“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
To ascertain if this text is part of scripture requires no knowledge of Greek grammar or manuscript evidence. It will have everything to do with rightly dividing the scriptures, the word of truth 1 Timothy 2:15 which is how we are instructed to determine doctrine.
The purpose here is to demonstrate that the purpose of John in the context of 1 John 5 is to prove the unity of the Son with the Father as John refers to texts in John 19 and Zechariah 12.
We must remember that the manuscripts if the Greek Orthodox church while much less corrupt than the Alexandrian manuscripts are still not our final authority for determining a proper text.
The manuscript, historical, grammatical evidence for including the trinity verse in question along with the reason of why it was removed from many Greek manuscripts are provided in summary here. However, this is really a secondary argument as we will see that context requires the verse as it stands in the Received Greek text and the Authorized Version and other similar Bibles in other languages.
The following are main themes in 1 John; deity of Christ, humanity of Christ, eternal, life, bearing witness to these things and right living by living in love.
6 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.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
John is intentionally drawing attention to his witness and God’s witness to blood and water in chapter 19 of his gospel:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
The reference to water and blood in 1 John 5 is to draw attention to the gospel of John 19 where blood and water pour from the Savior’s side.
In John 19:35, 3 times a witness to this fact is referred to “..bare record…record is true…knoweth that he saith true…”.
1 John 5:9 concurs concerning this that if we receive man’s witness, that God’s witness is greater.
For what purpose? That we might believe!
But believe what? Verse 19:37 tells us. “They shall look upon him whom they have pierced”. What scripture is he referring to?
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
Here we have it! John is in 1st John 5 is referring one back to Zechariah 12:10 to assert that the Father and the Son are one and that is what was to testify to Israel when the Lord was on the cross.
So the purpose of the “water and the blood” was to testify to the Jews of the deity of Christ in his atoning work.
If one removes critical portion as the ESV does, you have a nonsense text as there is no explanation of WHAT specifically the Spirit, water and blood are testifying to. Of course the end goal is to believe in the Son of God but the purpose of the text is to testify of the unity of the Son with the Father.
Edward Super May 2017