HOUSMAIL HM122 - THE JOHANNINE COMMA - 1 John 5:7                                                             12 May 2005

"For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one."
 (1 John 5:7 KJV)

This verse from the KJV is commonly called the "Johannine Comma".

It is often quoted by Trinitarians as the strongest Biblical "proof text" in support of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Of course, taken at face value, it doesn't do that! It does not say that the three witnesses are "one God". It says nothing at all about co-equality and co-eternity. It does not say any of the other complicated and mathematically impossible things contained in the Trinitarian Creeds. If it says anything at all to readers of the KJV, it is simply that the three witnesses are united in complete agreement about the identity of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. That is the subject of the surrounding verses in the chapter.

However the REAL issue is that the verse should not be there at all! Modern translations omit it, and sometimes include a footnote to the effect that it is found only in a few late MSS. e.g NASB.

It is widely recognised by scholars as a forgery, of unknown origin.

There are in fact, only FOUR Greek NT manuscripts which contain the verse.

Codex Montfortianus, dating from the early 16th century.
#918:  A 16th-century manuscript at the Escorial, Spain.
#2318:  An 18th-century manuscript, influenced by the Clementine Vulgate,
             at Bucharest, Rumania.
#629: 16th Century.  Much of this was back-translated from the Vulgate,
           including a partial quote of  the Comma Johanneum.
           (The phrase, " and these three are one" is missing.)
There are another four which contain it as a variant reading. (marginal note)
 #88: A variant reading in a 16th-century hand, added to the 14th-century
         codex Regius of Naples.
 #221: A variant reading added to a 10th-century manuscript in the Bodleian
           Library at Oxford.
#429:  A variant reading added to a 16th-century manuscript at Wolfenbuttel.
#636:  A variant reading added to a 16th-century manuscript at Naples.
It is believed by many scholars to have first appeared in a fifth century Latin manuscript from Spain.

Since that time it has been included in a number of LATIN NT manuscripts. However, it is significant that it was not contained in the early editions of Jerome's 5th century Latin Vulgate translation. It was added to later versions of the Vulgate somewhere about 2 centuries after Jerome died! It remained there until the 20th century, when after much debate, Catholic authorities decided to remove it again! Current editions of the Vulgate no longer contain it.

This verse is not a Trinitarian "proof text". Even For KJV readers who are not aware of the deception, it does not really say the things contained in the Trinitarian Creeds. Careful readers of the Bible already know that Jesus calls His Father "The only true God", thus indicating that He Himself is not God!

However the evidence quoted above removes any remaining problem about this verse. It should not be there at all. It is a forgery!