The Johannine Comma (Latin: Comma Johanneum) is a passage affirming the Trinity that appears in 1John 5:7 (KJB) after a comma in the King James Version (compare with 1John 5:7 (ESV)), but not in most modern translations. Comma means "short passage" in Latin. The passage is translated from Textus Receptus, a Greek text published in the 16th century. Here is the passage in question as given by KJV and by the English Standard Version, a modern translation that uses a text based on the earliest known manuscripts:
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. (KJV, bolding added)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. (ESV)
Textus Receptus cites only one Greek manuscript of late origin to support the passage. Despite such weak support, the readers of Textus Receptus expected the Comma to be included because it is well known from the Vulgate. However, David Cloud of Way of Life Literature (a proponent of the King James only movement, though not a radical one) wrote a defense of the Comma at his website, which includes other arguments for its inclusion.
The Trinity was the subject of great controversy in the 4th century, yet the Comma is not cited by any Greek writer of that time. It appears in the heretical 4th century Latin treatise Liber Apologeticus, but only as a gloss. Moreover, the passage is not given in the earliest Vulgate manuscripts, Codex Fuldensis (AD 541-546) and Codex Amiatinus (before 716). The Comma may have originated as an annotation in Spanish manuscripts. When scribes neglected the format of the text they were copying from, they could insert an annotation into scripture.
- "Is 1 John 5:7 Authentic?", Tekton
- The Greek reads:
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἔν εἰσι. 8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν. (1 John 5:7-8)
- 1 John 5:7-8
- 1 John 5:7-8
- "Johannine Comma", Theopedia
- Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, (2nd ed. 1993) online