witness of God in v. 9 points directly to heavenly witnesses in v. 7

Steven Avery

Well expressed here:

An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Volume 4 (1825)
Thomas Hartwell Horne

The preceding view of the internal evidence for the disputed clause of 1 John v. 7. has been given at length, on account of its alleged importance for completing the sense of the apostle’s argument (which would otherwise he imperfect), and also because it is a proof of the force and propriety of which every sincere and impartial reader ofthe word of God is fully competent to decide.2

2 The following observations of the celebrated critic, Professor John Augustus Ernesti. materially confirm the argument above stated. Speaking of the evidence deduced by Gricsbach from manuscripts against this clause, he says: —

“If the genuineness of the seventh verse depended on Greek MSS. alone, and wns to be estimated by them solely, Griesbach would have gained his cause. But although the Greek MSS. take a lead in this inquiry, yet learned and skilful critics require other helps also. In my opinion, its connection with the antecedent and subsequent verses prevents me from subscribing to their decisions, who think this verse ought to be expunged: for in the ninth verse, a comparison is introduced between the testimony of men, and the testimony of God himself; in which the apostle undoubtedly refers to these heavenly witnesses, of whom he had made mention a little before.”

Ernesti, Institutio Interpretia, Novi Testament!, p. 109.

See also William Hales:

And more here!

Amicable correspondence relative to some popular tenets as held by the united Church of England and Ireland; between A. B. and C. D., beneficed clergymen, and E. F., a clergyman without cure of souls (1862)
... and in accordance with this, Valpy, the learned editor of a new edition of the Greek Testament, etc., observes, “Istis verbis e textu sublatis, nescio quid curti et inexpleti semper mihi apparuit.”—

“If these words be expunged from the text, there has always appeared to me something unaccountably defective and incomplete in the passage.”

So say I,
A. B.

Defensio Fidei Nicaenae (1703)

Theological Works (1721)
Charles Leslie

Letters to Edward Gibbon (1794)
George Travis

And more:

A New Literal Translation, from the Original Greek of All the Apostolical Epistles: With a Commentary, and Notes, Philological, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical. To which is Added, A History of the Life of the Apostle Paul, Volume 6 (1806)
James Macknight
p. 109-113

Baptist Magazine (1817)
Reflections on 1 John v. 7
discusses Macknight
disturbing the sense of the verses with which it is joined, rather renders it ntore connected and complete. 2. That in verse 9,i the witness of God is supposed to have been before appealed to, If tee receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. And yet, if verse 7 is excluded, the witness of God is no where

Christian Advocate (1835)
William Brownlee



Patrick Symon


Thomas Rennell

also have sermons on "The witness of God".

Azim Mamanov
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Steven Avery

Charles Leslie - (1650-1722)

The Theological Works of the Rev. Charles Leslie, Volume 2 (1832)
Charles Leslie

Chr. And their witness, ver. 9, is called the witness of God.

Soc. So every witness of men which God appoints is called the witness of God, viz. because God appoints it.

Chr. But here the immediate witness of God is
put in opposition to the witness of men, or other witness of God, which is by the mediation of second causes; the witness of the three in heaven is compared with the witness of the three in earth. And the conclusion is made, that if we receive the witness of the three in earth, which is called the witness of men, i. e. wrought by the ministry of men, we ought much rather to receive the witness of the three in heaven, which is called the witness of God, and a greater witness than the witness of men; it is called the witness of God, which he testified, in opposition to what was testified by other means; and this is a demonstration that the text of the three witnesses in heaven must not be left out, because there is a comparison made betwixt the witness of these three, and the three witnesses in earth: so that if you leave out this verse, you must leave out the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th verses altogether, which no Socinian has yet so much as attempted : and the witness of these three in heaven being called the witness of God, in opposition to the same witness by men, is a full proof what was meant, when it was said, that these three are one, i. e. are one God; for otherwise their witness could not be the witness of God, that is immediately, as it is there put in opposition to a mediate witness by men, or otherwise.



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Steven Avery

A Defense of the Johannine Comma
Selling the Record Straight on I John 5:7-8
Timothy W. Dunkin
Revised, July 2010
With the gratefully accepted assistance of Steven Avery

v. 8 spirit changed to lower case - modify text!

In addition to the grammatical problem, we should note that the deletion of the Comma also introduces a consistency problem with the interpretation of the contextual passage. The full passage, w. 6-9, read as follows,

“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. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in
earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 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."

The text of the Comma is italicized. The problem lies in that if the Comma is removed, then the passage makes an irrelevant reference. The passage speaks of the "witness of men" and the "witness of God." We know that the record of the "spirit, water, and blood" is the "witness of men" spoken of. At the beginning of the Johannine Gospel, John the Baptist testified of the Spirit's role as a witness to Christ,

"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him." (John 1:32)

Likewise, at the end of John's epistle, we see John's own testimony about the water and the blood,

"But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there
out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he
knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." (John 19:34-35)

In these cases, we see these things - the Spirit, the water, and the blood - being the
object of man’s (in this case, John’s) testimony, as both passages specifically record. This
seems especially cogent if, as some scholars have suggested, the epistle of I John was
originally coupled with the Gospel of John, serving as a sort of "introduction" to the
Gospel for John's readers. It would naturally follow that as they read the Gospel, his
readers would see and understand the witness of man to the things concerning Christ and
His ministry as John relates them.

The Gospel of John contains similar references to the "witness of God" as we saw
for the "witness of men." In John 8:18, Jesus (whom John calls "the Word," if we will
remember) says, "I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me
beareth witness of me." In John 15:26, it says, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I
will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the
Father, he shall testify of me..." Hence, in John's Gospel, we see the three Persons of the
Trinity each bearing witness to Jesus. If the Comma is removed, then where is the
witness of God spoken of in the verse, a witness that most naturally refers to the "Father,
Word, and Holy Ghost" who bear record in heaven in the parallel formation? It is not
there, and verse 9 refers to....nothing. The parallelism between the Gospel and the Epistle
is broken, and the local referent in v. 9 is muddled.