Does 1 John Chapter 5:7-8 Prove Trinity?
By Paul Chung
It reads in the King James Version: “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.”(1 JOHN 5:7-8; emphasis in caps added) The words in caps (above) are considered by many, including SDA Bible Commentary, to be an interpolation and therefore spurious. Click HERE to learn more.
Trinitarian’s Objection: The verse states that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one. This teaches one God, a trinity of three co-eternal persons.
Again, there are many evidences to suggest that 1 John 5:7-8 is an interpolation and therefore is spurious (see above link). Many suspect that the words in caps are not part of the generally accepted New Testament manuscripts and have valid reasons to believe this.
Still, even the added wording does not by itself proclaim the Trinity doctrine. The addition, illegitimate though it may be, merely presents the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit as witnesses. This says nothing about the personhood of all three since verse 8 shows inanimate water and blood serving as such.
For those who insist that it’s not an interpolation, let’s take a look and see what the passage really reveals (even with the noted passage included).
1 John 5:7 begins with the words: “For there are three that bear record in heaven”. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one in the record they bear.
First of all, the passage does not say that these three are a trinity, nor that these three constitute "one God", made up of three co-eternal persons. It simply says: “they are one”. We are admonished not to add on to God’s word (Proverbs 30:6).
Notice also the following verse. “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” 1 John 5:8
Please note, when 1 John 5:7 says “these three are one”, it refers to the record they bear. They are one in witness and testimony not the "one" constitute "one god."
Now, what is the record that they are united in? “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:5
If one interprets 1 John 5:7 to teach a trinity of three co-eternals, they deny that Jesus is truly the Son of God. This is because the trinity teaches that Jesus is only a metaphorical son. Yet only two verses prior, we are admonished that the only way to overcome the world is to believe that Jesus is “the Son of God”!
Furthermore, in verse 6 we read:
“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.” (1 John 5:6)
Consider John 19:32-35 and how the Spirit was witnessing or bearing record through John when he saw them pierce his side instead of breaking His legs. According to prophecy, No broken bones= jesus is the messiah. Piercing= he is the Son of God.
32 "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken."
Notice that the Spirit also bears witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Now in verse 9, we see the Father’s testimony of His Son. “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.” 1 John 5:9 (See also Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5).
And what if we do not believe the record which God gave of His Son? John continues:
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” 1 John 5:10
How important is it to believe in the Son of God? John once again affirms:
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:11-12, 22
Let us not forget the testimony of Jesus Himself, as penned by the same author:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
It is interesting to note that in 1 John 5:7, the term John uses for the Son is “the Word”. This is important because in John’s gospel, he tells us exactly who the Word is.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Thus, one could rightly translate 1 John 5:7 as: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [the only begotten of the Father], and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7
We have seen that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one in the record that they bear, and that record is “that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).
Amazing! The very text which Trinitarians use to teach a trinity of three co-eternal persons (and thereby deny that Jesus is the Son of God) actually testifies to the record that Jesus is the Son of God. Moreover, the same chapter clearly states that our eternal life depends on us believing this truth.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life...” 1 John 5:13
Again, the concept of “one” illustrated here do not refer to one triune godhead, made up of three persons but rather of the Father, Son, and their own Spirit’s testimony being of “one” accord.
“…that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge…” 1 Corinthians 8:4-7