based on the system of Textual Criticism he supports.  Of course, it is obvious that Ehrman doesn't believe and therefore it lends to his cynical position of the Bible.  He has quite an audience from what I hear and thinks nothing of casting doubt on the sacred Scriptures. The funny thing is that both sides of this issue have the same evidence, they just have a different perspective.  We all come to the table with presuppositions.  If the Written Word is true, God will give His children "eyes to see, and ears to hear," and there will always be doubters.  In fact, they are in the majority.  True believers are in the minority (Matthew 7:13-14).  Those that defend the Critical Text hinge their beliefs on their skepticism of mankind, which is not a wrong conclusion.  We are all sinners according to the Bible, and if it weren't for the grace of God, no man could see the truth.  However, if the written Word has been tampered with, how do we know that anything it testifies is true?  It is no wonder that Ehrman has come to the conclusion he has about the Bible and Jesus.  The seed of doubt has finally blossomed and is now bearing fruit.  Nevertheless, those that defend the preservation of Scripture in the Traditional Text believe in the power of God to preserve His word to his people and protect it from error over and above the inadequacy of mankind.  I think that those who believe in Jesus who support the Critical text have the same faith to some extent.  I think that those who lean toward the Traditional text are more consistent.  It is my view and I believe that it is possible for God to preserve His Written Word.  Now, I think that most who defend the Critical text are well meaning and aren't as extreme as Ehrman, and I have seen people come to Christ through the preaching of the Bible in many translations based on the Critical text.  So, whatever ones' perspective is about these texts, the Word of God is effective when preached even if some parts of it are deleted.  Because, let's face it, most believers didn't have a complete Bible to read from before 1611, and all that they had was what they received from the church and oral tradition.  God has moved in many lives because of the truth spoken and the Holy Spirit. 


I personally do believe that 1 John 5:7, John 7:53-8:11, the ending of Mark, Acts 8:37, and many more texts that have been removed are the Word of God regardless of the age or availability of manuscripts to our scholars today.  That is my real issue here.  Now there are some bad translations out there and with many of them I would proceed with caution.  I lean heavily on the KJV and the NKJV because they are rooted in the Traditional texts of the New Testament.  As far as those that come from the Critical text, I would say that your best bet for accuracy would be the ESV, NASB, or the NRSV.  


There is a good argument for the Traditional text that states the best manuscripts have the most descendants. It doesn't necessarily prove anything, but I believe it and think it is a good thought.  When it is all said and done, we have to decide what we believe about this based on the evidence.  I personally believe that the rare evidence of the older manuscripts and skeptical positions of highly educated scholars aren't enough to discredit the traditional text when compared.  There is too much history that defends the preservation of God's Word in the Traditional text of the New Testament.  One example I can think of comes from Theodore Beza who was John Calvin's successor.  He believed that the Vaudois (Waldensians) received the Scriptures from missionaries at Antioch (Byzantine) in 120 A.D. and then translated them into Latin by 157 A.D.  Now that is another highly debated issue, but I don't think that they would make it up.  John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards believed that the Vaudois were the actual descendants of the original Christian Church began by the Apostles, and that they preserved the Christian Scriptures and faith for all those years before the Reformation.  In addition, the Eastern Church uses the Traditional texts and have been separate from the Roman Catholics for many years (Since 1054).  Also, there are some early ancient manuscripts in other languages that contain 1 John 5:7 and other highly debated and deleted texts.  Just because the verse isn't found in the oldest Greek manuscripts (that aren't complete I might add) doesn't mean it wasn't in the original.  There is more historical information out there concerning the preservation of 1 John 5:7, and there isn't much said these days about it.  I think this is because most folks don't even read the Bible they have much less notice the differences in the texts and history.  Nevertheless, I personally believe that God has kept His Word accessible and without corruption.  The question remains, "which Bible is it?"  I think that any translation coming from the Traditional text is the best and most accurate to the original, though, any translation that testifies that the Triune God is reigning is good.  The following reference is just one example that I think that 1 John 5:7 belongs in the Bible.  


Reference below - I drew from an article from Chick Publications:
I am not a KJV onlyist like Chick, and do not always agree with him, but I have checked the reference, and he is spot on concerning the facts here.

But during this same time, we find mention of 1 John 5:7, from about 200 AD through the 1500s. Here is a useful timeline of references to this verse:

200 ADTertullian quoted the verse in his Apology, Against Praxeas
250 ADCyprian 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, (see note for Old Latin)
350 ADPriscillian referred to it [Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Academia Litterarum Vindobonensis, vol. xviii, p. 6.]
350 ADIdacius Clarus referred to it [Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 62, col. 359.]
350 ADAthanasius referred to it in his De Incarnatione
398 ADAurelius Augustine used it to defend Trinitarianism in De Trinitateagainst the heresy of Sabellianism
415 ADCouncil of Carthage appealed to 1 John 5:7 when debating the Arian belief (Arians didn't believe in the deity of Jesus Christ)
450-530 ADSeveral 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 ADCassiodorus cited it [Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 70, col. 1373.]
550 ADOld Latin ms r has it
550 ADThe "Speculum" has it [The Speculum is a treatise that contains some good Old Latin scriptures.]
750 ADWianburgensis referred to it
800 ADJerome's Vulgate has it [It was not in Jerome's original Vulgate, but was brought in about 800 AD from good Old Latin manuscripts.]
1000s ADminiscule 635 has it
1150 ADminuscule ms 88 in the margin
1300s ADminiscule 629 has it
157-1400 ADWaldensian (that is, Vaudois) Bibles have the verse
1500 ADms 61 has the verse

Even Nestle's 26th edition Greek New Testament, based upon the corrupt Alexandrian text, admits that these and other important manuscripts have the verse: 221 v.l.; 2318 Vulgate [Claromontanus]; 629; 61; 88; 429 v.l.; 636 v.l.; 918; l; r.

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