Can 1 John 5:7 be used in support of the trinity?
One of the most quoted Bible texts in support of the doctrine of the trinity is 1 John 5:7.
It is probably in the top five list of strongest versus to prove that God is made up of three persons, and yet still is One God.
Here is just one example of it used that way.
A quote from Doug Batchelor.
“And then of course, and some people challenge this verse; but it’s in the Bible and I believe it. 1 John 5:7.
For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, (that’s God the Father) the word (Jesus is the word become flesh) and the Holy Spirit, these three are one. That’s hard to misunderstand: The three are one.”
1 John 5:7 and the trinity
1 John 5:7 and the trinity1 John 5:7 is one of the most popular verses used to prove a Trinity. Does it really support the idea that God is three persons. Join Nader Mansour in this episode of Prove All Things which dispels this notion. Discover the true meaning of this verse and why it can't be used in defense of the Trinity. Prove All Things 5
The three are indeed one; but one what, is the verse saying they are one God? No!
Does the verse actually teach that God is a trinity, that these three are the one God of the bible, does it clearly tell us about the nature and makeup of God?
Not really; and if it doesn’t prove that God is a trinity then what does it mean when it says that these three are one?
Today we’re going to examine this verse and see what it really means. 1 John 5:7
Prove all things
Hold Fast That Which is good
Hello everyone I’m Nader Mansour and this is prove all things.
The passage in question today: 1 John 5:7 is a favorite verse for many trinitarians:
To most people it is proof positive that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the one God of the Bible; a plural of god that is composed of three persons.
Is this what John is trying to tell us through this verse? The answer is a resounding no! 1 John 5:7
So what does he mean when he says these three are one: one what?
let’s read the text again and note that the answer is right there in the verse itself.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the father, the word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Did you see it? They are one, in bearing the same record: Their record and witness is one and the same, this is the case that John is making in this passage. This is confirmed when we check the verse that comes right after, verse 8, it says. 1 John 5:7
“And there are three that bear witness in the earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one.”
You see it now; right? Notice that these three listed here; these witnesses are not all persons or beings, they all agree in one, they bear the same witness. 1 John 5:7
The oneness that John is dealing with in this chapter is the oneness of testimony and witness, not the oneness of God.
That’s exactly its point in verse 7, three record bearers who are one in agreement and testimony. 1 John 5:7
To think that this verse has anything to do with the nature of God is to tragically miss the whole point of the letter of John. You see John was not dealing with the identity of God in this passage; the context makes that clear, not just of the chapter but the entire letter. This text isn’t trying to expound on the doctrine of God, how many persons or beings, this is not what he’s dealing with at all.
Notice the following words richly peppered in this chapter alone, 1 John 5:7
verse 6: beareth witness
verse 7: bear record
verse 8: witness
verse 9: witness (3), testified
verse 10: witness, record
verse 11: record
These words conjure up the imagery of a courtroom in which John is trying to make a case for something. He repeatedly uses the words ‘witness’, ‘testimony’, and ‘record’ to prove a point. So what is the point he’s trying to prove with all these witnesses? 1 John 5:7
He says it in verse 5, and verse 10.
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God”
“He that believeth on the Son of God has a witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God
gave of His Son.”
That United testimony of so many witnesses is that Christ is the Son of God, it’s exactly the same thing that his gospel was all about. 1 John 5:7
Notice how He spells it out in John 20 verse 31
“but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”
So the father, the word, and the spirit, are indeed one, not one person, one being, or one God, or Godhead as many would like to believe, but one in Testimony.
They all agree in giving the one testimony, in bearing the one record, that record is that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of god. 1 John 5:7
The Father testified and gave record of His Son at the baptism, and at the Mount of Transfiguration. He said, this is my beloved Son, the Son testified and clearly stated I am the Son of God, and the Spirit testified of Christ Sonship through countless believers who confessed that Christ was indeed the Son of the Living God.
Acts 5:32 says:
“And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey Him.”
Peter, Philip, Paul, and every single believer bore witness to this truth of the Sonship of Christ; after all, these confessions of Christ’s lordship are by the Holy Spirit. 1 John 5:7
This is the United witness that these three bear; it’s actually very easy to understand when we see the verse in its proper context, it’s all about Christ being the Son of God.
If we don’t believe this record we make God a liar: The trinity destroys this witness and rejects the record that God gave of his Son. The trinity teaches that God is made up of three persons who are Co eternal, and therefore the Father-Son relationship is only a role play, or a metaphor, in other words it’s not real. 1 John 5:7
To use this text to support a doctrine that denies that Christ is the Son of God obliterates the very testimony that heaven is revealing to us, the Sonship of Christ is just as real as the eternal life that is in Him, if His Sonship is only a metaphor then what does that say of the eternal life that is in Him?
Please notice how John links these two points together 1st John 5:10-11.
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God has made him a liar; because he believed not the record that God gave of His Son.”
“And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Christ has eternal life in Him because He is the Son of God, the basis for His possession of that life is his Sonship to the Father. This is what Christ Himself taught when He was here on earth.
John 5: 26
“For as the Father hath life in Himself so had He given to the Son to have life in Himself”
God the Father gave His Son to have the very same life: That’s eternal life, it’s all based on the unique and vital relation that Christ has with the Father. He is His only begotten Son, as such he has the very life and nature of His Father, that is why when we have the Son we have that which his Son-ship entails. 1 John 5:7
1st John 5:12
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
This is a real Son, not a make-believe Son or a role playing Son, not a metaphorical Son, no one would dare believe that the eternal life in the Son is a metaphor; that would be absurd, it is just as unreasonable and outrageous to teach that about the Son-ship of Christ. 1 John 5:7
Now that we have explained the verse from the Bible we see that it has no support for a trinity.
It’s interesting to note the this verse has an interesting story behind its origin; here it is from the SDA bible commentary. 1 John 5:7
“Textual evidence attests the omission of the passage (in heaven, the father, the word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in the earth.) The disputed words have been widely used in support of the doctrine of the trinity, but, in view of such overwhelming evidence against their authenticity, their support is valueless and should not be used.”
In spite of their appearance in the Vulgate, A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture freely admits regarding these words: “It is now generally held that this passage called the Comma Johanneum, is a gloss that crept into the text of the old Latin and vulgate at an early date, but found its way into the Greek text only in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries” (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1951, p1186). (The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol.7,p.675)
This is so well established that most Bible commentaries acknowledge this fact, most people however, who use this text don’t know the history of its origin. Even the biblical Research Institute the B.R.I. admits as much stating that this text 1st John 5:7 should not be used.
So there you have it, there are three that bear record.
The SDA bible commentary, the Catholic commentary, and the B.R.I., and these three are one, they are saying the same thing about this verse.
Whatever the case, rather than endlessly disputing and debating the authenticity of the verse, we have simply allowed the Bible to shed light on its meaning for us. We found that far from supporting a trinity, it’s actually an affirmation of the Son-ship of Christ and the very real relation He holds to His Father.
This is the consistent and United testimony of the Father, the only true God, His only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit of God, working through different agencies.
That is how the Father, the word, and the Holy Spirit are one, they are one in bearing record that Christ is indeed the only begotten Son of God.
The Johannine Comma
(1 John 5:7-8)
The so-called Johannine Comma (also called the Comma Johanneum) is a sequence of
extra words which appear in 1 John 5:7-8 in some early printed editions of the Greek New Testament.
In these editions the verses appear thus (we put brackets around the extra words):
ὅtι tρeῖς eἰsιν οἱ µaρtυροῦνteς [ἐν tῷ οὐρaνῷ, ὁ Πatήρ, ὁ Λόγος, κaὶ tὸ Ἅγιον Πνeῦµa· κaὶ οὗtοι οἱ tρeῖς ἔν eἰsι. 8 κaὶ tρeῖς eἰsιν οἱ µaρtυροῦνteς ἐν tῇ γῇ] tὸ pνeῦµa κaὶ tὸ ὕdωρ κaὶ tὸ aἷµa, κaὶ οἱ tρeῖς eἰς tὸ ἕν eἰsιν.
The King James Version, which was based upon these editions, gives the following translation:
For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth], the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
These extra words are generally absent from the Greek manuscripts. In fact, they only appear in the text of four late medieval manuscripts.
They seem to have originated as a marginal note added to certain Latin manuscripts during the middle ages, which was eventually incorporated into the text of most of the later Vulgate manuscripts.
In the Clementine edition of the Vulgate the verses were printed thus:
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.
From the Vulgate, then, it seems that the Comma was translated into Greek and inserted into some printed editions of the Greek text, and in a handful of late Greek manuscripts.
All scholars consider it to be spurious, and it is not included in modern critical editions of the Greek text, or in the English versions based upon them.
For example, the English Standard Version reads:
“For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”
We give below the comments of Dr. Bruce M. Metzger on 1 John 5:7-8, from his book, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1993).
After µaρtυροῦνteς the Textus Receptus adds the following: ἐν tῷ οὐρaνῷ, ὁ Πatήρ, ὁ Λόγος, κaὶ tὸ Ἅγιον Πνeῦµa· κaὶ οὗtοι οἱ tρeῖς ἔν eἰsι. 8 κaὶ tρeῖς eἰsιν οἱ µaρtυροῦνteς ἐν tῇ γῇ.
That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain in the light of the following considerations.
(A) External Evidence.
(1) The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except eight, and these contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate.
Four of the eight manuscripts contain the passage as a variant reading written in the margin as a later addition to the manuscript.
The eight manuscripts are as follows:
61: codex Montfortianus, dating from the early sixteenth century.
88: a variant reading in a sixteenth century hand, added to the fourteenth-century codex Regius of Naples.
221: a variant reading added to a tenth-century manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
429: a variant reading added to a sixteenth-century manuscript at Wolfenbüttel.
629: a fourteenth or fifteenth century manuscript in the Vatican.
636: a variant reading added to a sixteenth-century manuscript at Naples.
918: a sixteenth-century manuscript at the Escorial, Spain.
2318: an eighteenth-century manuscript, influenced by the Clementine Vulgate, at Bucharest, Rumania.
(2) The passage is quoted by none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian).
Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.
(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin; and it is not found
(a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate (b) as issued by Jerome (codex Fuldensis [copied a.d. 541-46] and codex Amiatinus [copied before a.d. 716]) or
(c) as revised by Alcuin (first hand of codex Vallicellianus [ninth century]).
The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4), attributed either to the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died about 385) or to his follower Bishop Instantius.
Apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolize the trinity (through the mention of three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood), an interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text. In the fifth century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle, and from the sixth century onwards it is found more and more frequently in manuscripts of the Old Latin and of the Vulgate.
In these various witnesses the wording of the passage differs in several particulars. (For examples of other intrusions into the Latin text of 1 John, see 2.17; 4.3; 5.6, and 20.)
(B) Internal Probabilities.
(1) As regards transcriptional probability, if the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission, either accidentally or intentionally, by copyists of hundreds of Greek manuscripts, and by translators of ancient versions.
(2) As regards intrinsic probability, the passage makes an awkward break in the sense.
For the story of how the spurious words came to be included in the Textus Receptus, see any critical commentary on 1 John, or Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 101 f.; cf. also Ezra Abbot, “I. John v. 7 and Luther’s German Bible,” in The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and Other Critical Essays (Boston, 1888), pp. 458-463.
See the following links for further information on the subject of the trinity and its origins
External Link: You will be directed to www.Worlds Last Chance Trinity
External Link: You will be directed to www.trinitytruth.org
How did the ‘Comma Johanneum’ come to be included in the received text?
It began with Desiderius Erasmus and his “Novum Instrumentum omne” which was the first New Testament in Greek to be published. This Greek text is also referred to as the Textus Receptus. Erasmus did not include the infamous Comma Johanneum of 1 John 5:7-8 in either his 1516 or 1519 editions of his Greek New Testament with very good reason. But it made its way into his third edition in 1522 because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared in 1516, there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma Trinitarian formula because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it. Once one was produced called the Codex 61, that was written by one Roy or Froy at Oxford in c. 1520, he reluctantly agreed to include it in his subsequent editions. Erasmus probably altered the text because of politico-theologico-economic concerns. He did not want his reputation ruined, nor his Novum Instrumentum to go unsold. Thus it passed into the Stephanus Greek New Testament in 1551 (first New Testament in verses), which came to be called the Textus Receptus, and became the basis for the Geneva Bible New Testament in 1557 and the Authorized King James Version in 1611. To the left is an image of the Codex 61 with the added words underlined in red.
A special thanks goes out to trinity truth for providing such a wealth of information on this blasphemous doctrine of the trinity. Please take the time to explore their website on this subject. www.trinitytruth.org