A Simple Outline Regarding 1 John 5:7

Doug Kutilek: "The Scofield Reference Bible (1917) notes: 'It is generally agreed that v. 7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.' Is Scofield right? To answer this, we must ask, what is the evidence?"

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TylerR's picture


The NA-28 critical apparatus tells us:

  • 1 Jn 5:7b-8a is only in 4 single Greek manuscripts, and the oldest one is from the 14th century.
  • The verse is in four other Greek manuscripts, but not in the text – only scribbled in the margin – and the earliest of these scribbles is from the 10th century!

It is interesting that Robinson and Pierpont also omitted 1 Jn 5:7b-8a in their Majority Text (2005). 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Craig's picture

Bible correctors  ... and we scratch our heads wondering why the church takes the word of God less and less serious ....

TylerR's picture


Craig wrote:

Bible correctors  ... and we scratch our heads wondering why the church takes the word of God less and less serious ....

I understand the sentiment, but consider this:

  • I preached 1 Jn 5:1-8 this past Wednesday, and two of the people in the congregation asked why their Bible's had notes at the bottom of the page which said 1 Jn 5:7b-8a wasn't in the oldest manuscripts, and is generally agreed to not be original.
  • Another person had the ESV, and had a puzzled look on her face because her text read completely differently from mine (KJV). 

The following are facts:

  • The oldest Greek manuscript we've found which contains 1 Jn 5:7b-8a is from the 14th century
  • The oldest Greek manuscript we've found which contains 1 Jn 5:7b-8a in the margin is from the 10th century
  • No apostolic or patristic writer ever quoted 1 Jn 5:7b-8a in any extant writings while combating Arianism - indicating they likely didn't have the verse. 
  • There are no Greek manuscripts from before the 10th century which contain 1 Jn 5:7b-8a
  • Even Byzantine priority guys, like Robinson and Pierpont, opted to not include 1 Jn 5:7b-8a in their Majority Text

I use the KJV, and my primary Greek text is Scrivener's TR. I carry around my nifty, dark blue TR from the Trinitarian Bible Society nearly everywhere I go. I also have a UBS-5 on my desk, and consult the NA-28 apparatus for every NT passage I preach. Pastors need to be aware of these issues, or at least have the tools so they can find the answers. This comes up all the time - no matter what text you're preparing. This coming Sunday, I'm preaching Heb 7:11-28. I know the nice lady with her ESV will wonder why Heb 7:21 in her Bible is shorter, and only contains half the quotation from Ps 110:4. A Pastor who doesn't have at least a passing familiarity with the textual issues, and at least a vague idea of where he can find answers, will be at a loss. Or worse yet, he'll end up manufacturing strawman explanations - e.g. "you can't trust those new-fangled versions;" which don't actually answer the question. 

Each person must examine the issue of preservation open and honestly, taking into account both (1) what Scripture says about preservation, and (2) what the available evidence says about preservation. Feel free to go in either direction you want, (1) TR, (2) Byzantine or (3) Eclectic - just be sure you're aware of the issues. This goes for any Christian doctrine - don't believe something because it's been handed down to you; believe it because you've studied it and are convinced in your own mind. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Larry's picture


Bible correctors  ... and we scratch our heads wondering why the church takes the word of God less and less serious ....

I may be in the minority, but I have never found anyone who takes the Bible less seriously because of 1 John 5:7 (or any other textual variant). Have you?

More to the point, are you in favor of an incorrect Bible?  


Jim's picture

My take on 1 John 5:7:

  • It's ancient (see Vulgate post above ... 4th century)
  • Otherwise little MSS support 
  • Seems if original would have been cited in Arian debate
  • Not needed in defense of Trinity
Craig's picture

Why not post sources with evidence that suggests that 1 John 5:7 belongs as it is recorded in the King James Bible?


Darrell Post's picture

...can be found in Raymond Brown's Anchor Bible Commentary on John's Epistles. Key is this verse not being found in any unaltered Greek manuscript prior to Erasmus. Yes the Latin Vulgate included it...and this became the reason why Erasmus was pressured to put it back into the Greek. But we must start with the Greek, and consider readings only found in translations to be of less value. We have an ample supply of Greek manuscripts. Their message is loud and clear. Whether ancient or middle ages, Byzantine or other text-types, the Greek manuscripts tell us this is not part of John's letter.

Arguing for it's originality actually helps skeptics, because the line of reasoning is clear...if you say sections of the original NT were lost in Greek only to be rediscovered over 1,300 years later, then what else is lost and hasn't yet been rediscovered? At least the passage of the woman caught in adultery was found in the 5th century Greek manuscript D [05]. The debated ending of Mark also has much more textual history to it. But 1 John 5:7 has no place in the Greek NT. Those who argue for its inclusion start with the KJV and the Erasmus edition on which it was based, rather than starting with the overwhelming evidence of the Greek manuscripts.