NETBible KJV GRK-HEB XRef Arts Hymns
  Discovery Box

1 John 5:6-8

5:6 Jesus Christ is the one who came by water and blood – not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because 1  the Spirit is the truth. 5:7 For 2  there are three that testify, 3  5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.

1 tn This ὅτι (Joti) is best understood (1) as causal. Some have taken it (2) as declarative, giving the content of the Spirit’s testimony: “and the Spirit is the One who testifies that the Spirit is the truth.” This is certainly possible, since a ὅτι clause following the cognate verb μαρτυρέω (marturevw) often gives the content of the testimony (cf. John 1:34; 3:28; 4:39, 44). But in the Gospel of John the Spirit never bears witness on his own behalf, but always on behalf of Jesus (John 15:26, 16:13). There are, in fact, some instances in the Gospel of John where a ὅτι clause following μαρτυρέω is causal (8:14, 15:27), and that is more likely here: “and the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

2 tn A second causal ὅτι (Joti) clause (after the one at the end of the preceding verse) is somewhat awkward, especially since the reasons offered in each are somewhat different. The content of the second ὅτι clause (the one in question here) goes somewhat beyond the content of the first. The first ὅτι clause, the one at the end of 5:6, stated the reason why the Spirit is the witness: because the Spirit is the truth. The second ὅτι clause, here, states that there are three witnesses, of which the Spirit is one. It is probably best, therefore, to understand this second ὅτι as indicating a somewhat looser connection than the first, not strictly causal but inferential in sense (the English translation “for” captures this inferential sense). See BDF §456.1 for a discussion of this ‘looser’ use of ὅτι.

3 tc Before τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα (to pneuma kai to {udwr kai to |aima), the Textus Receptus (TR) reads ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. 5:8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ (“in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 5:8 And there are three that testify on earth”). This reading, the infamous Comma Johanneum, has been known in the English-speaking world through the King James translation. However, the evidence – both external and internal – is decidedly against its authenticity. For a detailed discussion, see TCGNT 647-49. Our discussion will briefly address the external evidence. This longer reading is found only in nine late mss, four of which have the words in a marginal note. Most of these mss (221 2318 [18th century] {2473 [dated 1634]} and [with minor variations] 61 88 429 629 636 918) originate from the 16th century; the earliest ms, codex 221 (10th century) includes the reading in a marginal note, added sometime after the original composition. The oldest ms with the Comma in its text is from the 14th century (629), but the wording here departs from all the other mss in several places. The next oldest mss on behalf of the Comma, 88 (12th century) 429 (14th) 636 (15th), also have the reading only as a marginal note (v.l.). The remaining mss are from the 16th to 18th centuries. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek ms until the 14th century (629), and that ms deviates from all others in its wording; the wording that matches what is found in the TR was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the Comma appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either ms, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until a.d. 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin). This is all the more significant since many a Greek Father would have loved such a reading, for it so succinctly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity. The reading seems to have arisen in a 4th century Latin homily in which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity. From there, it made its way into copies of the Latin Vulgate, the text used by the Roman Catholic Church. The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared, there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek mss that included it. Once one was produced (codex 61, written in ca. 1520), Erasmus apparently felt obliged to include the reading. He became aware of this ms sometime between May of 1520 and September of 1521. In his annotations to his third edition he does not protest the rendering now in his text, as though it were made to order; but he does defend himself from the charge of indolence, noting that he had taken care to find whatever mss he could for the production of his text. In the final analysis, Erasmus probably altered the text because of politico-theologico-economic concerns: He did not want his reputation ruined, nor his Novum Instrumentum to go unsold. Modern advocates of the TR and KJV generally argue for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum on the basis of heretical motivation by scribes who did not include it. But these same scribes elsewhere include thoroughly orthodox readings – even in places where the TR/Byzantine mss lack them. Further, these advocates argue theologically from the position of divine preservation: Since this verse is in the TR, it must be original. (Of course, this approach is circular, presupposing as it does that the TR = the original text.) In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum goes back to the original text yet does not appear until the 14th century in any Greek mss (and that form is significantly different from what is printed in the TR; the wording of the TR is not found in any Greek mss until the 16th century)? Such a stance does not do justice to the gospel: Faith must be rooted in history. Significantly, the German translation of Luther was based on Erasmus’ second edition (1519) and lacked the Comma. But the KJV translators, basing their work principally on Theodore Beza’s 10th edition of the Greek NT (1598), a work which itself was fundamentally based on Erasmus’ third and later editions (and Stephanus’ editions), popularized the Comma for the English-speaking world. Thus, the Comma Johanneum has been a battleground for English-speaking Christians more than for others.

TIP #05: Try Double Clicking on any word for instant search. [ALL]
created in 0.02 seconds
powered by