In several other Bibles, 1 John 5:7-8 reads:
‘There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.’
However, these words are missing from every ancient Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Slavic, Georgian, Coptic, and Arabic manuscript. In fact, they do not appear in any Greek manuscript of the Bible until the 14th or 15th century – approximately 1,400 years after the Apostle wrote this Bible book!
It does appear in one 10th century Greek manuscript, but it’s clearly been added by someone later on, believed to be during the 19th century. Also, the words themselves have three significant variants, typical for a spurious addition to the Bible.
Further, the Church fathers did not mention this verse, even when collecting verses that they argued supported the Trinity doctrine. Clement of Alexandria quoted these verses and didn’t include these words.
You can find these words in a document from the 4th century, but it’s not a Bible manuscript – it’s a homily called Liber Apologeticus by a writer called Priscillian of Ávila.
So how did these words get into the Bible? Well, the words were first deliberately added to the Latin Vulgate translation by persons working for the Catholic Church. They moved them from a marginal note into the main body of the text. It remained there, alone among Bibles, until recent centuries. However, even then, they are missing from the two oldest Vulgate manuscripts, the Codex Fuldensis and the Codex Amiatinus. This suggests that Jerome, the original creator of the Latin Vulgate, did not recognize the words. There is one quote of his that supposedly mentions it, but it’s now thought to be from a pseudo-Jerome – a later impostor.
Today, it is easily the most well-known fake verse in the Bible. Entire books have been written about this. Even several Catholic Bibles now omit the ‘verse,’ including the Jerusalem Bible and the New American Bible, both sponsored by the Vatican.
If that wasn’t enough, even the context shows that the words do not belong there. John chapter 5 is speaking about the three witness-bearers of Jesus:
- The water (baptism),
- The Holy Spirit (in Greek, Pneuma – Breath),
- His shed blood
So adding words mentioning ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost’ makes the rest of what John wrote illogical, because he wasn’t talking about that.
Scholars call this fake verse the Johannine Comma.
See our list of spurious texts that are
crossed out in our Bible.
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