And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics:
As to Matthew 28:19, it says: “It is the central piece of evidence for the traditional (Trinitarian) view. If it were undisputed, this would, of course, be decisive, but its trustworthiness is impugned on grounds of textual criticism, literary criticism and historical criticism.” This Encyclopedia further states: "The obvious explanation of the silence of the New Testament on the triune name, and the use of another (JESUS NAME) formula in Acts and Paul, is that this other formula was the earlier, and the triune formula is a later addition."
Edmund Schlink, The Doctrine of Baptism, page 28:
"The baptismal command in its Matthew 28:19 form can not be the historical origin of Christian baptism. At the very least, it must be assumed that the text has been transmitted in a form expanded by the [Catholic] church."
The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, I, 275:
"It is often affirmed that the words in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost are not the ipsissima verba [exact words] of Jesus, but...a later liturgical addition."
Wilhelm Bousset, Kyrios Christianity, page 295:
"The testimony for the wide distribution of the simple baptismal formula [in the Name of Jesus] down into the second century is so overwhelming that even in Matthew 28:19, the Trinitarian formula was later inserted."
The Catholic Encyclopedia, II, page 263:
"The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by the Catholic Church in the second century."
Hastings Dictionary of the Bible 1963, page 1015:
"The Trinity … is not demonstrable by logic or by Scriptural proofs. The term Trias was first used by Theophilus of Antioch (c AD 180) … (The term Trinity) not found in Scripture..." "The chief Trinitarian text in the NT is the baptismal formula in Mt 28:19. This late post-resurrection saying, not found in any other Gospel or anywhere else in the NT, has been viewed by some scholars as an interpolation into Matthew. It has also been pointed out that the idea of making disciples is continued in teaching them, so that the intervening reference to baptism with its Trinitarian formula was perhaps a later insertion into the saying. Finally, Eusebius's form of the (ancient) text ("in my name" rather than in the name of the Trinity) has had certain advocates. (Although the Trinitarian formula is now found in the modern-day book of Matthew), this does not guarantee its source in the historical teaching of Jesus. It is doubtless better to view the (Trinitarian) formula as derived from early (Catholic) Christian, perhaps Syrian or Palestinian, baptismal usage (cf Didache 7:1-4), and as a brief summary of the (Catholic) Church's teaching about God, Christ, and the Spirit."
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge:
"Jesus, however, cannot have given His disciples this Trinitarian order of baptism after His resurrection; for the New Testament knows only one baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:43; 19:5; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:13-15), which still occurs even in the second and third centuries, while the Trinitarian formula occurs only in Matt. 28:19, and then only again (in the) Didache 7:1 and Justin, Apol. 1:61. Finally, the distinctly liturgical character of the formula is strange; it was not the way of Jesus to make such formulas. The formal authenticity of Matt. 28:19 must be disputed..." (page 435).
The Jerusalem Bible, a scholarly Catholic work, states:
"It may be that this formula, (Triune Matthew 28:19) so far as the fullness of its expression is concerned, is a reflection of the (Man-made) liturgical usage established later in the primitive (Catholic) community. It will be remembered that Acts speaks of baptizing "in the name of Jesus ..."
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, page 2637, under "Baptism:"
"Matthew 28:19 in particular only canonizes a later ecclesiastical situation, that its universalism is contrary to the facts of early Christian history, and its Trinitarian formula (is) foreign to the mouth of Jesus."
New Revised Standard Version on Matthew 28:19:
"Modern critics claim this formula is falsely ascribed to Jesus and that it represents later (Catholic) church tradition, for nowhere in the book of Acts (or any other book of the Bible) is baptism performed with the name of the Trinity..."
James Moffett's New Testament Translation:
In a footnote on page 64 about Matthew 28:19, Moffat makes this statement: "It may be that this (Trinitarian) formula, so far as the fullness of its expression is concerned, is a reflection of the (Catholic) liturgical usage established later in the primitive (Catholic) community, It will be remembered that Acts speaks of baptizing "in the name of Jesus, cf. Acts 1:5 +."
Tom Harpur, former Religion Editor of the Toronto Star in his "For Christ's sake," page 103:
"All but the most conservative scholars agree that at least the latter part of this command [Triune part of Matthew 28:19] was inserted later. The [Trinitarian] formula occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and we know from the only evidence available [the rest of the New Testament] that the earliest Church did not baptize people using these words ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost") baptism was "into" or "in" the name of Jesus alone. Thus it is argued that the verse originally read "baptizing them in My Name" and then was expanded [changed] to work in the [later Catholic Trinitarian] dogma. In fact, the first view put forward by German critical scholars as well as the Unitarians in the nineteenth century, was stated as the accepted position of mainline scholarship as long ago as 1919, when Peake's commentary was first published: "The Church of the first days (AD 33) did not observe this world-wide (Trinitarian) commandment, even if they knew it. The command to baptize into the threefold [Trinity] name is a late doctrinal expansion."
The Bible Commentary 1919 page 723:
Dr. Peake makes it clear that: "The command to baptize into the threefold name is a late doctrinal expansion. Instead of the words baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost we should probably read simply "into My Name."
Theology of the New Testament:
By R. Bultmann, 1951, page 133 under Kerygma of the Hellenistic Church and the Sacraments. The historical fact that the verse Matthew 28:19 was altered is openly confesses to very plainly. "As to the rite of baptism, it was normally consummated as a bath in which the one receiving baptism completely submerged, and if possible in flowing water as the allusions of Acts 8:36, Heb. 10:22, Barn. 11:11 permit us to gather, and as Did. 7:1-3 specifically says. According to the last passage, [the apocryphal Catholic Didache] suffices in case of the need if water is three times poured [false Catholic sprinkling doctrine] on the head. The one baptizing names over the one being baptized the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," later expanded [changed] to the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church:
By Dr. Stuart G. Hall 1992, pages 20 and 21. Professor Stuart G. Hall was the former Chair of Ecclesiastical History at King's College, London England. Dr. Hall makes the factual statement that Catholic Trinitarian Baptism was not the original form of Christian Baptism, rather the original was Jesus name baptism. "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," although those words were not used, as they later are, as a formula. Not all baptisms fitted this rule." Dr Hall further, states: "More common and perhaps more ancient was the simple, "In the name of the Lord Jesus or Jesus Christ." This practice was known among Marcionites and Orthodox; it is certainly the subject of controversy in Rome and Africa about 254, as the anonymous tract De rebaptismate ("On rebaptism") shows."
The Beginnings of Christianity: The Acts of the Apostles Volume 1, Prolegomena 1:
The Jewish Gentile, and Christian Backgrounds by F. J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake 1979 version pages 335-337. "There is little doubt as to the sacramental nature of baptism by the middle of the first century in the circles represented by the Pauline Epistles, and it is indisputable in the second century. The problem is whether it can in this (Trinitarian) form be traced back to Jesus, and if not what light is thrown upon its history by the analysis of the synoptic Gospels and Acts.
According to Catholic teaching, (traditional Trinitarian) baptism was instituted by Jesus. It is easy to see how necessary this was for the belief in sacramental regeneration. Mysteries, or sacraments, were always the institution of the Lord of the cult; by them, and by them only, were its supernatural benefits obtained by the faithful. Nevertheless, if evidence counts for anything, few points in the problem of the Gospels are so clear as the improbability of this teaching.
The reason for this assertion is the absence of any mention of Christian baptism in Mark, Q, or the third Gospel, and the suspicious nature of the account of its institution in Matthew 28:19: "Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all Gentiles (nations), baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It is not even certain whether this verse ought to be regarded as part of the genuine text of Matthew. No other text, indeed, is found in any extant manuscripts, in any language, but it is arguable that Justin Martyr, though he used the trine formula, did not find it in his text of the Gospels; Hermas seems to be unacquainted with it; the evidence of the Didache is ambiguous, and Eusebius habitually, though not invariably, quotes it in another form, "Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all the Gentiles in My Name."
No one acquainted with the facts of textual history and patristic evidence can doubt the tendency would have been to replace the Eusebian text (In My Name) by the ecclesiastical (Catholic Trinitarian) formula of baptism, so that “transcriptional evidence" is certainly on the side of the text omitting baptism.
But it is unnecessary to discuss this point at length, because even if the ordinary (modern Trinity) text of Matthew 28:19 be sound it can not represent historical fact.
Would they have baptized, as Acts says that they did, and Paul seem to confirm the statement, in the name of the Lord Jesus if the Lord himself had commanded them to use the (Catholic Trinitarian) formula of the Church? On every point the evidence of Acts is convincing proof that the (Catholic) tradition embodied in Matthew 28:19 is a late (non-Scriptural Creed) and unhistorical.
Neither in the third gospel nor in Acts is there any reference to the (Catholic Trinitarian) Matthaean tradition, nor any mention of the institution of (Catholic Trinitarian) Christian baptism. Nevertheless, a little later in the narrative we find several references to baptism in water in the name of the Lord Jesus as part of recognized (Early) Christian practice. Thus we are faced by the problem of a Christian rite, not directly ascribed to Jesus, but assumed to be a universal (and original) practice. That it was so is confirmed by the Epistles, but the facts of importance are all contained in Acts."
Also in the same book on page 336 in the footnote number one, Professor Lake makes an astonishing discovery in the so-called Teaching or Didache. The Didache has an astonishing contradiction that is found in it. One passage refers to the necessity of baptism in the name of the Lord, which is Jesus the other famous passage teaches a Trinitarian Baptism. Lake raises the probability that the apocryphal Didache or the early Catholic Church Manual may have also been edited or changed to promote the later Trinitarian doctrine. It is a historical fact that the Catholic Church at one time baptized its converts in the name of Jesus but later changed to Trinity baptism.
"In the actual description of baptism in the Didache the trine (Trinity) formula is used; in the instructions for the Eucharist (communion) the condition for admission is baptism in the name of the Lord. It is obvious that in the case of an eleventh-century manuscript *the trine formula was almost certain to be inserted in the description of baptism, while the less usual formula had a chance of escaping notice when it was only used incidentally."
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C. 1923, New Testament Studies Number 5:
“The Lord's Command To Baptize An Historical Critical Investigation,” by Bernard Henry Cuneo, page 27: "The passages in Acts and the Letters of St. Paul. These passages seem to point to the earliest form as baptism in the name of the Lord." Also we find, "Is it possible to reconcile these facts with the belief that Christ commanded his disciples to baptize in the trine form? Had Christ given such a command, it is urged, the Apostolic Church would have followed him, and we should have some trace of this obedience in the New Testament. No such trace can be found. The only explanation of this silence, according to the anti-traditional view, is this the short christological (Jesus Name) formula was (the) original, and the longer trine formula was a later development."
A History of The Christian Church:
1953 by Williston Walker former Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale University. On page 95 we see the historical facts again declared: "With the early disciples generally baptism was ‘in the name of Jesus Christ.’ There is no mention of baptism in the name of the Trinity in the New Testament, except in the command attributed to Christ in Matthew 28:19. That text is early, (but not the original) however. It underlies the Apostles' Creed, and the practice recorded (or interpolated) in the Teaching, (or the Didache) and by Justin. The Christian leaders of the third century retained the recognition of the earlier form, and, in Rome at least, baptism in the name of Christ was deemed valid, if irregular, certainly from the time of Bishop Stephen (254-257)."
On page 61 Professor and Church historian Walker, reviles the true origin and purpose of Matthew 28:19. This Text is the first man-made Roman Catholic Creed that was the prototype for the later Apocryphal Apostles' Creed. Matthew 28:19 was invented along with the Apocryphal Apostles' Creed to counter so-called heretics and Gnostics that baptized in the name of Jesus Christ! Marcion although somewhat mixed up in some of his doctrine still baptized his converts the Biblical way in the name of Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:19 is the first non-Biblical Roman Catholic Creed! The spurious Catholic text of Matthew 28:19 was invented to support the newer triune, Trinity doctrine. Therefore, Matthew 28:19 is not the "Great Commission of Jesus Christ." Matthew 28:19 is the great Catholic hoax! Acts 2:38, Luke 24:47, and 1 Corinthians 6:11 give us the ancient original words and teaching of Yeshua/Jesus! Is it not also strange that Matthew 28:19 is missing from the old manuscripts of Sinaiticus, Curetonianus and Bobiensis?
"While the power of the episcopate and the significance of churches of apostolical (Catholic) foundation was thus greatly enhanced, the Gnostic crisis saw a corresponding development of (man-made non-inspired spurious) creed, at least in the West. Some form of instruction before baptism was common by the middle of the second century. At Rome this developed, apparently, between 150 and 175, and probably in opposition to Marcionite Gnosticism, into an explication of the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 the earliest known form of the so-called Apostles Creed."
Catholic Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:
He makes this confession as to the origin of the chief Trinity text of Matthew 28:19. "The basic form of our (Matthew 28:19 Trinitarian) profession of faith took shape during the course of the second and third centuries in connection with the ceremony of baptism. So far as its place of origin is concerned, the text (Matthew 28:19) came from the city of Rome." The Trinity baptism and text of Matthew 28:19 therefore did not originate from the original Church that started in Jerusalem around AD 33. It was rather as the evidence proves a later invention of Roman Catholicism completely fabricated. Very few know about these historical facts.
"The Demonstratio Evangelica" by Eusebius:
Eusebius was the Church historian and Bishop of Caesarea. On page 152 Eusebius quotes the early book of Matthew that he had in his library in Caesarea. According to this eyewitness of an unaltered Book of Matthew that could have been the original book or the first copy of the original of Matthew. Eusebius informs us of Jesus' actual words to his disciples in the original text of Matthew 28:19: "With one word and voice He said to His disciples: "Go, and make disciples of all nations in My Name, teaching them to observe all things whatsover I have commanded you." That "Name" is Jesus.
Commentator Albert Barnes: I John 5:7 (KJV)
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
1 John 5:7: For there are three that bear record in heaven ... - There are three that “witness,” or that “bear witness” - the same Greek word which, in 1Jo_5:8, is rendered “bear witness” - μαρτυροῦντες marturountes. There is no passage of the New Testament which has given rise to so much discussion in regard to its genuineness as this. The supposed importance of the verse in its bearing on the doctrine of the Trinity has contributed to this, and has given to the discussion a degree of consequence which has pertained to the examination of the genuineness of no other passage of the New Testament. On the one hand, the clear testimony which it seems to bear to the doctrine of the Trinity, has made that portion of the Christian church which holds the doctrine reluctant in the highest degree to abandon it; and on the other hand, the same clearness of the testimony to that doctrine, has made those who deny it not less reluctant to admit the genuineness of the passage.
It is not consistent with the design of these notes to go into a full investigation of a question of this sort. And all that can be done is to state, in a brief way, the “results” which have been reached, in an examination of the question. Those who are disposed to pursue the investigation further, can find all that is to be said in the works referred to at the bottom of the page. The portion of the passage, in 1Jo_5:7-8, whose genuineness is disputed, is included in brackets in the following quotation, as it stands in the common editions of the New Testament: “For there are three that bear record (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, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.” If the disputed passage, therefore, be omitted as spurious, the whole passage will read, “For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.” The reasons which seem to me to prove that the passage included in brackets is spurious, and should not be regarded as a part of the inspired writings, are briefly the following:
I. It is missing in all the earlier Greek manuscripts, for it is found in no Greek manuscript written before the 16th century. Indeed, it is found in only two Greek manuscripts of any age - one the Codex Montfortianus, or Britannicus, written in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and the other the Codex Ravianus, which is a mere transcript of the text, taken partly from the third edition of Stephen’s New Testament, and partly from the Complutensian Polyglott. But it is incredible that a genuine passage of the New Testament should be missing in all the early Greek manuscripts.
II. It is missing in the earliest versions, and, indeed, in a large part of the versions of the New Testament which have been made in all former times. It is wanting in both the Syriac versions - one of which was made probably in the first century; in the Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Ethiopic, and Arabic.
III. It is never quoted by the Greek fathers in their controversies on the doctrine of the Trinity - a passage which would be so much in point, and which could not have failed to be quoted if it were genuine; and it is not referred to by the Latin fathers until the time of Vigilius, at the end of the 5th century. If the passage were believed to be genuine - nay, if it were known at all to be in existence, and to have any probability in its favor - it is incredible that in all the controversies which occurred in regard to the divine nature, and in all the efforts to define the doctrine of the Trinity, this passage should never have been referred to. But it never was; for it must be plain to anyone who examines the subject with an unbiased mind, that the passages which are relied on to prove that it was quoted by Athanasius, Cyprian, Augustin, etc., (Wetstein, II., p. 725) are not taken from this place, and are not such as they would have made if they had been acquainted with this passage, and had designed to quote it. IV. The argument against the passage from the external proof is confirmed by internal evidence, which makes it morally certain that it cannot be genuine.
(a) The connection does not demand it. It does not contribute to advance what the apostle is saying, but breaks the thread of his argument entirely. He is speaking of certain things which bear “witness” to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah; certain things which were well known to those to whom he was writing - the Spirit, and the water, and the blood. How does it contribute to strengthen the force of this to say that in heaven there are “three that bear witness” - three not before referred to, and having no connection with the matter under consideration?
(b) The “language” is not such as John would use. He does, indeed, elsewhere use the term “Logos,” or “Word” - ὁ Λόγος ho Logos, Joh_1:1, Joh_1:14; 1Jo_1:1, but it is never in this form, “The Father, and the Word;” that is, the terms “Father” and “Word” are never used by him, or by any of the other sacred writers, as correlative. The word “Son” - ὁ Υἱός ho Huios - is the term which is correlative to the “Father” in every other place as used by John, as well as by the other sacred writers. See 1Jo_1:3; 1Jo_2:22-24; 1Jo_4:14; 2Jo_1:3, 2Jo_1:9; and the Gospel of John, “passim.” Besides, the correlative of the term “Logos,” or “Word,” with John, is not “Father,” but “God.” See Joh_1:1. Compare Rev_19:13.
(c) Without this passage, the sense of the argument is clear and appropriate. There are three, says John, which bear witness that Jesus is the Messiah. These are referred to in 1Jo_5:6; and in immediate connection with this, in the argument, 1Jo_5:8, it is affirmed that their testimony goes to one point, and is harmonious. To say that there are other witnesses elsewhere, to say that they are one, contributes nothing to illustrate the nature of the testimony of these three - the water, and the blood, and the Spirit; and the internal sense of the passage, therefore, furnishes as little evidence of its genuineness as the external proof. V. It is easy to imagine how the passage found a place in the New Testament. It was at first written, perhaps, in the margin of some Latin manuscript, as expressing the belief of the writer of what was true in heaven, as well as on earth, and with no more intention to deceive than we have when we make a marginal note in a book. Some transcriber copied it into the body of the text, perhaps with a sincere belief that it was a genuine passage, omitted by accident; and then it became too important a passage in the argument for the Trinity, ever to be displaced but by the most clear critical evidence. It was rendered into Greek, and inserted in one Greek manuscript of the 16th century, while it was missing in all the earlier manuscripts.
VI. The passage is now omitted in the best editions of the Greek Testament, and regarded as spurious by the ablest critics. See Griesbach and Hahn. On the whole, therefore, the evidence seems to me to be clear that this passage is not a genuine portion of the inspired writings, and should not be appealed to in proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. One or two remarks may be made, in addition, in regard to its use.
[As is typical of Trinitarians, the author then goes on to state that the Trinity doctrine is easily proved by other scriptures — but without delineating what those “proof” scriptures might be…]
Commentator Adam Clarke:
1 John 5:7: There are three that bear record - The Father, who bears testimony to his Son; the Word or Λογος, Logos, who bears testimony to the Father; and the Holy Ghost, which bears testimony to the Father and the Son. And these three are one in essence, and agree in the one testimony, that Jesus came to die for, and give life to, the world.
But it is likely this verse is not genuine. It is wanting in every MS. of this epistle written before the invention of printing, one excepted, the Codex Montfortii, in Trinity College, Dublin: the others which omit this verse amount to one hundred and twelve.
It is wanting in both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Ethiopic, the Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonian, etc., in a word, in all the ancient versions but the Vulgate; and even of this version many of the most ancient and correct MSS. have it not. It is wanting also in all the ancient Greek fathers; and in most even of the Latin.
The words, as they exist in all the Greek MSS. with the exception of the Codex Montfortii, are the following:
“1Jo_5:6. This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness because the Spirit is truth.
1Jo_5:7. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.
1Jo_5:9. If we receive the witness of man, the witness of God is greater, etc.”
The words that are omitted by all the MSS., the above excepted, and all the versions, the Vulgate excepted, are these:
[In heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one, and there are three which bear witness in earth].
To make the whole more clear, that every reader may see what has been added, I shall set down these verses, with the inserted words in brackets.
“1Jo_5:6. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
1Jo_5:7. For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. 1Jo_5:8. And there are three that bear witness in earth], the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one.
1Jo_5:9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, etc.”
Any man may see, on examining the words, that if those included in brackets, which are wanting in the MSS. and versions, be omitted, there is no want of connection; and as to the sense, it is complete and perfect without them; and, indeed much more so than with them. I shall conclude this part of the note by observing, with Dr. Dodd, “that there are some internal and accidental marks which may render the passage suspected; for the sense is complete, and indeed more clear and better preserved, without it. Besides, the Spirit is mentioned, both as a witness in heaven and on earth; so that the six witnesses are thereby reduced to five, and the equality of number, or antithesis between the witnesses in heaven and on earth, is quite taken away. Besides, what need of witnesses in heaven? No one there doubts that Jesus is the Messiah; and if it be said that Father, Son, and Spirit are witnesses on earth, then there are five witnesses on earth, and none in heaven; not to say that there is a little difficulty in interpreting how the Word or the Son can be a witness to himself.”
It may be necessary to inquire how this verse stood in our earliest English Bibles. In Coverdale’s Bible, printed about 1535, for it bears no date, the seventh verse is put in brackets thus:
And it is the Sprete that beareth wytnes; for the Sprete is the truth. (For there are there which beare recorde in heaven: the Father, the Woorde, and the Holy Ghost, and these thre are one.) And there are thre which beare record in earth: the Sprete, water, and bloude and these three are one. If we receyve, etc.
Tindal was as critical as he was conscientious; and though he admitted the words into the text of the first edition of his New Testament printed in 1526, yet he distinguished them by a different letter, and put them in brackets, as Coverdale has done; and also the words in earth, which stand in 1Jo_5:8, without proper authority, and which being excluded make the text the same as in the MSS., etc.
Two editions of this version are now before me; one printed in English and Latin, quarto, with the following title:
The New Testament, both in Englyshe and Laten, of Master Erasmus translation - and imprinted by William Powell - the yere of out Lorde M.CCCCC.XLVII. And the fyrste yere of the kynges (Edw. VI.) moste gratious reygne.
In this edition the text stands thus: “And it is the Spirite that beareth wytnes, because the Spirite is truth (for there are thre whiche beare recorde in heaven, the Father, the Worde, and the Holy Ghost, and these thre are one.) For there are thre which beare recorde, (in earth), the Spirite, water, and blode, and these thre are one. If we receyve, etc.”
The other printed in London “by William Tylle, 4to; without the Latin of Erasmus in M.CCCCC.XLIX. the thyrde yere of the reigne of our moost dreade Soverayne Lorde Kynge Edwarde the Syxte,” has, with a small variety of spelling, the text in the same order, and the same words included in brackets as above.
The English Bible, with the book of Common Prayer, printed by Richard Cardmarden, at Rouen in Normandy, fol. 1566, exhibits the text faithfully, but in the following singular manner:
And it is the Spyryte that beareth witnesse, because the Spyryte is truthe. (for there are three which beare recorde in heaven, the Father, the Woorde, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One) And three which beare recorde* (in earth) the Spirite, and water, and bloode; and these three are one.
The first English Bible which I have seen, where these distinctions were omitted, is that called The Bishops’ Bible, printed by Jugge, fol. 1568. Since that time, all such distinctions have been generally disregarded.
Though a conscientious believer in the doctrine of the ever blessed, holy, and undivided Trinity, and in the proper and essential Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which doctrines I have defended by many, and even new, arguments in the course of this work, I cannot help doubting the authenticity of the text in question; and, for farther particulars, refer to the observations at the end of this chapter.
Vincent’s Word Studies:
There are three that bear record (τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες).
Lit., three are the witnessing ones.
The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.
These words are rejected by the general verdict of critical authorities. For the details of the memorable controversy on the passage, the student may consult Frederick Henry Scrivener, “Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament;” Samuel P. Tregelles, “An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament;” John Selby Watson, “The Life of Richard Porson, M.A.;” Professor Ezra Abbot, “Orme's Memoir of the Controversy on 1Jo_5:7;” Charles Foster, “A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses,” or “Porson's Letters to Travis Eclectically Examined,” Cambridge, 1867. On the last-named work, Scrivener remarks, “I would fain call it a success if I could with truth. To rebut much of Porson's insolent sophistry was easy, to maintain the genuineness of this passage is simply impossible.” Tregelles gives a list of more than fifty volumes, pamphlets, or critical notices on this question. Porson, in the conclusion of his letters to Travis, says: “In short, if this verse be really genuine, notwithstanding its absence from all the visible Greek manuscripts except two (that of Dublin and the forged one found at Berlin), one of which awkwardly translates the verse from the Latin, and the other transcribes it from a printed book; notwithstanding its absence from all the versions except the Vulgate, even from many of the best and oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate; notwithstanding the deep and dead silence of all the Greek writers down to the thirteenth, and of most of the Latins down to the middle of the eighth century; if, in spite of all these objections, it be still genuine, no part of Scripture whatsoever can be proved either spurious or genuine; and Satan has been permitted for many centuries miraculously to banish the 'finest passage in the New Testament,' as Martin calls it, from the eyes and memories of almost all the Christian authors, translators, and transcribers.”
Scofield’s Reference Notes:
It is generally agreed that (1Jo_5:7) has no real authority, and has been inserted.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary:
1 John 5:7: three — Two or three witnesses were required by law to constitute adequate testimony. The only Greek manuscripts in any form which support the words, “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth,” are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus, copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the Margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the fifteenth century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin. All the old versions omit the words. The oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate omit them: the earliest Vulgate manuscript which has them being Wizanburgensis, 99, of the eighth century.
Misquoting Jesus ― The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, Pages 80-83, by Bart D. Ehrman:
There was one key passage of scripture that Erasmus's source manuscripts did not contain, however. This is the account of i John 5:7-8, which scholars have called the Johannine Comma, found in the manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate but not in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, a passage that had long been a favorite among Christian theologians, since it is the only passage in the entire Bible that explicitly delineates the doctrine of the Trinity, that there are three persons in the godhead, but that the three all constitute just one God. In the Vulgate, the passage reads:
There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one.
It is a mysterious passage, but unequivocal in its support of the traditional teachings of the church on the "triune God who is one." Without this verse, the doctrine of the Trinity must be inferred from a range of passages combined to show that Christ is God, as is the Spirit and the Father, and that there is, nonetheless, only one God. This passage, in contrast, states the doctrine directly and succinctly.
But Erasmus did not find it in his Greek manuscripts, which instead simply read: "There are three that bear witness : the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one." Where did the "Father, the Word, and the Spirit" go? They were not in Erasmus's primary manuscript, or in any of the others that he consulted, and so, naturally, he left them out of his first edition of the Greek text.
More than anything else, it was this that outraged the theologians of his day, who accused Erasmus of tampering with the text in an attempt to eliminate the doctrine of the Trinity and to devalue its corollary, the doctrine of the full divinity of Christ. In particular, Stunica, one of the chief editors of the Complutensian Polyglot, went public with his defamation of Erasmus and insisted that in future editions he return the verse to its rightful place.
As the story goes, Erasmus — possibly in an unguarded moment — agreed that he would insert the verse in a future edition of his Greek New Testament on one condition: that his opponents produce a Greeks manuscript in which the verse could be found (finding it in Latin manuscripts was not enough). And so a Greek manuscript was produced. In fact, it was produced for the occasion. It appears that someone copied out the Greek text of the Epistles, and when he came to the passage in question, he translated the Latin text into Greek, giving the Johannine Comma in its familiar, theologically useful form. The manuscript provided to Erasmus, in other words, was a sixteenth-century production, made to order.
Despite his misgivings, Erasmus was true to his word and included the Johannine Comma in his next edition, and in all his subsequent editions. These editions, as I have already noted, became the basis for the editions of the Greek New Testament that were then reproduced time and again by the likes of Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevirs. These editions provided the form of the text that the translators of the King James Bible eventually used. And so familiar passages to readers of the English Bible — from the King James in 1611 onward, up until modern editions of the twentieth century — include the woman taken in adultery, the last twelve verses of Mark, and the Johannine Comma, even though none of these passages can be found in the oldest and superior manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. They entered into the English stream of consciousness merely by a chance of history, based on manuscripts that Erasmus just happened to have handy to him, and one that was manufactured for his benefit.
The various Greek editions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were so much alike that eventually printers could claim that they were the text that was universally accepted by all scholars and readers of the Greek New Testament — as indeed they were, since there were no competitors! The most-quoted claim is found in an edition produced in 1633 by Abraham and Bonaventure Elzevir (who were uncle and nephew), in which they told their readers, in words that have since become famous among scholars, that "You now have the text that is received by all, in which we have given nothing changed or corrupted." The phrasing of this line, especially the words "text that is received by all," provides us with the common phrase Textus Receptus (abbreviated T.R.), a term used by textual critics to refer to that form of the Greek text that is based, not on the oldest and best manuscripts, but on the form of text originally published by Erasmus and handed down to printers for more than three hundred years, until textual scholars began insisting that the Greek New Testament should be established on scientific principles based on our oldest and best manuscripts, not simply reprinted according to custom. It was the inferior textual form of the Textus Receptus that stood at the base of the earliest English translations, including the King James Bible, and other editions until near the end of the nineteenth century.