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“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” (1 John 5:7,8).
Based on Deut. 17:6; 19:15, the OT teaching demanded a need for the testimony from two or three witnesses before action was taken in certain legal disputes. John is here citing three witnesses in support of the divinity of his Master (1 John 5:5, 6, 8), thus assuring his readers of the reliability of his statement.
Textual evidence attests the omission of the passage “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 resultant reading of 1 John 5: 7, 8 is as follows: “For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
The passage as given in the KJV is in no Greek MS earlier than the 15th and 16th centuries. The disputed words found their way into the KJV by way of the Greek text of Erasmus. It is said that Erasmus offered to include the disputed words in his Greek Testament if he was shown even one Greek MS that contained them. A library in Dublin produced such a MS (known as 34), and Erasmus included the passage in his text.
“It is now generally held that this passage, called the Comma Johanneum, is a gloss that crept into the text of the Old Latin and Vulgate at an early date, but found its way into the Greek text only in the 15th and 16th centuries” (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1951, p. 1186).
In His service,
The BibleAsk Team