The added text of the KJV and NKJV, known as the “Johannine Comma” (Comma Johanneum), lacks any significant textual evidence.  What evidence there is is very late.  Therefore, it should not be included as original.  No Greek text before the thirteenth century contains these words and, after that, only Latin texts until Erasmus’ third edition (sixteenth century).  It appears in only eight extant Greek MSS, with four of them being marginal notes. . .It is also absent from all of the non-Latin or Greek MSS prior to AD 1500, including the Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and Syriac translations.  As Brown (777) notes, this is “an incredible situation if it were once part of the original Greek text of 1 John.”  The earliest Latin MSS also lack the Comma.  In 1592, it was added into the Catholic edition of the Latin Vulgate. . .It appears to have a Spanish origin in the late fourth century, possibly written by the bishop Instantius, a follower of Priscillian, who was martyred around AD 386. . .The words were clearly added to support Trinitarian theology.  For the history of how it was forced into Erasmus’ third Greek edition and, subsequently, into the KJV, Brown’s (779-80) summary is worth reading.

From: 1, 2 & 3 John by Gary W. Derickson; Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), p. 513.

“Brown” refers to Raymond F. Brown’s 1982 commentary on these epistles.

The “Johannine Comma” adds this text to 1 John 5.7 – . . .in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit.  As the quotation shows, these words are almost certainly not original.

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3 thoughts on “On the “Johannine Comma” (1 John 5.7)

    1. There don’t seem to be any textual issues with John 15.3. I checked in both the ESV and NASB translations. In the context of the paragraph (John 15.1-11), Jesus is talking about sanctification (“fruit-bearing”). So, in verse 3, He’s telling His disciples that they are saved (“you are clean”). The rest of the paragraph then warns them (and us) that fruit-bearing (good works: see Ephesians 2.8-10) are the proof that one is saved (because it is impossible to perform good works until one is saved). Jesus stresses abiding in Him as the source of both salvation and fruit-bearing.

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