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.
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1 John 5:7. For there are three, &c. — It is well known that the authenticity of this verse has been a subject of much controversy. “The arguments, on both sides of the question, taken from ancient Greek MSS. and versions, and from quotations made by the fathers, and from printed editions, have been stated with the greatest fidelity and accuracy by Mill in his long note at the end of John’s first epistle, where he observes that this verse is wanting in all the ancient Greek MSS. of the New Testament which have come down to us, except a few, which shall be mentioned immediately. It is wanting likewise in the first Syriac, and other ancient versions, particularly the Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in many of the present Latin MSS. With respect to quotations from the fathers, Mill acknowledges that few of the Greek writers, who lived before the council of Nice, have cited this verse. The same he observes concerning those who, after that council, wrote in defence of the Trinity against the Arians, and other heretics; which, he thinks, shows that this verse was not in their copies.” But, on the other hand, the proofs of the authenticity of this verse are,” 1st, Some of the most ancient and most correct Vatican Greek copies, from which the Spanish divines formed the Complutensian edition of the Greek Testament, and with which they were furnished by Pope Leo X.,” one of which Mill speaks of as peculiarly eminent, of great antiquity, and approved fidelity. “2d, A Greek copy, called by Erasmus, Codex Britannicus, on the authority of which he inserted this verse in his edition anno, 1522, but which he had omitted in his two former editions. This is supposed to be a MS. at present in the Trinity College library, Dublin, in which this, verse is found with the omission of the word αγισν, holy, before πνευμα, Spirit. It likewise wants the last clause of 1 John 5:8, namely, and these three are one. All Stephens’s MSS., being seven in number, which contain the catholic epistles, have this verse: only they want the words εν ουρανω, in heaven. 4th, The Vulgate version, in most of the MS. copies and printed editions of which it is found, with some variations. 5th, The testimony of Tertullian, who alludes to this verse, Praxeam, c. 25, and who lived in an age in which he saith, Præscript, c. 30, the authenticæ literæ (the authentic writings) of the apostles were read in the churches. By authenticæ literæ Mill understands, either the autographs of the apostles, which the churches, to whom they were written, had carefully preserved, or correct transcripts taken from these autographs. Also the testimony of Cyprian, who flourished about the middle of the third century, and who, in his epistle to Jubajanus, expressly cites the latter clause of this verse. The objections which have been raised against the testimonies of Tertullian and Cyprian, Mill hath mentioned and answered in his long note at the end of 1 John 5., which see in page 582 of Kuster’s edition. 6th, The testimony of many Greek and Latin fathers in subsequent ages, who have cited the last clause of this verse; and some who have appealed to the Arians themselves as acknowledging its authenticity. Lastly, the Complutensian edition, anno 1515, had this seventh verse exactly as it is in the present printed copies, with this difference only, that instead of these three are one, it hath substituted the last clause of 1 John 5:8, And these three agree in one, and hath omitted it in that verse. These arguments appear to Mill of such weight, that, after balancing them against the opposite arguments, he gave it as his decided opinion that, in whatever manner this verse disappeared, it was undoubtedly in St. John’s autograph, and in some of the copies which were transcribed from it.”

“Instead of passing any judgment in a matter so much contested,” says Macknight, “I shall only observe, 1st, That this verse, instead of disturbing the sense of the verses with which it is joined, rather renders it more connected and complete. 2d, That in 1 John 5:9, the witness of God is supposed to have been before appealed to: If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. And yet, if 1 John 5:7 is excluded, the witness of God is nowhere mentioned by the apostle. 3d, That in the opinion of Beza, Calvin, and other orthodox commentators, the last clause of 1 John 5:7 hath no relation to the unity of the divine essence. If so, the Trinitarians, on the one hand, need not contend for the authenticity of this verse, in the view of supporting their doctrine, nor the Arians, on the other, strive to have it excluded from the text as opposing their tenets. 4th, That the doctrine which the Trinitarians affirm to be asserted in this verse is contained in other places of Scripture. So Wall saith. Dr. Benson likewise, in his Dissertation, written to prove this verse not genuine, saith, ‘If it were genuine, there could nothing be proved thereby but what may be proved from other texts of Scripture.’” The reader who wishes for more satisfactory information respecting the authenticity of the text, may find it in Dr. Calamy’s Vindication of it, annexed to his Sermons on the Trinity, preached at the lecture at Salter’s Hall, and published in 1722.

There are three that bear witness, &c. — When there is a cause depending in any court, and proof is to be given in order to the decision of it, witnesses are produced, and if they are credible, and liable to no just objection, the cause is determined according to the evidence they give, unless they, to whom it belongs to determine the matter, are partial or biased. Now St. John, aiming at the establishment of those in the truth to whom he wrote this his first epistle, represents the cause depending before them as very weighty; a cause of such consequence, that it highly concerned them to weigh all matters well before they came to a determination. It was really no less a matter than whether Christianity was true or a forgery: and he intimates to them that they had very good evidence to assist them in determining. There were two sets of witnesses, the one above, the other below; and both of them unexceptionable. The one was of persons, and the other of things, which, by a figure, are represented as witnesses. The persons witnessing were, of all others in the universe, the most worthy of credit and regard, being all truly and properly divine persons, even the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost — Persons with whom none that had the least knowledge of Christianity could be unacquainted. For these are the very persons in whose name they had been baptized, and to whom they had been most solemnly dedicated. There is only this difference to be observed, that the second witness mentioned has another name given him. In the form of baptism he is called the Son, but here the Word; a name or title which St. John seems to have taken a peculiar pleasure in giving to the Lord Jesus, for he begins his gospel with it, John 1:1, repeats it again in 1 John 5:14 of the same chapter, and in entering upon this epistle, represents it as the great subject about which he was going to write; and mentions it again in the Apocalypse, Revelation 19:13. And as for the third witness, the Holy Ghost, he would not have been mentioned separate from the other two if he were not distinct from both. For the apostle does not speak of three names as bearing record, but three distinct persons, acting different ways and in different capacities. It is also hereby intimated that the evidence given is very full and convincing, no one of the witnesses being liable to any just objection: so that Christianity, the truth of which is so well attested, must necessarily have a firm foundation. Observe, reader, the witnesses brought forth and appealed to on this occasion, are the same that our Lord himself had mentioned as attesting his divine mission and Messiahship in the days of his flesh, as John 5:37, where he speaks of the Father that sent him as bearing witness of him; and John 8:18, where he says that he bore witness of himself; and John 15:26, where he mentions the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, as testifying of him. Accordingly we learn from the gospel history, 1st, That the Father bore witness to Jesus with an audible voice three sundry times; first, when he was baptized, Matthew 3:16-17; a second time when he was transfigured, Matthew 17:5; and a third time after he had raised Lazarus from the dead, when many flocked out of Jerusalem to meet and applaud him, John 12:28; and the two former of those times, the testimony borne is the same with that here mentioned by St. John, 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:5, namely, that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and therefore the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. 2d, The Word made flesh, the Lord Jesus himself, several times bore the same testimony; as, for instance, to the woman of Samaria, John 4:26; to the Jews, John 8:24; John 8:58; John 10:30; John 10:36; and especially when adjured by the high-priest, in the name of the living God, to tell them whether he was the Christ, the Son of God, Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61. And he, in effect, bore the same testimony when he showed himself to dying Stephen, as standing at the right hand of God in all the splendour of the divine glory, — when he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, surrounded with a light above the brightness of the sun, — and when he manifested himself to John in the isle of Patmos, to give him the wonderful visions contained in the Apocalypse. And, 3d, The Holy Ghost in many ways bore the same testimony, as by his descending on Jesus immediately after his baptism, and in a glorious manner remaining on him, John 1:32-33, and working miracles by the disciples sent out during his life: by coming down on the apostles in fiery tongues ten days after our Lord’s ascension, thereby publicly declaring to all present, and to all to whom a well-attested account of that fact should come, that he really was the Son of God, exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high; a truth which these same apostles boldly testified from that day forward in Judea, and all the world over. Thus we see what the apostle means when he says, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost witnessed in heaven. Or, as the words may be rendered, there are three in heaven that bear, or that bore witness, (for μαρτυρουντες is a participle of the imperfect as well as of the present tense,) distinguished from the other three witnesses mentioned in the next verse, that are on earth. The meaning is, not that they bear, or bore, witness to the angels and blessed spirits that are in heaven, but only that they speak from heaven, while the others speak on earth. They witness while they are in heaven, notwithstanding that they are so much above us, and so far distant from us: and therefore the testimony they bear is to be the more regarded, and we shall be the more inexcusable if we do not acquiesce in it, and improve by it.

And these three are one — The word is not εις, one person, but εν, one thing, expressing evidently the unity of the three, and that not only as to their testimony, but also and especially with respect to their nature; it being evident, from a variety of other texts, that each of the three is truly and properly God, as has been abundantly proved in the course of these notes. If unity of testimony had only been intended, it is probable the expression would have been as in the close of the next verse, where the three witnesses on earth are spoken of, these three εις το εν εισιν, agree in one.

5:6-8 We are inwardly and outwardly defiled; inwardly, by the power and pollution of sin in our nature. For our cleansing there is in and by Christ Jesus, the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Some think that the two sacraments are here meant: baptism with water, as the outward sign of regeneration, and purifying from the pollution of sin by the Holy Spirit; and the Lord's supper, as the outward sign of the shedding Christ's blood, and the receiving him by faith for pardon and justification. Both these ways of cleansing were represented in the old ceremonial sacrifices and cleansings. This water and blood include all that is necessary to our salvation. By the water, our souls are washed and purified for heaven and the habitation of saints in light. By the blood, we are justified, reconciled, and presented righteous to God. By the blood, the curse of the law being satisfied, the purifying Spirit is obtained for the internal cleansing of our natures. The water, as well as the blood, came out of the side of the sacrificed Redeemer. He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, Eph 5:25-27. This was done in and by the Spirit of God, according to the Saviour's declaration. He is the Spirit of God, and cannot lie. Three had borne witness to these doctrines concerning the person and the salvation of Christ. The Father, repeatedly, by a voice from heaven declared that Jesus was his beloved Son. The Word declared that He and the Father were One, and that whoever had seen him had seen the Father. And the Holy Ghost, who descended from heaven and rested on Christ at his baptism; who had borne witness to Him by all the prophets; and gave testimony to his resurrection and mediatorial office, by the gift of miraculous powers to the apostles. But whether this passage be cited or not, the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity stands equally firm and certain. To the doctrine taught by the apostles, respecting the person and salvation of Christ, there were three testimonies. 1. The Holy Spirit. We come into the world with a corrupt, carnal disposition, which is enmity to God. This being done away by the regeneration and new-creating of souls by the Holy Spirit, is a testimony to the Saviour. 2. The water: this sets forth the Saviour's purity and purifying power. The actual and active purity and holiness of his disciples are represented by baptism. 3. The blood which he shed: and this was our ransom, this testifies for Jesus Christ; it sealed up and finished the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The benefits procured by his blood, prove that he is the Saviour of the world. No wonder if he that rejects this evidence is judged a blasphemer of the Spirit of God. These three witnesses are for one and the same purpose; they agree in one and the same thing.For there are three that bear record in heaven ... - There are three that "witness," or that "bear witness" - the same Greek word which, in 1 John 5:8, is rendered "bear witness" - μαρτυροῦντες marturountes. There is no passage of the New Testament which has given rise to so much discussion in regard to its genuineness as this. The supposed importance of the verse in its bearing on the doctrine of the Trinity has contributed to this, and has given to the discussion a degree of consequence which has pertained to the examination of the genuineness of no other passage of the New Testament. On the one hand, the clear testimony which it seems to bear to the doctrine of the Trinity, has made that portion of the Christian church which holds the doctrine reluctant in the highest degree to abandon it; and on the other hand, the same clearness of the testimony to that doctrine, has made those who deny it not less reluctant to admit the genuineness of the passage.

It is not consistent with the design of these notes to go into a full investigation of a question of this sort. And all that can be done is to state, in a brief way, the "results" which have been reached, in an examination of the question. Those who are disposed to pursue the investigation further, can find all that is to be said in the works referred to at the bottom of the page. The portion of the passage, in 1 John 5:7-8, whose genuineness is disputed, is included in brackets in the following quotation, as it stands in the common editions of the New Testament: "For there are three that bear record (in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth,) the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." If the disputed passage, therefore, be omitted as spurious, the whole passage will read, "For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." The reasons which seem to me to prove that the passage included in brackets is spurious, and should not be regarded as a part of the inspired writings, are briefly the following:

I. It is missing in all the earlier Greek manuscripts, for it is found in no Greek manuscript written before the 16th century. Indeed, it is found in only two Greek manuscripts of any age - one the Codex Montfortianus, or Britannicus, written in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and the other the Codex Ravianus, which is a mere transcript of the text, taken partly from the third edition of Stephen's New Testament, and partly from the Complutensian Polyglott. But it is incredible that a genuine passage of the New Testament should be missing in all the early Greek manuscripts.

II. It is missing in the earliest versions, and, indeed, in a large part of the versions of the New Testament which have been made in all former times. It is wanting in both the Syriac versions - one of which was made probably in the first century; in the Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Ethiopic, and Arabic.

III. It is never quoted by the Greek fathers in their controversies on the doctrine of the Trinity - a passage which would be so much in point, and which could not have failed to be quoted if it were genuine; and it is not referred to by the Latin fathers until the time of Vigilius, at the end of the 5th century. If the passage were believed to be genuine - nay, if it were known at all to be in existence, and to have any probability in its favor - it is incredible that in all the controversies which occurred in regard to the divine nature, and in all the efforts to define the doctrine of the Trinity, this passage should never have been referred to. But it never was; for it must be plain to anyone who examines the subject with an unbiassed mind, that the passages which are relied on to prove that it was quoted by Athanasius, Cyprian, Augustin, etc., (Wetstein, II., p. 725) are not taken from this place, and are not such as they would have made if they had been acquainted with this passage, and had designed to quote it. IV. The argument against the passage from the external proof is confirmed by internal evidence, which makes it morally certain that it cannot be genuine.

(a) The connection does not demand it. It does not contribute to advance what the apostle is saying, but breaks the thread of his argument entirely. He is speaking of certain things which bear "witness" to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah; certain things which were well known to those to whom he was writing - the Spirit, and the water, and the blood. How does it contribute to strengthen the force of this to say that in heaven there are "three that bear witness" - three not before referred to, and having no connection with the matter under consideration?

(b) The "language" is not such as John would use. He does, indeed, elsewhere use the term "Logos," or "Word" - ὁ Λόγος ho Logos, John 1:1, John 1:14; 1 John 1:1, but it is never in this form, "The Father, and the Word;" that is, the terms "Father" and "Word" are never used by him, or by any of the other sacred writers, as correlative. The word "Son" - ὁ Υἱός ho Huios - is the term which is correlative to the "Father" in every other place as used by John, as well as by the other sacred writers. See 1 John 1:3; 1 John 2:22-24; 1 John 4:14; 2 John 1:3, 2 John 1:9; and the Gospel of John, "passim." Besides, the correlative of the term "Logos," or "Word," with John, is not "Father," but "God." See John 1:1. Compare Revelation 19:13.

(c) Without this passage, the sense of the argument is clear and appropriate. There are three, says John, which bear witness that Jesus is the Messiah. These are referred to in 1 John 5:6; and in immediate connection with this, in the argument, 1 John 5:8, it is affirmed that their testimony goes to one point, and is harmonious. To say that there are other witnesses elsewhere, to say that they are one, contributes nothing to illustrate the nature of the testimony of these three - the water, and the blood, and the Spirit; and the internal sense of the passage, therefore, furnishes as little evidence of its genuineness as the external proof. V. It is easy to imagine how the passage found a place in the New Testament. It was at first written, perhaps, in the margin of some Latin manuscript, as expressing the belief of the writer of what was true in heaven, as well as on earth, and with no more intention to deceive than we have when we make a marginal note in a book. Some transcriber copied it into the body of the text, perhaps with a sincere belief that it was a genuine passage, omitted by accident; and then it became too important a passage in the argument for the Trinity, ever to be displaced but by the most clear critical evidence. It was rendered into Greek, and inserted in one Greek manuscript of the 16th century, while it was missing in all the earlier manuscripts.

VI. The passage is now omitted in the best editions of the Greek Testament, and regarded as spurious by the ablest critics. See Griesbach and Hahn. On the whole, therefore, the evidence seems to me to be clear that this passage is not a genuine portion of the inspired writings, and should not be appealed to in proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. One or two remarks may be made, in addition, in regard to its use.

(1) even on the supposition that it is genuine, as Bengel believed it was, and as he believed that some Greek manuscript would still be found which would contain it , yet it is not wise to adduce it as a proof-text. It would be much easier to prove the doctrine of the Trinity from other texts, than to demonstrate the genuineness of this.

(2) it is not necessary as a proof-text. The doctrine which it contains can be abundantly established from other parts of the New Testament, by passages about which there can be no doubt.

(3) the removal of this text does nothing to weaken the evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity, or to modify that doctrine. As it was never used to shape the early belief of the Christian world on the subject, so its rejection, and its removal from the New Testament, will do nothing to modify that doctrine. The doctrine was embraced, and held, and successfully defended without it, and it can and will be so still.

7. three—Two or three witnesses were required by law to constitute adequate testimony. The only Greek manuscripts in any form which support the words, "in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth," are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus, copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the Margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the fifteenth century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin. All the old versions omit the words. The oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate omit them: the earliest Vulgate manuscript which has them being Wizanburgensis, 99, of the eighth century. A scholium quoted in Matthæi, shows that the words did not arise from fraud; for in the words, in all Greek manuscripts "there are three that bear record," as the Scholiast notices, the word "three" is masculine, because the three things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are SYMBOLS OF THE Trinity. To this Cyprian, 196, also refers, "Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is written, 'And these three are one' (a unity)." There must be some mystical truth implied in using "three" (Greek) in the masculine, though the antecedents, "Spirit, water, and blood," are neuter. That THE Trinity was the truth meant is a natural inference: the triad specified pointing to a still Higher Trinity; as is plain also from 1Jo 5:9, "the witness of God," referring to the Trinity alluded to in the Spirit, water, and blood. It was therefore first written as a marginal comment to complete the sense of the text, and then, as early at least as the eighth century, was introduced into the text of the Latin Vulgate. The testimony, however, could only be borne on earth to men, not in heaven. The marginal comment, therefore, that inserted "in heaven," was inappropriate. It is on earth that the context evidently requires the witness of the three, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, to be borne: mystically setting forth the divine triune witnesses, the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. Luecke notices as internal evidence against the words, John never uses "the Father" and "the Word" as correlates, but, like other New Testament writers, associates "the Son" with "the Father," and always refers "the Word" to "God" as its correlate, not "the Father." Vigilius, at the end of the fifth century, is the first who quotes the disputed words as in the text; but no Greek manuscript earlier than the fifteenth is extant with them. The term "Trinity" occurs first in the third century in Tertullian [Against Praxeas, 3]. Having mentioned the Spirit’s testifying in the close of 1Jo 5:6, he returns to give us in order, in these two verses, the whole testimony of the truth of Christianity, which he reduces to two ternaries of witnesses. The matter of their testimony is the same with that of their faith who are born of God, that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Messiah, as may be collected from what was said before, 1Jo 5:1,5, and what is said afterwards, 1Jo 5:9. What they believe, is no other thing than what these testify. For the first three,

in heaven, that is not said to signify heaven to be the place of their testifying; for though the same thing concerning Jesus be also no doubt testified to the glorious inhabitants of that world, yet that is not the apostle’s present scope, but to show what reason we have, who inhabit this world, to believe Jesus to be Christ, and the Son of God.

In heaven therefore is to be referred to

three, not to bear record, or witness; as if the text were read, which it may as well: There are three in heaven who bear witness; the design being to represent their immediate testifying from thence unto us, or the glorious, heavenly, majestic manner of their testifying. So the Father testified of the man Jesus by immediate voice from heaven, at his baptism and transfiguration: This is my Son, & c. The eternal Word owned its union with him, in that glory with which it so eminently clothed his humanity, and which visibly shone through it in the holy mount, whereof this apostle was a spectator, and whereto he seems to refer in his Gospel, John 1:14: We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, i.e. such as sufficiently testified him to be so, even the very Son of God. And the Holy Ghost testified, descending as a dove in a visible glorious appearance upon him, at his baptism also.

And these three are one, viz. not only agreeing in their testimony, as 1Jo 5:8, but in unity of nature: an express testimony of the triune Deity, by whatsoever carelessness or ill design left out of some copies, but sufficiently demonstrated by many most ancient ones, to belong to the sacred text: of which L. Brug. Not. in loc., with the other critics, and at large, Dr. Hammond.

For there are three that bear record in heaven,.... That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius (z), in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius (a) about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian (b), in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian (c) about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. The heavenly witnesses of Christ's sonship are,

the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. The "Father" is the first Person, so called, not in, reference to the creatures, angels, or men, he is the Creator, and so the Father of; for this is common to the other two Persons; but in reference to his Son Jesus Christ, of whose sonship he bore witness at his baptism and transfiguration upon the mount. The "Word" is the second Person, who said and it was done; who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation; who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created; he declared himself to be the Son of God, and proved himself to be so by his works and miracles; see Mark 14:61, &c. and his witness of himself was good and valid; see John 8:13; and because it is his sonship that is, here testified of, therefore the phrase, "the Word", and not "the Son", is here used. "The Holy Ghost" is the third Person, who proceeds from the Father, and is also called the Spirit of the Son, who testified of, Christ's sonship also at his baptism, by descending on him as a dove, which was the signal given to John the Baptist, by which he knew him, and bare record of him, that he was the Son of God. Now the number of these witnesses was three, there being so many persons in the Godhead; and such a number being sufficient, according to law, for the establishing of any point: to which may be added, that they were witnesses in heaven, not to the heavenly inhabitants, but to men on earth; they were so called, because they were in heaven, and from thence gave out their testimony; and which shows the firmness and excellency of it, it being not from earth, but from heaven, and not human, but divine; to which may be applied the words of Job, in Job 16:19; it follows,

and these three are one; which is to be understood, not only of their unity and agreement in their testimony, they testifying of the same thing, the sonship of Christ; but of their unity in essence or nature, they being the one God. So that, this passage holds forth and asserts the unity of God, a trinity of persons in the Godhead, the proper deity of each person, and their distinct personality, the unity of essence in that they are one; a trinity of persons in that they are three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and are neither more nor fewer; the deity of each person, for otherwise their testimony would not be the testimony of God, as in 1 John 5:9; and their distinct personality; for were they not three distinct persons, they could not be three testifiers, or three that bare record. This being a proper place, I shall insert the faith of the ancient Jews concerning the doctrine of the Trinity; and the rather, as it agrees with the apostle's doctrine in words and language, as well as in matter. They call the three Persons in the Godhead three degrees: they say (d),

"Jehovah, Elohenu (our God), Jehovah, Deuteronomy 6:4; these are the three degrees with respect to this sublime mystery, in the beginning Elohim, or God, created, Genesis 1:1, &c.''

And these three, they say, though they are distinct, yet are one, as appears by what follows (e):

"come see the mystery of the word; there are three degrees, and every degree is by itself, yet they are all one, and are bound together in one, and one is not separated from the other.''

Again, it is said (f),

"this is the unity of Jehovah the first, Elohenu, Jehovah, lo, all of them are one, and therefore: called one; lo, the three names are as if they were one, and therefore are called one, and they are one; but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit it is made known, and they by the sight of the eye may be known, , "that these three are one": and this is the mystery of the voice which is heard; the voice is one, and there are three things, fire, and Spirit, and water, and all of them are one in the mystery of the voice, and they are but one: so here, Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah, they are one, the three, forms, modes, or things, which are one.''

Once more (g),

"there are two, and one is joined unto them, and they are three; and when the three are one, he says to them, these are the two names which Israel heard, Jehovah, Jehovah, and Elohenu is joined unto them, and it is the seal of the ring of truth; and when they are joined as one, they are one in one unity.''

And this they illustrate by the three names of the soul of man (h);

"the three powers are all of them one, the soul, spirit, and breath, they are joined as one, and they are one; and all is according to the mode of the sublime mystery,''

meaning the Trinity.

"Says R. Isaac (i) worthy are the righteous in this world, and in the world to come, for lo, the whole of them is holy, their body is holy, their soul is holy, their Spirit is holy, their breath is holy, holy are these three degrees "according to the form above".--Come see these three degrees cleave together as one, the soul, Spirit, and breath.''


For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the {h} Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are {i} one.

(h) See Joh 8:13,14

(i) Agree in one.

1 John 5:7. By means of the witness of the Spirit, water and blood also attain to the position of witnesses. As such John now adduces them in connection with the Spirit, in order by the weight of this threefold witness to confirm the truth that the Son of God, who is identical with Jesus, is the Messiah.

The ὅτι which begins the verse means neither: “jam vero” (Grotius, Calov), nor: “hence” (Meyer), nor: “consequently” (Baumgarten-Crusius), but: “for.” This connection with the foregoing is explained by the fact that the truth of the testimony of the Holy Ghost (who is the truth itself) is strengthened by the circumstance that it is not He alone that bears witness, but that with Him the water and the blood bear witness also, as the two elements by means of which the atonement took place (similarly Lücke);[312] de Wette unnecessarily supplies: “and, humanly considered, the witness is also true, for.” Paulus connects 1 John 5:9, as consequent, with this verse as antecedent: “because there are three, etc., then, if, etc., the witness of God is much greater.” This construction, which is contrary to the style of John, is the more to he rejected as an erroneous idea arises from it.

τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες] The masculine is used because the three that are mentioned are regarded as concrete witnesses (Lücke, etc.), but not because they are “types of men representing these three” (Bengel),[313] or symbols of the Trinity (as they are interpreted in the Scholion of Matthaei, p. 138, mentioned in the critical notes). It is uncertain whether John brings out this triplicity of witnesses with reference to the well-known legal rule, Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, etc., as several commentators suppose. It is not to be deduced from the present that ὕδωρ and αἷμα are things still at present existing, and hence the sacraments, for by means of the witness of the Spirit the whole redemptive life of Christ is permanently present, so that the baptism and death of Jesus—although belonging to the past—prove Him constantly to be the Messiah who makes atonement for the world (so also Braune). The participle οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, instead of the substantive οἱ μάρτυρες, emphasizes more strongly the activity of the witnessing.

τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα] All these three expressions have here, of course, the same meaning as previously.[314]

καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν ΕἸΣΙΝ] Luther inaccurately: “and these three are one;” ΤῸ ἝΝ is the one specific object of the witness; “the three are directed to this one,” namely, in their thus unanimous witness. Storr inaccurately: “they serve one cause, they promote one and the same object, namely, the object previously mentioned (v. 1, 5).”

[312] “In ver. 6 it was said that the witnessing Spirit is the truth, and hence it is implied that, to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Spirit unites with the water and blood, as the testimony of the truth. As John now assumes this conclusion from ver. 6, he adds, passing on to another subordinate confirmatory proof: for,” etc.

[313] Tropum … Ap. Adhibet … ut hoc dicat: tria sunt genera hominum, qui ministerio testandi in terra funguntur: (1) illud … genus testinni, quod praeconio evangelii vacat; (2) illud gen. test., quod baptismum administrat, ut Johannes baptista et caeteri; (3) illud gen. test., quod passionem et mortem Domini spectavit et celebrat.

[314] Weiss erroneously refers the witness of the baptism here to that which was given at the baptism of Christ, and the witness of the death to that which was given at the outflowing of His blood.—It is not by what happened in connection with them, but in themselves, that ὕδωρ and αἷμα are the μαρτυροῦντες.—According to Ebrard, ὕδωρ here “is the baptism of water instituted by Christ, as an external institution … as the representation of every means of grace to be administered by men, above all in its connection with the preaching of the word;” and αἷμα is “the blood of Christ, i.e. His atoning death, … not, however, the blood of Christ alone, but also the power of the blood of the testimony, which is shed from time to time by His disciples for the sake of confessing Jesus.” To this Ebrard further adds: “we may say that in the water of baptism is embodied the confession which by its firmness overcomes the lie, and in the blood of testimony that love which by patience overcomes the power of the flesh.” This interpretation needs no refutation.


According to the Rec., after οἱ μαρτυροῦντες appear the words: ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷοἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ (see the critical notes). Luther says in reference to them: “It appears as if this verse was inserted by the orthodox against the Arians, which, however, cannot suitably be done, because both here and there he speaks not of witnesses in heaven, but of witnesses on earth.” With this most modern commentators agree, with the exception of Besser and Sander. It is true that, if we consider the contents of the whole Epistle, the idea of the three witnesses in heaven may be brought into connection with something or other that appears in the Epistle; but it does not follow from this that that idea has here a suitable or even a necessary place. This plainly is not the case, so much the more, as neither in what follows nor in what immediately precedes, with which 1 John 5:7 is closely connected by ὅτι, is there the slightest reference to such a witness of the Trinity. There are clear and intelligible grounds in the foregoing for adducing the three witnesses: πνεῦμα, ὓδωρ, αἷμα, but not for adducing the three witnesses: ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, τὸ πνεῦμα ἅγιον; this trinity appears quite unprepared for; but the sequel is also opposed to it, for it makes it unintelligible what witness is meant by the μαρτυρία τοῦ Θεοῦ, 1 John 5:9, whether that of the three in heaven, or that of the three on earth.

To this it may be added that these two different classes of witnesses appear together quite unconnected; it is said, indeed, that these three witnesses agree in one, but not in what relationship the two threes stand to one another.

Besides, however, the idea in itself is utterly obscure; for what are we to understand by a witness in heaven? Bengel, it is true (with whom Sander agrees), says: “non fertur testimonium in coelo, sed in terra: qui autem testantur, sunt in terra, sunt in coelo; i.e. illi sunt naturae terrestris et humanae, hi autem naturae divinae et gloriosae.” How untenable, however, this is, is shown, on the one hand, in the fact that ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ does not belong to εἰσιν, but rather to μαρτυροῦντες, and the text therefore does not speak of being, but of bearing witness, in heaven; and, on the other hand, in the fact that according to it the πνεῦμα which is connected with ὓδωρ and αἷμα must be regarded as something earthly and human.

There is further the un-Johannean character of the diction, as by John ὁ Θεός and ὁ λόγος, and similarly ὁ πατήρ and ὁ υἱός, are certainly conjoined, but never ὁ πατήρ and ὁ λόγος; Sander avails himself of the assumption, which is certainly very easy, of a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον; but this is here unwarrantable, for those ideas are so frequently occurring in John—and that mode of conjunction is not accidental, but is grounded on the nature of the case. We see that the interpolator wrote λόγος, because this suggested itself to him as a genuine Johannean expression, without reflecting that its connection with πατήρ is un-Johannean. Finally, the καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι is also strange. Bengel interprets: unum sunt essentia, notitia, voluntate, atque adeo consensu testimonii. Bengel with justice puts the essentiality first, for it is just this that is denoted by the expression—but just this is unsuitable here, where the subject rather is the unity of the witness.

1 John 5:7-8. The Water (the Lord’s consecrated Life) and the Blood (His sacrificial Death) are testimonies to the Incarnation, but they are insufficient. A third testimony, that of the Spirit, is needed to reveal their significance to us and bring it home to our hearts. Without His enlightenment the wonder and glory of that amazing manifestation will be hidden from us. It will be as unintelligible to us as “mathematics to a Scythian boor, and music to a camel”. τρεῖς οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, masculine though Πνεῦμα, ὕδωρ, and αἷμα are all neuter, because agreeing κατὰ σύνεσιν with τὸ Πνεῦμα—a testimony, the more striking because involuntary, to the personality of the Spirit. εἰς τὸ ἕν, “for the one end,” i.e. to bring us to faith in the Incarnation (ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ). This was the end for which St. John wrote his Gospel (John 20:31). There is no reference in the Water and the Blood either to the effusion of blood and water from the Lord’s pierced side (John 19:34) or to the two Sacraments.

7. For there are three that bear record in heaven] If there is one thing that is certain in textual criticism, it is that this famous passage is not genuine. The Revisers have only performed an imperative duty in excluding it from both text and margin. External and internal evidence are alike overwhelmingly against the passage. A summary of both will be found in Appendix D. But there are three facts, which every one should know, and which alone are enough to shew that the words are an interpolation. (1) They are not found in a single Greek MS. earlier than the fourteenth century. (2) Not one of the Greek or Latin Fathers who conducted the controversies about the doctrine of the Trinity in the third, fourth, and first half of the fifth centuries ever quotes the words. (3) The words occur first towards the end of the fifth century in Latin, and are found in no other language until the fourteenth century. The only words which are genuine in this verse are, For there are three that bear record, or more accurately, For those who bear witness are three: ‘three’ is the predicate; for ‘witness’ see on 1 John 1:2.

1 John 5:7. Ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆςἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατὴρ και ὁ λόγος (ὁ Υἱὸς) καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα· καὶ οἱ τρεῖς ἓν εἰσιν, Because there are three who bear witness on earthin heaven, the Father, and the Word (the Son), and the Spirit: and these three are one) I have long ago explained the form employed in the margin of my edition, and blamed by some one, although the whole dissertation in the Apparatus itself was prepared for a true vindication of the passage. Now, since this most brilliant passage has again and again come under my consideration, I will first enter into a gleaning of criticisms, and will bring forward some chief points[15] from my Apparatus, according to the order of the subjects there discussed; by which critics may, if they please, be invited to a more full discussion of the matters of which we have there spoken, as the truth shall require: but the last of those subjects will lead us to a much more pleasing contemplation, that of interpretation.

[15] These, indeed (although regularly inserted in the second Edition of the Appar. Crit. by Burk), I did not think fit to omit in this remarkable passage, as I did in the case of the other critical annotations. My doing so will, I am confident, he pardoned, or even welcomed, by those readers who are not possessed of the App. Crit.—E. B.

The only Greek MSS., in any form, which support the words from ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατὴρ, to μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, are—1. The Cod. Montfortianus at Dublin, palpably copied from the modern Latin Vulgate [as the fact, that the articles before πατὴρ, λόγος, and πνεῦμα are clumsily omitted, shows], and brought forward as an authority to compel Erasmus to insert the words: Erasmus terms it Codex Britannicus. 2. Cod. Ravianus of Berlin, a transcript from the Complutensian Polyglot, imitating even its misprints. 3. A MS. at Naples, with the words added in the margin by a recent hand. 4. Cod. Ottobonianus 298, in the Vatican, a Greek and Latin MS. of the 15th century, in which the Greek is a mere accompaniment of the Latin, and is quite peculiar (ex. gr. ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ). The words were first edited in Greek by the Complut. Editors, 1514, A.D.; and then by Erasmus, not until his third Ed., 1522, A.D. And so, through Stephens and the Elzevirs, the Rec. Text has adopted them. All the old Versions, as well as Greek MSS., reject them. The oldest copy of the Latin Vulg. containing them is Wizanburgensis, 99, of the 8th century: also the codex in the monastery of H. Trinity of Cava, near Naples, of the 8th century: also Cod, Toletanus: also Cod. Demidovianus of the 12th century. But Cod. Amiatinfus and the oldest MSS. of the Vulg. omit them. All the Greek Fathers omit them.

A Schorium, quoted in Matthæi, seems to me to account for the origin of the words, which probably did not arise from fraud: οἱ τρεῖς δὲ εἶπεν ἀρσενικῶς, ὅτι σύμβολα ταῦτα τῆς τριάδος, “He uses τρεῖς in the Masculine, because these things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are symbols of the Trinity.” This also is plainly the reference of Cyprian, 196, “De Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto Scriptum est, Et hi tres unum sunt.” There is plainly in the genuine words, which use τρεῖς in the masc., though the antecedents to which it refers are neuter, some mystery or symbol; and that the Trinity was the truth meant, seems not an unnatural inference. The more recent Latin Vulg. embodied in the text what was probably a marginal comment, made not without reason.—E.

I. Many persons confine their critical investigations within the limits of this one passage; or at any rate wish to commence them with this passage. They act as though any one should begin the study of Geometry with squaring the circle. Such persons scarcely find ground on which to stand; but he who has penetrated through other intricacies, will be able to find a way here also, and to set at rest the minds of others, as far as they are teachable. Here it is only by changing the course that the harbour is gained: the present passage requires a peculiar method of treatment.

II. Not a few of those, who rightly and religiously defend this very expression, are too eager in seeking out and employing supports even of such a kind as have no strength. That has occurred to a distinguished man, Leonard Twells, whose miscellaneous production Wolf has translated from English into Latin, and with a few corrections, has put forth on this passage, pp. 300–313. I read and attentively considered Twells before the publication of my Apparatus: Wherefore, when I proceeded with more of self-distrust than he did, I did not do so without good reason, and I would have the reader imagine that there is matter for deliberation. I am not aware that anything new needs particularly to be supplied: I will mention a few points, which bear upon the subject.

III. As the Complutensian editors, on the authority of Latin manuscripts, omitted in ch. 2 the former part of 1 John 5:14, and in ch. 5 the last clause of 1 John 5:8, although they found them in Greek manuscripts, so they restored this very seventh verse, although not contained in the Greek manuscripts; thus they allowed themselves singular liberty in this Epistle. The undisguised confession of Stunica, respecting the Latin manuscripts here employed, is of more weight than all suspicion respecting two Greek Vatican manuscripts, one of which did not contain the passage, while the other suggested it to Stunica himself, or his colleagues. That the Spanish editors here followed the Vatican copy, Erasmus does not plainly assert, as Twells understands him; he only says, if I am not mistaken. If Amelotus afterwards read the sentence in the Vatican Manuscript, we must see that it does not in this instance Latinize.[16]

[16] That is, Bengel suspects that the Greek of the Vatican MS., if indeed it contains, as Amelotus says, this passage as to the three heavenly witnesses, must be interpolated from the Latin MSS., and not from original Greek MSS.

IV. Erasmus obtained from Britain, by the instrumentality of some one or other, a leaf. He himself distrusted it: he related the causes of his distrust, which were not unreasonable. Nothing but mere spontaneous credulity can make from this source an adequate (reliable) British manuscript. The Complutensian editors gave one Greek version of the sentence from Latin writers; the British writer brought forward by Erasmus gave another; the Greek translator of the Council of Lateran another; the interpolator of the Montfortian Manuscript another.

V. That the sentence was read by the Stephens in no Greek manuscript, the margin of the Latin Bible of Robert (Stephens) of itself proves.

It is altogether unnecessary to quote the editions of the Stephens and the others. All the rest followed Erasmus and the Complutensian edition in omitting or expressing the sentence.

VI. There is no great number of Greek manuscripts in which the epistles, for instance those of John, are contained: and of those which are now extant in considerable numbers, with very few exceptions none exceed the age of a thousand years; the rest are considerably, or even much more, recent. Therefore it is the less remarkable, that the sentence in Greek is scarcely found at present in the Greek manuscripts; and I have ascertained that we must add to these the royal Hafniensian Manuscript, the Ebnerian, and all those of Paris (Journal des Savans, June 1720), and many, which the celebrated La Croze (in his History of Christianity in India, p. 316, 2d Edit. Germ.) says that he has seen. In the Florentine manuscripts, which that illustrious man, John Lamius, mentions in his book respecting the learning of the Apostles, ch. 13, there are found twelve which contain the General Epistles, and yet are without this clause; but all of them were written after the ninth century, We ought, on the other hand, to value the more highly the supplementary authority of that most ancient Version, the Latin Vulgate,[17] from which this sentence was read and quoted by many fathers in a continued series, and afterwards was introduced into the copies of other languages, and at the present time is extant in the Latin manuscripts of the New Testament.

[17] In the absence of the oldest Greek MSS. we have a valuable substitute for them in the Vulgate.

It is conjectured, but without any reason, from his silence, that Valla had read the clause in his Greek manuscripts. Valla also passed over (without notice) a remarkable difference in 1 John 5:6, where in the Greek copies the reading is τὸ Πνεῦμα (the Spirit), in the Latin, Christus (Christ). And in ch. 2, Valla had without doubt read in the Greek copies the former part of 1 John 5:14, which is wanting in the Latin copies;[18] and yet he passes it over in silence [et tamen in pausâ est]. He has been very sparing in his notes on this Epistle.

[18] Some MSS. of Vulg. omit ἔγραψα ὑμ. πατ. to ἀρχῆς. In Beza’s Latin, the last clause of the 13th ver., “scribo vobis, pueruli,” etc., is the first clause of ver. 14.—E.

The Council of Lateran, in that sentence, as it is found in SOME copies, does not refer to the whole of 1 John 5:7, but to the clause of 1 John 5:8, and these three are one: which clause, being met with in ALL the Greek copies, even of itself demonstrates that the Council is not speaking of Greek, but of Latin manuscripts, of which SOME only have the clause in question.

The Montfortian, or Dublin, or Hibernian copy, to which so much weight is attached in certain quarters on account of this clause, is new, and Latinizes; being written in the West, as is proved by the Latin division into chapters. That the Berlin Manuscript is of no weight apart from the Complutensian editors, the candour of the people of Berlin admits.

VIII. To the Greek Fathers, who did not read the clause, is to be added Germanus of Constantinople, as his View of Ecclesiastical Affairs shows. The negative argument, in such an inquiry, cannot be rejected. It is of no weight in the case of one or two ecclesiastical writers only; it is of weight in the case of a great number, when they omit a clause so remarkable, and so singularly adapted to decide controversies. If the Africans in such numbers quote it, how is it that the Asiatics in as many instances refrain from quoting it? The latter did not read it; the former did.

XIX. John Lamius, in the treatise already quoted, pp. 260, 266, 284, mentions the Latin copies of the Florentines which do or do not contain the sentence. Moreover, so great is the antiquity, and so great the authority of the Latin Version, wherever Tertullian, Cypria[19], and a portion only, but these forming a continuous series, of the Fathers follow it, that we are fully justified in depending upon it, and are not compelled to remain in suspense, although it is not yet clearly ascertained, what the following ages read in different parts of the East. They who have at hand those more abstruse versions are easily led to disparage too much the Latin Version, which is too much extolled by the Romanists.

[19] yprian (in the beginning and middle of the third century: a Latin father). Ed. Steph. Baluzii, Paris. 1726.

XXI. The Florentine Manuscript, and that Laurentian one [= Amiatinus] which we have quoted from Burnet, is the same, if I mistake not, with that which John Lamius describes in the book quoted, p. 265. Other Latin manuscripts of the Florentines are added, which have that order of the verses, pp. 258, 268, 285. A writer also of the eighth century, Etherius, Bishop of Axima in Spain, has it, who in his first book against Elipandus, reviewing a great part of this Epistle, thus sets forth the two verses: Because there are three, who bear witness on earth, the water and the blood and the flesh; and these three are one: and there are three, who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are one in Christ Jesus. Cornelius Jansenius, in his Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels, chapter 144, has imitated those who follow this reading, whether manuscripts or Latin Fathers. The seventh verse, in the judgment of Cameron, is to be enclosed in a parenthesis, and the sixth to be joined with the eighth. There is no need of a parenthesis: the sixth verse is of itself connected with the eighth.

XXII. That Manuel Calecas, a DOMINICAN, and the Lectionary of the Greeks, in this place undoubtedly interpolated, edited by VENETIANS, follow the authority of the Vulgate translation, is by no means surprising. The Armenians formerly did the same thing.

XXIII. That Basil the Great made use of rare (that is, having a few copies much resembling one another, which were peculiar in their class) manuscripts of the Epistles, is plain from the Apparatus, p. 690; and he lays open to us a trace of this dictum of John, when, in his fifth book against Eunomius, he says: God and the Word and the Spirit, one Deity, and alone to be adored. It is scarcely possible for more weight to be assigned to the Dialogue, which is attributed to Maximus, than is assigned to it in my Apparatus. That author undoubtedly owes his knowledge of the clause to the Latin copies of the Africans: whether he found it afterwards in Greek copies, is for the consideration of the learned.

Now I wish the reader attentively to compare together the great number of manuscripts, which Gerard of Mastricht brings together in his Notes on this passage, and the fourteen Greek witnesses which Twells enumerates in the 302d page of Wolf, and, on the other side, the things which I have supplied instead, in the 3d and subsequent paragraphs. You will say that an essential service will be rendered by him who shall prove, by any means whatever, that there are in existence even but one or two witnesses of Greek authority. He who shall bring forward credible witnesses from Greek antiquity, will deserve the gratitude of the Church.

XXV. They who defend the clause are not therefore necessarily bound to know, or to bring forward, the cause why it is wanting in so many copies. Let the cause of the omission be less certain: still the omission, and moreover the genuineness of the clause also, is certain. He who has lost and found a choice treasure, even though he knows not how it was lost, yet recognises and recovers it. The suspicion of an hiatus in this passage, arising from a similarity of ending, will, as I think, be slow in coming to an end. I frequently, throughout this work, notice what influence similarity of ending is accustomed to have in the production of hiatus; but that this cause cannot possibly avail in the present instance, I have, unless I am mistaken, proved in the Apparatus, p. 765 [Ed. ii. p. 474]. But another, and not unreasonable conjecture, as to the manner in which the clause came to be expunged, is subjoined in the same place. On the other hand, it can by no means be regarded as a patch stitched on by the Latin Fathers, who are, some wanting the clause itself, others rejoicing in it; some known, others unknown or lost; some of great antiquity, others more recent. Indulge suspicions in every way; but you will effect nothing. At so early a period, so seriously, so universally, through such a perpetual series of ages, do they bring it forward.

XXVIII. This last thesis leads us to the exigesis of this most precious passage, in which the 7th verse, when compared (1st) with the context of the whole Epistle, and especially (2d) with the 8th verse, is vindicated, upon the strongest grounds of internal probability.

(1.) There are some who think that it is not easy to ascertain the design and arrangement of this Epistle: but if we examine it with simplicity, this will be laid open to us without any violence. In this letter, or rather treatise (for a letter is sent to the absent; but here the writer seems to have been among those to whom he was writing), St John designs to confirm the happy and holy communion of the faithful with God and Jesus Christ, by showing the marks [gnorismata, by which they may be known] of their most blessed state.

There are three parts:—

THE EXORDIUM, ch. 1 John 1:1-4.

THE DISCUSSION, ch. 1 John 1:5 to 1 John 5:12.

THE CONCLUSION, ch. 1 John 5:13-21.

Let the text itself be consulted.

In the Exordium the apostle establishes authority for his own preaching and writing from the appearance of the Word of Life; and clearly points out his design (ἵνα, that, 1 John 5:3-4). The Conclusion (that we may at once clear out of the way this point) corresponds with the Exordium, more fully explaining the same design, a recapitulation of those Marks being made by the thrice-repeated we know, ch. 1 John 5:18-20.

The Discussion itself contains two parts, treating—

I.  Separately,

a.  Of communion with God, in the light, 1 John 1:5-10 :

b.  Of communion with the Son, in the light, 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 2:7-8.

A special application being subjoined to fathers, young men, and little children, ch. 1 John 2:13-27.

Here is interwoven an exhortation to abide in Him, 1 John 2:28 to 1 John 3:24;

That the fruit arising from His manifestation in the flesh may extend to His manifestation in glory.

c.  Of the confirmation and fruit of this abiding by the Spirit, 1 John 4 throughout:

To which subject 1 John 3:24 prepares the way, to be compared with 1 John 4:13.

  II.  By a Summing up, or comprehensive statement (Congeries) of the testimony of the Father and Son and Spirit: on which depends faith on Jesus Christ, the being born of God, love towards God and His children, the keeping of His commandments, and victory over the world, ch. 1 John 5:1-12.

The parts often begin and end in a similar manner; just as the Conclusion answers to the Exordium. See above on Ch. 1 John 2:12. Sometimes there is a previous allusion in some preceding part, and a recapitulation in a subsequent part. Every part treats of the Divine benefit, and the duty of the faithful: and the duty is derived from the benefit by the most befitting inferences, of love towards God, of the imitation of Jesus Christ, of the love of the brethren: and although many things may appear to be repeated without order, yet these same inferences are formed in the most methodical manner, by regarding the subject in a different point of view from different causes.

The seventh verse therefore contains a recapitulation, which not only treats of the Father and the Son, but also of the Spirit. What the sun is in the universe, the needle in the mariner’s compass, or the heart in the body, that is the 7th verse of chapter 5 in this discussion. First take an edition without this verse, and then an edition which contains it; and you will easily perceive what is required by the whole tenor of John’s discourse.

(2.) The connection of the verses is indissoluble, in this text: 1 John 5:6. This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not in water only, but in water and blood: and it is the Spirit which beareth witness; because the Spirit is truth. 7. Because there are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree in one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father and the Word and the Spirit; and these three are one. 9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.

Lest any confusion should arise, we remind the reader, that that which is spoken of by us in the further consideration of this passage, as the 7th verse, is that which treats of those who bear witness on earth; and that the 8th verse is that which treats of those who bear witness in heaven. And we take for granted this 8th verse, partly as already confirmed by critical arguments in the Apparatus, and partly as about to be further confirmed by exegetical arguments.

Verse 7. - For those who bear witness are three, and thus constitute full legal testimony (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1). It will be assumed here, without discussion, that the remainder of this verse and the first clause of verse 8 are spurious. Words which are not contained in a single Greek uncial manuscript, nor in a single Greek cursive earlier than the fourteenth century (the two which contain the passage being evidently translated from the Vulgate), nor are quoted by a single Greek Father during the whole of the Trinitarian controversy, nor are found in any authority until late in the fifth century, cannot be genuine. 1 John 5:7There are three that bear record (τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες).

Lit., three are the witnessing ones.

The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.

These words are rejected by the general verdict of critical authorities. For the details of the memorable controversy on the passage, the student may consult Frederick Henry Scrivener, "Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament;" Samuel P. Tregelles, "An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament;" John Selby Watson, "The Life of Richard Porson, M.A.;" Professor Ezra Abbot, "Orme's Memoir of the Controversy on 1 John 5:7;" Charles Foster, "A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses," or "Porson's Letters to Travis Eclectically Examined," Cambridge, 1867. On the last-named work, Scrivener remarks, "I would fain call it a success if I could with truth. To rebut much of Porson's insolent sophistry was easy, to maintain the genuineness of this passage is simply impossible." Tregelles gives a list of more than fifty volumes, pamphlets, or critical notices on this question. Porson, in the conclusion of his letters to Travis, says: "In short, if this verse be really genuine, notwithstanding its absence from all the visible Greek manuscripts except two (that of Dublin and the forged one found at Berlin), one of which awkwardly translates the verse from the Latin, and the other transcribes it from a printed book; notwithstanding its absence from all the versions except the Vulgate, even from many of the best and oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate; notwithstanding the deep and dead silence of all the Greek writers down to the thirteenth, and of most of the Latins down to the middle of the eighth century; if, in spite of all these objections, it be still genuine, no part of Scripture whatsoever can be proved either spurious or genuine; and Satan has been permitted for many centuries miraculously to banish the 'finest passage in the New Testament,' as Martin calls it, from the eyes and memories of almost all the Christian authors, translators, and transcribers."

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