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The Johannine Comma

In the last post, we looked at the meaning of water and blood in 1 John 5:6. The author then enlists a third witness, the Spirit, to establish the testimony about Jesus on the basis of three witnesses (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). If you are reading a King James Bible, you will find a passage about how there are three witnesses in heaven too, namely the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. However, this was a much later interpolation into the text and the late, eminent text-critic Bruce M. Metzger’s review of the data is reproduced here. Although some believers in the Trinity may be disappointed to lose a useful proof-text, the reality that it took centuries for Christians to develop the language and categories to precisely articulate this doctrine has no bearing on its theological truth for the confessional community. Theologians may speak of “progressive revelation” as Christians gradually came to a better understanding of the Father who sent the Son and the Spirit who came to indwell within them.

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