Bible Discussion Thread

  • S Spencer
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 1

    There is a passage in the New Testament that seems to be an extraordinarily clear statement about the doctrine of the Trinity, 1 John 5:7. To many, the question as to the existence of the Trinity is settled by this verse.

    What Does 1 John 5:7 Say?

    First John 5:7 reads as follows in the King James Version:

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

    The way this verse reads in the King James Version is a clear description of the Trinity. Indeed, it says that there are three that bear witness or bear record in heaven. These three are the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. In addition, it says that these three are one. Why then, is there any controversy about this issue of the doctrine of the Trinity? These words could not be clearer!

    The Problem Stated

    Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Indeed, there has been a question about the authenticity of this passage. We will give a brief history of the problem as well as make some observations.

    The New Testament Documents Were Originally Written in Greek

    To begin with, we must note that the books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek. When they were first composed each of them were written upon perishable material. Immediately, copies were made of these original writings (called the autographs). These hand-written copies of the Greek autographs, called manuscripts, were then copied and recopied.

    By the middle of the second century A.D., the books of the New Testament began to be translated and then copied into languages other than Greek. This hand-copying of the text in Greek, as well as in these other languages, continued until the invention of the printing press (about 1450). Furthermore, even some time after the printing press was invented the text was still copied by hand. In fact, it was not until the sixteenth century (1516) that a Greek New Testament was printed and published.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation

    Part 2.

    Earlier printed versions of the New Testament were in Latin. Thus, the copying to the text of the New Testament covered some fifteen centuries.

    How the Verses Became Part of the Printed Greek Text and King James Bible.

    At the beginning of the sixteenth century, a man named Erasmus was the first to publish a printed Greek text of the New Testament. In putting together the text for this edition, Erasmus consulted all of the Greek manuscripts which he could find. In the Greek manuscripts of First John which Erasmus examined, these words about the Trinity were not found. Consequently, his first printed edition of his Greek New Testament, issued in 1516, did not contain these words. This omission caused a real problem among the people of that day since these words were found in the Latin text with which they were familiar. Erasmus defended himself by saying that these words were absent from the Greek texts which he had consulted and thus should not be placed into the text of the New Testament.

    When Erasmus issued a second printed edition of his Greek New Testament it too was without these words in First John 5:7. However, before his third edition of the Greek New Testament was issued in 1521 a Greek manuscript was found which did contain this disputed passage. The problem was that this particular manuscript was actually composed around 1520! Yet, to quell the uproar caused by the omission of these words, Erasmus placed them in the third edition of his Greek New Testament. This reading remained in all future editions of Erasmus' printed text.

    This printed Greek text of Erasmus was basically the same text used by the translators of the King James Bible in 1611. It appears that the Greek text which the translators of the King James Version most relied upon was the 5th edition of the printed text of Theodore Beza. This was issued in 1598. This text is similar, but not exactly the same as that of Erasmus.

    See Part 3.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 3.

    Since these disputed words appeared in the later editions of Erasmus' Greek New Testament, as well as other printed Greek texts immediately after his time, including Beza's, they were used as the basis for the English translation in First John. Thus, we find these words in 1 John 5:7 which describe the various members of the Trinity as well as testifying that they are "one." In brief, this explains how the words became part of the English Bible.

    However, this is not the end of the story. When an authorized revision was made of the King James Version in 1880 these words in First John were omitted. Almost all English translations since that time do not have these words as part of the text. The reasons can be stated as follows:

    Why This Passage Is Rejected?

    There are a number of reasons as to why this passage is rejected as being part of Holy Scripture. We can simply state them as follows:


    Since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, the Greek manuscripts are our primary means of reconstructing the original text. The main reason for doubting these words were originally composed by John is the fact that they are only found in a few Greek manuscripts. Furthermore, as we examine these few manuscripts which do contain this passage we find that there are serious questions as to its authenticity.

    Indeed, of the over three hundred Greek manuscripts which contain First John we find that only nine of them have this verse listed. Yet, of the nine, four of them have the verse in the margin while only five have it in the actual text.

    There is more. These five manuscripts which do have this verse in the text are very late. None of the early manuscripts of First John contain it. Indeed, the first Greek manuscript that contains this verse in the actual text of First John comes from the fourteen century.

    See part 4.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 4

    In addition, the way text reads in this particular manuscript is different from the Greek text which was used in translating the King James Version. In fact, the earliest Greek manuscript which reads exactly as the text which was used to translate this verse in the King James Bible is from the sixteenth century!

    Furthermore, these few Greek manuscripts which contain the reading in the text are not actually copies of the Greek text but rather translations of the Latin text into Greek. Therefore, they are not independent witnesses to the original Greek text.

    In other words, the manuscript evidence for the inclusion of this verse is just not there. This is the main reason as to why these words are not placed in the text of First John.


    There are more problems with this passage. Indeed, the words in question are missing from all of the ancient translations, or versions, of the New Testament. This includes the following languages: Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Slavonic. The only exception to this is Latin. While the words in dispute are found in certain Latin manuscripts they are not found in the oldest ones. This is important to realize. The words did begin to become part of the Latin text of First John until about the fifth century. Even so, the wording of the passage was different than what became the basis for the King James Version.


    There is something else which must be appreciated. If this verse was actually part of First John, it is inconceivable that it would not have been used in the Trinitarian debates of the fourth century. However, it is never cited, by either side, as reference to the Trinity.

    See part 5.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 5.

    It is missing from the writings of Christians such as Irenaeus (died about A.D. 200), Clement (died about A.D. 210), Tertullian (who died around A.D. 220) and Athanasius (who died in A.D. 373). If this verse were found in the text of First John it would have been the primary verse used in these debates but it was never cited!


    After looking at the facts surrounding the inclusion of these disputed words in First John we can make the following observations:


    Although this verse clearly does teach the doctrine of the Trinity, as we have seen, there is serious question as to whether it belongs in Holy Scripture. Indeed, the evidence for its inclusion in the New Testament is almost nil. In fact, almost every modern translation of Scripture, with good reason, rejects its authority. We should make the same conclusion.


    Contrary to what some have written and said, the rejection of this verse has nothing to do with any conspiracy to keep the Deity of Christ, or the Trinity, out of the Bible. The reason for its rejection is the lack of evidence for its inclusion; it is not some sinister plot to remove parts of God's Word. Indeed, an objective look at the evidence would lead one to conclude that these words were not part of the original text of First John.


    Consequently, this verse should not be used in discussion about the Trinity. As we have repeatedly emphasized, there is sufficient evidence in the Scripture to support the doctrine of the Trinity without appealing to these words in 1 John 5:7. The Trinity doctrine does not depend upon this verse. It never has. This must be understood.

    See Part 6.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 6.

    How Did This Verse Get into Certain Printed Texts?

    There is one final question. If these words were not original with John then how did they become included in certain Latin manuscripts of First John? What led to their inclusion? While nobody knows for certain the best answer seems to be that they were placed as a marginal note in some early Latin manuscripts. Later, certain Latin copyists then placed them into the text of First John. Eventually, in the sixteenth century, they came to be viewed as part of the original text by some in the church. Yet, as we have seen, there is no real evidence that these were the words John originally composed.

    Whatever the case may be, the evidence for their placement as part of First John is sadly lacking. Trinitarians should not cite this verse to support their case. Indeed, the evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity is overwhelming without quoting this passage.

    For one thing, these words are missing from all of the ancient manuscripts of First John. The manuscripts of First John which have this particular verse are few and they are very late. Indeed, the earliest is from the fourteen century. Even this manuscript does not read the same as the text that we find in the King James Version. The earliest manuscript that reads exactly the same as we find it in the King James Bible comes from the sixteenth century. In other words, there is no real evidence that these words were part of the text of First John.

    In addition, only nine Greek manuscripts of First John contain this verse. Furthermore, only five of them have it in the text while the other four have it written in the margin. Because of the lack of evidence for its inclusion, almost all textual scholars reject it as being original with John. Thus, the external evidence is just not there.

    See Part 7.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    There's no perfect translation.

    Part 7.

    These words are also lacking in all of the ancient translations of the New Testament. The only exception to this is Latin. However, the oldest Latin manuscripts do not contain this passage. In the manuscripts which do have them we find that the wording is different.

    Add to this, there is no evidence of this verse in the writings of early Christians who commented on this book of Scripture. Neither do we find it cited in any of the Trinitarian debates of the fourth century. If it existed at this time it is inconceivable as to why it was not cited in the debates. Indeed, it would seem to settle the issue.

    Thus, this particular verse should not be used as support for the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. However, we must emphasize that the doctrine of the Trinity does not stand or fall on this verse alone. Indeed, there is sufficient evidence in Scripture for the Trinity doctrine without appealing to 1 John 5:7. Therefore, it is best to ignore this verse in discussions about this subject.

    Article by Don Stewart.

    The word of God is inspired by God.

    There's human error in translating from one language to another but those errors doesn't thwart God's plan or message to the world.

    God's message to us doesn't hinge on one verse! It's integrated!

    Nor does it depends on the perfection of Man.

    God can use a prophet like Balaam and a talking Donkey to bring his word.

    Again the King James is the bible I use and believe it is very accurate but not perfect.

    What's important is to get and know the truth out of what is accurate.

    God bless.
  • GIGI - in Reply
    Excellent contribution, S. Spencer.

    This explains so much. Thanks!
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    Thank you Gigi.

    Welcome back and I hope you enjoyed yourself.

    God bless.
  • GIGI - in Reply
    Thank you S. Spencer.

    We had a great time! What a blessing to take this trip with this dear friend in the Lord.
  • Chris - in Reply
    Thank you brother S. Spencer for sharing that article. I have earlier read some arguments for & against the inclusion of this verse in the Bible, but certainly not as extensive as what you've presented here. As you probably know, I do use this 1 John 5:7 portion as a reference in support of the triunity of God as I believe there's no reason not to as it certainly doesn't negate any other portion of Scripture that speaks of the Nature of Jesus & the Holy Spirit within the Godhead. As well, other Bible translations have accepted this verse into their Bibles (e.g. NKJV, Douay-Rheims, LSV, Webster's, & YLT: all esteemed works). Even though this extensive research work has been done to show us how & when this verse was included in the KJV & others, for any of us to further argue the matter would be unfruitful, for lack of expertise. If someone believes that this verse is not to be read as part of the Bible, then they have some good reason for doing so. Likewise, I think it is equally a good reason to keep it & read it for no harm can come of it but good use made of it for both personal & ministry use & appreciation. Blessings.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    Amen Brother Chris.

    That's my take on it as well.

    That verse is true and holds up In the light of Scripture.

    God bless you and all you do Brother.
  • David0921 - in Reply
    The Bible

    There has been a great deal of dialogue on this site recently regarding the authority of various translations of the Bible. Following is my understanding and belief:

    1. Every single word and phrase in the original Hebrew and Greek is exactly the word and phrase that God chose to be included as His Holy Word. In other words, God is the One and Only Author of the BiblePaul, Jeremiah, Mark, Isaiah, etc. were inspired scribes taking what can be characterized as "dictation" from God Himself. Any other view has the result of diminishing the absolute authority of the Bible, no matter how we would argue that point.

    2. God has guided and preserved the manuscripts that we currently have, and that were used by the King James translators (maybe others) and are 100% faithful to the original Words of God Himself.

    3. The job of the translator, while not inspired as the original scribes like Paul and Jeremiah, etc., is to be as faithful as possible to a WORD FOR WORD translation. This is why the King James translators used italics to represent words that they added in order to make the sentence structure flow more easily in the translation.

    4. In the English language, God has graciously given us in recent times, concordances and interlinear Tools so that we can check out the King James translation with the original Hebrew and Greek. That is what was to be done by the churches, and anyone that claims to be a teacher of the Bible.

    5. Unfortunately, Very little intensive serious Bible study has been done by the churches and denominations after establishing their initial confessions and creeds. Sadly, this is the reason there were and are so many different understandings of various doctrines being taught in the churches. The Bible has lost it's Authority in the churches.

    6. God has sealed up certain truths in the Bible that are being revealed only in our day as we approach the end. Daniel 12:9

  • S Spencer - in Reply
    Amen David0921.

    Well spoken!

    God bless.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    When studying the Bible have you ever wondered what causes or perhaps WHO might cause you to recognize what seems to be a error in the scripture or translation?
  • Ronald Whittemore - in Reply
    Hey S Spencer,

    Well done, other verses have been not found in the original text as in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I will not list the verses, and the one you covered in 1 John 5:7 used to support the Trinity. That doctrine has been discussed before and considered undiscussable by most and is taught that salvation is dependent on belief in it.

    We can cut and divide verses or words like Jews and Gentiles, their meaning when they were written, and the meaning they have today. Jew was a slang word started in Babylon for people of the tribe of Judah, and Gentile meant nation or nations, not a person. Many other meanings of words from Hebrew, Greek, Greek mythology, and Latin translated into English.

    As you ended with, the meaning and our understanding of scripture do not come from us, affected by our feelings, desires, and what we have been taught whether it was true or false. If we do not open our hearts and ears to hear and receive understanding given by God and the authority given to Jesus through the Holy Spirit our understanding may not be the Truth.

    Thanks for your post.

    God bless,

  • S Spencer - in Reply
    You're Welcome Ronald and God bless you brother.
  • Jimbob - in Reply
    S Spencer Would that be the Holy Ghost which is the Comforter? ( Jn. 14:26)

    I've got a question for you Spencer.

    In a couple of verses it would seem the (Comforter) and the (Spirit of truth) could possibly be the same ( Jn. 14:16-17) and ( Jn. 15:26)

    Then we have ( Jn. 15:27) and ( Jn. 16:13-15) which leads me to believe they are not the same.

    What is the Spirit of truth?

    Could it be the Words of the LORD?

    Could it be the KJB?

    And to your post about ( 1 Jn. 5:7), whether it belongs in the KJB or not?

    If ( 2 Pet. 1:19-21) is showing us how God used holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Ghost to translate the KJB then whatever is written in the KJB was, and is Inspired by God.

    I believe the KJB is the only Bible translation that is Inspired by God. The prophecy came not in (old time), old time would be (1611) when the KJB (the prophecy) was translated (came) in the English language so it could be preached to all nations.

    God worked through many men, prophets during the OT to keep His Words pure.

    God came to the earth in a flesh body as Jesus Christ ( Jn. 1:1-3,14) Don't you think God would want EVERY WORD that He spoke ( Deut. 8:3) ( Prov. 30:5-6) ( Mt. 4:4) ( Mt. 24:35) to be translated perfectly into the language that would preach or publish His good news unto all nations? ( Mt. 24:14) and ( Mk. 13:10)

    Thus (holy men of God spake (as they were moved) by the Holy Ghost) to keep His Words pure, unadulterated, uncontaminated, sound in doctrine in the translation of the KJB.

    Modern versions have changed the words of the living God ( Jer. 23:36) the word (perverted) is #2015; it means to change.

    I think today many people put to much faith in (men) being in control of the translations of ((all)) Bibles.

    Clearly the Holy Ghost was in control in ( 2 Pet. 1:19-21) who brought us the prophecy from old time.

    I believe the Spirit of truth is the KJB.

    This can be a really deep subject Spencer, but it is an important one.

    Thank you for your post.

    Blessings to you Spencer.
  • S Spencer - in Reply
    You're Welcome Jimbob.

    However I would have to respectfully disagree with you.

    God bless.

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