You may not realize this, but 1 Jn 5:7 has been messed with in most modern Bibles. In the KJV, the verse reads, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This is easily the most definitive verse in the Bible on the Trinity. For that reason, modern translators have attacked the verse; so have the cults, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For example, the NASB reads, “And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.” Well, that’s not verse 7. That’s the second half of verse 6. Isn’t that deceiving to cut verse 6 in half and put the second half in place of verse 7 to make it look like verse 7 is still there? The NIV does something similar. The NIV reads, “For there are three that testify.” Wait a minute, that’s the first half of verse 8!! That’s more “sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” (Eph 4:14).
You might ask yourself the question, “How can they get away with taking the verse out of the Bible like that?” Well, the answer is simple. They use a “trick” called textual criticism. That is, they go back and study old manuscripts looking for evidence to support the way they want to translate a verse. When they find what they are looking for then they point to those old manuscripts as their authority for changes they make.
In the case of 1 Jn 5:7, the translators of the NASB said, “A few late mss. read …” and then they quote something similar to the KJV. The translators of the NIV said, “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate … (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century).” In the ellipses, they quote a passage similar to the KJV.
When you read those comments made by the translators, you are led to believe that God didn’t say, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” You are led to believe that somebody added those words centuries later and therefore they are not the words of God. As a matter of fact, that’s what the translators believe. To verify the validity of their comments you have to check something called “manuscript evidence.”
Manuscript evidence deals primarily with old copies of the Bible or parts of the Bible. In manuscript evidence, you not only have old Greek manuscripts (remember none of the originals survived their early use; all we have is copies), you also have manuscripts in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and other languages. Some of these are actually older than the oldest Greek manuscripts that exist today. Furthermore, there are manuscripts from preachers and teachers who were writing sermons and lessons about the Bible soon after the apostle John died. These manuscripts form valuable evidence as to the words of God.
Nevertheless, in handling manuscript evidence you have to be very careful that the translator, preacher, teacher or scholar who produces the evidence is not lying (1 Ki 13:17-18). The translators of these modern Bibles aren’t telling you all of the truth. When they made their comments against 1 Jn 5:7, they left out substantial manuscript evidence for the verse. So, let’s look at the evidence ourselves and see whether they should have messed with God’s personal testimony of the Trinity.
- The oldest Greek manuscripts containing 1 Jn 5:7 are Codex (a manuscript) 61, Codex Ravianus and Codices 88 and 629.
- The early versions containing the verse are the Old Syriac (170 AD) and the Italic (Old Latin, 157 AD).
- The Christian writers who referred to the verse are Taitian (180 AD), Tertullian (200 AD), Cyprian (225 AD), Athanasius (350 AD), Priscillian (385 AD), Idacius Clarus (385 AD), and Cassiadorus (480-570 AD).
With this kind of evidence, why would the translators leave the verse out, cut an adjoining verse in half, and replace the missing verse with the half they cut out? Well, they did it primarily because they have two manuscripts they call “the oldest and best” that they use against the King James Bible. And these manuscripts leave the verse out.
These old Greek manuscripts are Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Vaticanus is in the Vatican library in Rome, and Sinaiticus was found in a wastepaper basket in a monastery at the base of Mount Sinai. They are both corrupt manuscripts from the 3rd century. They have over 3,000 real differences between them in the Gospels alone. They were corrupted by a scholar named Origen, who was from the school in Alexandria, Egypt. Remember Egypt is a type of the world – not the place from which to get a Bible.
Up until Origen began corrupting God’s words (2 Cor. 2:17), the words of 1 Jn 5:7 were in the early manuscripts and Bibles that the Holy Spirit used to get the church going and growing. You can tell that from the ancient witnesses that we have cited. Then the Catholic corruptions, which had removed clear passages like 1 Jn 5:7, replaced God’s words and for centuries the world was in the dark ages under Roman Catholic domination. Thus, intervening witnesses for 1 Jn 5:7 don’t exist.
When the Protestant Reformation came, the corruptions began to disappear from the texts as God’s men (not Egypt’s men) succeeded in undoing Origen’s damage. The great Bibles of the Reformation: the Italian Diodati, the French Olivetan, the German Lutheran, and the English Genevan all demonstrate a return to the Old Italic of the Waldenses of the 2nd century. The King James Bible is right in this line. Thus, 1 Jn 5:7 was returned to its rightful place in the scripture.
In the late 19th century, however, when the push for a modern English translation began, there were two scholars who picked up where Origen left off. They were Westcott and Hort. They produced a Greek text based upon revisions from Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. And from their text they produced the Revised Version of 1881. Hence, they returned to the Catholic corruptions that sent us into the dark ages. All modern translations come from this line. Therefore, they all attack and remove 1 Jn 5:7.
No matter what men may say, the words of 1 Jn 5:7, as written in the King James Bible, are the words of God. Don’t let go of them!!
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder