Three that Bear record?

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one

–1 John 5:7

Biblical Validity

Some students of the bible have made claims that 1 John 5:7 is not a true scripture of the bible. Some of the ancient manuscripts do not contain this verse and so the position is that it may be an interpolation. These claims are usually followed by a reference to the Catholic Church. Not all scholars adhere to this conviction.

The purpose of this book is not to prove or disprove the validity of the bible. This book is written with the assumption that the reader is a believer in the bible’s validity and is seeking to further their knowledge concerning the Godhead.

When examining scripture, just remember that the God who inspired men to write it can preserve the integrity of his work. Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words will never pass away (Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33). God’s word has and always will stand the test of time. You can always trust what you read in the bible.

The Trinitarian Question

The plot in the argument that the trinitarian presents concerning this verse is much like the rest of them, a stretch at best. We are supposed to be floored when we see the verse of all verses where the “three members of the trinity” are shown as “divine persons.” For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.” Well, I guess that is that. There are those three missing persons we have been searching for. Well, actually not. Let’s take a look.

The Trinitarian Dilemma

The first thing that we have to understand is that this verse, or any other one for that matter, is not a problem for us. It is, however, a problem for trinitarians. Here is how.

The first quandary they find themselves trying to resolve is the definition of the word ‘one’. There are two different words that are used in the Greek New Testament that are translated as the English word ‘one’.

The first of these words is “uia”, pronounced ‘mee’ah’. This word by definition is to agree, or to express unity.

The second of these two words is “eis”, pronounced ‘hice’. This word by definition is literally one; the numerical value, one.

We have all heard the analogies of how the Godhead is comprised of three individual persons who are one like a committee, a clover, even an egg. The purpose of these inaccurate analogies is to help us understand that God is three persons who are one in unity. You will notice, however, that the word translated as ‘one’ in the verse in question, is the word “eis”. This is the word that literally means the numerical value of one. This scripture is not saying that God is one because of some unification between distinct persons, but literally one sole entity. This obviously defies the logic of the trinity (one God comprised of three persons). This is not unity being shown here, but individuality. God is simply one.

The Task of Bearing Record

Another thing to look at is the task of bearing record. The scripture tells us that there are three that bear witness heaven. Is it saying that there are three people in heaven all keeping track of what they have done? Of course not!  What is actually being referred to, are the titles that God uses to accomplish His mighty works. It is a categorical breakdown of the works of God in heaven. He created the earth and all that is therein as Father (Mal. 2:10). Therefore He bears record of creation as Father. As Son, He became the sacrificial atonement and redeemed mankind (Ph. 2:8). Therefore He bears record of the great redemption as Son. He, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, has regenerated mankind, effectively reuniting the fallen creation with its maker; Himself (Ti. 3:5). Therefore He bears record of the church as the Holy Ghost. This is in no way separate divine entities, but one majestic God who created, redeemed and regenerated His people without any help.

Basically, everything that God has ever done has been recorded in heaven under three categories. Things He did as Father, those that He did as Son and others that He did as Holy Ghost; and these three titles belong to one God.

We often hear someone exclaim that we are saying the same thing, just in two different ways. That it is actually an argument of semantics. This, however, is not true. There is a clear difference and the difference is very simple. Trinitarians start with three persons and end up with one God, effectively going from 3-1. Oneness, on the other hand, both starts and finishes with the same one God, never changing that position, just proclaiming the works of that one God under the biblical titles, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This stance never departs from biblical monotheism.

The Three That Bear Witness

The next problem that faces the doctrine of the trinity is the very next verse. We are reading about three that bear record in heaven, but the next verse lets us in on a great revelation if we will open our eyes to see it. It is the three that bear witness on earth. The blood, the water and the Spirit. Trinitarians tell us that the previous verse tells of three divine persons who are one in unity. Not one numerically, as we oneness suppose. They are one because they agree. Why then didn’t John just say that? Why did he confuse everything?

In verse 8, the writer tells of three that bear witness in earth, that agree in one. He had no problem telling us that the blood, water and Spirit were not actually one object; just that they agreed in one. Why then did he have such a hard time doing the same thing in the prior verse? If the Father, Word and Holy Ghost are one only because they agree, why didn’t John just say that? Nevertheless, he didn’t say it. He actually said exactly what he intended to say; that these three do not agree in one, but that they are one. There is a vast difference between something agreeing in one and something actually being one. My wife and I are one in the agreement we made at our wedding. We made vows that make us one, but we are not the same person. We agree in one. We are not one person.

Further, in examining these two verses, the subject of each is vastly different. Verse 8 is talking about three things that we know, without argument, are very different from one another; the blood is not the water, the water is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the blood. These three things do, however, agree in one. These are three separate parts that together become one experience; the new birth. Without one of these parts the experience is incomplete, therefore they agree in one. They are bonded together in marriage one to another bringing forth the great experience the new birth. The blood works alongside of the water and the Spirit. Repentance, water baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost bare witness in this earth of the redeeming power of God in the soul of man; these three agree in one.

In this verse the word translated as “one” is the Greek word ‘uia’. This, again, is the word meaning one, or unified together. This is not the case with the Father, Word and Holy Ghost. That verse uses the word ‘eis‘, meaning numerically one. He didn’t say that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost “agree in one”, he said they “are one”.

Proper English

The next major problem for trinitarians is the use of the English language in the King James Bible. The scripture says, “there are three THAT bear record in heaven…” This is King James English we are reading. If the three in question here were persons, as the trinitarians would have us to believe, wouldn’t the writer have had a little more regard for their personage? Proper English does not refer to persons, especially those of higher regard, as “thats”. “That” refers to an inanimate object or an impersonal thing. You would never refer to a human as an “it” or a “that”.

The proper rendering when referring to persons would have been “who” or “whom”. There are three “whom” bear record in heaven… You would never refer to God as a “that”, or a thing, you would refer to him as a “who” or a “whom”. Armed with this understanding, we know that this verse is not referring to three persons, much less “divine persons” when it says “there are three THAT bear record in heaven…” It is obviously referring to something either inanimate or impersonal. It is not referring to the actual person of God, but to His titles. Father, Word and Holy Ghost are not three persons, but three titles for the one mighty God.

Conclusion

1 John 5:7, whether an interpolation or not, is not a detriment to the truth of the word of God. It is actually a great help to the rest of the bible that is wholly oneness. The bible loudly exclaims all throughout its pages the very doctrine upon which the church was built; namely, that the Father was manifest in the Son and dwells in the church today as the Holy Spirit. This is not three, but emphatically one.

Scripture References

Mark 23:31

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Luke 21:33

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Malachi 2:10

Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Philippians 2:8

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Titus 3:5

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

1 John 5:8

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Published by

Dr. Larry L Yates

Dr. Larry L Yates is a Minister, Author and Bible Teacher with Doctorates in Theology, Religion, and Ministry. He is President of Mineola Bible Institute as well as a member of the Board of the International Apostolic University-London, in the UK. He is the author of numerous books on apostolic theology, prayer, and healing.

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