The Johannine Comma of I John 5:7-8
By Matthew Stepp of Wayne, West Virginia
I John 5: (7) “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (8) And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (King James Version (KJV) – 1611).
I John 5: (7) “And it is the Spirit that beareth wit-ness, because the Spirit is the truth. (8) For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one.”
(American Standard Version (ASV) – 1901). I John 5: (7) “For there are three that testify: (8) the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” (English Standard Version (ESV) – 2001).
Hold on here, now! This passage in First John is getting shorter. The newer the “bible?” the shorter. What is going on? Well, verse seven is gone in the modern versions, is what the problem is. Sneakily, they have kept the number seven, by breaking the first part of verse eight off into the pseudo verse seven. Which version is correct? Selah! Think about it!
Well, since we do not have the original manuscript (MS) that John the beloved Apostle wrote, just copies made in each generation since, there were bound to be errors, as humans laboriously had to write each word on papyrus and parchments. The Jewish Old Testament scribes were awesomely careful and the Hebrew Masoretic Text is singularly unchallenged as to accuracy, validated by the recovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946 of up to 2300-year-old manuscriptsessentially unchanged. The Byzantine Greek Texts have much the same unchanged history up to the Reformation, in what is called the Textus Receptus (TR). But critical textualism in modern times has brought many corrupted texts (manuscripts- MSS) found in various places and times, that have “variations” from the true line of preserved texts.
Many of these “corrupted” manuscripts do not contain the full text of I John 5:7-8 that one can read in the King James Version of the English Bible, originally translated in 1611 from the Textus Receptus (TR). But rather have basically put a “comma,” where verse seven should be shouting out the Holy Trinity; without a doubt the clearest verse in the Bible in reference to the matchless deity of God, the Father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. Early church fathers fought many heresies concerning the trinity of God (Gnosticism, Arianism, and Sabellianism), and early minions of confusion evidently started leaving this precious verse out of their copies.
I was listening to an internet preacher, who, as he was preaching through the first Epistle of John, came to what has become a highly controversial fifth chapter. He prefaced his remarks, as that he had done his “homework” and advised against listening to any “internet scholars” that might refute his sermon thesis. He then began to inform his congregation that the King James Bible that most were using, (obviously this was not his first attempt to get them to switch) was inferior to more “modern” translations, and that some “unknown” scribe somewhere down the line had added (or in this case subtracted?) his own “two cents” to God’s Holy Word, that they thought they were holding in their hands. After reading what he claimed was a “conflated” text out of the King James, he read the diluted and scalped version of the NASB (New American Standard Bible) in contrast.
Well, I beg to differ, beloved reader! As this preacher spent the rest of his sermon erecting straw men and skewering them, quoting carefully “gauged” facts and attacking any “fools” that ONLY used the King James Version of the English Bible, I figured someone had better write an article, before they tried to bring that hypocrisy into one of our churches! “Now Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2).
Now, the honest truth is that much research has been done on the subject of these two verses over the last hundred fifty years, so many compelling articles and books have been posted for BOTH sides of the argument, about whether or not the complete text of the Textus Receptus and the King James Version were in the original manuscript written by the beloved Apostle John through the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone nowadays can cobble together a sermon or article to “slam dunk” for their viewpoint. I could do that! Just put together a sermon or article that just has references to “my side,” and my congregation would be just as ignorant of the controversy as the ones that were listening to the preacher mentioned at the beginning of this article.
But to IGNORE validated facts, statements and quotes from the other side is not just “unscholarly,” it is downright foolish, since anyone with a computer and an online connection can easily find out they had been bushwhacked. If one of those congregants decided to study further, they would see how much more there is to the subject, than “straw men” and blind faith in the speaker. How does that help the cause of truth (unless truth is not really what they are after)? Beloved reader, let us just deal with the facts, and certainly the truth will emerge, unscathed. Amen? Amen! “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us…Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thess. 2:1-3). The preacher I was listening to, evidently had read Bruce Metzger’s book, or excerpts of Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. He basically ran down Metzger’s presentation, so I will pretty much do the same, so that the beloved reader will have BOTH sides of the controversy and can pray for the Holy Spirit to lead them to the truth, which I believe is pretty obvious, particularly for someone without a “dog in the fight,” as it were.
VAST MAJORITY OF GREEK TEXTS DO NOT HAVE THE COMMA
Metzger first makes the claim that the Johannine Comma “is absent from every known Greek manuscript except eight…the eight manuscripts are as follows…” But as he lists the manuscripts, he only lists seven: 61, 88, 221, 429, 636, 918, 2318. Actually, as more and more manuscripts are found, there are more and more “commas” being found. A more recent source said eleven predate Erasmus.
The majority of mid-to-modern Greek texts do not have the full text of the passage, like the KJV does. But the majority is not such a super-majority as Metzger and “some preachers” make it out to be. The statement is often made that there are only eight to eleven manuscripts that contain the comma out of 5000 total Greek manuscripts. Such a statement implies that there are around 4990 manuscripts that deny the comma. That is not so, for less than 525 even contain this fifth chapter of I John. Of these only 498 are hostile to the comma. This is substantially less than that 5000 number thrown around. And further, if we are being honest and fair, only fourteen of those manuscripts predate the Ninth Century. The majority of those other 484 are obviously copies of those earlier fourteen. Does not really mean much more than a hill of beans, when one can credulously compare eleven comma manuscripts with fourteen non-comma manuscripts, does it?
At any rate, one manuscript that Metzger certainly knew about was the Codex Britannicus, which has the comma. That he makes this omission is inexcusable, since it is involved in the Erasmus Greek New Testament text that is integral to the King James Bible inclusion of the full, original text. Let us digress for a paragraph or two, to consider the story of Desiderius Erasmus.
THE ERASMUS GREEK TEXT STORY
“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:13-14). Erasmus was a Dutch Roman Catholic, who was sympathetic to the Reformers protesting against Catholic abuses, but never became a Protestant, because he was determined to reform Catholicism from within, keeping allegiance to the Pope (and free will!), staying a “good Catholic” until his death. Becoming both a Latin and Greek scholar, it became his life’s ambition to collate all of the available manuscripts together into a single “critical” text in each language, that would be as close as possible to the original manuscripts. It is said that he found six Greek manuscripts and used them to make his first and second editions. Neither of these first two editions contained the Johannine Comma. The well-known anecdote says that Erasmus was criticized for omitting the comma from his first and second editions. Edward Lee reportedly charged him with being an Arian for omitting I John 5:7-8. Erasmus argued that none of the Greek manuscripts in his possession contained the reading and supposedly challenged his critics to produce a manuscript with the passage. Only then, would he include it in his edition. The story goes on that Codex Monfort is supposedly the manuscript that was hastily drawn up to meet Erasmus’ demands; the ink was supposedly still wet when Erasmus received it, most critics will ad lib and Erasmus included the comma verses in the critical third edition, which became his most familiar and widely circulated edition.
However, a different story is told by Erasmus’ own hand. The following is a translation of Erasmus’ own testimony of the event, by Henk J. de Jonge: “Is it negligence and impiety, if I did not consult manuscripts which were simply not within my reach? I have at least assembled whatever I could assemble. Let Lee produce a Greek MS which contains what my edition does not contain and let him show that that manuscript was within my reach. Only then can he reproach me with negligence in sacred matters.”
De Jonge further elucidates from his information that Erasmus never challenged Lee, or other critics for a “new” manuscript. In his letter to Michael Maynard, he writes: “Erasmus does not at all ask for a MS containing the Comma Johanneum. He (merely) denies Lee the right to call him negligent and impious if the latter does not prove that Erasmus neglected a manuscript to which he had access.”
That Edward Lee and others did find a Greek Text with the Johannine Comma intact, is as they say, History! Critics will many times make Erasmus a fool, to mislead “internet scholars” into adding the comma to his third edition. The integrity and scholarly reputation of Erasmus rides on our interpretation of his actions, at this point. Did Erasmus knowingly use a faulty and improvised text? Who in this modern age can honestly say with surety? Who can destroy this scholar’s reputation based upon a mere interpretation of a letter from Erasmus to Edward Lee? Well, fortunately for Erasmus’ reputation, it does not really ever even come down to that crucifixion. If truth be known, Erasmus’ translation does not even fit with the “proposed” fake manuscript, believed by these “story-tellers” to be the Codex Monfortianus. The verbal arrangement, and use of Greek articles that Erasmus settled on, are not possible to get from Codex Monfortianus. They do however, align with the Codex Britannicus, which is much more likely to have been obtained by eventual English Archbishop Edward Lee and others.
Adam Clark dates this important codex to the Thirteenth Century and weighs in on the subject: “As far as Codex Britannicus is concerned, it cannot be equated with the Monfort, because the respective renderings of I John 5:7-8 are quite different. On the one hand, the Monfort omits the articles in verse seven (o, o, to) and transposes “agion pneuma.” In verse 8, the articles (to, to, to), a conjunction (kai), and the last phrase (kai oi treiV eiV to en eisin) are missing. Britannicus, on the other hand, includes the articles and the final phrase but omits the adjective “agion” in verse 8. Where did Erasmus acquire the last clause for his third edition? He surely did not get it from the Compultensian Polygot or Codex Monfort, but from Britannicus. This is why Monfortanius cannot possibly be the same with the Codex Britannicus.”
EARLY CHURCH FATHERS DO WEIGH IN ON THE SUBJECT
Metzger’s next faulty claim concerning the Johannine Comma, is that “the passage is quoted by none of the Greek fathers.” Most critics, including the internet preacher I heard, expand that ignorantly to “Early Church Fathers.” Honestly, I do not know if any critic before Metzger ever made that blanket assertion, that “none of the fathers” quote it, but I have certainly heard a lot of “internet scholars” repeat and even enlarge on his bold statement to try to silence the opposition. Kind of like evolutionists and liberals that keep repeating their theories forcefully and hope that eventually everyone will believe them? “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:11-12).
Well, it is time for more facts: Gregory of Nazanzius (a Greek Church Father from the fourth century), although not directly quoting the passage, specifically alludes to the passage and objects to the grammatical structure if the comma is omitted. If the Greek Church Fathers knew nothing of the controversy and passage, then why do we find one preaching a sermon on why the comma is necessary?!
Gregory writes: “What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness, the Spirit and the Water and the Blood? Do you think he is talking nonsense? First, because he has ventured to reckon under one numeral things which are not consubstantial, though you say this ought to be done only in the case of things which are consubstantial. For who would assert that these are consubstantial? Secondly, because he had not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of Deity?” In this brief excursus, Gregory objects to the use of a masculine plural participle with three neuter nouns (  m:pl =  n+n+n ) which, of course, is the case if the comma is omitted. In the assessment of Michael Maynard: “Gregory of Nazianzus objected to the omission of I John v.7f.”
But we can go earlier than Gregory. Tertullian also had read the Johannine Comma (long before Erasmus!) back as early as 180AD. In his book, Against Praxeas, II Tertullian writes: “… which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
A powerful direct quote is found in the writings of Cyprian, the third century martyr for the faith. Around A.D. 250, Cyprian, as noted, wrote of John’s Gospel and First Epistle, “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one’, and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’” Cyprian is quoting both John 10:30 and I John 5:7 in his notations.
As we stated at the beginning of our article, there is sufficient evidence on both sides to make an argument for or against the Johannine Comma. As we evaluate the evidence, the conclusion we make is going to be based upon our convictions, in the end. If you are looking at a fossil, and you are a Darwin man, then you will draw different conclusions than I will, as a creation man. But the thing is, if a fossil is ever found that shows a link between fish and mammals, apes and men, then the law of like produces like will be destroyed, would it not? To me, unless you have got a dog in the fight and want to believe that it is okay to use the ESV or NIV, this quote from Cyprian destroys the idea that the comma was added at a late date. Cyprian, less than two hundred years after the writing of First John, is expressly quoting the Johannine Comma. The multitude of manuscripts that leave it out, are simply multiplied copies of the one original fake. It does not matter how many times you tell a lie, it will never become the truth, no matter how much Arians and the Devil want it to. Selah! Think about it!
John Gill, in his An Exposition on the Old and New Testament, pages 907-908, comes down definitively in trusting in the Johannine Comma being fully Scriptural, as he writes: “…and yet, after all, certain it is, that it (the 7th verse of 1 Jn. 5) is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius, in the beginning of the “sixth” century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerome, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the “fourth” century; and it is cited by Athanasius about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian, in the middle, of the “third” century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian about, the year 200; and which was within a “hundred” years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. – Gill.”
Ken Matto also lists the following evidences of the Johannine Comma:
1) Tertullian who died in 220 A.D.
2) Cyprian of Carthage who died in 258 A.D.
3) Priscillan who died in 358 A.D.
4) The Speculum - Fifth century
5) A creed called Esposito Fidei - Fifth or sixth century
6) Fulgentius in Contra Arianos – 527 A.D.
7) A Confession of Faith of Eugenius, Bishop of Carthage (484 A.D.)
8) Cassiodoris of Italy (480-570 A.D.)
9) John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (mid 16th Century) in Book 3, Chapter 1, section 1 mentions I John 5:7-8 without any doubt.
10) Some Syriac Peshitto manuscripts, The Syriac Edition at Hamburg, Bishop Uscan’s Armenian Bible, the Armenian Edition of John Zohrob, the first printed Georgian Bible.
Again, if even a fraction of these are true, why would anyone desire to deny the legitimacy of the King James translators inclusion of the disputed text. It is old! It is valid! It is reasonable!
IN DEFENSE OF THE TRIUNE NATURE OF GOD
One of the arguments used by modern critics, is that if this text is valid, it is demonstrably the most powerful text in the Bible on the Trinity of God. If that be the case, why was it not used more frequently in the struggles against Arianism, Sabellianism and Gnosticism in the past?
An argument from silence in many of these battles proves little, because much has been lost in the intervening years, but in at least one Council, we have proof that they did. Jesse Boyd, who writes evenhandedly on the subject, says thus: “Nonetheless, Metzger completely ignores the fact that the verse was employed at the Council of Carthage in A.D. 415; by doing so, he would have us to believe that I John 5:7-8 was never used as proof of the Trinity and/or deity of Christ in the numerous debates that arose and plagued the Church concerning these issues. Prior to this council, a conflict had arisen between the Arians (led by King Huneric the Vandal) and a group of bishops from North Africa. An assembly was called at Carthage where I John 5:7-8 was insisted upon by Eugenius, the spokesman for the African bishops, as he confessed his faith and the faith of his brethren: “…and in order that we may teach until now, more clearly than light, that the Holy Spirit is now one divinity with the Father and the Son. It is proved by the evangelist John, for he says, ‘there are three which bear testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.’” (Victor of Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africanae Prov, 2.82 [3.11]; CSEL 7, 60. Translated by Michael Maynard in A History of the Debate Over 1 John 5:7-8 (Tempe, AZ: Comma Publications, 1995), 43.)
But there are more. Additionally, Thomas Golda lists Aurelius Augustine in 398 A.D., using the full verse to defend Trinitarianism in De Trinitate against the heresy of Sabellianism; Vigilius Tapensis in Three Witnesses from Heaven in 485 A.D.; Victor Titensis in his Historia Perecutionis (vol.vii, p.60.); Cassiodorus in 500 A.D. (Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 70, col. 1373.) and lastly 527 A.D., Fulgentius in The Three Heavenly Witnesses (Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 65, col. 500.)
OLD LATIN TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GREEK
The Latin trail, in many ways is very similar to the Greek-English transition. Metzger claims with his usual audacity that the Johannine Comma is not found in the earliest extant copies of the Vulgate, as issued by Jerome. While it is true that it does not appear in Codex Fuldensis (546 A.D.), one of the oldest Vulgate manuscripts, it must be remembered that Jerome died a little over a century before this copy was created. Evidently Jerome, himself, was aware of this conflict over the deity of Christ, and stated in his own lifetime that irresponsible transcribers had left out I John 5:7-8 in many of the Greek codices. “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless” (Prov. 23:10).
Really, this is a staggering piece of evidence that should not be left out of any exegesis on the subject. If they were cutting the comma out of the current Greek manuscripts, what would stop them from “correcting” the Latin Vulgate manuscripts in the years following Jerome’s death? If logic, rather than positional rationalization prevails, it is much easier to believe that Jerome’s original translation included the Johannine Comma, and the true copyists continued to include it down through the following centuries, as evidenced by wellknown Vulgate manuscripts such as Ulmensis (ca. 850) and Toletanus (988). Even though “someone” had cut it out of the Codex Fuldensis, which happens to be the oldest surviving copy, F. A. Scrivener, himself admits that the passage “is found in the printed Latin Vulgate, and in perhaps 49 out of every 50 of its manuscripts.” Moreover, against Metzger’s claim of lateness, the comma is claimed by Maynard and others to be found in twenty-nine of the fairest, oldest, and most correct of extant Vulgate manuscripts.
Jesse Boyd continues this defense of the Latin preservation of the comma, with his studied perspective: “The Old Latin translations of the New Testament are very important in establishing the authenticity of I John 5:7- 8, for Latin was the major language up through the Middle Ages. The Old Latin is not the same as the Latin of Jerome’s Vulgate, which by the way, does include the Comma. The Old Latin predates the Vulgate text and is found well into the Middle Ages. Did the Old Latin consistently contain the Johannine Comma? For the answer to this question, one must turn to the Tepl Codex, a fourteenth century manuscript written in Middle High German. This Codex is significant because “the Tepl Codex actually predates a pre-Jerome text from a non- Vulgate MS, ‘w’.”
“It comes as no surprise that the Tepl contains the Comma exactly as it is found in the Textus Receptus. As Maynard argues, its text “has a remarkable longevity into the 15th century. This indicates that German MSS (manuscripts) ought not to be dismissed as mere copies of Latin Vulgate MSS.” According to Elliot, the Tepl comes from the Old Latin and has its affinity with “w” (an Old Latin manuscript from the 15th century). Latin manuscript “w” is dated to the 15th century while the Tepl is dated to the 14th. Had this been reversed, the German Tepl would be regarded with much less value. But, as it is, this Codex actually predates a pre-Jerome Latin text (w). The Tepl and the Old Latin manuscripts together “provide pre-Reformation support for non-majority readings of the Authorized Version.” (The Tepl not only contains I John 5:7-8 as it is found in the Textus Receptus, but Acts 8:37; 9:5-6; and 15:34, all of which are omitted in modern English versions.)” [And These Three Are One - Jesse M Boyd, 22 April, 1999].
WALDENSIAN TRANSLATIONS ARE INDEPENDENT VALIDATIONS OF THE JOHANNINE COMMA
More from Jesse Boyd: “The Old Latin from which the Tepl descended is also found in the manuscripts of the Waldensians. History teaches that the Waldensians were those Christians who lived in the Vaudois valley in northern Italy. The Waldensian Church has been dated back to about A.D. 120. Their Old Itala Bible was translated in the early second century. The Waldensians were severely persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church between the fourth and thirteenth centuries. As Jack Moorman argues, “Research into the text and history of the Waldensian Bible has shown that it is a literal descendant of the Old Itala. In other words, the Itala has come down to us in Waldensian form, and firmly supports the Traditional Text.”
“The translators of the AV 1611 King James Bible did not simply include the Comma because it was in Erasmus’ edition of the Greek New Testament; they had four Bibles on their tables that had come under heavy Waldensian influence. All four contained the Johannine Comma as contained in the Textus Receptus. The first of these was the Geneva Bible which was translated in 1557 at Geneva, the center of the Swiss Reformation. The basis for the Geneva Bible was the French Olivetan which was translated by Olivetan, a Waldensian pastor and relative of John Calvin. This fact illustrates “how readily the two streams of descent of the Received Text, through the Greek East and the Waldensian West, ran together.”
“Secondly, the AV translators utilized the Greek text of Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor at Geneva. With Calvin’s help, Beza brought out a later edition of the Textus Receptus. Benjamin Wilkinson argues: ‘This later edition of the Received Text is in reality a Greek New Testament brought out under Waldensian influence.’ Unquestionably, the leaders of the Reformation -- German, French, and English--were convinced that the Received Text was the genuine New Testament, not only by its own irresistible history and internal evidence, but also because it matched with the Received Text which in Waldensian form came down from the days of the apostles.
“The third Bible influenced by the Waldensians and utilized by the AV translators was the Italian Diodati. Diodati, an Italian, succeeded Beza in the chair of Theology at Geneva and translated the received text into Italian. “This version was adopted by the Waldenses, although there was in use at that time a Waldensian Bible in their own peculiar language.”
“The fourth Bible of interest is the German Tepl which, as previously mentioned, was a translation of a pre-Jerome Latin text into German. “This Tepl manuscript represented a translation of the Waldensian Bible into the German which was spoken before the days of the Reformation.” In addition to these four Bibles, there is reason to believe that the King James translators had access to at least six Waldensian Bibles written in the old Waldensian vernacular, all of which contained the disputed passage.” (-Boyd- ibid)
The attack on the Johannine Comma is really a direct attack also on the scholarliness of the King James translators. The more I study about this incredible translation, the more I see the hand of God, bringing together such a collection of knowledge, intellect, and spiritual wisdom that could never be assembled today. Dr. John Overall was a particular scholar in the writings and doctrine of the Early Church Fathers. As the translators approached this admittedly difficult passage with relatively scanty texts, they leaned heavily upon Overall’s knowledge of the writings and teachings where the Ancients had referenced those specific verses in their writings. Really, it came down to the point, where it was more logical that the comma existed, than to imagine all of these Early Church Fathers being mistaken. Actually, it seems to me that it is tenuous ground the modern critics stand on in rejecting the populous amount of other evidences, such as First Century church lectionaries.
Ken Motta defines these early writings for us: “Lectionaries were used in churches for readings and liturgy for church services especially for special days of the year. They are akin to the responsive readings which we find in today’s hymn books. Tatian’s Diatesseron was a harmony of the four gospels written about 150 A.D. When Taitian was (harmonizing) the book of John, he referenced I John 5:7, which proves that I John 5:7 antedates (the vaunted Codex) Vaticanus, by 200 years, where the verse is omitted.”
Simply put, if the Johannine Comma did not exist in the originals, then how can so many varied quotes and allusions from the Early Church Fathers be found? Truly, if the comma was added to the Original Manuscripts, it was so early that no modern investigator would have any way of coming to a dogmatic conclusion. So, what conclusion do we come to? Obviously Metzger and his colleagues have come to theirs. Without treating with so much ignored evidence, it easily comes across as the proverbial “slam dunk” from these “internet preachers.” They just go on arrogantly defying anyone to question their “research,” knowing smugly that very few will take the time to do so. Simply trot out the huge number of Greek manuscripts that have been corrupted a long time ago, spin a silly, unsubstantiated story about Erasmus giving in to Catholic peer pressure, point out that modern versions have a much more sophisticated and “doctored” following, and voila! we have our conclusion necessitated for us, by a simple majority. “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23).
Well, we sovereign grace, landmark Baptists are used to being in the minority. “And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory” (II Sam. 23:11-12). The King James version is going to continue to be attacked as outdated and outschooled. The Textus Receptus is going to continue to undergo onslaught and assault from the Devil and his minions, who love a superfluous and diversified “truth” that is constantly changing with the times. But that does not change God’s truth, does it? If logic, reason and wisdom mean anything at all, there is every likelihood that the Johannine Comma was indeed originally penned by the beloved Apostle John. To that I add a faith in the preserving power of the Holy Spirit to guarantee His Words to every generation. “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Ps. 71:18). Martin Luther once said, “The Bible is like a lion; it does not need to be defended; just let it loose and it will defend itself…!” Yeah, I think the Old Black Book is just fine the way it is. Selah! Think about it!
(Matthew Stepp is pastor of the Big Creek Baptist Church of Wayne, West Virginia.)
Grace Bible Baptist Church
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