In Defense of the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8)

erasmus-noter-oplag1A lot of individuals seem to believe that the Christian faith is based on blind faith. Unfortunately, many Christians walk by such a manner—believing and following what they see and hear because it “sounds good” and as long as “Christ is preached.” However, faith is based on fact and evidence; throughout the Word of God it is commanded of us to not only test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), but to test people to see whether or not they are of God (1 John 4:1). The apostles Paul and Peter exhorted us to study the Word daily in the knowledge and grace of Christ in order to be fully furnished in God, understand how to properly handle the Word, to know sound from unsound doctrine, and to grow spiritually (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 3:18). As Christians, we must always be ready to give a reasoned defense to anyone who questions us (1 Peter 3:15); if not, we can turn to fables or even abandon the faith due to the lack of studying or improper use of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16).

With that being said, there’s a certain belief that’s circulating and worrying some Christians: the Trinity being a man-made concept due to what is called the Comma Johanneum, or Heavenly Witnesses. This is found in only a couple of translations of the Bible and is “a sequence of extra words in 1 John 5:7-8” (1). The additional verses are found in the early Latin Vulgate from the late 4th century and later in Erasmus’ Greek New Testament in 1522, both manuscripts from which some of the King James Bible gets its translation. Due to this, some scholars and Christians are doubting the authenticity of the KJV Bible. Below is a chart I comprised comparing the KJV verses to some of the popular, newer editions of the Bible:

Comma Johnnaneum

The controversy of the Trinity is not new. We could read about the Arian heresy of the early 4th century and many others predating even the solidification of the Holy Trinity at the Nicene Council in 381 AD. Could this mean that the Trinity is, in fact, a man-made ideology? Not at all. The term “Holy Trinity” in of itself is man-made, but the Triune Being of God (2) is not for He existed before the foundation of the worlds… and created it, too (Psalm 90:2; Genesis 1:1). The term is simply an umbrella saying of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one.” In order for us to know whether or not the KJV verse of 1 John 5:7-8 holds any veracity, we must test to see if the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in heaven. For the sake of clarity and support of the authenticity of the KJV, I will use the New English Translation of the Bible.

EVIDENCE OF GOD IN HEAVEN

The Son:
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the solemn truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven . . . .” (John 6:31, 32, 51; NET)
“No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man” (John 3:13, NET).
The Holy Spirit:
“Then John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him” (John 1:32, NET).
The Father:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, NET).
For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.”  When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves heard it, for we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:17-18, NET).

Together:

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. And the Lord said, ‘If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. Come, [Let Us] go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other'” (Genesis 11:5-7, NET).

We additionally know the Spirit of God and the Son of God were with the Father in the beginning during the creation of the universe creating it (Genesis 1:2; John 1:1-3) and creating mankind (Genesis 1:26). We can now assert that the Godhead bears record in heaven. What about the three testifying on earth: the Spirit, water and blood? What does this signify? The water is Christ’s baptism, the blood–which is Christ’s–is our atonement and propitiation of our sins, and the Spirit is the believer’s assurance and witness of Christ Jesus, and what was heard of the Gospel is true. The three are in agreement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. 

Does the Comma Johanneum add on to the Word of God? No. Does it take away from the Word? Absolutely not. We’ve just proven these verses to be true. An example of adding on to God’s Word can be found in Acts chapter 15 where the Christian Jews were telling the Gentiles they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. With such a statement, they were diminishing Christ’s purpose of manifesting in the flesh to fulfill the Mosaic Laws (Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:14) and provide salvation to all by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). They were adding on so much to the Gospel that they were taking away from it. Another example of taking away from the Word would be to preach that water baptism is not necessary for salvation despite the commandments of it (John 3:5, Acts 2:38); merely saying “Jesus Christ is the Son of God and I accept Him as my Saviour” will not suffice and takes away the importance and signification of baptism.

What the Traditional Greek Testament and Latin Vulgate did was provide a smoother translation and a very simple, succinct explanation of Verse 6 and gives an insight that paves way for verse 9. The Comma Johanneum also clears up whether or not the Trinity is One or three different deities.

REFERENCES

(1) “Johannine Comma.” Theopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

(2) Apologists Kyle Butt and Dave Miller beautifully sums up the Godhead with: “the Godhead is three personalities—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature” and “a triune Being—three distinct persons within the one essence—with a triune nature.” To read their articles on the Trinity and Their functions, go HERE.

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6 thoughts on “In Defense of the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8)

  1. Bravo Danielle, this is well studied and presented. No matter if people want to call it a “Trinity” or not, we all exist as a trinity…body, spirit, and soul, just as the God-head. They can take or leave the word “Trinity,” but they can’t remove the fact the the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all are in Heaven, and they all are ONE!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Janice!
      And throughout the Word we can see not only the divinity, but the deity of Christ. I will be doing an updated article of this soon! I appreciate the support!

      Like

  2. Thanks Be to GOD for your diligence to learn His Will. To Know the will of God is the Greatest Knowledge. To Do the will of God is the Greatest achievement. The Will of God is not always easy but the will of God is always Right. Remember To Know =That’s exposure to the knowledge. To Do =That’s experience of that Knowledge doing it. To Become =That’s example of a Disciple. Keep up the Great work my sister. Love Never Faileth!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brother Williams, thank you so much for your encouragement! I will remember what you’ve taught me, brother: to do, to know, and to become!

      I thank God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the knowledge needed to stand in the faith and do His will.

      Like

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