ESV 7 For there are three that testify:

KJV 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

  • Hi, as it is now, the question title makes no sense. If one has to guess what you mean the answers will be pointless. Simply quoting a verse isn’t helpful. Please expand on what you have provided. – user48152 Jan 1 at 21:38
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    In the "Search on Biblical Hermeneutics" bar at the top, searching for "Johanine comma" is:question will produce this: Posts containing '"johannine comma" is:q' - Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, which should provide three answers to what I think is your question. – Ray Butterworth Jan 1 at 21:56
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    Jose - It is not a matter of accepting or not accepting - it is a matter of what the text of the Bible actually is. I suggest you consult UBS5 and the many other references associated with "Johanine comma" to explore this very large topic. – Dottard Jan 1 at 22:45
  • This is a good summary of the matters involved here. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannine_Comma – Dottard Jan 1 at 23:12

I addressed this issue in a paper I wrote in my doctoral studies. I am pursuing a Doctor of Theology in Puritan Studies, and one of my papers had to compare the views of several Puritan Theologians on various topics, one of which is the Trinity. The following answer is taken from that paper:

Each of the theologians under consideration [Thomas Boston, Thomas Watson, William Ames, James Ussher], and appeal to the same biblical text to as their main evidence to prove or discuss the Trinity and that text is 1 John 5:7-8 which reads, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” No verse more clearly teaches the Trinity and the unity of the Trinity than these two verses. Ussher provides a good summary of how the Puritan Theologians under consideration viewed 1 John 5:7-8: We learn that the word Trinity, although it be not expressly set down in the word, yet it hath certain ground from thence. And whereas they are said to be three witnesses; we learn the singular fruit that is in the Trinity of the persons, in one unity of the godhead; whereby great assurance is brought unto us of all things that God speaketh in promise or threat; seeing it is all confirmed by three witnesses, against who no exception lieth. And they are said here to witness, that God hath given eternal life unto us, and that this life is in his Son (1 John v. 11) (Ussher, 96). John’s statement informs us that there are three persons that bear witness in heaven (Father, Word, Holy Ghost) and that those witnesses are in complete unity (are one). Of this statement, Boston wrote, “In the 5th verse of this chapter, John lays down a fundamental article of the Christian faith, That Jesus is the Son of God; and brings in the witnesses of this truth, ver. 7 and 8. The text condescends on the divine heavenly witnesses” (Boston, 142). As tidy as this is for the doctrine of the Trinity, a problem exists regarding 1 John 5:7-8. The phrase concerning the Father, Word and Holy Ghost appears in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the Douay-Rheims Bible and Youngs Literal Translation but not in any other English versions that this writer could find. The Duoay-Rheims Bible combined two translated works (Duoay translation of the Old Testament and Rheims translation of the New Testament) into a single publication of the entire Bible in 1609 (Akin). The Duoay-Rheims was based on the Latin Vulgate, which is the Latin version of the Bible prepared principally by Jerome via a commission of Pope Damasus I in 382 A.D. (Vulgate). The Duoay-Rheims remained the standard for English speaking Catholics until the twentieth century (Akin). This is significant in that there are no Greek texts prior to the 1500’s that contain these verses, and they appear to have originated from a Latin text allegorizing the Trinity in the fourth century, and from there they made their way into the Latin Vulgate, the text used by Roman Catholicism (Wallace). The original version of the Latin Vulgate written by Jerome did not contain the Comma Johanneum (Questions). Erasmus did not use the Comma in his original Greek translation (1516) and did not include it until his third edition (1522) after receiving pressure from the Catholic Church (Wallace). After his first edition appeared (1516), there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it. Once one was produced (codex 61, written by one Roy or Froy at Oxford in c. 1520), Erasmus apparently felt obliged to include the reading (Wallace). To be fair, the Catholics seem to have included the Comma to refute heresy denying the Trinity. The Comma Johanneum, if originally part of 1 John 5:7-8, would be the most direct reference to the Trinity found in Scripture (Questions), thus referring to it in defense of the Trinity, and using it to teach the Doctrine of the Trinity, makes sense. The problem is, however, that it is not part of the original biblical text, and therefore should not be used. As one article stated: While what the Comma Johanneum says is true, it is not a God-breathed statement and does not belong in the Bible. The doctrine of the Trinity is taught and implied in many other biblical passages. If God thought an explicit mention of the Trinity was necessary, He Himself would have made sure it was in His Word (Questions).

The Puritan theologians under consideration wrote at a time when the Comma Johanneum was accepted as biblical truth and therefore, it is understandable that they based their argument for the Trinity on 1 John 5:7-8. Unfortunately, the excellent arguments that they all make based on these verses is irrelevant and spurious. Fortunately, they all make additional excellent arguments for the Trinity based on other biblical texts which are legitimately found in the original manuscripts.

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