Monday, April 2, 2012

Not In The Bible? - Three Witnesses In Heaven

Recently, it was brought to my attention once more that certain verses which we hold as Scripture today are not found in the earliest manuscripts.  This is, for some, a troubling thought because it causes one to question the Word of God.  For myself, however, it is no more of an issue than most paraphrased translations.  Scripture remains true, regardless of what was taken from the margins and inserted.  I am hoping to show what I mean today, with the verse of 1 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.                                                           ~KJV

Now, there are going to be some outraged individuals when I say this, but you must hear me out: The statement that 1 John 5:7 is not in "the Bible," is true.  It is also false.  This is the paradox I am hoping to shed some light on.

We all know that nearly every version one reads, they will find some manner of the above quotation.  In this way, it is, in fact, in the Bible in a very literal sense.  Thus, the statement that it is not is false.  I want to emphasize this point, though: If one can get a copy of the Greek/Hebrew Interlinear, do so.  It will enhance your understanding of the Word tremendously, as well as help you prepare for answering charges such as this one.

Where the statement is true, however, is in the very earliest of manuscripts.  The Codex Sinaiticus, for instance, is one of the earliest copies known to us.  Within its tomes, we discover the verse in question, in its entirety, reads thusly:

For they that testify are three,
So what does this mean for the believer?  Does this indeed prove that there is no such thing as the Trinity?  If it does, it surely proves that God does not exist, correct?

In actuality, this very question was what sparked heresies that began stirring even during Paul's time.  Arianism taught, for instance, that Christ was the created Son of God, and that He did not actually exist within the Godhead from the beginning, thus rendering the Trinity teaching suspect.  Monarchianism, Patripassinism, Modalism and Manichaeanism all taught that there was no Trinity- The first three stated that all three were one God, in a literal sense, meaning that God the Father died on the cross; while the last taught that Christ was not Divine and thus there could be no divinity.  Meanwhile, Polytheism went the opposite direction, teaching that the Trinity was a corporation, if you will, of three individual gods.  None of these based their points solely on 1 John 5:7, of course; however, we can see the same sort of thoughts which led to these false teachings arising today, watered by such accusations as the one currently being addressed.

The entire accusation, (1 John 5:7 is not in the Bible), hinges on there being nothing else to support what that verse is ultimately stating: Namely, that there is a Trinity.  However, we already know that Christ stated for a fact that anyone who had seen Him had also seen the Father. (John 14:9)  This suggests, of course, that though separate, He and the Father were also one, which is an integral aspect of the Trinity.  Moreover, we see that, when asked point blank if He was the Son of God, Christ answered in the affirmative.  (Matthew 26:63&64)  There are a few arguments about these verses as well, but I'll come back to it.  
Still more affirmation of Christ's own Divinity and individual identity can be found.  For instance, when asked by Christ who people said He was, Peter immediately responded with "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!"  (Matthew 16:16)  Other examples are the plentiful accounts of demons crying out that He was, in fact, the Son of God.  One in particular which sticks in my mind included the question "...have you come to torment us before the appointed time?" (Matthew 8:29; Mark 3:11, 5:9; Luke 4:41, 8:30)

As pertains to the Holy Spirit- There is Christ's own baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32); His assurance that His Spirit would come to lead us (John 14:1715:26; 20:22; Luke 24:29; Matthew 28:19-20); Christ's response to Peter's revelation (Matthew 10:20)...  Not to mention Genesis 1:2.  References to the Spirit of God and His individuality are found literally throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

Finally, the charge against 1 John 5:7 fails to take into account the fact that 1 John 5:6 references Christ and the Holy Spirit- Some translations have substituted "Christ" for "Word," but regardless, it means the same.  John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  It goes on to say, in verse 14 "...and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us..."

So what is the story of 1 John 5:7?  In the beginning of the story of the Bible, everything was handwritten.  It is very likely that one of the only known manuscripts of 1 John at the time it was being translated had a side notation, much like we do today, referencing the fact that the Trinity was being spoken of here by inference.  The translators assumed it was an addendum, and included it as such.  
Mind you, this is only conjecture based upon my study of Bible and Church history.  However, based upon my knowledge of the subject, it is extremely likely.  Moreover, though 5:7 was added to, you'll notice that it is not contradictory to the whole of Scripture in any way.  If anything, it, like many paraphrases, allows for a better comprehension of Biblical truth.

With all of this said, the accusation that 1 John 5:7 does not exist in the Bible is false on three grounds and only partially true on two grounds.  It is partially true, in that the verse as it currently reads is not found in whole within the oldest manuscripts.  It is also partially true as pertains to the latter half of the verse being an addendum.  
However...  It is false in that the verse exists in most translations today, this taken from a very literal standpoint.  It is false in that the verse does exist, but not as worded in most translations today.  It is false in that it does not strike against Biblical truth, and this is the heart of this "argument."  

This argument, and all of its various forms, is meant to sway a believer from the faith.  However, as I've just shown, there is nothing to the argument but hot air and the lies of the enemy.  The heart of the argument is against the Trinity, and thus, the validity of Scripture as a whole.  

The heart of the argument, however, has just been declared DOA.  

There are nine more verses which I will also look at, so stay tuned!

PS: Some folks believe Matthew 26:64 does not prove Christ claimed He was the Son of God, because His statement is "You have said it."  This only seems innocuous and noncommittal in our day and age.  In that time, and among those people, to not deny such a question was absolutely as great as a direct "yes."  It stated that not only was the question true, but that the questioner had just attested to the truth of it with his own mouth.  This is one of the reasons the Chief Priest tore his robes.  This is to say nothing of His going on to say "and you shall see the Son of Man [addressing Himself] seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming in the clouds of glory."  This whole statement says, in a definite manner, that He WAS the Son of God, and also God. 


  1. I think there are some holes in your position. You are essentially arguing that there should be an a priori assumption of Trinitarian theology, which is certainly a common position, but it is completely ahistorical. There is no real support for the noe-Platonic Trinitarian position in Judaism, and even in the early period of Christian history. It was not until several centuries after Christ that this theological bent started to gain its full position that one finds today.

    Your appeal to the Codex Sinaiticus actually undermines your position, I am not sure why you are using it.

    1. Hello, Bhodi! Thanks for stopping by!

      Firstly, my appeal to the Codex Sinaiticus was done for a very specific reason, namely, it was directly referenced in the write-up I've been reading from. This particular article stated that this was not found in the Sinaiticus, which to me suggests a failing on the part of the writer.

      As to the Trinitarian theology, I am a firm believer in it. You state that it is not supported even in Judaism, but it actually is, and in startling fashion.

      Let's go back to Genesis.

      Genesis specifically notes three very specific forms of God in the beginning. There is God (Father, from Christ's words); the Spirit of God, (Holy Spirit, from Christ's words and the following books of the Bible, as well as Psalms, Samuel 1&2, and many other Old Testament writings); and the Word of God.
      For centuries prior to Christ, Jews taught that the Word of God was just as unique as God Himself, and as His Spirit. They believed, and wrote about, the LIVING WORD being the aspect, for lack of better terminology, that was given to prophets, priests and some kings. It is so firmly entrenched in their theology that one of the many names of God in Hebrew literally means "Word."

      Thus, we have a supremely Trinitarian theology within Judaism itself. But this does not speak to Christ; at least, not directly without further study.

      Several prophecies were made regarding the coming of Christ Himself, though for lack of space I cannot list them. Several speak to Him as a person, while others very specifically give a personhood to God's Word; within the language of the text, the Word is treated as a person who is disdained, ridiculed and abhorred.

      That brings us to the coming of Christ, Whom John stated in the beginning of his Gospel as the Word Made Flesh. Time and again, we see proof of this, not only through John, but the other Gospels as well. The creative Word of God which formed the Earth and all of creation was made a living, breathing human being- Evidenced by the fact that dead were raised, sick recovered, blind eyes given sight, lame made to walk, etc... All at His WORD.

      The simple fact that there was not a specific statement "there is a Trinity" does not discount the fact that God is, in fact, Triune. That is the point of this entry.

      Thanks for the comment, Bhodi! It really makes me glad to see that there are people reading this, and who are engaged enough to actually respond.

      God bless!

    2. I am crunched for time, but a few thoughts. I apologize, this is not an interrogation, but I think there are some flaws in what you said and the questions are the best way to explain, by seeking to understand first.

      What was the article you were reading?

      What Jewish readings would make you think Jewish theology would support Trinitarian theology?

      What do you think the Word of God is? Do you think Christ spoke of this?

      What name of God in Hebrew means Word?

      Have you ever studied the development of the Trinitarian position?

    3. It was an article in a local paper, Op-Ed section. I've read something similar, somewhere, but couldn't remember the title of the actual book.

      As far as Jewish writings, take any of the ancient collected teachings and start reading. I wish I could give you exact reference numbers so you could see for yourself, but today I'M crunched for time; plus, I do not have it in front of me at the moment.

      Christ WAS the Word of God, made a living, breathing person. Christ did speak of it, though it is often overlooked as such.

      I'll have to get back to you on the actual name I mentioned, because as I stated, I don't have my reference material in front of me at the moment.

      As far as the Trinitarian position, I've studied it from the Catholic church stance all the way into the Gnostic arguments against it. What, specifically, are you referring to?

    4. I would be interested in the article, if you have a link.

      I think you have a lot of passion, and you seem to enjoy apologetics, but there are a LOT of holes in your comments. If you are interested in pursuing this vocation, even as an amateur, I would really encourage you to start with the basics and then work up the ladder, so to speak.

      For example:

      Christ never called himself the "Word" and only used the actual word "Word" occasionally, nothing close that would support the statement you made. When speaking of scripture, Christ referred to the Law, which is expected as a Jew. At the time, Jews were actually divided on what was, and was not scripture, so to speak of the "Word of God" in a 20th century sense would be completely incorrect.

      There is no name of God in Hebrew that means "Word". I don't know where you got that idea, but it is really inaccurate. The whole "Word" concept emerged from a LOT of Greek influence. The term is in John, but John itself is a very metaphorical and picturesque book, the modern interpretations of it would be completely out of character with the culture of Judaism at the time. This would hint at a Greek origin, but that is currently under debate. Nevertheless I would caution restraint in using the term to widely, because of these issues.

      I'm interested in what you're reading in terms of historical works. Rather than rely on an interlinear, I would instead get a good history book, an interlinear only translates what is already translated. It has significant utility, but only after a little work, and Greek linguistics training.

      By Trinitarian position, I am referring to the debates around the "homoousios"

      As I said, you certainly have passion, but I would caution some moderation. Evangelical Christianity has been greatly harmed by a huge number of amateur apologists who have plenty of passion but far too little study on the requisite material. A lot of what you say is wrong, or has the wrong idea behind it, and I do not think it is intentional.

      I've been studying Christianity academically since I was 14 or so, and have two decades plus of serious academic study under my belt, so I would be happy to recommend some books if you are interested. Thanks to Amazon's used book program, you could probably get many of the books I paid college prices for, for pennies on the dollar. Like I said, I thought passion is too valuable a resource to waste.

    5. Hello, Bhodi!

      First, let me say this: I am not attempting apologetics here, nor is that my aim.

      Regarding Christ being the "Word": I personally view His statement "before Abraham, I AM," as such. Moreover, John 17:5 - "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Again, in verse 24 - "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
      These do not use "Word" specifically, yet they do point out Christ's presence before the world was formed. Go back to Genesis 1. There is God the Father, Eloheim; there is the Spirit of God, Pneuma; and there is God's word spoken- The creative force of His Word. (As bad as this may sound, given your education, please know I mean nothing personal by it: Do a study on the relation between Logos and Davar HaChaim)

      As for history, I've educated myself through the study of the ancient rabbis, the Torah; the early church fathers; and several other areas. My personal area of focus is NOT apologetics, but church history; the formation of theologies; and Biblical history itself- Where what is written in the Bible intersects with secular history, and what is shown in parallel to other works of ancient cultures.
      Speaking of early church fathers, several of those also back my statements: Justin Martyr, for instance, referred to Christ as the Word Incarnate. (1 Apol 10 & 63) Diognetus referred to Christ as the force through which the world was created in Diognetus 7:2. Tertullian, in Apology 21, also makes the same claim- And in the circles I've traveled, he is considered one of the founders of modern Trinitarian theology.

      As for homoousios, I tend to reject most Gnostic teachings, as the majority of them do not ascribe divinity to Christ. One cannot be a Christian and claim that Christ was not God- Indeed, it is tantamount to claiming to be Muslim, but Muhammad was not Allah's prophet; or claiming to be Buddhist, but claiming Buddha did not show the path to enlightenment.

      As for my personal study, I have over 300 books on early church history and Jewish history and teachings in my personal library alone. I have ready access to a few thousand more.

      You may be mistaking this as an attempt at apologetics because this is an open blog, and because of the material I am taking each claim from. However, the goal here with this series is NOT the unsaved, but rather those already believing. I am not here to argue with people whose minds are already made up; I am here to reassure those who have decided to follow Jesus that these claims are not only bogus, but a tool of the devil.

      Thanks for your continued interaction, and I apologize that it took me this long to get back to you!

  2. Something else I was thinking about. The Codex Sinaiticus is interesting in that it contains books not considered Canon today. There is a wealth of interesting studies included in the books that did not make it into the present Bible, as much as there is those that did. Even Martin Luther was fairly critical of the Epistle of James, so what is, and what is not, scripture is a very interesting subject.

    1. What amazes me about that was how close we came to not having the book of Revelation!

      I am of the opinion that, while authorship was seemingly one of the most important piece of the puzzle to them, if any book of the Apocrypha lines up with the Word of God as a whole, it should be studied. I do not counsel people swallow it without several grains of salt, but there is, as you said, a wealth of information in those books.

      Two of my favorites, to this very day, are the Shepherd and Judith. I'm also of the opinion that Clement should have been included among the letters, though I understand why it was not.

  3. Andrew, I have to catch back up with you man. I love your postings.

    1. Glad to hear it, Joy! Thanks for commenting!


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