Johannes Grabe emphasizes the Johannine style and concept consistency and verse connections

Steven Avery

This was from a time with few English works and before the major controversies.

We should see if Thomas Smith covers these verses (and others not in English, like Turretin.)

Plan to add more bio, edition and date info, and the full verses.

Defensio Fidei nicænæ (1852 edition) -
George Bull

Appendix (1703) Latin

This point is also made by Arthur Cleveland Coxe, about Grabe.

Bishop Bull's works on the Trinity, Volume 2 (1852)
By George Bull (bp. of St. David's.)
Defensio Fidei Nicaenae

1. The controverted clause contains nothing which St. John has not expressly taught elsewhere, I mean in his Gospel, or rather recorded that Christ Himself taught. He names Three who bear record concerning Christ—the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and adds, that these Three are One.

Now respecting the first of these three Witnesses, St. John relates in his Gospel the following words of our Saviour, ch. v. ver. 37;
“The Father, who sent Me; hath Himself borne witness of Me namely, by that voice which came from heaven at the baptism of Christ,“ This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. iii. 17.

And of the first conjointly with the second Witness, St. John has again recorded the following saying of our Lord, viii. 18 :
“I am one that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me.”

Lastly, of the third Witness, the Holy Ghost, our Saviour says, John xv. 26,
“He shall testify of Me/*

And that these three Witnesses are One, the beloved disciple in the same book had before taught out of the mouth of his Master, who says, John x. 30, “ I and the Father are One.”

From this it is plain, that not only the sense, but the very words of the controverted passage are found in the Gospel of St. John himself, although in different places. Why, then, should he not have also written them in his Epistle? Indeed I cannot by any means bring myself to think that the holy apostle, in a passage where he is expressly treating of those that bore witness to Jesus Christ, should have named the three earthly witnesses, but passed over in silence the three heavenly ones, being of greater, nay, of the greatest and absolutely infallible authority—God the Father Himself, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, to whose testimony he well knew that Christ had appealed.

2. My second reason is, that St. John himself in the words immediately following, (ver. 9,) intimated that he had adduced the witness of God the Father concerning His Son ;
“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.”
But if the controverted clause be removed out of the text, no witness of God the Father has gone before in the passage for him to urge in the verse just quoted. For with regard to the three witnesses, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, if, with some commentators, you understand by them the Spirit which Christ commended to the Father when dying on the cross, and the Blood and the Water which flowed from His side after He was dead, and afforded proof of the reality of His human nature, it is clear that their witness cannot be called the witness of God the Father. But if, (which is my own opinion, as I shall in another place set forth and prove at length",) St. John in this verse adduced the threefold testimony in confirmation of the truth, not of the human nature of Christ, but of His divine doctrine, and signified by this the threefold baptism, of which theologians are wont to speak, of the Spirit, Water, Blood, (flaminis, fluminis, sanguinis; ) that is to say, the gifts of the Spirit, which were then poured out on believers, especially the spirit of prophecy, which is expressly termed by the angel (Apoc. xix. 10) “the testimony of Jesus next, the baptism of water, which they who receive in the name of Christ, thereby publicly bear witness to Him; lastly, the shedding of blood for the name of Jesus, which from the very beginning of the Church has been called witness, (Grk,) those also who bore such testimony being called witnesses (Grk ) (see Acts xxii. 20; )—if, I say, this opinion be accepted, then again these are not the witness of God, but of men. For they are men, although led by the Spirit of God, who whether by prophecy, or by the Sacrament, or by blood, established their own faith, and thence the faith of others, in Christ. When, therefore, the Apostle pressed the testimony of God, he seems clearly to have referred to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, whom he had a little, or rather immediately, before mentioned as witnesses. 3. My third and last reason is this : the words “ on earth,” which are added to the three witnesses, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, would be quite superfluous, unless the mention of other witnesses in heaven had gone before or followed. And hence, I suppose, it is that in certain copies, in which the three Witnesses in heaven are wanting, the words “ on earth” are also left out.
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