The Believer's Priceless Possession
The Johannian Comma & Eternal Life
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 11/14/04
We are two messages into 1 John 5, the last chapter of this little letter. The title is Ė The Seven-Fold Glory of The Believer In Christ.
In our first message, we looked at the believerís noble parentage in verse 1 and the believerís splendid victory in verse 4. In our second message we took a detour and looked at 3 witnesses that prove Jesus Christ is the Son of God in verses 6 & 8
The focus of todayís message is The Believerís Priceless Possession. Our text will be 1 John 5:11-12 "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." However, before we do that, I must continue our detour for one verse longer. Turn with me to 1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The technical name for this verse is the "Johannine Comma."
Nearly all of the modern Bible versions leave out, or call into question this powerful verse supporting the Trinity (Among them are RV, Ne, NIV, RSV, GN, LB, NASV; NEB, NWT, JB and AMP italicizes the words; NKJV, NSRB margin note says that the words have no manuscript authority and are an interpolation). But is that true that there is no early manuscript evidence for the verse?
Before I answer that question you need to hear what Dr. Scrivener had to say: "it is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within 100 years after it was composed: and that Irenaeus and the African Fathers, and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syrian Church, used manuscripts far inferior to those employed by Stunica, Erasmus or Stephens, thirteen centuries later when moulding the Textus Receptus."
There is biblical support for that statement. For example, Paul warned that corrupting the Word of God was happening in his day. Turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 2:17 "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." Further, Paul even mentions false letters that were circulating which were supposed to be from Him. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." Even Peter mentions perversion of the Scriptures in his day in 2 Peter 3:15-16. So, what is the truth? Was 1 John 5:7, that powerful witness to the Trinity, added at a later date? My answer is "NO!" It was removed at an early date by Bible corrupters. You will hear skeptics say that the verse does not appear in Greek manuscripts before the 1500ís. First of all, that is NOT true. It appears in at least five Greek manuscripts that are before the 1500ís. And there is more. The main authorities for the passage are the Old Latin text of the 2nd century, including manuscript r of the 5/6th century and the "Speculum," a treatise containing the Old Latin text, and several so called early church fathers. Therefore, since these Latin versions were derived from the Greek New Testament, there is good reason to believe that 1 John 5:7 has very early Greek attestation, hitherto lost. There is also reason to believe that Jeromeís Latin Vulgate (AD 340-420), which contains the Johannine Comma, was translated from an untampered Greek text he had in his possession and that he regarded the Comma to be a genuine part of First John. Jerome in his Prologue to the Canonical Epistles wrote, "Irresponsible translators left out this testimony [i. e., 1 John 5:7f] in the Greek codices."
I have not even mentioned the long list of early "church fathers" who reference 1 John 5:7 in their sermons and other writings like Tertullian (200 A.D.) quotes the verse. In 250 A.D. Cyprian, who writes, "And again concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: 'and the Three are One'" (Vienna, vol. iii, p. 215). In 350 A.D. Priscillian cites the verse (Vienna, vol. xviii, p. 6) as does Idacius, Clarus and Athanasius. The list goes on and on. I agree with the conclusion of Dr. Edward F. Hills who wrote, "It was not trickery that was responsible for the inclusion of the Johannine Comma in the Textus Receptus, but the usage of the Latin speaking church." You can see why 1 John 5:7 was included in every English Bible -- the Wycliffe Bible in the 1300ís, the Tyndale New Testament 1526, the Coverdale Bible 1535, Matthew Bible 1537, Great Bible 1539, Geneva Bible 1560, Bishops Bible 1568, our King James Bible 1611 and every English Bible until the 1901 American Standard version.
The new versions are missing the boat when it comes to 1 John 5:7. The Father, The Word and The Holy Ghost are the Heavenly witnesses that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Savior. Is He your Savior?
Now, letís get back to the third of The Seven-Fold Glory of The Believer In Christ.
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 1 John 5:11-12
It is obvious from this passage that the believerís priceless possession is eternal life. But, what is eternal life? Let me begin by making a contrast. Eternal life is the opposite of the second death. In Revelation 21:8 we have a list of what I call the roll call of the damned. It says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." The second death is the eternal existence of those who are not saved. We learn more about it in Revelation 20:10-15.
I must point out that physical death is NOT the end of our existence! The soul and spirit live on in either in the second death or eternal life! Luke 16:19-31 give us a little glimpse of what the second death is like. Eternal life is the blissful existence of the soul and spirit of a believer in Christ for all of eternity. And, I must say that at the Rapture of the church our soul and spirit will be joined to a Glorified Body, an immortal body that will be like our Lordís glorified body. The Apostle John spoke of this in 1 John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 Corinthians 15:34-58 goes into more detail.
Carefully read the word of verses 11-12 again - "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." It is the privilege of every believer in Jesus Christ to know that he or she has eternal life, not merely to think so, not merely to hope so, not merely to believe so, but to KNOW SO! The only basis you need for that assurance is the Word of God! Verse 13 says, "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, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." R. A. Torrey said, "I would rather know that I had eternal life than to have the wealth of all the Rockefellers, and Morgans and other millionaires on earth. Their wealth will soon all be gone and they will be the poorest of the poor, but oh, to know that you have eternal life, the very life of God, and that this life will never end!" Again, verse 12 says, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." How about you? Do you have life, eternal life?