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New Defender's Study Bible Notes

5:7 these three are one. This verse is the famous “Johannine Comma,” as it has been called, and it obviously carries the clearest and most explicit statement of the doctrine of the Trinity to be found in the Bible. However, it only is found in manuscripts of the Latin Bible, and in four Greek manuscripts, so is believed by many Biblical scholars to have been a pious addition or marginal annotation by some unknown ancient copyist. The doctrine of the Trinity does not depend on this verse, of course, as it is implied in many other Scriptures (e.g., Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 13:14). On the other hand, since it does fit perfectly in the context, it also seems that this verse could well have been in John’s original autograph, and then been expunged from most of the accessible manuscripts at the height of the Arian controversy in the fourth century. To eliminate this verse would leave I John 5:8 as a largely redundant repetition of I John 5:6, whereas the continuity and sense are beautifully structured and sequenced if it is included. It would seem much more likely for Origen or Arius, both of whom rejected the doctrines of the Trinity and Biblical inerrancy, or one of their followers in the third or fourth centuries, to boldly excise the offending verse, than for some godly copyist to insert it. One who believed in the Trinity would surely have held the Scriptures in too much esteem to presume to amend them on his own initiative. Despite the weight of scholarly opinion to the contrary, the internal evidence, as well as the testimony of the Latin manuscripts and such later authorities as Erasmus and the Reformers, as well as many great commentators since, such as John Wesley and Matthew Henry, strongly argues that the Johannine Comma was actually written by John in his epistle and should still be regarded as part of the true text.

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