Was the seventh verse of 1 John 5 a part of the original letter composed by the Apostle John? Was it an insertion after the original was written? These questions will be examined in this comparison.
The essay is directed to the following in particular:
- Those who rely on one version solely (regardless of version);
- Those who speak of the inerrancy of the Bible;
- Those who misinterpret Revelation 22: 18 in regard to man adding to that particular prophecy shown to John.
I have examined sixty-four versions of the New Testament in regard to the inclusion and omission of 1 John 5: 7 as it appears in the Authorized Version (or King James Version). An analysis of my findings is recorded. Following this are footnotes, some from a few of the versions examined and some from other versions not in my library. This section includes comments from two other reference books. A commentary concludes this essay.
- AAT – An American Translation (Beck)
- AB – Amplified Bible
- AIV – An Inclusive Version
- ANCJ – Aramaic New Covenant
- ANT – The Authentic New Testament
- ASV – American Standard Version
- BNT – Barclay New Testament
- CENT – Common English New Testament
- CEV – Contemporary English Version
- CJB – Complete Jewish Bible
- CLNT – Concordant Literal New Testament
- CNT – Cassirer New Testament
- CTNT – Centenary Translation of the New Testament
- DHB – Darby Holy Bible
- DRB – Douay-Rheims Bible
- EBR – The Emphasized Bible
- EDW – The Emphatic Diaglott
- EVD – English Version for the Deaf
- GW – God’s Word
- IB – Interlinear Bible
- IV – Inspired Version
- HBME – The Holy Bible in Modern English
- HBRV – Holy Bible, Revised Version
- KJV – King James Version
- KLNT – Kleist-Lilly New Testament
- KTC – Knox Translation
- LB – Living Bible
- LBP – Lamsa Bible
- MCT – McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel
- MNT – Moffatt New Translation
- MRB – Modern Reader’s Bible
- MSNT – The Modern Speech New Testament
- NAB – New American Bible
- NAS – New American Standard Version
- NBV – The New Berkeley Version in Modern English
- NCV – New Century Version
- NEB – New English Bible
- NET – New Evangelical Translation
- NIV – New International Version
- NJB – New Jerusalem Bible
- NKJ – New King James Version
- NLT – New Living Translation
- NLV – New Life Version
- NNT – Noli New Testament
- NRS – New Revised Standard Version
- NSNT – Norlie’s Simplified New Testament
- NWT – New World Translation
- ONT – The Original New Testament
- PRS – Phillips Revised Student Edition
- REB – Revised English Bible
- RNT – Riverside New Testament
- RSV – Revised Standard Version
- SGAT – An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
- SISR – The Scriptures (ISR)
- SNB – Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
- SSBE – The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
- TCNT – The Twentieth Century New Testament
- TEV – Today’s English Version
- TJB – The Jerusalem Bible (Catholic)
- WET – Wuest Expanded Translation
- WMF – The Word Made Fresh
- WNT – Williams New Testament
- WTNT – William Tyndale Newe Testament
- YLR – Young’s Literal Translation, Revised Edition
Other Versions Used
- CCDT – Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Translation
- PNC – The People’s New Covenant
- SCM – Spencer New Testament
- WVSS – Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures
1 John 5: 7
KJV – For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
- The verse is included, but with no comment:
- DRB, IV, KJV, NLV, NNT, NSNT, WMF, WTNT, YLR.
- The verse is included, but with a footnote:
- KTC, NKJ.
- The verse is included, but in italics:
- AB, IB.
- The verse is omitted in the text, but referred to in a footnote:
- AAT, AIV, DHB, EDW, GW, MSNT, NET, NIV, NLT, NRS, WNT.
- The verse is omitted, with no comment:
- ANCJ, ANT, ASV, BNT, CENT, CEV, CJB, CLNT, CNT, CTNT, EBR, EVD, HBME, HBRV, KLNT, LB, LBP, MCT, MNT, MRB, NAB, NAS, NBV, NCV, NEB, NJB, NWT, ONT, PRS, REB, RNT, RSV, SGAT, SISR, SNB, SSBE, TCNT, TEV, TJB, WET.
Footnotes and Other References
AAT – All the older manuscripts lack verses 7b-8c. Early in the 16th century a translator apparently took these words from Latin manuscripts and inserted them in his Greek New Testament. Erasmus took them from this Greek New Testament and inserted them in the third edition (1522) of his Greek New Testament. Luther used the text prepared by Erasmus. But even though the inserted words taught the Trinity, Luther ruled them out and never included them in his translation. In 1550 Bugenhagen objected to these words “on account of the truth.” In 1574 Feyerabend, a printer, added them to Luther’s text, and in 1596 they appeared in the Wittenberg copies.
CCDT – According to the evidence of many manuscripts, and the majority of commentators, these verses should read: “For there are three that bear witness: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three are one.” The Holy See reserves to itself the right to pass finally on the origin of the present reading.
EDW – The Received Text reads: “For there are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth.” This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. It is therefore evidently spurious, and was first cited (though not as it now reads) by Virgilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century; but by whom forged, is of no great moment, as its design must be obvious to all.
GW – Four very late manuscripts add verses 7b-8a: … .
IB – In the Preface “The Hebrew and Greek Texts,” it is stated that this version took this verse from the Complutensian Bible. The IB translators did not accept it as true scripture, but allowed it to remain. [The Complutensian Bible is a scholarly Polyglot Bible, edited by Stunics under the sponsorship of Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros and printed at Alcalá, Spain (1514-17).]
KTC – V.7. This verse does not occur in any good Greek manuscript. But the Latin versions may have preserved the true text; scribes often omitted by error, the former of two sentences which had deceptively similar endings. In this very chapter, two important manuscripts omitted the first six words of verse 15, for the same reason.
NET – This version contains the same footnote as An American Translation (Beck).
NIV – Late manuscripts of the Vulgate “testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth: the” (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century).
NKJ – NU-Text and M-Text omit the words from in heaven (verse 7) through on earth (verse 8). Only four or five very late manuscripts contain these words in Greek.
PNC – Verse 7: The so-called Authorized Version is followed in rendering this verse. The verse however does not appear in any Greek manuscript written earlier than the fifth century.
SCM – The words in brackets are not found in the oldest manuscripts now extant, and the majority of Catholic critics today hold that they were not part of the original text. On the other hand, the arguments for the authenticity of the passage have such weight that it would not be safe to regard non-authenticity as established. As the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit bear witness to Christ’s divinity, so the spirit which he yielded up on the cross, and the water and the blood that issued from his side, bear witness to his human nature.
TJB – Vulgate verses 7-8 read as follows: “There are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one: there are three witnesses on earth: the Spirit the water and the blood.” The words in italics (not in any of the early Greek MSS, or any of the early translations, or in the best MSS of the Vulgate itself) are probably a gloss that has crept into the text.
WVSS – In the opinion of nearly all the critics and of most Catholic writers of the present day the words “in heaven – the Father, … on the earth” were not contained in the original text; at the same time, until further action be taken by the Holy See it is not open for Catholic editors to eliminate the words from a version made for the use of the faithful.
WNT – Verse 7 in the Authorized Version not in the best manuscripts.
Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 12. Abingdon Press, 1931, pages 293 and 294:
This verse in the KJV is to be rejected (with RSV). It appears in no ancient Greek manuscript nor is cited by any Greek father; of all the versions only the Latin contained it and even this in none of its ancient sources. The earliest manuscripts of the Vulgate do not have it. It is first quoted as a part of 1 John by Priscillian, the Spanish heretic, who died in 385, and it gradually made its way into manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate until it was accepted as part of the authorized Latin text.
Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary. Abingdon Press, 1971, page 939:
The Spirit, the water, and the blood may be an allusion to the church’s sacramental rites of initiation, viz., confirmation, baptism, and Eucharist, in a form and order observed in the churches in Asia Minor at the time of writing of 1 John. During the controversies of the fourth century over the doctrine of the Trinity the text was expanded – first in Spain circa 380, and then taken up in the Vulgate – by the insertion: “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one.” A few late Greek manuscripts contain the addition. Hence it passed into the KJV. But all modern critical editions and translations of the New Testament, including the RSV, omit the interpolation, as it has no warrant in the best and most ancient manuscripts or in the early church fathers.
All but nine of the versions examined either omit this verse or note that it was added to the original text. The footnotes indicate that it was an addition, although a few suggest that its conclusion may be proper. The few references that suggest or state the source give the impression that it was not a reliable one. If it should be included, it had to have been removed before the fourth century A.D.
Either the King James Version and the eight other versions are right while the others are wrong, or the nine versions are wrong and the others are right. Which, if any, of the versions are infallible? The Bishop’s Bible, The Coverdale Bible, The Geneva Bible, the Great Bible, Matthew’s Bible, Tyndale’s Bible, as well as Greek and Hebrew MSS were used during the translation of the King James Version. The Bishop’s Bible was the basic one followed. The passage in question can be found in most of these sources. Is it then any wonder that it should also appear in the King James Version? In the Christian world, the King James Version has, for most of the time since it was first published, been the standard version of the Bible.
Texts of Beza and Erasmus were used for the New Testament. The text that Erasmus prepared was Textus Receptus (or Received Text) of 1516, which was later revised. Erasmus could not locate a complete manuscript, or even a partial one, which he considered to be good. Thus, he relied upon two later, inferior manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate.
There are those who, while noting differences in wording between manuscripts, claim that no major doctrine is involved. The passage examined in this comparison would tend to disprove this belief. The inclusion of this passage would strongly support the belief that there are three separate beings in heaven, although one in purpose. This is in opposition to there being only one person with different manifestations of that person. That is doctrinal change.
Some ridiculous conclusions can be made if there are three completely separate persons: the Father, the Son (the Word), and the Holy Spirit. The angel told Mary that the Holy Ghost (Spirit) would come upon her and that the power of the Highest would overshadow her (Luke 1: 35). That is the third, not the first, person in the Trinity. God is a spirit (John 4: 24). Are there two spirits and the Son? There are seven spirits of God (Revelation 3: 1; 4: 5; 5: 6). How many spirits are there? Who are they? Do you see where this is taking us? Leaving out that interpolated passage clears this situation. It is difficult enough for the average person to comprehend the nature of Yahweh without accepting an insertion by a person (or persons) of little credit.
The fact that Stephen and others saw two beings does not make it impossible for Yahweh to reveal Himself in more than one manifestation. Yahshua was one of those manifestations so that Yahweh could appear to man in human form. The passage teaches a different concept of Yahweh. The translators of the King James Version followed their sources, not realizing that man had added to the Scriptures. Confusion is brought forth by Satan, not Yahweh. Thus, in this case a doctrine has been created.
Examine the renderings and the comments by the translators and the commentators. Then make your conclusion as to whether 1 John 5: 7 expresses the Word of Yahweh.