Edward Freer Hills - Believers Bible Study

Steven Avery

Taken from John Cereghin's articl

5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven,a-b the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one .c-d-e7a Three bear witness in heaven of these truths of the incarnation:1. The Father2. The Word, which is Jesus3. The Holy Ghost7b The Trinity! All three members of the Godhead witness to these truths of the incarnation. This is a hated doctrine among the cults as the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists all attack the doctrine, not to mention groups like the United Pentecostalists and Muslims.

807c "These three are one." There is a unity in the Godhead. Great is the mystery of this godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)! Three are One. We have no trouble with the doctrine of the Trinity although cultists and heretics choke on it. They just need to be saved and then they would have no difficulty with this truth. We have one Godhead that is composed of three separate, distinct, individual personalities- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each is God. But we do not worship three Gods as our cultic enemies charge us. We Worship one God, existing in three persons. We cannot explain this doctrine for it is beyond our understanding. But we can draw some parallels to it that we can understand. Man is also a trinity. Each person has three parts- physical, soulish and spiritual. Now our "components" do not and cannot operate independently. But the "three parts of God" (this is not a good term to use to describe the trinity but I use it for lack of a better term. I hope you understand what I am trying to say) do operate independently. God can separate Himself into His three "parts". The Soul of God is represented by the Father. The Spirit is obviously the Holy Spirit. The physical part of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. Man has these three parts. I have these three parts, yet I am only one person. Am I three persons because I have three parts? No, I am one person made up of three parts, just as the Godhead is One God made up of three personalities, who are all equal to each other in power and glory.7d "If you will carefully read in Exodus 29 or in Leviticus 8, you will see that when a priest was ordained (and a priest was a type of Christ) three things were always used: he was washed with water in every case, a sacrifice was brought, and his ear, his thumb and his toe were touched with blood, and then he was anointed with oil, in token of that unction of the Spirit with which the coming High Priest of our profession would be anointed. So that every priest came by the anointing Spirit, by water, and by blood, as a matter of type, and if Jesus Christ be indeed the priest that was for to come, he will be known by these three signs (Charles Spurgeon, "The Three Witnesses" in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 20:446, sermon 1187)."7e This verse is attacked because of its strong proclamation of the trinity and deity of Christ. Heretics, liberals, world religionists and cultists hate this doctrine because it is beyond the limited understanding of man. So out it goes! The last half of verse 7 is missing in the ESV. This verse then is one of the most hated and attacked in the Bible. We will summarize the controversy surrounding this verse and defend its inclusion in the Scripture, as well as its inspiration. We must then reject the opposition to this verse and maintain that it indeed belongs in our Bibles and is inspired of God.Almost all the objections to the inclusion of the verse (as Adam Clarke said in 1807) came from "Unitarians of all classes" demonstrates that it indeed did draw attention to these doctrines. It would explain the dispute over “theos os” in 1 Timothy 3:16. It is difficult to suppose that it was merely incidental that the objections to such a verse came from so many Unitarians.The following are some quotes from Michael Maynard's book The Debate Over 1 John 5:7. His book is a bibliography of materials dealing with these verses from the first century to the modern day. Maynard shows that the verses are legitimate, although heavily attacked by those with a doctrinal opposition to the Trinity. Maynard’s evidences in support of the traditional reading of this verse are unanswerable. His is perhaps the best treatment of this “controversy”."Kenyon said of Codex Vaticanus, 'A few readings from it were supplied to Erasmus by his correspondent Sepulveda, but too late for use in his editions of the New Testament.' In this claim, Kenyon made two serious errors. It was not 'too late' because Erasmus' 5th edition appeared in 1535 two years later. Nor was it merely a 'few readings,' for in this letter, Sepulveda furnished Erasmus 'with 365 readings as a convincing argument in support of his statements' that Codex Vaticanus is 'a weighty proof of excellence with the Latin version'... (Maynard, p. 88)."A recent myth (originated by Rummel in 1986, and now parroted by James R. White in 1995) is that Erasmus challenged Edward Lee to find a Greek manuscript which included 1 John 5:7. A much older myth is that Erasmus promised to insert the verse if such a Greek

81manuscript were produced. Maynard indicated that the Dean of the Faculty of Theology, at Rijksuniversiteit, (Leiden, The Netherlands) has refuted both myths. The Dean, H.J. de Jonge, is a recognized specialist in Erasmian studies. H.J. de Jonge refuted the old myth of a promise in 1980, and he refuted the new myth of a challenge (which Rummel devised in reaction to the burial of the promise myth) in a letter of June 13, 1995, to Maynard: "I have checked again Erasmus' words quoted by Erika Rummel and her comments on them in her book Erasmus' Annotations. This is what Erasmus writes [on] in his Liber tertius quo respondet ... Ed. Lei: Erasmus first records that Lee had reproached him with neglect of the MSS. of 1 John because Er. (according to Lee) had consulted only one MS. Erasmus replies that he had certainly not used only one ms., but many copies, first in England, then in Brabant, and finally at Basle. He cannot accept, therefore, Lee's reproach of negligence and impiety. 'Is it negligence and impiety, if I did not consult manuscripts which were simply not within my reach? I have at least assembled whatever I could assemble. Let Lee produce a Greek MS. which contains what my edition does not contain and let him show that that manuscript was within my reach. Only then can he reproach me with negligence in sacred matters.' From this passage you can see that Erasmus does not challenge Lee to produce a manuscript etc. What Erasmus argues is that Lee may only reproach Erasmus with negligence of MSS if he demonstrates that Erasmus could have consulted any MS. in which the Comma Johanneum figured. Erasmus does not at all ask for a MS. containing the Comma Johanneum. He denies Lee the right to call him negligent and impious if the latter does not prove that Erasmus neglected a manuscript to which he had access. In short, Rummel's interpretation is simply wrong. The passage she quotes has nothing to do with a challenge. Also, she cuts the quotation short, so that the real sense of the passage becomes unrecognizable. She is absolutely not justified in speaking of a challenge in this case or in the case of any other passage on the subject" (Maynard, p.383)."Romanists corrupt the text for the goal of ecumenism. The strategy is not new. As shown above Erasmus believed that the Ecumenical Council of 1438-1445 modified Greek MSS to conform to the Latin to effect 'reunion of the Latin and Greek churches.' ...No one denies that Satan is the Enemy....It may be observed that the strategy of Satan shifts in nearly every century. He does use cults, etc., but Romanism always seems to be his major tool. His present intent is ecumenism. The principle factor for the means to this end is textual corruption. Since this is at the basis of ecumenism, then the present debate over Bible versions is not unnecessary as many claim. Since the Scriptures are the basis to settle all doctrinal controversies, then when compared with all other serious challenges that face Christians today, it is surely the single most crucial issue" (Maynard, p. 291).The following information is from Believing Bible Study by Edward Hills, pages 210-214:“7 For there are three that bear record IN HEAVEN, THE FATHER, THE WORD, AND HOLY GHOST; AND THESE THREE ARE ONE. 8 AND THERE ARE THAT BEAR WITNESS IN EARTH, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."The Words printed in capital letters constitute the so-called Johannine comma, the best known of the Latin Vulgate readings of the Textus Receptus, a reading which, on believing principles, must also be regarded as possibly genuine. This comma has been the occasion of much controversy and is still an object of interest to textual critics. One of the more recent discussions of it is found in Windisch's Katholischen Briefe (revised by Preisker,1951); a more accessible treatment of it in English is that provided by A. E. Brooke (1912) in the International Critical Commentary. Metzger (1964) also deals with this passage in his handbooks but briefly. How I John 5:7 entered the Received Text

82"As his been observed above, the Textus Receptus has both its human aspect and its divine aspect, like the Protestant Reformation itself or any other work of God's providence. And when we consider the manner in which the Johannine comma entered the Textus Receptus, we see this human element at work. Erasmus omitted the Johannine comma from the first edition (1516) of his printed Greek New Testament on the ground trial it occurred only in the Latin version and not in any Greek manuscript. To quiet the outcry which arose, he agreed to restore it if but one Greek manuscript could be found which contained it. When one such manuscript was discovered soon afterwards, bound by his promise, he included the disputed reading in his third edition (1522), and thus it gained a permanent place in the Textus Receptus. The manuscript which forced Erasmus to reverse his stand seems to have been 61, a 15th or 16th century manuscript now kept at Trinity College, Dublin. Many critics believe that this manuscript was written at Oxford about 1520 for the special purpose of refuting Erasmus, and this is what Erasmus himself suggested in his notes. {From what I understand this is according to Hort, and there is no record of the notes from Erasmus. I think this came from thin air like the Westcott and Hort Greek text.)"The Johannine Comma is also found in Codex Ravianus, in the margin of 88, and in 629. The evidence of these three manuscripts, however, is not regarded as very weighty, since the first two are thought to have taken this disputed reading from early printed Greek texts and the latter (like 61) from the Vulgate. (Since Hills wrote this, the latest United Bible Society Greek Testament list six Greek cursive MSS which contain it - 61, 88 mg, 429 mg, 629, 636 mg, and 918. Moreover D. A. Waite cites evidence of some fourteen others containing it. Tom Strouse, from whom this information is taken was able to confirm in addition to the above - 634 mg, omega 110, 221 area 2318; along with two lectionaries - 60, 173; and four Fathers- Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine and Jerome)."But whatever may have been the immediate cause, still, in the last -analysis, it was not trickery which was responsible for the inclusion of the Johannine comma in the Textus Receptus but the usage of the Latin-speaking Church. It was this usage which made men feel that this reading ought to be included the Greek text and eager to keep it there after its inclusion had been accomplished. Back of this usage, we may well believe, was the guiding providence of God, and therefore the Johannine comma ought to be retained as genuine.The early Existence of I John 5:7"Evidence for the early existence of the Johannine Comma is found in the Latin versions and in the writings of the Latin Church Fathers. For example, it seems to have been quoted at Carthage by Cyprian (c. 250), who writes as follows: "And again concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: and the Three are one." It is true that Facundus, a 6th century African bishop, interpreted Cyprian as referring to the following verse, but, as Scrivener (1883) remarks, it is "surely safer and more candid" to admit that Cyprian read the Johannine comma in his New Testament manuscript "than to resort to the explanation of Facundus. ""The first undisputed citations of the Johannine comma occur in the writings of two 4th century Spanish bishops, Priscillian, who in 385 was beheaded by the Emperor Maximus on the charge of sorcery and heresy, and Idacius Clarus, Priscillian's principal adversary and accuser. In the 5th century the Johannine comma was quoted by several orthodox African writers to defend the doctrine of the Trinity against the gainsaying of the Vandals, who ruled North Africa from 439 to 534 and were fanatically attached to the Arian heresy. And about the same time it was cited by Cassiodorus (480-570) in Italy. The comma is also found in r, an Old Latin manuscript of the 5th or 6th century, and in the Speculum, a treatise which contains an Old Latin text. It was not included in Jerome's original edition of the Latin Vulgate, but around the year 800 it was taken into the text of the Vulgate from the Old Latin manuscript. It was found in

83the great mass of the later Vulgate manuscripts and in the Clementine edition of the Vulgate, the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.Is I John 5:7 an Interpolation? "Thus on the basis of the external evidence it is at least possible that the Johannine comma is a reading that somehow dropped out of the Greek New Testament text but was preserved in the Latin text through the usage of the Latin-speaking Church, and this possibility grows more and more toward probability as we consider the internal evidence. In the first place, how did the Johannine comma originate if it be not genuine, and how did it come to be interpolated into the Latin New Testament text? To this question modern scholars have a ready answer. It arose, they say, as a Trinitarian interpretation of I John 5:8, which originally read as follows: For there are three that bear witness, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. Augustine was one of those who interpreted John 5:8 as referring to the Trinity. "If we wish to inquire about these things, what they signify, not absurdly does the Trinity suggest Itself, who is the one, only, true, and highest God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, concerning whom it could most truly be said, Three are Witnesses, and the Three are One. By the word spirit we consider God the Father to be signified, concerning. the worship of whom the Lord spoke, when he said, God is a spirit. By the word blood the Son is signified, because the word was made flesh. And by the word water we understand the Holy Spirit. For when Jesus spoke concerning the water which He was about to give the thirsty, the evangelist says, This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those that believed in Him would receive.""Thus, according, to the critical theory, there grew up in the Latin-speaking regions of ancient Christendom a Trinitarian interpretation of the spirit, the water, and the blood mentioned in I John 5:8, the spirit signifying the Father, the blood the Son, and the water the Holy Spirit. And out of this Trinitarian interpretation of I John 5:8 developed the Johannine comma, which contrasts the witness of the Holy Trinity in heaven with the witness of the spirit, the water, and the blood on earth."But just at this point the critical theory encounters a serious difficulty. If the comma originated in a Trinitarian interpretation of 1 John 5:8, why does it not contain the usual Trinitarian formula the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Why does it exhibit the singular combination, never met with elsewhere, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit? According to some critics, this unusual phraseology was due to the efforts of the interpolator who first inserted the Johannine comma into the New Testament Text. In a mistaken attempt to imitate the style of the Apostle John he changed the term Son to the term Word But this is to attribute to the interpolator a craftiness which thwarted his own purpose in making this interpolation, which was surely to uphold the doctrine of the Trinity, including the eternal generation of the Son. With this as his main concern it is very unlikely that he would abandon the time-honored formula, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and devise an altogether new one, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit."In the second place, the omission of the Johannine comma seems to leave the passage incomplete. For it is a common scriptural usage to present solemn truths or warnings in groups of three and four, for example, the repeated three things, yea four of Proverbs 30, and the constantly recurring refrain, for three transgressions and for four, of the prophet Amos. In Genesis 40 the butler saw three branches, and the baker saw three baskets. And in Matthew 12:40 Jesus says, As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. It is in accord with biblical usage, therefore, to expect that in I John 5:7-8 the formula, there are three that bear witness, will be repeated at least twice. When the Johannine comma is included the formula is repeated twice. When the comma is omitted, the formula is repeated only once, which seems very strange.

84"In the third place, the emission of the Johannine comma involves a grammatical difficulty. The words spirit, water, and blood are neuter in gender, but in I John 5:8 they are treated as masculine. If the Johannine comma is rejected, it is hard to explain this irregularity. It is usually said that in 1 John 5:8 the spirit, the water, and the blood are personalized and that this is the reason for the adoption of the masculine gender. But it is hard to see how such personalisation would involve the change from the neuter to the masculine: For in verse 6 the word Spirit plainly refers to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. Surely in this verse the word Spirit is "personalized", and yet the neuter gender is used. Therefore, since personalisation did not bring about a change of gender in verse 6, it cannot fairly be pleaded as the reason for such a change in verse 8. If, however, the Johannine comma is retained, a reason for placing the neuter nouns spirit, water and blood in the masculine gender becomes readily apparent. It was due to the influence of the nouns Father and Word, which are masculine. Thus the hypothesis that the Johannine comma is an interpolation is full of difficulties. Reasons for the possible Omission on 1 John 5:7"For the absence of the Johannine comma from all New Testament documents save those of the Latin-speaking west the following explanations are possible:"In the first place, it must be remembered that the comma could easily have been omitted accidentally through a common type of error which is called homoioteleuton (similar ending). A scribe copying 1 John 5:7-8 under distracting conditions might-have begun to write down these words of verse 7, there are three that bear witness, but have been forced to look up before his pen had completed this task. When he resumed his work, his eye fell by mistake on the identical expression in verse 8. This error would cause him to omit all of the Johannine comma except the words in earth, and these might easily have been dropped later in the copying of this faulty copy Such an accidental omission might even have occurred several times, and in this way there might have grown up a considerable number of Greek manuscripts which did not contain this reading."In the second place, it must be remembered that during the second and third centuries (between 220 and 270, according to Harnack) the heresy which orthodox Christians were called upon to combat was not Arianism (since this error had not yet arisen) but Sabellianism (so aimed after Sabellius, one of its principal promoters), according to which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were one in the sense that they wore identical. Those that advocated this heretical view were called Patripassians (Father- sufferers), because they believed that God the Father, being identical with Christ, suffered and died upon the cross, and Monarchians, because they claimed to uphold the Monarchy (sole-government) of God."It is possible, therefore, that the Sabellian heresy brought the Johannine comma into disfavor with orthodox Christians. The statement, these three are one, no doubt seemed to them to teach the Sabellian view that the title Son, and the Holy Spirit were identical. And if during the Course of the Controversy manuscripts were discovered which had lost this reading in the accidental manner described above, it is easy to see how the Orthodox party would consider these mutilated manuscripts to represent the true text and regard the Johannine comma as a heretical addition. In the Greek-speaking East especially the comma would be unanimously rejected, for here the struggle against Sabellianism was particularly severe."Thus it is not impossible that during the 3rd century, amid the stress and strain of the Sabellian controversy, the Johannine comma lost its place in the Greek text but was preserved in the Latin texts of Africa and Spain, where the influence of Sabellianism was probably not so great. To suppose this, at any rate, is strictly in accord with the principles of believing Bible study. For although the Greek New Testament text was the special object of God's providential care, nevertheless, this care also extended, in lesser degree, to the ancient versions and to the

85usage not only of Greek-speaking Christians but also of the other branches of the Christian Church. Hence, although the Traditional text found in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts is a fully trustworthy reproduction of the divinely inspired original text, still it is possible their the text of the Latin Vulgate, which really represents the long-established usage of the Latin Church, preserves a few genuine readings not found in the Greek manuscripts. And hence, also, it is possible that the Johannine comma is one of these exceptional readings which, we may well believe, were included in the Textus Receptus under the direction of God's special providence."The following versions retain it (in addition to the Authorized Version):1. Bishop’s Bible 2. Rhemis Douay Version. This Counter-Reformation Catholic translation is more accurate here than the modern Protestant translations!3. Geneva Bible 4. New King James Version. The verse is questioned in the footnotes but at least they included it in the text.5. John Wycliffe’s Bible6. Tyndale Bible (1534) included but in italics and in parentheses.7. Cramner Bible (1539) included but in italics and parentheses. There would seem to be some uncertainty on the part of these translators in the early 16th century, yet they felt confident enough to include it but with a question mark. They erred correctly, on the side of safety.8. Coverdale Bible The following translations attack the reading:1. New English Bible (1961)2. New American Bible (Catholic) (1971)3. Revised Standard Version (1952)4. Today's English Version/Good News For Modern Man (1966)5. Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation (1961)6. Amplified Bible (1965), verse 7 is moved into verse 8 and is put into italics, which means that these translators believe that the phrase is not part of the original text.7. New American Standard Version (1960), removed though the footnote gives the reading.8. New International Version (1973), removed, though the footnote gives the reading.9. Contemporary English Version (1995)10. Revised Version (1881). 11. Living Bible (1962). 12. American Translation (Edgar Goodspeed, 1923)13. New World Translation (Jehovah Witnesses, 1984 revision), removed. How do these men who attack the verse “feel” about the fact that they are in perfect agreement with the Jehovah Witnesses on this textual issue? 14. English Standard Version- omits the phrase. This is not unexpected since the ESV is nothing more than a revision of the RSV, which also attacked the verse. Why should we expect the ESV be any better than the RSV in these cases?15. American Standard Version 16. John Darby’s version omits it. I would also expect William Kelly’s translation to omit it although I have not seen his translation. How unfortunate these early “Plymouth Brethren”, especially Darby and Kelly, were infected with an unearned respect for so-called “textual criticism”. Their attack on the verse does them a discredit.17. The Jerusalem Bible. This is a liberal Roman Catholic version, so this is not a surprise.

8618. New International Reader’s Version (1996).19. New American Bible (1970). This is the modern Catholic version.Although Roman Catholic texts and the church itself generally don’t accept 1 John 5:7 as genuine, at least one pope did- Leo XIII (1878-1903), but he was later reversed by other popes (Matthew Verschuur, Fourth Draft of the Guide to the Pure Cambridge Edition of the King James Bible, 2009, page 79).” In conclusion, the verse, as it stands in our Authorized Version is accurate and belongs in the Scripture. To assume otherwise is to accept an apostasy and theological error. I am greatly disappointed that so many “fundamentalist” commentators attacked the verse. Their problem was that they put too much faith in so-called “Greek scholarship”. Some “Greek scholar” told them the verse was not legitimate (for any reason) and they quoted a lot of Greek and cited a lot of manuscript evidence to support their claim. The believer, who knew little, if any, Greek and had no clue about anything pertaining to manuscript evidence, swallowed what he was told because he did not have the means to verify what he was told or he may have been too timid to stand against the so-called “authority”. This happens in classrooms in so-called Christian colleges a thousand times a day and scores of young preachers are thus ruined because they would never think to challenge their professor on the matter. This is why you should never take anyone’s word about anything if that person is attacking the Bible. If you don’t have the resources to critique him, find someone who does, which is getting easier today with the internet and the increasing number of books being published that defend the integrity of our Authorized Version.************************************************************************************************************5:8 And there arethree that bear witness in earth,a the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.b-c-d8a Verse 7 deals with the heavenly witnesses to the truths of the incarnation that John relates, but what about three earthly witnesses to these same truths?1. The spirit, the Holy Spirit2. The water. This is not water baptism, for it has no saving grace or virtue. It is an act of obedience and identification but does not add or detract from our salvation. Now baptism is a witness to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6). When we are water baptized (by immersion!) then we give witness to this witness of the truth as we identify with it. We do also notice that regeneration is referred to under the figure of water in Titus 3:5, compared to a washing. It is by the washing of water by the Word we have this regeneration so this could have an application to the Word of God.3. The blood, which would be the blood of Christ.The ESV omits the first half of this verse.8b Here is an earthly trinity for "these three agree in one. We then have a double witness, two triads, one in heaven and one in earth.8c "Three candles in the room but the light is one; three witnesses to our heart but the witness is the same (Charles Spurgeon, exposition of 1 John 5 in volume 57 of Metropolitan Tabernacle PuIpit, page 263)."8d “Now, then, you young men, you need not read ‘Paley’s Evidences,’ the evidence of the Spirit, the water, and the blood is better. You do not grant to study ‘Butler’s Analogy,’ though you may if you please, but such books, excellent as they are, only prove the skin and shell of

87our religion, and the vital matter is the kernel. If you come by simple prayer, and ask to have the blood of Jesus applied to devour soul, and if the Spirit of God works mightily in your spirit so that you obtain a new inner principle, and lead a new life as the result thereof, you will have the best evidence in the world... We have known some who will say, ‘Look at my life, I am very different from what I was. I am a sober, honest, excellent man.’ Yes, but do you Test in the blood of Jesus? Practical evidence is good, but it must arise out of faith. If you do not believe in Jesus you have not the essential witness, and your case is not proved. Many also say to us, ‘I believe that Jesus died for me,’ but we must ask them concerning their lives. Are you cleansed in act? Are you an altered man? (Charles Spurgeon, “The Three Witnesses”, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon 1187).”