Before I get into this, I want to make it clear that I am NOT King James only! Now, having said that….
I happen to agree with the rendering of 1 John 5:7 as is found (only) in the KJV and the NKJV of the Bible, which are the only two versions of the Bible which are based on the Textus Receptus or Received Text (also called the Majority Text); the greek version of the New Testament which was compiled by Erasmus. The rest of the translations which are published today are based on Textual Criticism. I find it interesting that the Greek text used primarily today is called ‘critical’ concerning the word of God, not that that necessarily means or proves a negative connotation in and of itself. But I sort of have a knee jerk negative reaction to those terms when used in context with the compilation of The Word of God. I have heard most of the arguments against verse 7 as rendered in the Received Text, but I still do not agree that the verse was added as a marginal note only. I have even heard of the alleged pressure placed upon Erasmus to include this verse as he finally did. Simply put, we do not have any of the original documents in which these words of sacred writ were originally deposited. And as you read and hear more concerning textual debate, remember, older does not necessarily mean more reliable, and newer does not necessarily mean less reliable.
I’m not really trying to argue or debate about the Received Text against Textual Criticism, but at any rate, I suppose it will come into play to some degree. What I will principally aim at doing here, is to look into the authors who have helped me in my endeavor of understanding the word of God to see what they have to say on this verse from commentaries and other works which may deal with this verse. I don’t know how many posts this will become, as I plan on adding to it over time. Please feel free to leave comments or links or other quotes you may have found helpful.
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
versus the ESV…
For there are three that testify:
Very few deny the exegetical prowess of John Calvin so I will start with him. Calvin endorses the Majority Text reading of verse 7 as he understood it.
7. There are three than bear record in heaven. The whole of this verse has been by some omitted. Jerome thinks that this has happened through design rather than through mistake, and that indeed only on the part of the Latins. But as even the Greek copies do not agree, I dare not assert any thing on the subject. Since, however, the passage flows better when this clause is added, and as I see that it is found in the best and most approved copies, I am inclined to receive it as the true reading. And the meaning would be, that God, in order to confirm most abundantly our faith in Christ, testifies in three ways that we ought to acquiesce in him. For as our faith acknowledges three persons in the one divine essence, so it is called in so really ways to Christ that it may rest on him.
When he says, These three are one, he refers not to essence, but on the contrary to consent; as though he had said that the Father and his eternal Word and Spirit harmoniously testify the same thing respecting Christ. Hence some copies have εἰς ἓν, “for one.” But though you read ἓν εἰσιν, as in other copies, yet there is no doubt but that the Father, the Word and the Spirit are said to be one, in the same sense in which afterwards the blood and the water and the Spirit are said to agree in one.
But as the Spirit, who is one witness, is mentioned twice, it seems to be an unnecessary repetition. To this I reply, that since he testifies of Christ in various ways, a twofold testimony is fitly ascribed to him. For the Father, together with his eternal Wisdom and Spirit, declares Jesus to be the Christ as it were authoritatively, then, in this ease, the sole majesty of the deity is to be considered by us. But as the Spirit, dwelling in our hearts, is an earnest, a pledge, and a seal, to confirm that decree, so he thus again speaks on earth by his grace.
But inasmuch as all do not receive this reading, I will therefore so expound what follows, as though the Apostle referred to the witnesses only on the earth.
-John Calvin, Commentary on 1 John