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In Defense of the Authenticity of 1 John 5:7 (A review)


No verse of sacred writ has endured more assault than this wonderful testimony of the Heavenly Witnesses:

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

Obviously a clear proclamation of the triune nature of God, and a verse in partnership with John 10:30, it came under attack by Arians and other deniers of Christ’s deity soon after it was provided by the Holy Spirit. Due to this early and unrelenting violence against God’s revealed word in this verse, it is missing from the majority of Greek manuscripts (though not all).

Naturally, God’s promise to preserve his words was never in danger of breach of contract, and the true wording of this valuable passage, now called by many the Johannine Comma, survived in thousands of copies and translations. Early editors of Greek New Testaments included the text as genuine, even if only after publishing inadequate editions that left it out, because among the believing Church there was never any widespread doubt as to its genuineness before the 19th century.

After the insidious Drs. Westcott and Hort crafted a new profane, materialistic methodology for examining the text of the Bible, their concocted New Testament Text was thrust upon the Church as they sought to overturn the testimony of the Holy Spirit of 18 centuries. Their text was a compilation of readings which included many of the rejected and false variants scoured from ignored and useless manuscripts that survived if for no reason other than their lack of use, and combined to form a new “Bible” that no church prior to the late 19th century had ever possessed, copied, or read. This garbage text (some of which was, quite literally, rescued from a trash can in a monastery by Tischendorf) became the basis if the English Revised Version of 1885 and the American Standard Version of 1901.

Both of these translations obliterated this verse from their pages, creating a grammatical disaster, and changed the versification of the passage to cover their deed:

1 John 5:6-8 (King James) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 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.

1 John 5:6-8 (English Revised) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. 7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, 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.

Although these new translations were rejected by the Church at large, and their published copies consigned to haunt the bookshelves of many scholars and preachers who would use them in their private study when they wished to correct the word of the living God, the damage was done. “Biblical scholarship” slowly began to accept this leaven into the dough of esteemed Christian thought and study, and virtually all future translations would eventually accept this abominable monstrosity into the loving embrace of their covers as well.

Over time commentators would discontinue using 1st John 5:7 as a powerful text that proves the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and his personal unity with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The essential heresy of Arianism, already strong in these scholars, would eventually assert itself again among the many cults that have achieved great followings to this present day.

But, what of the evidence? What of the claims? What of the charges against this wonderful sentence in our Holy Book? Is it really true that it only exists because of the unscrupulous actions of an overzealous scribe? Was its inclusion in Canon just the error of an ignorant, unwitting Church for nearly two millennia; the Holy Ghost powerless to excise the work of a man’s meddling pen until the esteemed scholarship of Drs. Westcott and Hort entered the scene to rescue us from our belief in an inspired Book, and to sire more worldly scholars like Eberhard Nestle, Bruce Metzger, Daniel Wallace, and James White to continue “helping” us away from our immature reliance on a completed and delivered testimony from our Lord?

Well, no. The claims against this verse are false and do not withstand honest scrutiny. If one is able to ignore preconceptions built by Critical Text scholarship (such as it is), the reality is that the testimony of the Holy Spirit through 20 centuries before the deluge of modern translations fell upon us ought to be enough. But there is still more with which to answer the charges of those who attack our Holy Bible and its Comma. On this website I have posted an excerpt from Dr. Holland’s book that spends a brief dozen or so paragraphs disputing the claims of modern Bible correctors, which you should read. Also, in 1995, a tireless librarian named Michael Maynard, M.L.S., published an almost 400 page book called A History of the Debate over 1st John 5:7-8. That author exhausted the tomes of history in a valiant attempt provide the reader with every known discussion of this verse and its contents since the first century. Unfortunately, it is out of print, the author is deceased, and the book could cost you several hundred dollars to buy used due to its rarity.

Thankfully, a new treatment of this topic is available for our edification. Dr. C. H. Pappas, ThM, has produced for us a well-thought out and helpful book he calls In Defense of the Authenticity of 1 John 5:7 which is in its second edition now (my digital copy says it was revised August of 2016). I have completed reading the second edition on Kindle, and I recommend it to anyone who has lingering questions over this verse and its inclusion in our perfect Bible.

The author states from the beginning:

“One does not take leave of one’s senses to embrace the King James Version. Neither does one shut one’s eyes to the facts. Men with sound minds, clear heads, and strong convictions hold and defend the Authorized Version. Better still, such men in an open debate will silence their critics.”

This is well said. There is nothing wrong in holding to the text of the King James in this verse (or any other) and the author offers much in support of it. More importantly, he provides ample logic against those who would assail this verse.

His first chapter is devoted to the external evidences for the Comma. He responds to the charge that it does not appear in enough manuscripts and catalogs those in which it does.  It is satisfying that the author does not restrict himself merely to 1Jo 5:7 but is willing to address this important verse in the context of the greater war against God’s word that has been waged since God gave it. After discussing the merits of the tired “older is better” idea foisted upon us by critics, he says:

“…one may be led astray by the false assumption that the earlier copies of the Scriptures are more reliable. To hold to such a position is to deny the doctrine of the preservation of the Scriptures, which our Lord clearly taught (Matt. 24: 35).”

He goes on at reasonable length discussing important evidence for the Comma such as Cyprian’s quotation of it:

“He lived a hundred years before the earliest extant manuscript we have in our possession. Cyprian quotes 1 John 5: 7 in his first treatise on the unity of the church. This was a universal letter written to the churches. All of this implies that the Comma was well accepted throughout Christendom.”

I spent much time in my own writings in this post above belaboring the point that the Church itself is a witness to this verse, and Pappas does similarly so in his second chapter. In the third chapter, he addresses directly the complaint that the Comma appears in too few manuscripts and tells us why that would be.

Chapters 4 and 5 offer some of the most compelling arguments of all, in my opinion: the Internal Witness to the text. While I would first argue that the flow of the text is nonsensical in English without the Comma, Pappas is clearly at home in Greek as well and explains that the structure of the text proves the validity of the words in question by grammar alone.

“By ‘internal witness,’ it is understood to be an appeal to the witness of the Scriptures themselves. Regardless of what the critics may say in denying the authenticity of the Comma, they cannot refute the internal evidence, that is, if they are honest with the Scriptures. The reading of the Scriptures in the original language demands without any equivocation the acceptance of the Comma.”

In the latter portions of this book, Pappas succeeds in demonstrating that the approach many have taken on this topic is backwards. By that I mean that the critics have put those who accept this verse on the defensive. But it is they, like the Arians before them, who have demanded that this verse be removed from the Bible. It is they who must prove that it is spurious, and yet they only offer unsubstantiated theories as to how it may have been added. We do not really need to prove that it should be included. The Holy Spirit has seen to that for centuries! But regardless of that fact, Pappas piles on the Bible’s critics with ample evidence for its inclusion.

So in the sixth chapter, Reflections, we have such statements as this:

“…we have the record of the controversy in the Greek Church as early as AD 379 with the Arians seeking to remove the Comma. But when it comes to adding the Comma to the Scriptures, there is a dead silence. The Arians were not challenging Gregory for adding the Comma, but rather, Gregory challenged the Arians for omitting the Comma from the Sacred Text. This in itself is telling.”

Re-read that and think about it. The early dispute over this verse was over someone removing it, not someone adding it. Those who would seek to remove this verse today are aligning themselves with the heretical Arians who did remove it from their copies – and whose corruption is probably the primary cause of its absence in the relatively few copies of the passage in early Greek manuscripts that have been found. And remember, when these old manuscripts have survived, it is logically because of their lack of use. This is also a well-developed theme in the book and one I have often had to repeat over and over to people who just don’t seem to understand why “older is better” is not necessarily true.

Chapter 7 spends much time “Exposing the Critics” and is a good general overview of the severe lack of fidelity among those who attack the Bible and not just this verse.

“No longer are the Scriptures revered as the ‘Voice from Beyond.’ They are no longer regarded as the very Word of God. Professors in our schools and universities present the Bible to young scholars as fables of ancient literature. The source critics have accomplished their end. They are rightly defined as ‘Unholy Hands on the Holy Bible.’ Presently, pastors in many churches are correcting the Scriptures rather than correcting the people by the Scriptures.”

Chapter 8 address more about the work done for the 1881 Revised Version.

The author offers a useful appendix containing “The witness of the Church Fathers,” “The Arian Persecutions,” the “Two Greek Texts” (introductory information for the whole controversy over Bible versions), and several more, including a brief section on Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, the two corrupt manuscripts that make up the basis for the majority of readings chosen against the King James Bible in modern versions.

If there is any criticism I could level against the author’s work, it would be the over-emphasis on the Greek Orthodox church in his chapter titled Reflections and also in the third chapter, but the amount of information provided in this book far outweighs such a minor point.

In parting let me say this. It is sad to see that many teachers, when expositing on this passage of the Bible or on the topic of the Trinity, limp over this verse as if it is not there for their use and instruction. It is as if the marginal note in their Scofield Reference Bible has rendered them impotent. Even some of those who would regard the King James Bible to be God’s word in English seem reluctant to bellow this verse out with the vigor that they would give other disputed but true readings, such as “God was manifest in the flesh” in 1Ti 3:16. Perhaps they may read this book and remember that they can and should confidently and boldly declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The living God of the Bible has seen to the inclusion of this verse in billions of copies of his words throughout history and to this day. There is no reason this powerful verse should be ignored.

I can recall that when I first read Michael Maynard’s long book on this topic in 1995 that I calculated that a defense of one of the most questioned verses in the King James Bible could increase one’s willingness to believe the rest of it. Over 20 years later I have learned that for most people, there is simply no reaching them on this issue regardless of the facts – they enjoy their “smooth things” (Isa 30:10) and multiple versions and do not want a final authority to contend with. But still, the fact remains that 1Jo 5:7 is, without a doubt, the most attacked verse in the Book. It may be true that more ink, toner, and electrons have been spilled on various other “problem texts,” but that is only because in the eyes of most critics, 1Jo 5:7 was disposed of long ago and nothing more need be said. But they are wrong about that. If you doubt the accuracy if the Received Text in our King James Bible anywhere, perhaps the rigorous yet concise defense of this beloved passage presented in In Defense of the Authenticity of 1 John 5:7 will help you realize you can trust all of it. It’s only 158 pages in print. Why not read it?

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Misremembered Bible Quotes: The Lion and the Lamb

We all know that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible. It’s one of those false proverbs that people who don’t read the Bible think comes from the Bible. But how many phrases do you think you know of the Bible are actually nothing more than phrases spoken by men? Here’s an example, one that I am often asked about in fact:

“The lion and the lamb shall lie down together.”

The convenient alliteration “lion and lamb” is easy to remember. But it is not out of the Bible, at least not as a direct quote. The phrase goes back at most a few centuries and appears in sermons and commentaries, but never as a direct Bible quote. But because of the picture it paints, and the alliteration of the spoken words said, it took hold and many people assume that is a direct Bible quote. So when they read the actual verse, they can be caught off-guard:

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

A lion and a lamb do also appear in one verse in Isaiah 65:25, but again, the Bible paints the picture of a wolf and a lamb together:

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

The force of memory is so strong that many people have emailed me when reading these verses assuming that something happened to their Bibles because it doesn’t match up with what they have heard preached. “The lion and the lamb shall lie together” is an allusion to verses in Isaiah that appeared in sermons and commentaries, but eventually became remembered as Bible quotes. Here is an example. In a few minutes of research this is the oldest quotation of this phrase I found in the commentaries I have easy access to (there may be others that are older, but this one is certainly the oldest well read use):

And peace there shall be no end; this respects both the increase and perpetuity of the peace of Christ’s kingdom. The peace of believers, under the Gospel dispensation, is greater than that of the saints under the legal dispensation, whose sacrifices could not remove a consciousness of sin and its guilt; and who, through various laws threatening with death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage; but great is the peace of New Testament saints, through the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ, and which may be increased more and more; and in the latter day there will be more peace among themselves; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim; the sticks of Joseph and Judah shall be one nor will there ever be any more discord between Jew and Gentile, the lion and the lamb shall lie down together; there will be no more war among the nations, after the battle of Armageddon; and no more persecution, after the slaughter of the witnesses; and this abundance of peace, spiritual and temporal, will be as long as the moon endures, Ps 72:7 and all this will issue in eternal peace in the world to come:…” -John Gill, comments on Isaiah 9:7, 18th century.

Carefully notice that Dr. Gill includes the phrase but does not offer attribution to the Bible for it. Thus we see Gill’s allusion (not quotation) worked its way into collective memory through other speakers and teachers who used the same (non-Bible) phrase.

Posted in Misc | Tagged , | 9 Comments

The printed Bible I use (and Cambridge Cameos)

A very quick video, answering a very common question: “which King James Bible do you use?”

You can find the one I show here. This is a Local Church Bible Publishers 110E1B.

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Video: Inspiration: The Original Autographs Only?

Is the popular idea of “inspiration” of Scripture being limited to the original manuscripts correct? A video examining:

  1. The modern definition of “inspiration,”
  2. The Bible’s own use of the term,
  3. The origin of the “original autographs only” theory, and
  4. The adoption of this theory into modern Christian scholarship.

Suggested reading: Which Bible Would Jesus Use? and The Word: God will Keep it.

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If Jesus Preached in Your Church, Which Bible Would He Use?

(A small review and recommendation of Jack McElroy’s book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use?)

It would be foolish to say he would use no Bible, since he used one during his earthly ministry (Luke 4:16-20; 24:27, etc.).

Would he use a Bible that makes him a liar, as the NIV and ESV do in John 7:8?

John 7:8-10 (KJV) Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

(NIV) “You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

(ESV) “You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe how many Christians will accept version upon version of the Bible that shows their Lord to be a liar, as the NIV, ESV, and so many others plainly do, but it would be crazy to think Jesus would carry a book to the pulpit that has him breaking the law he came to fulfil.

This is the simple question asked by Jack McElroy in his book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? (Also available for Kindle.)

The mere question would be laughed off by modern scholarship as too absurd to consider.

But this question deserves serious consideration by any genuine follower of Christ. After all, the Bible is Jesus’ book, and so picking the one he would have us use is certainly something we should do!

Would Jesus use a Bible that gives Satan his own title in Isaiah 14:12?

Isaiah 14:12 (KJV) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Revelation 22:16 (KJVI Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

The NIV gives Satan the title Jesus has plainly reserved for himself:

Isa 14:12 (NIV) How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

Are you okay with that? Do you think Jesus is okay with that? (See this article for more on Lucifer vs the Morning Star.)

McElroy’s book is an excellent addition to the many on the “Which Bible” topic. The tone is easy and conversational, laying out the issues in a manner that makes the answers obvious. In fact, I suspect this will be my new “go to” introductory book for believers new to the topic.

McElroy gives an excellent overview of the preservation and translation of the Bible, presenting a clear and compelling case for why we should trust that the King James Bible is in fact the very word of God without error. His deductive logical arguments are enough to convince any sincere seeker that we can have faith in God’s book as it is preserved to us today.

But he does not stop there — McElroy isn’t afraid to point out the deficiencies of the modern and commonly held definition of inspiration, getting to the heart of the matter and demonstrating that not only do modern experts have a flawed theology of inspiration, with their own words they show that they don’t believe there ever was a perfect “act of inspiration” in the first place.

Even if you’re already a King James Bible Believer and need no convincing, this book is still a great read. I’ve had a public presence on the Internet defending the Authorized Bible for almost 20 years now, and I’ve heard it all.  McElroy must have had a peek into my inbox, because all the common “gotcha” questions are here. More importantly, they’re all answered ably.

  • Yeah? So where was God’s word before 1611?
  • The NIV and ESV are no different than the different “revisions” of the KJV.
  • So Which Edition of the KJV is perfect? What about the differences between editions?

Now, we know that in the end this is still a matter of faith. After all:

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Any time someone demands “proof” that the King James is God’s word they are seeking to avoid the issue of faith and excuse the egregious errors in their favorite Bible versions. However, it can be (and has many times been) proven beyond any reasonable doubt that modern Bible versions contain error. As McElroy demonstrates with their own writings, modern Bible editors actually believe that imperfection is often a sign of a more genuine reading.

But it’s not enough to demonstrate the corruptions of modern Bible versions, because the question will still remain: why the KJV? There are deductive reasons good enough to answer the sincere seeker willing to place faith in God that he would preserve his word, and Which Bible Would Jesus Use? provides these reasons and more.

Highly recommended!

Jack McElroy has kindly made chapter 8 of his book available in full here: Why can’t the Lord choose the ©1982 New King James Version?

Which Bible Would Jesus Use? is available in print from Amazon.com and also on Kindle. You can read more about Jack at his website.

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Video: Can a Bible translation be perfect and inspired?

Can a translation of God’s word be perfect?

Man’s wisdom says a perfect translation from one language to another is impossible. The Bible shows us something completely different. Will you trust God or men?

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Video: The Five Precepts of Matthew 4:4

Emulating Christ’s Attitude Toward Scripture

Examining the five precepts taught by Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:4.

What did the Lord Jesus Christ teach about Scripture? What example did he set for us to follow, with regard to a proper attitude toward Scripture?

(In addition to the verses discussed in this video, also study 1Peter 1:23-25; 2Peter 1:19-21; and in understanding how to live by every word one must study and rightly divide it: 2Ti 2:15.)

Outline Follows:

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Posted in Video | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Video: What about the Thees and Thous?

Why Thee, Thou, Thine, and Thy need to be in your Bible, and why “you” (etc.) is not a modern equivalent.

Outline follows.

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Posted in Video | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Video: Modern Textual Criticism and Acts 8:37 with James White

In my previous video on whether or not a Bible version should be a preference, I quoted from James White’s book, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations. This prompted White to post a video response to me, in which he goes over the textual issues of Acts 8:37.

Here is my reply.

At first, I considered ignoring it, but, I realized there is an excellent illustration here. In my response I dissect White’s attempt at waiving off the importance of this passage and the methodology employed by modern textual critics to excise (or excuse the excising of) verses from the Bible.

In the end, we see that his approach to the Bible and to his own critical materials is arbitrary and devoid of belief.

Minor update/comment: Throughout this video I refer to James White as “Dr. White.” I was unaware at the time of recording that Mr. White does not have a doctorate from an accredited institution. Frankly I don’t find that issue important, but, it was probably incorrect to continually refer to him as Dr. White in this video.

Also, the Byzantine text he shows is simply the Robinson/Peirpoint Majority text. It is not a text anybody ever used in any church anywhere; it is a contrived text form that just shows “majority” Greek mss. readings. He brings it into the display as if it adds something to the discussion, but, it has already been accepted that Acts 8.37 is a minority Greek mss. reading. It’s just more flash and no substance. I didn’t want to get too bogged down responding to every little detail but that one probably should have had more discussion because people are asking about it.

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Video: Do modern Bible versions really have “everything in there?”

My previous video blog was a short introduction to some of the problems that arise when Christians treat their Bible version as a personal preference. As part of that presentation I demonstrate the false theology of Christ given by the Old Testament in the New International Version.

The most common response to this is for a modern version proponent to claim that there is no real problem because the NIV still contains “all” of the doctrines in other verses.  Here is my response to that.

If you already watched the previous video, please bear with the first minute or so, because I do include some review of the previous material for the benefit of viewers who aren’t watching these in order.

So, are Bible versions really like jars of spaghetti sauce?

I’m not trying to make fun of anyone with this. The point is to highlight the problem with holding to the idea that diminishing support for things like the deity of Christ isn’t really a big deal.

Also, this video makes reference to the Westcott and Hort Magic Marker Binge, which see.

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