Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7): Trinity vs Oneness Debate

Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7): Trinity vs Oneness Debate
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There is a passage in the New Testament that seems to be an extraordinarily clear statement about the Trinity – 1 John 5:7.

1 John 5:7-8
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 on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these agree as one.

This passage is a much debated yet wonderful text. (There are some textual concerns, but I will not address those in this post. We will examine the text as written in the KJV. Also, comparing the heavenly witnesses to the earthly witnesses might be a future topic, but for now the scope of this post will be very limited.)

This verses are interesting because it shows the power of perspective. Both Oneness and Trinitarian believers throw this verse around as the trump card in any biblical discussion. They both play the same card to prove different points.

Trinitarians focus on the “three” at the beginning of verse 7. Oneness advocates focus on the “one” at the end of verse seven.

Does this verse prove or explain the Trinity? Is this the undeniable evidence?

The Greek word for “one” in 1 John 5:7 of the Textus Receptus is the word that is usually transliterated as “hen”. It is neuter, and thus would call for a neuter designation in reference to what the three are being spoken of as “one”. For the designation to have been one as in “one God”, the Greek would call for the Greek word masculine “heis”, not the neuter “hen”. This is shown in 1 Corinthians 8:6, where the Greek has “heis theos” (one God). Likewise, if the thought should be one being, then the Greek would call for the Greek word “mia”, not the Greek word “hen”. This is shown in the trinitarian phrases, “”treis hypostaseis en mia ousia”, (“three persons in one substance”), or “mia ousia, treis hypostaseis” (“One essence in three persons”).

Extant Greek manuscripts

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

“οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν” (1 John 5:7, 1894 Scrivener Textus Receptus)

1 John 5:7 in the KJV contains these words called the Johannine Comma (also known as the Comma Johanneum or the Heavenly Witnesses).  This Comma is omitted from most modern translations of the Bible because most Greek manuscripts do not have them.  Only 11 “late” Greek manuscripts contain the Comma, with 6 of them having it in the margin by an even later hand:

  • 629 (14th century)
  • 61 (16th century)
  • 918 (16th century)
  • 2473 (17th century)
  • 2318 (18th century)
  • 221 margin (10th century, Comma added later)
  • 635 margin (11th century, Comma added later)
  • 88 margin (12th century, Comma added in 16th century)
  • 429 margin (14th century, Comma added later)
  • 636 margin (15th century, Comma added later)
  • 177 margin (11th century, Comma added later)

This might appear to be a small body of evidence, but they must be considered in light of the following facts particular to the text of 1 John 5:

  • Most Greek manuscripts containing 1 John 5:6-8 would be considered “late” by modern standards.  Of the about 480 manuscripts of 1 John 5, only 12 of these manuscripts are from before the 10th century (Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th revised edition (2006)):
    • 01 (4th century)
    • A (5th century)
    • B (4th century)
    • K (9th century)
    • L (8th century)
    • P (9th century)
    • Ψ (9th century)
    • 048 (5th century)
    • 049 (9th century)
    • 056 (10th century)
    • 0142 (10th century)
    • 0296 (6th century)

The rest of the 480 manuscripts are minuscules from after the 10th century, the average being from around the 12th century.

Historical manuscripts

Evidence disappears over time.  What we have existing now in the 21st century is not representative of what actually existed throughout history.  Reformation era scholars seemed to have more Greek manuscripts containing the Comma.  John Gill (1697 – 1771 AD), commenting on 1 John 5:7 says the Comma is found “in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens’, nine of them had it” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).  John Calvin, commenting on 1 John 5:7, said, “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.” (Calvin’s Commentaries).  Apparently in Calvin’s time there were more Greek manuscripts with the Comma so as to give rise to a disagreement among the Greek copies.  Francis Cheynell, the president of St. John’s College, Oxford from 1648 to 1650, commented that the Comma is “to be found in copies of great antiquity and best credit.”  The following are excerpts from his book, The divine trinunity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, published in 1650:
“But it is objected by some that the words, These three are one. I Joh.5.7 are not to be found in some ancient Copies, and therefore it will not be safe to build a point of such weight and consequence upon such a weake foundation. To which we answer, It is true that these words are not to be found in the Syriak Edition, but they who speake most modestly, do acknowledge that the Syriack Edition is not Authentick.” (p. 251)
“But then it is farther objected, that these words These three are one are wanting in some other Greek copies; for answer I proceed with my observations.” (p. 253)
“8. These words, I Ioh.5.7. are to be found in copies of great antiquity and best credit.” (p. 255)
These testimonies by trusted Reformation era scholars should be given weight because in the centuries following their deaths Europe erupted into political and religious turmoil, resulting in the loss of manuscripts.  It is presumptuous for us in the 21st century to think we have more evidence now than what scholars had in the 16th century.  For more on this, please read: Question: Aren’t some Textus Receptus readings based on weak manuscript evidence?
 

Umlaut in Codex Vaticanus

The oldest manuscript containing 1 John 5:7 demonstrates that a significant textual variant was known for 1 John 5:7 in the 4th century.  In 1995 Philip B. Payne discovered “umlauts” (double dots) in the margins of various places in Codex Vaticanus.  He and many scholars agree that these umlauts indicate lines where a textual variant was known to the scribe.  You can read his work, The Originality of Text-Critical Symbols in Codex Vaticanus here.  Interestingly, an umlaut appears next to the phrase “τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες” in Vaticanus.  Payne briefly discusses and seemingly dismisses the significance of the umlaut in 1 John 5:7 (p. 112, footnote 34), but without a doubt the umlaut is there.  The following is a scanned image of 1 John 5:6-8 in Vaticanus:

The following is a screen capture of the transcription of the above from the official digitized Nestle-Aland on the University of Munster Institute website. The image below can be viewed by selecting 1 John 5:7 in “B – 03 (Vaticanus)” and selecting “view by page”:

There is clearly an umlaut in the margin of verse 7 indicating a textual variant.  The only significant textual variant here is the Comma.

1 John 5:6 was corrupted early

Did you know?

Early Greek manuscripts of 1 John 5:6, the verse preceding the Comma, are corrupt.
1 John 5:6 is the verse immediately preceding the Comma.  Among those who parrot the statement that “none of the earliest manuscripts contain the Comma,” perhaps only a few of them are aware that the verse immediately preceding the Comma is corrupt in these early manuscripts.  The earliest witnesses of the passage are Codices Sinaiticus (4th century), Vaticanus (4th century), Alexandrinus (5th century) and 0296 (6th century). Uncial 048 (5th century) is lacunae.  There are semantically significant discrepancies among these early witnesses at 1 John 5:6:


ESV (agreeing with Nestle-Aland 27):
6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7  For there are three that testify: 8  the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”

Nestle-Aland 27:

6 ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δι υδατος και αιματος ιησους χριστος ουκ εν τω υδατι μονον αλλ εν τω υδατι και εν τω αιματι και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια 7 οτι τρεις εισιν οι  μαρτυρουντες 8 το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν”


Vaticanus (4th c.):
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 7 οτι ··τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες· 8 το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα· και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν·”


Sinaiticus (4th c.):
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 7 οτι οι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες 8 το πνα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν”
 
Alexandrinus (5th c.):
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 7 οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες· 8 το πνα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν”

0296 (6th c.):
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· 7 οτ[ι] τρεις οι μαρτυρουντε[ς] 8 το πνα και το υδωρ και το αιμα· και οι τρεις [ει]ς τ[ο] εν [εισιν]

Here we see that only Vaticanus among the early uncials agrees with Nestle-Aland 27.  Vaticanus says that Jesus Christ came by “water and blood”.  Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus say that Jesus Christ came by “water and blood and Spirit“.  0296 even has “Spirit” before “blood”.  While this different word order in 0296 might initially seem trivial, it actually has deep theological implications considering that some interpret the water to mean Christ’s baptism and the blood to mean Christ’s crucifixion.  As “water and blood” are placed in that order based on the chronological order that such elements played in Christ’s life, the rearranging of “Spirit” before “blood” suggests a deliberate attempt by the corrupter to place the reference to the Spirit in the appropriate order based on the chronology of Christ’s earthly ministry (Christ’s baptism preceded the Spirit descending upon him).  Alexandrinus further adds to the confusion by replacing “not by the water only but by the water and the blood” with “not by the water only but by the water and by the Spirit“.  The textual variants in verse 6 begin to increase when we include other manuscripts and witnesses:

  • ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος (B, K, Ψ, 049, 056, 0142, 181, 330, 451, 629, 1739*, 1881, 2127, Byz, Lect, it, vg, syrp)
  • ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος (43, 241, 463, 945, 1241, 1831, 1877*, 1891)
  • ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος καὶ αἵματος (P, 81, 88, 442, 630, 915, 2492, arm, eth)
  • ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνεύματος (א, A, 104, 424c, 614, 1739c, 2412, 2495, ℓ598m, syrh, copsa, copbo, Origen)
  • ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου (39, 61, 326, 1837)

The spurious inclusion of “Spirit” in these early uncials is not trivial.  What it demonstrates is that scribes were prone to alter this portion of 1 John based on theological or stylistic motivations.  By 350 AD this portion of 1 John 5  was already corrupt in the Greek tradition. Since verse 6 is corrupt in Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, and verse 7 in 0296 does not have “εισιν,” there are only two manuscripts (Vaticanus and 048) from before the 7th century which read exactly as the Byzantine/Majority Text or the Nestle-Aland from verse 6 to 7:

  • “ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δι υδατος και αιματος ιησους χριστος ουκ εν τω υδατι μονον αλλ εν τω υδατι και εν τω αιματι και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες” (Nestle-Aland 27)
  • “ουτος εστιν ο ελθων δι υδατος και αιματος ιησους χριστος ουκ εν τω υδατι μονον αλλ εν τω υδατι και τω αιματι και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες” (Byzantine/Majority Text 2000)

Critics of the Comma are almost always silent regarding these corruptions of 1 John 5:6 in the early uncials – corruptions that surely diminish the reliability of these early uncials in this portion of the text.  Despite there being this textual variant involving the third person of the Trinity, none of the footnotes to 1 John 5:6 in the ESV, NIV, NASB, NRSV, NLT & HCSB mention it.  Such silence only serves to protect the undeserving reputation of the so-called “earliest and best manuscripts” and does not help the casual reader who wants the truth.

1 John 5:6 was prone to corruption

Some later manuscripts show further corruption in 1 John 5:6.  Where it should read, “και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια (And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth)”, manuscript 621 (11th century) reads, “και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν και η αληθεια (And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is bearing witness and truth)”.  326 (10th century) and 436 (11th/12th century) say, “και το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν οτι το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια (And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is bearing witness because the Spirit is truth)” (Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior: IV Catholic Letters, Text, 2nd Ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2013), p. 349).  While these errors most likely arose from misreading the line and repeating certain phrases, the fact that such errors arose shows that the repetitive nature of this general passage lends itself to erroneous copying (see below: Evidence of errors by parablepses).

1 John 5:8 was prone to corruption

1 John 5:8 is also corrupted in a number of late manuscripts.  Where it should read, “οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν (the three agree in one)”, the following witnesses read, “οι τρεις εν εισιν (these threeare one)”: Pseudo-Caesarius (post-6th century), 2541 (12th century), 254 original (14th century), 1067 (14th century), 1409 (14th century) (Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior: IV Catholic Letters, Text, 2nd Ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2013), p. 350).  While it could be surmised that either “εις” or “το” could drop during transmission, the drop of both letters resulting in the same phrase as in the Comma (“οι τρεις εν εισιν (thesethree are one)”) suggests Comma influence.

Socrates of Constantinople confirms that 1 John was corrupted early

We also have the testimony of Socrates of Constantinople, a 5th century Church historian, regarding the theologically motivated corruption of 1 John.  He says the following in his criticism of Nestorius:

 
Αὐτίκα γοῦν ἠγνόησεν, ὅτι ἐν τῇ καθολικῇ Ἰωάννου γέγραπτο ἐν τοῖς παλαιοῖς ἀντιγράφοις, ὅτι «πᾶν πνεῦμα ὃ λύει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐκ ἔστι.» Ταύτην γὰρ τὴν διάνοιαν ἐκ τῶν παλαιῶν ἀντιγράφων περιεῖλον οἱ χωρίζειν ἀπὸ τοῦ τῆς οἰκονομίας ἀνθρώπου βουλόμενοι τὴν θεότητα. ∆ιὸ καὶ οἱ παλαιοὶ ἑρμηνεῖς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἐπεσημῄναντο, ὥς τινες εἶεν ῥᾳδιουργήσαντες τὴν ἐπιστολὴν, λύειν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν ἄνθρωπον θέλοντες· συνανείληπται δὲ ἡ ἀνθρωπότης τῇ θεότητι· καὶ οὐκέτι εἰσὶ δύο, ἀλλὰ ἕν. Τοῦτο θαρροῦντες οἱ παλαιοὶ «Θεοτόκον» τὴν Μαρίαν λέγειν οὐκ ὤκνησαν· (Historia ecclesiastica, VII:32)
 
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’. (Translation by KJV Today)
 
A curious point is that Socrates refers to a variant reading of 1 John 4:3 that does not exist anywhere in the extant body of Greek manuscripts.  Yet this reading appeared somewhat widespread in Socrates’ day.  This lends credence to the theory that the readings in the majority of manuscripts of 1 John may not be representative of the readings which existed in the early church.  Furthermore, Socrates refers to the words of some “ancient interpreters” who observed the corruption of this epistle for theological motives.  Not only that, these corruptions relate to the Trinity and the hypostatic union of Jesus.
The variants at 1 John 5:6, 1 John 2:23b, 1 John 4:3 and 1 John 5:13, and Socrates’ testimony demonstrate that 1 John underwent early corruption.  These examples are related to the Comma in one way or another.  Some of these examples concern the Trinity.  Others concern the omission of a clause in a parallel construction.  Thus the extant body of early Greek manuscripts is a shaky foundation on which to determine the correct reading of the text of 1 John 5 in the 21st century.  God promised to preserve his words for all generations, but God never promised to preserve the most ancient copies of his words.  Given that we do have the Comma preserved for us in Greek today in relatively few and late manuscripts, other considerations should be given weight to determine its authenticity.

Latin manuscripts have the Comma

Latin Vulgate and Old Latin

“Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo:
Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus:
et hi tres unum sunt.”

(Clementine Vulgate)

The Comma appears in most Latin manuscripts, which are broadly classified into two groups: The Latin Vulgate & The Old Latin.  The Latin Vulgate, translate by Jerome, is the more common Latin translation as it was commissioned by the Catholic church in the late 4th century.  The Old Latin is a term used to describe the various Latin translations that existed before the Latin Vulgate.  Old Latin translations were made since about the latter half of the 2nd century (F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the New Testament Textual Criticism, 4th Ed., Vol. 2, (New York: George Bell & Sons, 1894), p. 43).

The oldest Latin manuscript having 1 John 5 is Codex Fuldensis or manuscript F from the mid-6th century.  This is a Vulgate version and does not contain the Comma.  However, Codex Frisingensis, or manuscript r or 64 (6th-7th century), contains the full text of the Comma.  Codex Legionensis, or manuscript l or 67 (7th century) contains the Comma with slight variation in wording (Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th revised edition (2006)).  These two are of the Old Latin versions.  Thus Latin manuscripts with and without the Comma exist from around the same time.  Furthermore, Codex Fuldensis, dated 546 AD, contains the Prologue to the Canonical Epistles, purported to be by Jerome himself, which mentions the Trinitarian Comma in John’s first epistle:

“Quae si ut ab eis digestae sunt ita quoque ab interpraetibus fideliter in latinum eloquium verterentur nec ambiguitatem legentibus facerent nec sermonum se varietas inpugnaret illo praecipue loco ubi de unitate trinitatis in prima iohannis epistula (the place where it concerns the Trinity in the first epistle of John) positum legimus in qua est ab infidelibus translatoribus multum erratum esse fidei veritate conperimus trium tantummodo vocabula hoc est aquae sanguinis et spiritus in ipsa sua editione potentes et patri verbique ac spiritus (Father, the Word, and Spirit) testimonium omittentes.”

While the text of 1 John 5:7 in Fuldensis does not have the Comma and critics dismiss Jerome’s authorship, the Comma was certainly known to an Italian scribe who wrote the Prologue as early as in 546 AD.

19th century textual critic F.H.A. Scrivener estimated that “49 out of 50 [Vulgate] manuscripts testify to this disputed Comma” (F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the New Testament Textual Criticism, 4th Ed., Vol. 2, (New York: George Bell & Sons, 1894), p. 403).  The line between Vulgate and Old Latin manuscripts is blurry because scribes often incorporated Old Latin readings into the Vulgate.  The Clementine Edition of the Vulgate, published in 1592, sought to standardize the Vulgate text, and it includes the Comma.  There were other revisions of the Vulgate in the 16th century, such as those of the Complutensian Polyglot and Erasmus, which even consulted Greek manuscripts.  The medieval Latin church was apparently cognizant of the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Comma, as is demonstrated by the following excerpt from Canon 2 of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215:
“For the faithful of Christ, he says, are not one in the sense that they are some one thing that is common to all, but in the sense that they constitute one Church by reason of the unity of the Catholic faith and one kingdom by reason of the union of indissoluble charity, as we read in the canonical Epistle of St. John: “There are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one” (I John 5: 7). And immediately it is added: “And there are three who give testimony on earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three are one” (I John 5: 8), as it is found in some codices.” (The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215)
Latin manuscripts can reliably preserve authentic readings.  For example, the Vulgate preserved the reading, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” at 1 John 2:23 even while the Byzantine Majority Text failed to preserve it.  Moreover, there is no basis to deride the Textus Receptus for including the Comma based on Latin support.  Modern translators follow the similar practice of departing from the majority Hebrew readings and following the Latin when it comes to ascertaining correct Old Testament readings.  The NIV and the ESV include a sentence in Psalm 145:13 that does not appear in the majority of Hebrew manuscripts.  The extra sentence is included simply because it is deemed to fit well structurally and it has the support of one Masoretic manuscript, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.  Furthermore, the NIV in Genesis 4:8 has Cain saying to Abel, “Let’s go out to the field” based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac.  No Hebrew manuscript (not even the Dead Sea Scrolls) has this reading in Genesis 4:8.  The NIV, ESV and NASB in 1 Chronicles 4:13 add “and Meonothai” from the Vulgate despite its absence in the Hebrew.  The NIV, ESV and NASB in 2 Chronicles 15:8 add “Azariah the son of” from the Vulgate despite its absence in the Hebrew.  Thus there is a consensus that Latin readings can be reliable at times.

The Vulgate reading has no preposition

All Vulgate readings of 1 John 5:7, with or without the Comma, testify for the early existence of the Comma.  Comma-free editions of the Vulgate read:

“Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant: Spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt.”


This is the reading of Codex Fuldensis, one of the oldest Vulgate manuscripts from the 6th century.  It is odd for the Vulgate to have “tres unum sunt” because this is actually a translation of “τρεις εν εισιν” in the Comma rather than of “τρεις εις το εν εισιν” in verse 8.  The Greek in verse 8 has the preposition “εις“.  The inclusion of “εις” (“in” in Latin) completely changes the sense of the passage.  Later editions of the Vulgate have resupplied the preposition.  The 20th century Nova Vulgata has “tres in unum sunt” and John Calvin’s Latin translation has “tres in unum conveniunt”.  There is no reason why a translation of “τρεις εις το εν εισιν” in verse 8 should omit the preposition unless the wording of verse 8 was influenced by the wording of the Comma.  Thus the Comma has left its mark in all Vulgate editions.

Greek fathers knew of the Comma

A good number of Greek fathers were aware of the Comma:

Athanasius

By “Athanasius”, it is meant Athanasius (c. 296 – 373 AD) or Pseudo-Athanasius (c. 350 – c. 600 AD).  Athanasius quoted the Comma in Disputatio Contra Arium:
 
“Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν,  καὶ ζωοποιὸν,  καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν,  οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν,  οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει·  «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»”
“But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, ‘and these three are one.‘” (Translation by KJV Today)
The quote, “Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν“, is likely from the Comma rather than verse 8 because it lacks “εις (in)“.  This somewhat hesitant tagging of the Comma at the end of the statement is consistent with the Comma being a minority reading in the early Greek church.  The Comma, though worth quoting, was not the crux of Athanasius’ argument.
Athanasius quoted another portion of the Comma in Quaestiones Aliae:
 
Ὥσπερ ἡ ψυχή µου µία ἐστὶν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τρισυπόστατος, ψυχὴ, λόγος, καὶ πνοή· οὕτω καὶ ὁ Θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν, ἀλλ’ ἔστι καὶ τρισ υπόστατος, Πατὴρ, Λόγος, καὶ Πνεῦµα ἅγιον….  Ὡς γὰρ ψυχὴ, λόγος καὶ πνοὴ τρία πρόσωπα, καὶ μία φύσις ψυχῆς, καὶ οὐ τρεῖς ψυχαί· οὕτω Πατὴρ, Λόγος καὶ Πνεῦμα ἅγιον, τρία πρόσωπα, καὶ εἷς τῇ φύσει Θεὸς, καὶ οὐ τρεῖς θεοί.
 
Even as my soul is one, but a triune soul, reason, and breath; so also God is one, but is also triune, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost….  For as soul, reason and breath are three features, and in substance one soul, and not three souls; so Father, Word and Holy Ghost, [are] three persons, and one God in substance, and not three gods.” (Translation by KJV Today)
 
Those who claim that Athanasius did not quote the Comma elsewhere need to consider that Athanasius also did not quote Matthew 28:19 in some of his most pro-Trinitarian writings such as The Deposition of AriusApologia Contra Arianos and the Four Discourses Against the Arians.  Matthew 28:19 provides the second most clearest declaration of the Trinity after the Comma, yet Athanasius used other scriptures to support his views on the Trinity.  Athanasius was not necessarily interested in establishing the Trinity per se, but rather the consubstantial unity of the Father and the Son.  Other texts were more appropriate for this goal.  The later Latin Fathers are the ones who were influenced by Neo-Platonic thought and sought to formulate the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in a neatly arranged Trinity.

Origen

Origen (c. 184 – c. 253 AD) or Pseudo-Origen quoted the Comma in Selecta in Psalmos (PG XII, 1304):
 
“Ἰδοὺ ὡς ὀφθαλμοὶ δούλων εἰς χεῖρας τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν, ὡς ὀφθαλμοὶ παιδίσκης εἰς χεῖρας τῆς κυρίας αὐτῆς, οὕτως οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν πρὸς Κύριον Θεὸν ἡμῶν,  ἕως οὗ οἰκτειρήσαι ἡμᾶς,  κ.  τ.  ἑ.  ∆οῦλοι κυρίων Πατρὸς καὶ Υἱοῦ πνεῦμα καὶ σῶμα· παιδίσκη δὲ κυρίας τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος ἡ ψυχή. Τὰ δὲ τρία Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν ἐστιν· οἱ γὰρ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
“Behold, the eyes of bondservants in the hands of their lord, as the eyes of a bondwoman in the hands of their lady, so are our eyes towards the Lord our God, until he may pity us; spirit and body are the bondservants of the Lord Father and Son; but the soul is the bondwoman of the lady Holy Spirit. And the Lord our God is three, for the three are one.” (Translation by KJV Today)
 
 
The quote “οἱ γὰρ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν” is cited as an authority (“γὰρ”) for the Trinity.  Thus it bears the mark of a scriptural allusion.
 

Gregory of Nazianzus

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329 – 390 AD) cites the Comma in the vocative case in the following doxology at the end of Oration 45: The Second Oration on Easter:
 
Εἰ δὲ καταλύσαιμεν ἀξίως τοῦ πόθου, καὶ δεχθείημεν ταῖς οὐρανίαις σκηναῖς, τάχα σοι καὶ αὐτόθι θύσομεν δεκτὰ ἐπὶ τὸ ἅγιόν σου θυσιαστήριον, ὦ Πάτερ, καὶ Λόγε, καὶ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· ὅτι σοὶ πρέπει πᾶσα δόξα, τιμὴ, καὶ κράτος, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.
 
“But if we are to be released, in accordance with our desire, and be received into the Heavenly Tabernacle, there too it may be we shall offer You acceptable Sacrifices upon Your Altar, to Father and Word and Holy Ghost; for to You belongs all glory and honour and might, world without end. Amen.” (English translation at New Advent)
 

ONLINE LINK to Oration 45: The Second Oration on Easter

 
The points supporting this as a citation or at least an allusion to the Comma are as follows:
  • The context is with respect to the “Heavenly Tabernacle”, namely, God as revealed in heaven.  This mirrors the context of the Comma in which the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are said to be heavenly witnesses.
  • In this same document at chapter IV, Gregory refers to the Trinity in its usual formula as follows: “And when I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for Godhead is neither diffused beyond These, so as to introduce a mob of gods, nor yet bounded by a smaller compass than These, so as to condemn us for a poverty stricken conception of Deity, either Judaizing to save the Monarchia, or falling into heathenism by the multitude of our gods.”  After stating emphatically that by God he means “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, it is curious that he would end the same document with a different atypical formula if it were not an import from an established source.
  • The context is ripe with scriptural allusions, namely to the “Heavenly Tabernacle” (Revelation 8:3), “Sacrifices upon Your Altar” (Revelation 15:5: “της σκηνης του μαρτυριου εν τω ουρανω”), and “glory and honour and might, world without end” (Revelation 5:13: “η τιμη και η δοξα και το κρατος εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων”).  In this scripturally pregnant context, one must be in a state of denial to suppose that “Father and Word and Holy Ghost” alone is not a scriptural allusion.
  • Furthermore, these scriptural allusions at this last portion of Gregory’s oration are all from the Johannine corpus, which makes it more likely that “Father and Word and Holy Ghost” is also from that same corpus.
  • In Oration 31, Gregory of Nazianzus had commented on the unconventional grammar of 1 John 5:6-8 in manuscripts without the Comma (as explained above [LINK]).  As is typical among theologians, Gregory’s comment may have elicited a debate concerning the unconventional grammar and possible reasons/solutions.  Given the Comma existed in the Latin West at this time, it is likely that after composing Oration 31 and prior to composing Oration 45, Gregory had been made aware of the Comma as a possible solution to the grammatical anomaly.  This is where Gregory may have committed the unique Trinitarian wording of the Comma to memory so as to make an allusion to it in Oration 45.
 

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407 AD) wrote Adversus Judaeos (Homily 1:3) in which he used the following curious phrase:

“Κάτω τρεῖς μάρτυρες, ἄνω τρεῖς μάρτυρες, τὸ ἀπρόσιτον τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δόξης δηλοῦντες.”

“Three witnesses below, three witnesses above, showing the inaccessibility of God’s glory.” (Translation by KJV Today)

ONLINE LINK to Adversus Judaeos


Chrysostom is not speaking about the Trinity in the context.  He is merely saying that a good number of witnesses testify concerning the ineffable nature of God.  Still, it is interesting that Chrysostom would give weight to his argument by using the formula of having three witnesses below and three witnesses above (“above” is to be understood as “heaven”, as he previously stated, “ἀλλ’ ἀνέβην εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν (“But I went up to heaven [figuratively]”).  Since the Comma was already cited in the Latin Church during Chrysostom’s time, it is far more candid to suppose that a learned teacher such as Chrysostom knew of the Comma and was alluding to its formula than to suppose that he formulated it by his own imagination.

Pseudo-Chrysostom quotes the Comma in the vocative case in De Cognitione Dei et in Sancta Theophania as follows:
“Ἀλλ’, ὦ Πάτερ, καὶ Λόγε, καὶ Πνεῦμα, ἡ τρισυπόστατος οὐσία, καὶ δύναμις, καὶ θέλησις, καὶ ἐνέργεια, ἡμᾶς τοὺς ὁμολογοῦντάς σου τὰς ἀσυγχύτους καὶ ἀδιαιρέτους ὑποστάσεις, ἀξίωσον καὶ τῆς ἐκ δεξιῶν σου στάσεως, ἡνίκα ἔρχῃ ἐξ οὐρανῶν κρῖναι τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ· ὅτι πρέπει σοι δόξα, τιμὴ καὶ προσκύνησις, τῷ Πατρὶ καὶ τῷ Υἱῷ καὶ τῷ ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι, νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ, καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.”
“But, O Father, and Word, and Spirit, the triune being and might and will and power, deem us, who confess you as the unconfused and indivisible substance, also worthy to be the ones standing at your right hand when you come from heaven to judge the world in righteousness, for rightly yours is the glory, honor, and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for always, and for eternity.” (Translation by KJV Today)
Pseudo-Chrysostom first refers to the Trinity as Father, Word, and Spirit and then switches to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the same sentence.  This switch has no contextual reason.  Given the abundance of scriptural allusions in this passage, it is most likely that the two forms of the Trinity are both scriptural allusions (Matthew 28:19 & 1 John 5:7).

Zacharias Rhetor

Zacharias Rhetor (born c. 465 AD) was a bishop of Mytilene.  He cited the Comma in the vocative case as follows in Disputatio De Mundi Opificio (PG LXXXV, 1141):
 
“Ω Δεσποτα και Δημιουργε τουδε του παντοσ, ω Πατερ, και Λογε, και Πνευμα αγιον, ω Θεια Τριας,και τρισση και αγια μονας.”
 
The Lord and Creator of all things, O Father, and Word, and Holy Ghost, the Divine Trinity, both threefold and holy unity.” (Translation by KJV Today)
 
        ONLINE LINK to PG LXXXV (see page 1141)
 
Not only are the persons of the Trinity named according to the wording of the Comma, the following clause, “both threefold and holy unity” mirrors the Comma’s “there are three… and the three are one”.
 

Andrew of Crete

Andreas Cretensis (born c. 635) was an archbishop of Crete.  He cites the Comma in the vocative case in Magnus Canon (PG XCVII, 1345):
 
“Υπεραρχιε, συμμορφε, πανσθενεστατη Τριας αγια Πατερ, Λογε, Πνευμα αγιον΄ θεε, Φως, και Ζωη, φυλαττε την ποιμνην σου.”
 
“O High Ruler, O conformed, all powerful holy Trinity: O Father, Word, Holy Ghost, O God, Light, and Life, guard your flock.”
 

John of Damascus

John of Damascus (c. 675 – 749 AD), though born Syrian, wrote treatises as well as hymns in Greek. He wrote the following line in Carmina et Cantica: In Dominicam Pascha (PG XCVI, 844):

Πατερ παντοκρατορ, και Λογε, και Πνευμα, τρισιν ενιζομενη εν υποστασεσι φύσις, υπερουσιε και υπερθεε, εις σε βεβαπτισμεθα, και σε ευλογουμεν αει εις τους αιωνας.”
O Omnipotent Father, and Word, and Spirit, three persons [yet] in nature one substance, highest essence and highest divinity, in you [we are] baptized, and you we bless always and forever.” (Translation by KJV Today)
The influence of the Comma is strong here given the context.  John of Damascus names the Trinity in the vocative case as “Father, and Word, and Spirit” and says in these persons “[we are] baptized”.  This expression is rather unusual if it were not for the influence of the Comma; for Matthew 28:19 is the seminal passage linking the Trinity to baptism; and there we are commanded to baptize in “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.  Only the Comma, which names the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost as witnesses, provides a scriptural basis for baptizing in these three names.  In accordance with the Comma, John of Damascus declares the “Father, and Word, and Spirit” and immediately follows with the three in one principle.

Ignatius of Antioch

The longer version of The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians might have an allusion to the Comma.  While the longer version is considered to be an interpolation from after Ignatius’ death, scholars date it to the 4th century – which is still early enough for the allusion to be noteworthy.  For the sake of this discussion, the author will be called “Ignatius”.  The text reads:
 
ἐπείπερ καὶ εἷς ἀγέννητος, ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατήρ, καὶ εἷς μονογενὴς υἱός, θεὸς λόγος καὶ ἄνθρωπος, καὶ εἷς ὁ παράκλητος, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας,”
 
(the above Greek excerpt corresponds to the underlined portion below)
 
I have confidence of you in the Lord, that ye will be of no other mind. Wherefore I write boldly to your love, which is worthy of God, and exhort you to have but one faith, and one [kind of] preaching, and one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ; and His blood which was shed for us is one; one loaf also is broken to all [the communicants], and one cup is distributed among them all: there is but one altar for the whole Church, and one bishop, with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants.Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism; and one Church which the holy apostles established from one end of the earth to the other by the blood of Christ, and by their own sweat and toil; it behoves you also, therefore, as “a peculiar people, and a holy nation,” to perform all things with harmony in Christ.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, “The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus”, Edited by Alexander Roberts, D.D. & James Donaldson, LL.D.)
 
The entire passage is an expanded exposition of Ephesians 4:1-7.  The following chart shows how each portion of Ephesians 4:1-7 gave rise to each portion of Ignatius’ exposition:
 Ephesians 4:1-7  Ignatius to Philadelphians
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I have confidence of you in the Lord, that ye will be of no other mind. Wherefore I write boldly to your love, which is worthy of God, and exhort you to have but one faith, and one [kind of] preaching, and one Eucharist.

(This portion mirrors Ephesians 4:1-3 in exhorting believers to maintain unity; and what follows explains the basis of this unity.)


4
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
For there is one flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ; and His blood which was shed for us is one; one loaf also is broken to all [the communicants], and one cup is distributed among them all: there is but one altar for the whole Church, and one bishop, with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants.

(This portion expands the meaning of “body” as understood in its various interpretations and applications)


5
One Lord,

Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth;

(This portion expounds the “One Lord” of Ephesians 4:5 as referring to the threefold “Father… Word… Spirit”.)


5
 one faith, one baptism,
and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism;

(This portion seems to reference Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing” and adds “one preaching” as a precursor to “one faith”; which results in “one baptism”.)


6
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
and one Church which the holy apostles established from one end of the earth to the other by the blood of Christ, and by their own sweat and toil; it behoves you also, therefore, as “a peculiar people, and a holy nation,” to perform all things with harmony in Christ.

(This concluding portion refers to God’s grace enabling believers to edify the Church by their various giftings.)


(Ephesians 5-6 provide instructions for wives, husbands, children, and servants.)

(The passage continues with Ignatius exhorting wives, children, servants, and husband to follow these instructions in Ephesians 5-6.)

The reference to the “Father… Word… Spirit” in Ignatius’ epistle is most likely an allusion to the Comma for the following reasons:
  • “Father… Word… Spirit” is a Trinitarian formula unique to the Johannine Comma.
  • By cross-referencing the “One Lord” statement of Ephesians 4:5 to the Trinity of “the Father… Word… Spirit”, Ignatius carries over the meaning of the Comma, namely, that there are “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost” and “these three are one.”
  • The order of the descriptions of the three persons of the Trinity suggests a deliberateness in alluding to the Comma.  First, the “one unbegotten Being, God” is listed, and it is further clarified that this is “even the Father“.  Then the “one only-begotten Son, God” is listed and further clarified that this is “the Word and man (an allusion to the parallelism between 1 John 5:7 and 1 John 5:8)”.  Lastly the “one Comforter” is listed and further clarified that this is “the Spirit of truth” (an allusion to 1 John 5:6).  Each person of the Trinity is first identified and the immediately following clarifying title always mirrors the wording of the Comma.  It would have been typical for “the Father” to be associated with “the Son” (with both terms indicating the relationship between each other) as clarifying titles to the first and second persons of the Trinity.  However, what we have in Ignatius is an atypical grouping of “the Father” with “the Word”:
     First title  Second title
    1st person of the Trinity “unbegotten being” the Father
    2nd person of the Trinity “only-begotten Son” the Word and man”
    3rd person of the Trinity “Comforter” the Spirit of truth”
  • All the attributes which Ignatius gives to “the Father… Word… Spirit” are found in the context of the Comma.
    • Ignatius refers to the unbegotten nature of the Father and the begotten nature of the Son.  This echoes 1 John 5:1 which says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”
    • The distinction between the heavenly “Word” and the earthly humanity of the Son (“man”) is laid out in 1 John 5:6-8.  In fact, 1 John 5:7-8 first refers to the Son as the “Word” and then refers to his humanity characterized by “the water, and the blood”.
    • While the reference to the Parakletos (comforter, advocate) is found farther back in 1 John 2:1, the reference to the “Spirit of truth” is found in 1 John 5:6 and 1 John 4:6.  There is no question that John 15:26 is the closer reference of the Comforter being the Spirit of truth, but the Epistle of First John is not far off.
    • There are countless other attributes and titles that Ignatius could have ascribed to “the Father… Word… Spirit” from scripture, but his restriction to those found in the context of the Comma suggests an allusion to it.
  • Ignatius is careful to expand the meaning of Ephesians 4:1-7 from close scriptural allusions.  This suggest the expansion of the “One Lord” in verse 5 is also a close scriptural allusion.

Latin fathers knew of the Comma

Latin fathers quoted/alluded to the Comma more often than the Greek fathers.  The earliest citations of the Comma provide only the portion which reads, “these three are one”.  However, this is the only relevant portion to cite in a Trinitarian argument for the consubstantial unity of the Godhead since the Comma quoted in its entirety would only prove that the Godhead is united in testimony, not essence (more on this later).

Tertullian

Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 245 AD) makes a truncated reference to the Comma:

“Ita connexus Patris in Filio et Filii in Paracleto, tres efficit coharentes, alterum ex altere, qui tres unum sunt, non unus, quomodo dictum est, Ego et Pater unum sumus.” (Against Praxeas XXV).

“Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent persons, one from the other, which three are one, not one [person], as it is said, “I and my Father are One.”” (Translation by KJV Today)
Some translations in English obscure Tertullian’s reference to the Comma.  Tertullian makes the truncated reference, “tres unum sunt” and argues for the consubstantial unity of the Father and the Son with the reference to John 10:30. He did not quote the Comma fully because a full quotation has “the Word” instead of “the Son”.

Furthermore, Tertullian alludes to the Comma in De Baptismo:

“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. 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.” (English translation by New Advent)
Here Tertullian is alluding to two Trinitarian passages: Matthew 28:19 (“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”) and 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.”).  It is significant that he does not explicitly quote Matthew 28:19, because that means we have no reason to expect him to quote 1 John 5:7 explicitly.  It is obviously that Matthew 28:19 is alluded because the issue concerns baptism in the name of the Trinity.  However, Matthew 28:19 alone falls short of describing the Trinity as “three witnesses” concerning “the attestation of faith and the promise of salvation”.  This is a matter described in 1 John 5 verse 7 to 12.

Cyprian

Cyprian (c. 210 – 258 AD) quotes the Comma:


“Dicit Dominus, Ego et Pater unum sumus; et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto scriptum est: ‘Et tres unum sunt.‘” (Treatise I:6).
 
“The Lord says, “I and the Father are one; ” and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, “And these three are one.

While some might argue that Cyprian was giving a theological spin to 1 John 5:8, Cyprian clearly says “scriptum est” (it is written).  As with Tertullian, Cyprian would not have given the full quotation because the Comma has “the Word” instead of “the Son”.  In De Rebaptismate (15 and 19) Pseudo-Cyprian appears to quote 1 John 5:8 without the Comma.  However, this writer is not the actual Cyprian.

 

Phoebadius

Phoebadius in 359 AD quotes the Comma:

 
“Sic alius a Filio Spiritus; sicut alius a patre Filius. Sic tertia in Spiritu ut in Filio secunda persona, unus tamen omnia quia tres unum sunt” (Contra Arianos XXVII: 4)
“The other Spirit comes from the Son just as the other Son comes from the Father.  So the Spirit is the third as the Son is the second person.  But the sum is one, for the three are one.

Priscillian

Priscillian of Avila in c. 380 AD quotes the Comma:


“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 Jesus.” (Translation by KJV Today)


The order of verse 7 and 8 is reversed, but the Comma nonetheless existed by 350 AD, which is the date of the earliest Greek manuscripts against the Comma (e.g. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus).  Some critics dismiss the significance of Priscillian’s citation due to  the fact that he was considered a heretic. These critics may even go as far as to say that Priscillian forged the Comma. But Priscillian was considered a heretic because of his extreme asceticism and Manichaeism. Forging the Comma would not have helped in furthering any of these heretical beliefs.

Augustine

Augustine (354 – 430 AD) quotes the Comma in City of God, Book 5, Chapter 11.  He writes:


“Deus itaque summus et verus cum Verbo suo et Spiritu sancto, quae tria unum sunt, Deus unus omnipotens, creator et factor omnis animae atque omnis corporis,”
“Therefore God supreme and true, with His Word and Holy Spirit (which three are one), one God omnipotent, creator and maker of every soul and of every body;” (English translation by New Advent)
 
The significance of this passage is the use of “His Word” to refer to the second person of the Trinity followed by “and Holy Spirit” and the phrase “which three are one”.  Such a formula appears only in the Comma.

Some people believe that Augustine did not know of the Comma because he made a mystical Trinitarian interpretation of 1 John 5:8 in Contra Maximinum (II:22:3), written sometime around 427 AD, without overtly referring to the Comma.  In this very construed interpretation, Augustine saw the Spirit as signifying the Father, the blood as signifying the Son, and the water as signifying the Holy Ghost.  Even if Augustine appeared to be hesitant to regard the Comma as Scripture in Contra Maximinum in 427 AD, he appeared to be aware of the Comma in 410 AD.  So his change in view could be attributed to him “switching his translation” later in life.  In fact, Augustine’s quote of 1 John 5:8 in Contra Maximinum is not from the Vulgate.  The quote reads:

“Sane falli te nolo in Epistola Ioannis apostoli, ubi ait: Tres sunt testes; spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis; et tres unum sunt.”


The Vulgate should read, “Tres sunt qui testimonium dant“.  It appears that Augustine is making his own translation from the Greek, which did not have the Comma in the majority of manuscripts at this point in time.  Augustine’s policy was to turn to the Greek whenever there were variants in the Latin.  He said: “As to the books of the New Testament, again, if any perplexity arises from the diversities of the Latin texts, we must of course yield to the Greek, especially those that are found in the churches of greater learning and research” (On Christian Doctrine, II:15).  Augustine’s neglect of the Comma in Contra Maximinum may prove that the Comma was already expunged in the Greek, but it does not prove the lack of the Comma in the Latin.  Besides, it sure is curious that Augustine would make such a construed interpretation of the Spirit, water, and blood if it were not for him being influenced by the parallelism of the Comma earlier in life.

Vigilius Tapsensis

North African Bishop Vigilius Tapsensis quotes the Comma in Contra Varimadum in c. 450 AD and three times in Books 1 and 10 of De Trinitate Libri Duodecim in c. 480 AD:

Contra Varimadum:


“Item ipse ad Parthos: Tres sunt, inquit, qui testimonium perhibent in terra, aqua, sanguis et caro, et tres in nobis sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in ceolo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus, et ii tres unum sunt.” (Contra Varimadum, Book I, Chapter 5 (MPL062, col. 359))

“Also to the Parthians, ‘There are three’, He says, ‘that bear record in earth, the water, the blood and the flesh, and the three are in us. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one.” (Translation by KJV Today)

De Trinitate Libri Duodecim:


“Ergo quamvis in superioribus exemplis Scripturarum tacita sint nomina personarum, tamen unitum nomen divinitatis per omnia tibi est in his demonstratum; sicut et in hoc exemplo veritatis, in quo nomina personarum evidenter sunt ostensa, et unitum nomen divinitatis clause est declaratum, dicente Joanne evangelista in Epistola sua: Tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, Pater, et Verbum, et Spiritus, et in Chisto Jesu unum sunt;” (De Trinitate Libri Duodecim , Book I (MPL062, col. 243))

“Therefore, although in the above examples the Scriptures are silent regarding the names of the persons, yet this union of the divine name by all in this is to be demonstrated to you; also as in this example of the truth, in which the names of the persons are clearly evident, and the united divine names declared closed, the Evangelist John says in his Epistle: ‘There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit, and they are one in the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Translation by KJV Today)


Victor Vitensis

Victor bishop of Vita in c. 485 AD cited the Comma as representing the testimony of John the evangelist in a dispute with Huneric the Vandal:


“Et ut adhuc luce clarius unius divinitatis esse cum Patre et Filio Spiritum sanctum doceamus, Joannis evangelistae testimonio comprobatur. Ait namque: Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et his tres unum sunt.” (Historia persecutionis Africanae Provinciae, Book III, Chapter XI (MPL058, col. 227)

“And in order to show with clearer light that the unity of divinity is with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, John the evangelist bears record.  For which it is said: ‘There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.’” (Translation by KJV Today)

Fulgentius Ruspensis

Fulgentius bishop of Ruspe in North Africa (died 527 AD) cited the Comma, even referring to Cyprian’s citation of the same:

Responsio Contra Arianos Libri Duo:

“In Patre ergo et Filio et Spiritu sancto unitatem substantiae accipimus, personas confundere non ademus. Beatu enim Joannes apostolus testatur, dicen: Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus; et tres unum sunt. Quod etiam beatissimus martyr Cyprianus, in epistola de Unitate Ecclesiae confitetur, dicens: Qui pacem Christi et concordiam rumpit, adversus Christum facit; qui alibi praeter Ecclesiam colligit, Christi Ecclesiam spargit. Atque ut unam Ecclesiam unius Dei esse monstraret, haec confestim testimonia de Scripturis inseruit. Dicit Dominus: Ego et Pater unum sumus. Et iterum: De Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto scriptum et: Et tres unum sunt.” (Responsio Contra Arianos Libri Duo, Response 10 (MPL065, col. 224))

In the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, whose unity of substance we accept, are confident not to confound the persons. For the blessed John the Apostle testifies, saying: ‘There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and the three are one. This is also confessed by the most blessed martyr Cyprian in the letter On the Unity of the Church, saying: ‘He who breaks the peace and concord of Christ, he does against Christ’, who in another place says in addition to a collection of the Church, says, ‘scatters the Church of Christ’. And in order to show that there is one Church of the one God, he immediately inserted this into the testimonies of the Scriptures: ‘The Lord says: I and the Father are one. And again: of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: ;And the three are one.’” (Translation by KJV Today)

Ad Felicem Notarium De Trinitate Liber Unus:

“En habes in brevi aliu esse Patrem, alium Filium, alium Spiritum sanctum: alium et alium in persona, non aliud et aliud in natura; et idcirco Ego, inquit, et Pater unum sumus. Unum, ad naturam referre nos docei, Sumus, ad personas. Similiter et illud: Tres sunt, inquit, qui testimonium dicun in caelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus, et his tres unum sunt.” (Ad Felicem Notarium De Trinitate Liber Unus, Chapter IV (MPL065, col. 500))

“Here you have briefly that another is the Father, another is the Son, another is the Holy Spirit: different in person, not different in nature: and for this reason ‘I’, he says, ‘and the Father are one.’ We teach that ‘One’ refers to nature, and ‘We are’ refers to the persons.  Likewise regarding it: ‘There are three’, he says, who are said to testify in heaven, ‘the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one.’” (Translation by KJV Today)


Cassiodorus

Cassiodorus of Italy (c. 485 – c. 585 AD) cited the Comma in Complexiones In Epistollis Apostolorum:


“Cui rei testificantur in terra tria mysteria: aqua, sanguis et spiritus, quae in passione Domini leguntur impleta: in caelo autem Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus; et hi tres unus est Deus.” (Complexiones In Epistollis Apostolorum, Epistolam S. Joannis ad Parthos, Chapter X (MPL070, col. 1373)

“This matter the three mysteries testify in earth: ‘the water, the blood, and the spirit’, which are fulfilled as we read in the Passion of the Lord: but in heaven ‘the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one God’. (Translation by KJV Today)

 

Syriac evidence

Ephrem the Syrian

Ephrem the Syrian was a 4th century theologian writing in Syriac in Assyria.  He wrote:
“The daring men try to escape men’s notice [when pretending] that they baptize in the Three Names. Now at the mouth of Three the judges decide. See here be Three Witnesses Who put an end to all strife! And who would doubt about the holy Witnesses of His Baptism?” (Eighty Rhythms upon the Faith, against the Disputers, 28:7, translated into English by Rev. J. B. Morris, Select Works of S. Ephrem the Syrian (Oxford:, 1847), p. 196).
While scriptures other than the Comma could account for the theological truths expounded by Ephrem, his naming of the “Three Names” as “Three Witnesses” seems based on the wording of the Comma.  Only the Comma refers to the Three Names, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost, as Three Witnesses.

Like the Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta has a trace of the Comma

In a similar vein to those Vulgate manuscripts without the Comma, early manuscripts of the Syriac Peshitta do not have the Comma but nonetheless retain a trace of the Comma in verse 8 (or verse 7 depending on the versification), which begins with “ܘܐܝܬܝܗܘ” (Thomas Burgess, In Further Proof of the Authenticity f 1 John, v. 7 (London: Brodie and Dowding, 1829), p. 56):

ܘܐܝܬܝܗܘܢ ܬܠܬܐ ܤܗܕܝܢ ܪܘܚܐ ܘܡܝܐ ܘܕܡܐ ܘܬܠܬܝܗܘܢ ܒܚܕ ܐܢܘܢ
And there are three that testify, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three are in one.” (J. W. Etheridge)

And there are three to bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three are one.” (George M. Lamsa)

And there are three witnesses, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are in union.” (James Murdock)

The phrase “And there are…” at 1 John 5 appears only in Bibles with the Comma.  This is because the clause immediately following verse 6 is introduced with “For there are…” (whether with or without the Comma).  The phrase “And there are….” follows the Comma only if the Comma exists.  In Bibles without the Comma the only phrase should be “For there are….”:

οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες, το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα, και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν.” (Nestle-Aland 27)

For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” (ESV)

There is no reason why the Syriac should translate the Greek causal conjunction “οτι” as the copulative Waw (ܘ) conjunction.  The Syriac translates “οτι” as “because” in just the previous verse and also at 1 John 5:4.  The phrase “οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες” obviously introduces a “cause” or “reason” for the antecedent phrase.  The Syriac appears to be translated from a Greek manuscript which contained “και τρεις εισιν”, which is a vestige of the Comma.  Although this manuscript apparently did not contain the Comma and the mention of “in earth”, it nonetheless contained a trace of the Comma.  The oldest Syriac manuscript which contains 1 John is from the 5th century (British Library, Add. 14470).

Internal evidence

6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 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. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” (1 John 5:6-9, the Comma identified in bracketed italics)

Given the early corruption of the text of 1 John, the internal evidence for the Comma should be given greater weight.  The internal evidence for the Comma is strong.

Comma-absent readings lack an explicit explanation of the “witness of God”

1 John 5:6 says “it is the Spirit that beareth witness” and yet 1 John 5:9 refers to the “witness of God”.  A Trinitarian might automatically equate “the Spirit” with “God” but such a logical leap is not warranted in the context of 1 John 5.  In the context of John chapter 5, “God” refers to the Father.  1 John 5:1 says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”  Since Jesus Christ is born of the Father, this “God”, namely “him that begat”, must refer to the Father.  When verse 9 says that if we receive the witness of men, the witness “of God” is greater, this “God” must mean the “Father”.  But without the Comma, there is no reference to the Father ever giving witness.  When the Comma is included, we see the Father providing witness in union with the Spirit.

Johannine appeal to the witness of the Father

Following up with the previous point, in John’s Gospel we find recurring instances of the Father bearing witness of Jesus Christ:

  • John 5:37: “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”
  • John 8:18: “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”

As our Lord Jesus often appealed to the witness of the Father as the highest authority, without such reference to the Father as one of the witnesses of Jesus Christ, the passage in 1 John 5 is theologically hollow and deficient.  Including the Comma is more agreeable to the Joannine appeal to the witness of the Father.

Comma-absent readings give rise to an unbiblical doctrine

Verse 6 declares that the Spirit is truth.  This is shown by the fact that the Spirit is in agreement with the Father and the Word (“…το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν.“).  In other words, the Spirit is truth because it is one with the source of truth, the divine Father and the Son whose testimonies are in agreement (John 8:18).  If the Comma were not present, the Spirit is purported to be truth just because it agrees with two other earthly witnesses (“…το πνευμα εστιν η αληθεια οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν”).  However, this would hardly explain why the Spirit alone is singled out as being truth.  If the unity in testimony determines whether a contributing witness is truth, then either the water or the blood could also be truth on the same level as the Spirit.  The biblical principle on two or three witnesses is that the matter which is being testified by two or three witnesses is truth (Matthew 18:16).  The contributing witnesses themselves are not deemed to be truth just on the basis of participating and being in agreement.  The Spirit is truth in a unique sense because it is one with the Godhead, not just because it agrees with two other witnesses.

Comma-absent readings have no antecedent

Verse 8 says, “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”  In Greek, the phrase “these three agree in one” is “οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν” (the three are in the one).  There is a definite article that indicates that the “one” is a particular “one” that has been referred to previously in the flow of the argument.  If the Comma remains, this demonstrative article has a clear antecedent.  The Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are “one,” and the three earthly witnesses agree in “the one.” Without the Comma there is no clear antecedent (“Discussions of Robert Lewis Dabney,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967, by the Trinitarian Bible Society).

Comma-absent readings have a weaker reason for having exactly “three” witnesses

Critics of the Comma might say that 1 John 5:8 refers to three witnesses because of the biblical principle that two or three witnesses establish a matter (Matthew 18:16).  While the principle of Matthew 18:16 might appear sufficient as to why there should be at least three  witnesses in 1 John 5:8, there is otherwise no reason why the number of witnesses should be exactly three, and not more.  Would it not have been more persuasive for John to list a larger number of witnesses on earth?  How about other candidates such as “the scriptures”, “miracles” or “the Church”?  John appears to be fixated on the number three, which is best explained if the Trinitarian truth of the Comma is included.  18th century Greek New Testament scholar Johann Albrecht Bengel said:

“The heavenly Trinity, archetypal, fundamental, unchangeable, is the foundation of the triad of witnesses on earth, which conforms to it. The apostle might either have made the number of those who bear witness on earth greater; comp. ver. 9; or referred them all to one spirit; comp. ver. 6; but he reduces them to a triad, solely with reference to the three who bear witness in heaven. Because the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit, are properly three, and are bearing witness, and are one, similar things are also, by a figure, predicated of the spirit, and the water, and the blood; which things are evidently less applicable of themselves to those subjects:” (Charlton T. Lewis, Bengel’s Gnomon of the New Testament: A New Translation, Vol 2 (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1860) p. 810).


Comma-absent readings give rise to a grammatical anomaly

Around 379 AD, Gregory of Nazianzus commented on the grammatical anomaly in 1 John 5:7-8 without the Comma.  He says, “…after using Three in the masculine gender [Apostle John] adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down” (The Fifth Theological Oration. On the Holy Spirit, XIX).  Gregory is referring to the grammatical mismatch that results from the masculine construction “τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες (there are three that bear witness)” introducing three neuter nouns, “το πνευμα (the Spirit),” “το υδωρ (the water)” and “το αιμα (the blood)”.  Although Gregory seemed to be defending the abbreviated text despite the anomaly, for such a defense to be necessary there likely were both variants in the body of Greek manuscripts.

If the Comma were included there is no grammatical problem according to the 19th century Presbyterian theologian Robert L. Dabney.  First, the masculine nouns in the Comma, “the Fatherthe Word, and the Holy Ghost”, would control the gender over the neuter noun “Holy Ghost”.  Then the repetition of the masculine construction “τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες” could “be accounted for by the power of attraction, so well known in Greek syntax…” (R. L. Dabney, The Works of Robert L. Dabney, (London: Banner Truth, 1967).  Anti-Comma scholars have developed several of their own theories to explain away this anomaly without appealing to the Comma, but these theories fall short.

One theory is that John regarded the “Spirit” as a person, and therefore personified it by giving it the masculine gender.  The problem with this theory is that “Spirit” appears in verse 6 and is not personified as it is associated with a neuter article and participle, “το πνευμα εστιν το μαρτυρουν.”

Another theory by the critics is that John gave the masculine gender to the Spirit, water and blood because John wanted to indicate that they are all valid witnesses, which in Old Testament law had to be males.  The problem with this theory is that, again, the Spirit is already described as a valid witness in verse 6 but is given the neuter gender there.

John and the Trinity

Trinitarian defenders of the early Church quoted John’s writings the most of all the biblical writers because John’s writings state the Trinitarian doctrine most clearly.  John is undoubtedly the top spokesman for the doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible.  We find the following Trinitarian statements in his writings:

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
  • “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
  • “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18)
  • “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)
  • “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)
  • “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
  • “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” (John 15:26)
  • “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16)
  • “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
  • “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)” (1 John 1:2)
  • “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)
  • “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:13-15)
  • “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
  • “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6)

As the Trinity was so important a doctrine for John that he sometimes even disrupted the natural flow of the narrative to insert a comment on the Trinity, it is very likely for John to have inserted a reference to the Trinity in the climactic passage of his first epistle (1 John 5:1-12 is considered the climax of the epistle and the closure beings to happen starting at 5:13 with the words, “These things have I written unto you….”).  Furthermore, John could have stated the most complete and systematic Trinitarian doctrine in his epistle as it was not confined within the scope of a historical narrative as was the case in John’s Gospel.  John referred to the Trinity in his Gospel but the concepts therein were confined by the dialogues in the narrative.  For example, perhaps the strongest co-equality principle in John’s Gospel is the statement, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30).  A stronger and fuller Trinitarian statement would have been, “The Father, the Holy Ghost, and I are one” but such words did not come out of our Lord’s mouth because his circumstances did not concern the Holy Ghost.  This means John had no basis to state the co-equality of the entire Trinity in his Gospel.  However, given that the first epistle is more a theological treatise rather than narrative, John was able to declare a complete and systematic propositional statement concerning the Trinity.  The Comma is just what we would expect from John in a doctrinal treatise which makes many points concerning the Trinity.  On the other hand, when all the pieces to the Trinitarian doctrine are lining up in the discourse of 1 John 5 (mentioning the Father (verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11), the Son (verses 1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12), the Spirit (verses 6, 8), the concept of three things agreeing in one (verse 8)), John’s first epistle absent the Comma would arguably be uncharacteristic of his writings which never wasted an opportunity to declare the Trinitarian doctrine.

Homoeoteleuton at 1 John 5:6-8
 
As in the other passages where words were carelessly omitted, the text of 1 John 6 to 8 also contains many repetitions of the same words. The corruptions of 1 John 5:6 seen in Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus involve the word “πνευμα.” It is not surprising that scribes would accidentally add this word because it appears 4 times in just 3 verses from 5:6 to 5:8 (3 times in just 2 verses even if we omit the Comma). Scribes would essentially be “juggling” many appearances of the word in a span of just a few lines. The frequency of the appearance of “πνευμα” from 5:6 to 5:7 could confuse a careless scribe.

Due to the many repetitions of similar words in 1 John 5:6-8, it would not be unreasonable to suppose that a scribe omitted the Comma by accident. If the Comma appeared originally, the text could have been laid out as follows:


The portion above is from the end of 1 John 5:6 to the middle of 1 John 5:8. It corresponds to the portion in the KJV which reads:

“…Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 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:”

The text is arranged in a manner that is typically seen in papyri. Even if the words on an actual papyrus were not arranged exactly in the same positions on the papyrus as in this hypothetical arrangement, the relative positions of the words would still be similar. Consider how the phrase “τρειςεισινοιμαρτυρουντεςεν” appears twice identically, separated by two lines, and how the word “πνευμα” is located above that phrase in both instances at the left-hand side of the papyrus (the phrase is underlined):

Due to the identical appearance of the phrase in 5:7 and 5:8, the eyes of a scribe who is in the midst of copying a word in 5:7 could jump to the corresponding word in 5:8. Moreover, the word directly above the left-most portion of the phrase in 5:8 is “πνευμα,” which is also the word directly above the left-most portion of the phrase back in 5:7. This could cause great confusion for a careless scribe. The text of a scribe who skipped the two lines in between would read:

This text with the omission says, “Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood:” The phrase “in earth” would remain in the new copy, but it could easily drop during further transmission. Moreover, support for “in earth” is stronger than the Comma itself. The Anchor Bible, which by no means is a friend of the Comma, says concerning the support for “in earth”:

“However, in the course of Latin textual transmission, independently of the Comma, variants appeared that show that the passage was the subject of reflection and “improvement” by scribes…. For instance, Facundus of Hermiane (ca. 550) reads I John as saying, “There are three who give testimony on earth”  (Pro Defensione Trium Capitulorum ad Isutinianum 1.3.9; CC 90A, 12; also inferior MSS. of Bede). If that addition was an older tradition, it may have facilitated the creation of the Comma with its corresponding witnesses in heaven” (The Anchor Bible: The Epistles of John at 778).

The author of the Anchor Bible interprets the support for “on earth” as a corruption which caused the creation of the Comma. However, it could also be interpreted as the vestige of a copyist error who omitted the mention of the heavenly witnesses but managed to keep the words “on earth.” In fact, this interpretation is consistent with the hypothesis of the corruption of 1 John 5:7 discussed above. The suspicion that the Comma was accidentally omitted due to a homoeoteleuton is not far-fetched seeing that there are examples of such errors elsewhere in the manuscripts. The passage in 1 John 5:6-7 clearly bears features that would attract this type of copyist error.

Arian influence

If the Comma was not accidentally removed, it could have been removed intentionally by heretics.  Yale professor of ecclesiastical history, Jaroslav Pelikan, notes that theologians of the past suspected that Arians expunged the Comma:

“Although the weight of the textual evidence against it was seemingly overwhelming, the proof it supplied for the Trinity made an attack on its authenticity seem to be an attack on the dogma. Therefore the Reformed theologian Johann Heinrich Heidegger, citing Jerome, and the Lutheran theologians Johann Gerhard and Johann Andreas Quenstedt argued that the real corruption of the Greek text had been its “erasure by the fraud of the Arians,” not its addition by orthodox fathers. In a lengthy disputation on the question, Gerhard marshaled the evidence of manuscripts and versions in an effort to show this, and in his systematic theology he reaffirmed its authenticity.” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: Reformation of Church Dogma (1300-1700) at 346)

The Orthodox remnant viewed the notorious Arians with much suspicion.  Athanasius had complained of the Arians’ “calumnies, imprisonments, murders, wounds, conspiracies by means of false letters” (Apologia Contra Arianos at 49).  The hypothesis that Arians expunged the Comma is valid because it is falsifiable: the hypothesis could be proven false if the Comma does not exist even in places where Arianism did not exert early influence. However, the evidence supports the hypothesis.  The Comma exists in places where Arianism was not established early, such as Spain and North Africa.  Whereas Constantinople and Alexandria were infected with Arianism by the 4th century, Spain and North Africa were relatively less infected until the 5th century.  Geographically, Spain and North Africa were the farthest places from the major centers of Arianism.  Moreover, whereas primarily Greek and Latin speakers spread Arianism in the rest of Christendom, Spain was introduced to Arianism through Visigoths and North Africa was introduced to Arianism through Vandals.  These were both Germanic tribes who used the Gothic Bible of Ulfilas.  Thus Arians in Spain and North Africa had less influence on the Latin scriptures. This allowed the Comma to remain in Latin manuscripts of Spain and North Africa.

The earliest uses of the Comma are from the far West (Cyprian, Priscillian, Phoebadius, Vigilius, Victor, Fulgentius).  The earliest manuscripts with the Comma are from Spain.  This localization of manuscripts containing the Comma has led scholars to believe that the Comma was just an anomalous reading in an obscure part of Christendom.  However, this “obscure part of Christendom” is where Arianism was not prevalent in the earlier centuries.  A single generation of prolific Arian copyist activity in the early 4th century would have created a majority of copies of 1 John 5 without the Comma. Just as one Catholic man, Erasmus, popularized the inclusion of the Comma in the Greek texts of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants from the 16th century onward, a few scholarly Arians could have popularized the omission of the Comma in the Greek texts of both Arians and Trinitarians from the 4th century onward.  The argument against the Comma, that it was included by the Latin Church because of tradition, goes both ways.  If Protestants could accept the reading of a Catholic for 400 years, it is certainly within the realm of possibility for the Orthodox Greeks to accept the reading of Arians for many centuries (until the reinstatement of the Comma in the 1904 Patriarchal Text).
 

Evidence of Gnostic versions of three witnesses

The Gnostic “Godhead”
Even before the spread of Arianism, Gnosticism had infected the early Church.  Most scholars believe that John in his Epistles attempted to expose and refute the early Gnostic proclivities in the Church.  The First Epistle would have attracted the relentless hostility of Gnostics.  Valentinian Gnostics did not believe in the simple Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  They identified the God of the Old Testament as the Demiurge.  They gave primacy to a feminine emanation of God who was called Sophia (Divine Wisdom).  The Logos (or “Word” – one of the three witnesses in the Comma) was believed to be just one of the many Aeons (emanations of God).  Surely the Comma would have been incompatible with this complicated Valentinian concept of the divine hierarchy.
The “Trinity” and “there are three” in the Secret Book of John
 
In fact, there is a Gnostic text called the Secret Book of John, written before 180 AD, which subverts the orthodox Trinity.  It is a fraudulent work that was not actually written by the Apostle John.  In this work, the Gnostic John describes the Trinity as a trinity of Father, Mother and Son:
“There was not a plurality before me, but there was a likeness with multiple forms in the light, and the likenesses appeared through each other, and the likeness had three forms.  He said to me, “John, John, why do you doubt, or why are you afraid? You are not unfamiliar with this image, are you? – that is, do not be timid! – I am the one who is with you (pl.) always. I am the Father, I am the Mother, I am the Son. I am the undefiled and incorruptible one.” (Translated by Frederik Wisse for the Nag Hammadi Library)

Further into the work, the Gnostic John uses the Comma phrase, “And there are three” a total of four times to describe the number of Gnostic aeons:

“For from the light, which is the Christ, and the indestructibility, through the gift of the Spirit the four lights (appeared) from the divine Autogenes. He expected that they might attend him. And the three (are) will, thought, and life. And the four powers (are) understanding, grace, perception, and prudence. And grace belongs to the light-aeon Armozel, which is the first angel. And there are three other aeons with this aeon: grace, truth, and form. And the second light (is) Oriel, who has been placed over the second aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: conception, perception, and memory. And the third light is Daveithai, who has been placed over the third aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: understanding, love, and idea. And the fourth aeon was placed over the fourth light Eleleth. And there are three other aeons with him: perfection, peace, and wisdom. These are the four lights which attend the divine Autogenes, (and) these are the twelve aeons which attend the son of the mighty one, the Autogenes, the Christ, through the will and the gift of the invisible Spirit. And the twelve aeons belong to the son of the Autogenes. And all things were established by the will of the holy Spirit through the Autogenes.” (Translated by Frederik Wisse for the Nag Hammadi Library)

There are just too many clues here to ignore the possibility of a Gnostic corruption of the Johannine Comma:

  • This Gnostic text uses the Comma phrase, “And there are three” four times.
  • This Gnostic text subverts the orthodox Trinity with the Gnostic trinity of the “Father, Mother and Son”.
  • This Gnostic text is ascribed to “John”, though falsely.

There is another ancient Gnostic work titled Allogenes which says “the three are one” with respect to the trinity of the Gnostic saviors, “Vitality, Mentality and That-Which-Is”:

“And he was becoming salvation for every one by being a point of departure for those who truly exist, for through him his knowledge endured, since he is the one who knows what he is. But they brought forth nothing beyond themselves, neither power nor rank nor glory nor aeon, for they are all eternal. He is Vitality and Mentality and That-Which-Is. For then That-Which-Is constantly possesses its Vitality and Mentality, and Life has Vitality possesses non-Being and Mentality. Mentality possesses Life and That-Which-Is. And the three are one, although individually they are three.” (Translated by John D.Turner and Orval S. Wintermute)

If Gnostics wrote such works (and surely they did), it is utterly inconceivable that they would have left the Johannine Comma untouched and unchallenged.  Moreover, the Secret Book of John is a Gnostic propaganda text to redefine John’s actual teachings.  Gnostics often mimicked the style of the real Apostles in order to supplant their teachings.  And by producing a work which redefines the members of the Trinity, uses the phrase “And there are three”, and names the author of the work as “John”, this Secret Book of John ironically proves the existence of the Johannine Comma, which alone is a Trinitarian verse in which John wrote “And there are three”.

The corruption of manuscripts in Alexandria

The earliest witness of 1 John 5 is the Alexandrian Codex Sinaiticus from 350 AD.  The second and third earliest witnesses are also Alexandrian and written later than 350 AD.  Long before these manuscripts were written, the heresy of Gnosticism became widespread from Alexandria to Rome through the ministry of Valentinus.  By 150 AD, Valentinianism was extremely popular in Alexandria.  The fact that these heretics published many spurious Gospels is well documented.  They most likely also corrupted the true Scriptures.  With respect to the state of corruption of the manuscripts in Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria in the 3rd century said:“…the differences among the manuscripts [of the Gospels] have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they lengthen or shorten, as they please.”

(Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd ed. (1991), pp. 151-152).

It is not far-fetched to conclude that the majority of these omissions were made by the heretical Gnostics.  Although we can only speculate as to which verses the Gnostics omitted, it is reasonable to believe that the Comma was one of them.  There was also an early heretical sect which denied the “Logos” (the Word).  Epiphanius termed this sect the “Alogi” (Anti-Logos).  The “Word” mentioned in the Comma is certainly at odds with any theology that is against the Logos.

These heretics had the motive to omit the Comma.  If a large and influential sect such as the Valentinians were responsible for omitting the Comma, and if other smaller sects such as the Alogi were complicit, the Comma would have had a very rough history by 350 AD.  Origen in the 3rd century would have used the standard Gnostic-influenced text-type of Alexandria.  Non-Gnostic Christians in the rest of the Greek speaking world would have kept the Comma in their copies, but many of these non-Gnostics eventually became Arians in the following centuries.  Assault one after another would have left the Comma with a confusing textual history by the time of Athanasius and the Orthodox Fathers.  As shown earlier on this page, 1 John 6-8 indeed bears evidence of textual corruption by 350 AD.  It is absolutely reasonable to suppose that 1 John 5:6-8 suffered textual corruption prior to 350 AD under the hands of heretics than to suppose that the Comma was fabricated by Orthodox Trinitarians.

 

84 Comments

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Troy Day

    Philip Williams Jevan Little Miller Isaac this is what I got on 1 jn Pls take your time and read before commenting If any questions pls ask I will be happy to entertain question pertaining to this text alone Thank you You too bro Michael Hazlenut Link

  • Michael Hazlewood
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Michael Hazlewood

    There is no debate in Heaven or with Satan and his fallen angels James 2:19 KJB

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      Are you ever going to show your actual 1611 KJB that you actually do not have or ever seen? Pls stay on topic – this OP discussion is about 1 Jn 5 7

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day I actually own one hahahahaha keep philosophying scripture instead of obeying it and you WILL burn

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      Let us see the one you own – I call you on this one publicly You do NOT own an actual 1611 KJB – SHOW IT

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day I own a publication of it an exact publication

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      How do you know if you’ve never even seen the original? Which 1611 version exactly?

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day Stupid question

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      DO NOT resort to name calling – SHOW IT

      Any so-called “1611” King James Version you buy today at the local Christian Bookstore is absolutely NOT the 1611. It is Blaney’s 1769 Revised Oxford Edition, even though it admits that nowhere, and may even say “1611” in the front… it’s just not true. Prepare to be shocked! In fact, 20,000 spelling and punctuation changes and over 400 wording changes were made to the original 1611 to 1768 King James Bible, when compared to King James Bibles published between 1769 and today, and fourteen entire books plus extra prefatory features have been removed from almost every printing done since 1885!

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day OKAY Dumb Question – Very Carnal

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      SHOW your 1611 then – why do you hide it?

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day on here – I don’t know how to do that

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      You call others ignorant and dumb and you dont even know if you have a 1611 or how to show it – Are you afraid you dont actually own a 1611 KJB? I can tell you for a fact you dont I know only 2 ppl who own one and you are most certainly NOT one of them You aint got a clue what a real 1611 KJB is – not a clue I tell ya Michael Hazlewood

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day I call your questions dumb and your theology ignorant

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      and I call your 1611 Bible a FAKE as is youy phrenology you believe. Since you aint got a 1611 KJB how do you know for sure what 1 Jn 5 7 says in the 1611 KJV?

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day You are a very sad weak man in need of salvation

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      Michael Hazlewood Name calling again 🙂 Out of ammo or out of BIBLE ? – Show us your FAKE KJV from where you draw your fake theology which is plain heresy

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day your a sad lost man with no scripture to show me your doctrine BUT by all means do as the devil would have you do

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day very witty

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day CHILD LIKE BEHAVIOUR

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      Show us your fake KJB and let us be the judge

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day I am done with your heresies and Blaspheming of Gods Word and doctrines – You are a child in a mans body pretending and acting just like a member of the Sahedren in Christs day

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      The only reason you are done is BECAUSE I caught you teaching fake theology from a FAKE KJV Bible

    • Michael Hazlewood
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Michael Hazlewood

      Troy Day Now Your little boy within you is trolling a REAL man of God ; Do you really believe your doing the work of God here with this ?

  • Michael Hazlewood
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Michael Hazlewood

    Troy Day such childish unholy memes for one claiming holiness and salvation from God

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Troy Day

    All you got to do is show your fake 1611 KJB

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Hen, Heis and Mia are just the different gender forms.

    I don’t see any reason why the feminine should mean one being as that is the same as one God.

    Since the Trinity teaches 3 persons are the one God, this verse isn’t saying there are 3 Divine persons who are the same one God.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Troy Day

      I already answered that and explained where you were wrong Not gonna repeat myself Give us another one – the verse is pretty straight forward – dont you think?

    • Jevan Little
      Reply June 10, 2019

      Jevan Little

      Troy Day yes straight…but doeent teach the Trinity

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Btw vs 8 in the KJV uses hen also

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Troy Day

    Jevan Little
    why the feminine should mean one being as that is the same as one God.

    NOW who ever claimed that exactly ?

  • Shane Vanmeter
    Reply June 10, 2019

    Shane Vanmeter

    This verse is an addition, as a Trinitarian I do not use or promote the usage of this verse. If we do we would not be accurately representing the word of God.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 11, 2019

      Troy Day

      1 John 5:7 belongs in the King James Bible and was preserved by faithful Christians. But the passage was removed from many Greek manuscripts, because of the problems it seemed to cause.

      It is true that there is a small number of Scriptures that are not the same between the King James Bible and the so-called “Majority” Greek text. There are a number of reasons for this:

      The so-called “Majority” text was not really based on the majority of texts, but rather a relatively small number of manuscripts. The last person to try to find the differences between the majority of Greek manuscripts, Dr. Von Soden, did not collate more than 400 of the more than 5,000 Greek texts. In other words, what is commonly called the “Majority” Greek text is not a collation of the majority of manuscripts at all.
      The “Majority” Greek text is also the main Greek text used by the Eastern Orthodox religion. They had a vested interest in changing (or deleting) some texts. More on this in a moment.
      1 John itself is not in a large number of extant Greek manuscripts.
      So why then is 1 John 5:7 in the King James Bible, but not in many of the existing Greek manuscripts?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 11, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      KJV only advocates assume the TR is the Majority Text when in fact it is not. 1 John 5:7 doesnt belong in any version of the Bible because it is not in the oldest and most accurate manuscripts. I can give much greater detail at another time as I am headed to bed and work long hours.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 11, 2019

      Troy Day

      we ALL Know the story how Erasmus searched for it and which MSS he inserted from in TR – whats your point? Are you calling for liberal deletion of Scripture ?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 11, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      It’s not deletion of scripture if it’s not scripture to begin with and its definitely not liberal. Dont you like to know what the Apostles actually wrote?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 11, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      The single most famous incident that is related to Erasmus’ work on the New Testament revolves around the words of 1 John 5:7 as found in the KJV: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Most KJV Only preachers and believers make the acceptance of this passage the test of “orthodoxy.” If your Bible does not have this passage, you are in deep trouble.
      The story of how this passage ended up in the King James Version is very instructive. When the first edition of Erasmus’ work came out in 1516 this phrase, dubbed today the “Johannine comma,” or in Latin, the Comma Johanneum, was not in the text for a very simple reason: it was not found in any Greek manuscript of 1 John that Erasmus had examined. Instead, the phrase was found only in the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus rightly did not include it in the first or second editions. The note in the Annotations simply said, “In the Greek codex I find only this about the threefold testimony: ‘because there are three witnesses, spirit, water, and blood.’” His reliance upon the Greek manuscripts rather than the Latin Vulgate caused quite a stir. Both Edward Lee and Diego López Zúñiga attacked Erasmus for not including this passage and hence encouraging “Arianism,” the very same charge made by KJV Only advocates today. 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.” Likewise Erasmus rebutted Zúñiga by pointing out that while he (Zúñiga) was constantly referring Erasmus to one particular Greek manuscript, in this case he had not brought this text forward, correctly assuming that even Zúñiga’s manuscript agreed with Erasmus’ reading. He also said, “Finally, the whole passage is so obscure that it cannot be very valuable in refuting the [Arian] heresies.”

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Troy Day

    Jevan Little I would like to address the case of the indefinite article you seem to have been pointing to. First off, like Link Hudson when addressing an issue in Greek pls dont just copy paste screen shots but read some basic grammar lesson to get oriented

    2nd – you are reading the creed into the BIBLE – meaning you took a greek phrase from the famous homousia debate and trying to put it back in the Bible It is an interesting but funny approach Just like Screvener who tried to translated KJV back to Greek It dont work that way in literal translation theory You OR whoever wrote the article you are copying from are taking a very heavy theological phrase trying to fit it back into a very basic Biblical text – it cant work this way BTW give me a link to the oneness article you are copying from to tare it apart

    NOW then 3rd – to address the use of Heis Mia Hen Used As Indefinite Article as it is the case in John 17:3
    3 And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

    or

    EN hUIWi in Heb 1:2, I think that an indefinite pronoun would >be misleading there because it might suggest a plurality of sons of >God, and although the notion of humanity as “sons” or “children” of >God is not problematic, the author of Hebrews is very much concerned >with the uniqueness of God’s Son. What this suggests is that the >English indefinite article may have functions that are quite distinct >from what the Greek writer/speaker felt required in the situation.

    Gesenius, says that Hebrew echad was used as > an> indefinite articl at times, and that the same was done with> heis/mia/hen as a Hebrewism, since the authors of the NT were > Hebrew.> Conybeare and Stock have built a fine case for that in with many examples from the > LXX> of heis/mia standing in for an indefinate pronoun.

    heis/mia could mean “one” but could also be translated as the indefinite article “a/an”. The same thing is done in Germain with “ein”. Many more examples come to mind in English – pls post your original text with the snap shot in order that we address it in full in its own context

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Troy Day

    Jevan Little I now see you also mentioned this

    Church is called a she or her. Church is not a female person

    we all know that – so what? How is this relevant to oneness ?

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Troy Day

    Jevan Little did your confusion come from the the double usage of

    εν – in and
    ἕν – one

    The neuter of ἕν – one does not refer to any of the 3 persons of the God head but to their unity. Please re-read what I said on the perechoresis

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Troy Day
    I didn’t copy and paste anything.

    I have studies Greek

    There’s no indefinite article in Greek

    I didn’t mention an indefinite article

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Troy DayTroy YOU read the creed into the bible. YOU DID. Not me. YOU DID. I posted a screen shot from YOUR blog. YOU did that. Those are YOUR words.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Calm down a bit Jevan Little What exactly is your question? I already explained clearly the usage of the Greek words – what remains still unclear to you that you are acting so upset and angry ? Use seom Christian character pls

    • Jevan Little
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Jevan Little

      Troy Day that’s your imagination and false accusations. Your posts are erratic and incoherent. You often seem confused as to who posted what. And you forget what the context was after 1 day and I have to repeat everything.

      You accused me of doing something I did not do…it was actually you that did it. I posted a screen shot of your words and for some reason you thought I posted a screen shot of my words.

      This is a daily occurrence. It’s really bizarre.

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Amazing

  • Shane Vanmeter
    Reply June 11, 2019

    Shane Vanmeter

    Why are you guys so upset over a verse thats not even in any Greek manuscripts?

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      No one is upset and the verse is in several MSS – now what exactly are you asking?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Which Greek manuscript?

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      The ones who Erasmus felt were authentic enough to insert in TR – are you not familiar with the story?

      Are you not a KJV believer?
      Are you saying to delete the verse and discard KJV?

      Would this fix ALL oneness problems? Hardly – even if we disregard 1 Jn 5 7 I will move to ask you about the Trinity in the Great Comission baptismal formula in Mt 28 – you will try to say this was too inserted much later by the Catholic church to which Philip Williams may firmly object

      Then I will say OK – lets disregard those 2 witnesses and move to Mt 3 where we have

      Jesus – physically present in body

      The Holy Spirit physically descending as a dove and seen by John the Baptist

      and the Father audibly speaking words that are heard

      Shall we just go ahead and delete this as well to suit oneness requirements ?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Brother, did you not read what I shared in the other thread?

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Probably did but PLS point me to it if you think I missed it Which one of the many is the other thread?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day bear in mind that no one in the Bible ever prays to the Spirit. The Spirit is God’s actual presence in the earth. Contrary to classical theology, he is not omnipresent. That’s closer to Hinduism. He doesn’t dwell with the unclean and is present only in that which is devoted to him.

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Troy Day The single most famous incident that is related to Erasmus’ work on the New Testament revolves around the words of 1 John 5:7 as found in the KJV: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Most KJV Only preachers and believers make the acceptance of this passage the test of “orthodoxy.” If your Bible does not have this passage, you are in deep trouble.
      The story of how this passage ended up in the King James Version is very instructive. When the first edition of Erasmus’ work came out in 1516 this phrase, dubbed today the “Johannine comma,” or in Latin, the Comma Johanneum, was not in the text for a very simple reason: it was not found in any Greek manuscript of 1 John that Erasmus had examined. Instead, the phrase was found only in the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus rightly did not include it in the first or second editions. The note in the Annotations simply said, “In the Greek codex I find only this about the threefold testimony: ‘because there are three witnesses, spirit, water, and blood.’” His reliance upon the Greek manuscripts rather than the Latin Vulgate caused quite a stir. Both Edward Lee and Diego López Zúñiga attacked Erasmus for not including this passage and hence encouraging “Arianism,” the very same charge made by KJV Only advocates today. 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.” Likewise Erasmus rebutted Zúñiga by pointing out that while he (Zúñiga) was constantly referring Erasmus to one particular Greek manuscript, in this case he had not brought this text forward, correctly assuming that even Zúñiga’s manuscript agreed with Erasmus’ reading. He also said, “Finally, the whole passage is so obscure that it cannot be very valuable in refuting the [Arian] heresies.”

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Jevan Little the reason to discuss this with you is because we’ve had great discussions in the past The Usual observation on social media is that oneness folk is like calvinists – super angry when posting but got not much to say theologically

    First they make this bold statements with memes and spam the group

    Then you confront them with the Original Greek to show them what the BIBLE really says and they get angry They start taking your own words about theological stuff they never heard before and twist it through their oneness prism Occasionally they would even call for deletion of fine and prominent BIBLE verses that done work for them – then spam the group more with more useless memes – no theology so far

    Finally they will get angry start calling you out start calling you names – just like Mt Hazlenut when he finally had to confess to his false claim that he owned an actual 1611 KJV Bible which turned to be a copy of a much later non KJ rendering – nevermind then … and after all the spam anger name calling they leave – oh well Why dont we just discuss theology? – the points are already clearly stated Ask your questions – give your answers. As simple as that

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Shane Vanmeter back to 1 Jn 5 7 found in the following MSS 2318, 221,61, 88, 429, 629, 636, and 918 and of course codex 221 The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522)

    Cyprian himself quotes 1 John 5: 7 in his first treatise on the unity of the church. This was a universal letter written to the churches. All of this implies that the Comma was well accepted throughout Christendom

    By ‘internal witness,’ it is understood to be an appeal to the witness of the Scriptures themselves. Regardless of what the critics may say in denying the authenticity of the Comma, they cannot refute the internal evidence, that is, if they are honest with the Scriptures. The reading of the Scriptures in the original language demands without any equivocation the acceptance of the Comma

    We have the record of the controversy in the Greek Church as early as AD 379 with the Arians seeking to remove the Comma. But when it comes to adding the Comma to the Scriptures, there is a dead silence. The Arians were not challenging Gregory for adding the Comma, but rather, Gregory challenged the Arians for omitting the Comma from the Sacred Text. This in itself is telling.

  • Shane Vanmeter
    Reply June 12, 2019

    Shane Vanmeter

    Troy Day, Have you even looked at the dates of the manuscripts you mentioned?

    To date, only eight manuscripts are known to have the comma Johanneum in them (Metzger curiously omits mention of codex 629 [Textual Commentary2], the one manuscript that can claim a date for this reading prior to 1520). They are as follows:

    61 (produced in 1520)

    629 (14th century)

    918 (16th century)

    2318 (18th century)

    There are also four manuscripts that have this reading in the margin of the text, added in each instance by a much later hand:

    88 (12th century; comma Johanneum added in 16th century)

    221 (10th century; comma Johanneum added later)

    429 (14th century; comma Johanneum added later. Metzger says that 429 is from the 16th century [Textual Commentary2, 647])

    636 (15th century; comma Johanneum added later. Metzger says that 636 is from the 16th century [Textual Commentary2, 648])

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      I have and I do not disagree with Metzger though Philip Williams has already called me liberal for that I am not sure why did you decide to exclude codex 221 which is a 10th century written by one Roy the Monk – perhaps for the marginal note. NEVERTHELESS Mezger whom I worked with, may very well be making an argument from silence or lack of evidence – HOW do WE know?

      What we do know is that Cyprian himself and the Arians from the arian heresy did NOT deny the Comma

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      221 is on the list…

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Shane Vanmeter and is not that far in date by other MSS we take as authentic as they could be

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      But the Comma was added later than the 10th century…

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Shane Vanmeter Argumentative at best but agreed SO if just tomorrow someone finds a 2-3c MSS that has it what do we do with all our findings thus far?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      It’s not authentic and I have much more information on it if you need more.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Shane Vanmeter 221 is NOT authentic – says who?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      The added verse is not authentic…

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Shane Vanmeter its not a verse in the actual text column BUT its a marginal note – not authentic says WHO?

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      The dates on the manuscripts supporting the Greek of the Comma are all so young as to be, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. Many are written post-printing press! Even citing such manuscripts without even attempting to make an argument that they have any connection to the ancient text at all is embarrassing.

      Dr. James White

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      Shane Vanmeter James White is NO Greek scholar – let’s start by establishing this first I saw MSS 221-222 many years ago in the Vatican library Philip Williams may have as well. The set is NO secret could be openly seen and examined and there is NOTHING not authentic about it

      We’ve discussed this with Metzger and Mike Holmes quite a bit to agree that if the MSS was not actually dated by the copyist there is not much going on to place it at such late date Could have been a copy of an earlier work? The possibilities are indeed many though for now this is all we know

      Interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text does not denote non authenticity per se. 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.)

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Umm yes James White is a Greek scholar lol, and Hebrew as well…

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Actually I havent even gotten to Holmes yet but I will share about him later as I just got home from work and will be heading to bed…

    • Philip Williams
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day very interesting work. I was not aware.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      you were not ware of MSS 221-222 ??? I doubt that I point the case to Shane because new very authentic MSS come up all the time. One even sold on eBay not long ago and I so wish the feller who hurry up to classify it under the NA index would come back here so we can discuss it http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/1700-year-old-papyrus-fragment-of-the-gospel-of-john-150-51-sold-on-ebay-presented-at-sbl-2015/

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      I did share 221 and its 10th century where the Comma was added LATER…

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Hardly ancient…

    • Shane Vanmeter
      Reply June 13, 2019

      Shane Vanmeter

      Also, I’m not sure why you bring up that MSS are found all the time? What does that have to do with anything? The text we are discussing is not in any ancient manuscript at all, oh and the fragment you shared the link of was never sold…

  • Jevan Little
    Reply June 12, 2019

    Jevan Little

    Troy Day that’s my experience with you guys. Everything you accuse us of doing, your side does.

    Btw don’t follow your imagination and bias…I havent once been angry, nor did I post any memes.

    It’s never as simple as that as you seem to get confused of who said what. For example you posted something about MIA. I commented and you denied making such a statement. When I posted a screen shot of your words you thought it was my words and you attacked it as wrong.

    Very odd.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      I dont agree with your statement You’ve been a long standing member of this group and no one ever picked on you We’ve had plenty of calm discussions and I wish this one was too but I’ve noticed oneness folk get real angry when confronted with real BIBLE – now shall we talk about 1Jn or discard it the other 2 fellers were saying – Miller and Hazlenut wth the fake KJV

    • Jevan Little
      Reply June 12, 2019

      Jevan Little

      You are welcome believe that but I’ve noticed the same about Trinitarians.

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Philip Williams Shane Vanmeter jsut to clarify about the so call “Dr White” = he “earned” ThM, ThD and DMin degrees from Columbia Evangelical Seminary – not the one in Atlanta with Walter Brueggemann of course but some online school – non accredited of course. He is currently working on PhD at North-West University in , South Africa on textual criticism. When I was doing my primer in the filed in Tubingen, I was not aware of any leading textual criticism schools in Africa, but that was back in the day. When his dissertation gets published we will be able to find out his knowledge of Biblical Greek or textual criticism at that matter. I know quite a few who do textual criticism without knowing Greek 🙂

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