Spurious Words at 1 John 5:7,8

It’s intuitive that the older the Bible translation, the greater the accuracy. After all, it’s closer to the events. It's intuitive, but incorrect.

Thus, a fellow I met in the ministry was peeved because the modern New International Version deletes words from his favorite scripture: 1 John 5:7, a verse that, in the King James Version, clearly states the Trinity.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

The reason he misses these words so much is that it is the Bible's only direct statement of the Trinity. All other Trinity texts require various degrees of wishful thinking. Often they are merely figures of speech taken literally.

But since the Bible is inspired and the King James Version was the only version in use for a few hundred years, surely there must be mischief in removing words. Our householder did note some explanation about the deleted words not appearing in any manuscript before the sixth century CE, but he still smelled a rat. If it was good enough for the Pilgrims, it should be good enough for us.

But the way it works is this:

The Bible writers were inspired. The Bible copyists were not. The Bible translators were not. The latter two groups were devout people doing the best they could with what they had. But they were not inspired.

The goal, then, is to get as close as one can to what the Bible writers wrote, not just what the copyists and translators produced.

Because paper and parchment is perishable, scribes had to copy and recopy and recopy to keep the message from disintegrating. Also, because early Christians were evangelizers, they had to copy and recopy to keep them supplied with the texts they would use in their ministry. Each copy is an opportunity to make a mistake. Thus, the older the copy, (manuscript) the more accurate it probably is, since there have been fewer opportunities to mess it up.

So it is a big deal when, in 1 John 5:7, the words the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one appear only in manuscripts dated after 600 CE. It means that those words were not written by John, but were inserted by a copyist around 600 CE, probably because he wanted the Bible to support the Trinity more than it actually did. It’s also unique in that it’s hard to think of it as an honest mistake. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to change Scripture, without any justification other than the Bible nowhere says what the copyist wanted it to say!

Note his cleverness. The spurious words immediately precede a legitimate group of three.

First, the 400 year old King James Version: (spurious words in bold)

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.

Next, the New International Version, published in 1973: (note the adjustment of verses)

7  For there are three that testify:
8.  the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.


Translators of the 400 year old KJV did not have access to the most ancient manuscripts; modern archeologists have since discovered ever older source material. So the newer Bible versions are usually more accurate than the older ones, not to mention being easier to read….no thee’s, thou’s or ye’s.

There are many dozens, probably hundreds, of English translations of the Bible that have appeared since the KJV. Few of them contain those inserted words at 1 John 5:7. Of those that do, almost all include a footnote to inform that the words only appear in later manuscripts. NIV is one of these. Here is their explanatory footnote:

Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century)

Very few modern Bibles include those added words without explanation, and, it seems apparent, those that do are not being honest. They give the impression that those words were originally part of the John’s letter, when they certainly were not. Do you want to guess where those authors stand with regard to the Trinity doctrine?

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The First and the Last Adam

Adam was the biggest letdown, and his rebellion doomed all of us to imperfection and death. Jesus was as good as Adam was bad, and then some. How is it, then,  that he can be called the last Adam?

And so it is written; the first Adam was made a living soul; The last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  1 Cor 15:45   

If you have been conditioned to believe in the Trinity, you will never understand that scripture. Jesus, say the Trinitarians, is equal to God. He is God, only in a different form. So how can he be termed the last Adam?

Set aside the Trinity belief, and the picture clears instantly.

The key is to recognize that Jesus was a perfect man. That’s why he was born of a virgin, with Joseph merely the foster father. Had he been born in the usual manner, he would have been imperfect, same as all the rest of Adam’s descendants. He would not have corresponded in any way to Adam. It would have been apples and oranges.

And if Jesus is God, again we have apples and oranges. Adam and Jesus only correspond if we recognize that they were both perfect men, the only two perfect men that have ever been.

This is a huge point to recognize, because it enables understanding of a central Christian teaching: how does Jesus’ death benefit mankind. Without this one-to-one correspondence, all you can get is a touchy-feely answer to that question, one that pulls at the heart but does nothing for the head.

God sent his son to die, Trinitarians say, to show his love for humans. Yeah, okay, but why that and not something else?

Because God wanted to give the most precious thing he had, is the answer. Yeah, but….why not throw in all the angels as well, and the stars? Wouldn’t that show even more love?

No, that explanation may tug at the heart, but it does nothing for the head. It contributes to the John Coffey (J.C.)…like the drink, but spelled differently….image of Christianity: Christians are big on heart, with lots of hope, and boundless good will….but they’re really not too smart. 

The Trinity teaching seriously interferes, even prevents, understanding this key Bible point. But if you make Jesus a perfect man, you get a result that satisfies the heart and the mind.

Adam was not created to die. Endless life was before him. When he rebelled, he pulled the plug on himself. But not just himself, also all his offspring….all of us. No longer would anyone look forward to endless life, now their certain destiny was old age and death. He sold them, Adam did. He sold them into the slavery of sin and death. And there they must stay, unless someone can buy them back.

A perfect man sold them into slavery, another perfect man will be needed as the repurchase price. Not another disobedient one like Adam, but a faithful perfect man, as Jesus proved to be.

You can’t find any perfect men among Adam’s offspring, they’re all imperfect. Only if God sends a heavenly son, his first born, to be born as a human, of a virgin, and so free from Adam’s imperfect heritage, can that perfect man be found. And that’s what God did.

When you free a kidnapped victim, the price you pay is called the ransom. The ransom price paid to release all of us from bondage to sin and death is a perfect human life, exactly corresponding to the perfect human life Adam threw away. Offering his own perfect life, Jesus bought back what Adam lost, he died for our sins. Now the expression died for our sins makes some sense. Jesus’ life is the ransom price needed to redeem enslaved mankind, and it is the exact price required, thus ransom carries the sense of completely covering….not too much and not too little.

When it comes to righting the greatest wrong ever, God plays by the same rules he made for us: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a soul for a soul…..in this case, a perfect soul for a perfect soul. (Deut 19:21) Thus, the “legal” framework is in place to restore everlasting life on earth to those who desire it.

The Son Of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt 20:28

For there is one god, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.  1 Tim 2:5,6


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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