1 John 5:7—Why is this verse on the Trinity missing in many modern translations?

Problem: John declares that “there are three who bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (kjv). This is the clearest statement on the Trinity in the Bible. However, most modern translations omit this verse. Why?

Solution: The reason is very simple. This verse has virtually no support among the early Greek manuscripts, though it is found in Latin manuscripts. Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek NT of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it.

Its inclusion in the Latin Bible probably results from a scribe incorporating a marginal comment (gloss) into the text as he copied the manuscript of 1 John. But including it in the text violates almost every rule of textual criticism. Even the nkjv, which generally retains the longer readings and disputed passages (see Mark 16:9ff and John 7:53–8:11), comments in the margin that this is “a passage found in only four or five very late Greek mss.”

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.