Verses to review today: 1 John 4:1-5:6
New Verse: 1 John 5:7-8
7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. (ESV)
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. (KJV)
Greek: 7 ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, 8 τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
Transliterated Greek: 7 hoti treis eisin hoi martyrountes, 8 to pneuma kai to hydōr kai to haima, kai hoi treis eis to hen eisin.
Literal Word for Word Translation: 7 because three are bearing witness, 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and the three are in agreement.
Vocab: τρεῖς, treis, three; εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν, eis to hen eisin, in one they are.
Commentary: Some Latin manuscripts from the 7th century and only few Greek manuscripts dated from the 11th to the 15th centuries add: testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One. 8 And there are three who bear witness on earth: This longer text is quoted by some of the Church starting in the 5th century, maybe because they agreed with it even though the first reference to it was by a Spanish heretic Priscillian, who died in A. D. 385.1 It is of special note that no church fathers of the 4th century quoted the verse during any of the church council discussions about the divinity of Jesus or the Trinity. If the verse is authentic, it surely would have been quoted then and there may have been no controversy at all! The addition does not present new doctrine since the Trinity of heaven is well established in the rest of the New Testament, and since it is obvious that the portion that exists in the earlier manuscripts pertains to witness on earth. There is no harm in this added verse, but its legitimacy as inspired Scripture written by John is questionable.
The Spirit is Truth, as stated in verse 6, and is a person who has the ability to teach, to comfort, to convict the world of sin, and to be involved in creation. (Jn 14:16, 26; 16:7-14; Gen 1:2). Blood and water are not persons, and thus to not testify in the same sense as given in verse 6, but they contribute to the witness of the Spirit by agreeing in fact. The water baptism, crucifixion, and resurrection together give the same message as the Spirit, that is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who redeems mankind by the forgivenss of sins through faith. According to the Old Testament and Jesus’ words about church discipline, a testimony must be by at least two witnesses (Deut 19:15; Mt 18:15-20; Jn 5:31-40; 8:14-18).
1. Robert James Utley, vol. Volume 4, The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 237; and Akin, Daniel L. vol 38, 1, 2, 3 John, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2001), 198-200.