In a booklet which defends the true reading and doctrine of 1 Timothy 3:16 (which I examine below), the writer from the Trinitarian Bible Society says, “The denial of the eternal Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ has troubled the Church in every period of its history. Although the opponents of the truth have been known by different names, Arians, Socinians, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, they have had many things in common, including an intense hostility to the doctrine set forth in this text (1 Tim 3:16) of Holy Scripture”. It then shows how “Professor A. A. Hodge, expounding the true doctrine on the basis of this verse, declares that Socinians, Arians and Trinitarians worship different gods and that every non-Trinitarian conception of God presents a false god to the mind and conscience. He contends that it is an historical fact beyond dispute that in whatever church the doctrine of the Trinity has been abandoned or obscured, every other characteristic doctrine of the Trinity has gone with it. There can be no mutual toleration without treason” (TBS booklet p 3).
Modern Bible Versions and the KJV
It is not true that the modern English versions of the bible don’t show the deity of Christ in their translation. However, it is true that they obscure some verses which, in the King James Bible (KJV), clearly do show the deity of Jesus Christ; and some others they change or even omit. If we only possessed the modern English versions, our doctrine of and faith in the deity of Jesus would be much weaker and more susceptible to attack. It is also true that these modern English versions mostly correctly translate the Greek text which is the basis for their translation. Therefore it is not necessarily true that they have dishonestly changed the text; in general, they are simply good translations of a corrupt text. But if the text upon which the version is based is corrupt, it stands to reason that the version itself must be corrupt.
Of these corrupt texts, Trinitarian Bible Society states: “The most ancient surviving Greek manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures differ greatly from each other and exhibit the worst corruptions of the text in great abundance. Many of the later manuscripts were executed with greater care and are more reliable guides to the true text. The early manuscripts were adulterated in various ways, sometimes through mere carelessness, sometimes through ignorance of the language, sometimes through deliberate heretical attempts to suppress what was written, and sometimes through pious but misguided endeavours to embellish or enlarge upon what was written” (TBS booklet p 8).
In this article I intend to show that the clearest testimony to the deity of Jesus is found only in those versions which are based on a purer text, such as the KJV, NKJV and MEV; however, this article prefers the KJV as being superior to the NKJV and MEV for reasons which won’t be dealt with here.
Theologian, author, and scholar D. A. Carson has reproduced a chart by Victor Perry containing eight references to the deity of Christ and compares fifteen bible versions to them to see which version actually does “directly ascribe deity to Jesus” (Carson, 1979, p 64); and which therefore has the strongest witness to Christ’s deity. In this comparison, Carson/Perry claim that the KJV ascribes deity to Jesus in only four of the eight verses, while the NIV does so in seven of the eight verses – the highest number of all the versions compared (Carson, 1979, p 64). However, there are good reasons why this comparison is bogus.
The “Failed” KJV Readings Examined
For example, the first reading in which the KJV is said to be a “fail” is John 1:18. In the KJV it reads “the only begotten Son” (ho monogenes huios), the reading which is found in the Greek Textus Receptus (TR), and which is found in the large majority of Greek texts; whereas, the NIV has “God the One and Only” (monogenes theos; literally, “an only one, God” (“The New Greek English Interlinear New Testament” pub. Tyndale House Publishers).
Commenting on John 1:14 (“only begotten”), Henry Morris writes, “’Only begotten’ is the Greek monogenes, which precisely means ‘only begotten’, not just ‘only’, as some translators render it. God has many ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ (1:12), but Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son; in fact, He eternally proceeds from the Father, manifesting and revealing Him” (Morris, 2012, p 1565).
He further comments on John 1:18, the subject of our current discussion, “The Son is eternally in the Father’s ‘bosom’, and eternally proceeding from His ‘bosom’ as the ‘only begotten Son’ (Greek monogenes), uniquely different from the many other sons of God. (Angels are also called sons of God, as are all those men and women who have been born again through faith in Christ). Those modern translators who delete the word ‘begotten’ here are not only wrong in translation, but also are allowing dangerous heresy in the understanding of the nature of Christ” (Morris, 2012, p 1565).
In a similar way, the writer of Hebrews says that Isaac was Abraham’s “only begotten son” (Heb 11:17 when it is clear that Abraham had other sons besides Isaac. Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son from Hagar, and he had six other sons born to Keturah (Gen 25:1-2). But Isaac was called “the only begotten son” of Abraham and Sarah due to his uniqueness as being the son of the Promise and a patriarch of Israel, the holy nation of God.
There is a line of developing revelation in John chapter 1, from verse 1 through to verse 18. In the first chapter of his gospel, John writes of Jesus, revealing him as the Word who was with God and who was God, and who was with God in the beginning (1:1-2); this Word was the Creator of all things (1:3) and the author of life (1:4). This Word is identified as being Jesus in 1:9-13, and neither the world of humanity nor his own people, the Jews, recognised him. The Word was made flesh, became truly human, and dwelt among men (1:14); the only begotten Son, who was “in the bosom of the Father”, declared and revealed God to humanity (1:18).
This passage shows the relationship between the Word (the only begotten Son) and the Father (so far, the Holy Spirit has not been specifically mentioned); they are separate Persons but one God. We understand from later revelation throughout the New Testament that there is a third Person in the Godhead, namely the Holy Spirit, and thus we understand that when John tells us that the Word gives new birth to humans (1:12-13), we also understand from revelation that this is the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5). Just as Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created all things, John tells us that all things were made by Jesus (Jn 1:3); so although John tells us that Jesus gives new birth, he later says that the Spirit is the one who gives new birth (3:5-6). And all this is true and possible because the Godhead consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three divine Persons yet one God. Again, John has Jesus saying that he would raise himself from death (Jn 2:19; 10:18), yet Luke, through the words of Peter, says that God raised Jesus from death (Acts 2:24). Even the Jews saw the implications of Jesus calling God his Father: “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:17-18).
And so, in John 1:18, the KJV, when calling Jesus the “only begotten Son”, is directly ascribing deity to Jesus, while at the same time revealing the plurality of Persons in the Godhead, and the intimacy, closeness and unity of their relationship to each other. Being “in the bosom of the Father” is far stronger than the NIV’s “who is at the Father’s side” which could suggest two separate beings. The best way we can understand this idea of being in the Father’s bosom is that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; thus, there was never a period in eternity or time when Jesus did not exist as God. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and other Unitarians would be quite comfortable with the NIV’s “who is at the Father’s side” because their Jesus is a completely separate being to God and has a beginning; whether they admit it or not, their Jesus is a lesser god. And the NIV, in referring to Jesus as “God the One and Only”, actually robs Christ of Deity and of Personality for it suggests that the entire Godhead became flesh. It is therefore contradictory to 1:14 where the Word (second Person of the Godhead) became flesh, and is at odds with the whole passage of 1:1-18 which demonstrates the Triune nature of the Godhead. The God that is portrayed here in John 1:18 by the NIV is more like that Being described by Sabellians or Modalists and today’s Oneness Pentecostals as one God who manifests himself sometimes as the Father, sometimes as the Son and sometimes as the Holy Spirit – three modes of one divine Being. The KJV in John 1:18 protects against this heresy by correctly referring to the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father.
The second of the references in which the KJV is said to be a “fail” (2 Thess 1:12) compares the KJV to the NIV where it clearly calls Jesus “God” – but this NIV reading is only a footnote. This means that the preferred and adopted and stronger NIV reading i.e. that which is in the text itself, is the same as the KJV; the footnote is only presented as an alternative reading due, most likely, to its being in a small number of manuscripts. Thus it is not the reading in the NIV. And the KJV and NIV readings do ascribe deity to Jesus anyway because “the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” is worded to show that the identity of the Son is that of God – as if Paul was saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
The third “failed” reference in the KJV (Tit 2:13) likewise identifies God and the Son as being the same: “….the glorious appearing of our great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. In the Old Testament God refers to himself as God and Saviour repeatedly. One such reference for example is: “and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isa 45:21-23).
Not only does this verse (Isa 45:21-23) show that Titus 2:13 is to be understood as meaning that Jesus and God are one God and one Saviour, we also see how the last part of the verse is also applied to Jesus. Paul writes, “…for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account to God” (Rom 14:10-12). And in another letter, Paul writes, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
Why would Paul apply a claim made by Jehovah for himself in Isaiah, to Jesus, if Jesus isn’t God? God says of himself, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa 42:8). And yet we’re told, “…when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him….” (Heb 1:6). The simple and obvious answer is that God is not giving his glory to someone or something that isn’t God – when it is said of Jesus that every knee will bow to him, he is claiming that which is rightfully his by reason of his being God. Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit (third Divine Person of the Godhead) to attribute to Jesus the same glory of worship and submission that should be given to God, and the same rightful authority as God to judge the whole earth.
Even Jesus himself applied statements and claims made by God to himself. For example, in the Old Testament, God calls himself “the first and the last”: “Thus saith the LORD the king of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isa 44:6 – see also Isa 41:4; 48:12). Yet Jesus says of himself, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). This statement from Jesus is breathtaking if he isn’t God; and sheer defiant blasphemy for any being to utter, especially when he speaks it from heaven itself (cf Zech 4:1-3, 12-14). In the same chapter, Jesus again says to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev 1:17). And in Jesus’ closing statements at the very end of this, the last book of the bible, just to make sure we’ve got it, he says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev 22:13).
So, with all this background, how does the KJV fail to attribute deity to Jesus in Titus 2:13?
Again, the fourth “failed” KJV reference (2 Pet 1:1) similarly ascribes deity to Jesus by the wording “….through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. It is exactly the same as saying “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ”, and means exactly the same; but by writing it as Peter and Paul do in these references, the separation of divine Persons is demonstrated while at the same time affirming their Unity.
So Carson/Perry’s chart is incorrect in its assertion that the KJV doesn’t “directly ascribe deity to Jesus”. Our investigation shows that the KJV, so far from having only four of the eight references which directly ascribe deity to Jesus, actually has all eight references ascribing deity directly to him.
A Gift for the Watch Tower Society – Micah 5:2
One of the worst changes to the text which affects the deity of Jesus Christ is found in the book of the prophet Micah. The KJV has “But thou Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Compare this to the NIV, which has: “….whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”. And to the Watch Tower translation: “whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite” (NWT 1984). In fact, the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be regarded as more orthodox than the NIV because its reading “the days of time indefinite”, despite its vagueness or perhaps because of it, can be understood to mean eternity (KJV footnote: “days of eternity”); whereas the NIV absolutely precludes eternity and limits Jesus to time only.
However, the newest version of the NWT has, “Whose origin is from ancient times, from the days of long ago” (Mic 5:2 NWT 2013). This is an improvement in clarity, making it clearer still that the passage limits Jesus to a created being, just as the NIV does. Only the KJV makes it clear that Jesus has existed from eternity, so we don’t have to juggle verses from other parts of scripture to “explain” this verse, which we have to do with every other version.
What a gift the modern and corrupt reading of Micah 5:2 is to the Watch Tower Society! Indeed, a gift to all the enemies of the Gospel! In one of their publications, under the heading “Where Did Jesus come from?”, the Watch Tower Society writes, “The Bible teaches that Jesus lived in heaven for a long time before he came to earth. Micah said that the Messiah was ‘from ancient times’ (Micah 5:2)…..Some people believe that Jesus and God are the same person. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says that Jesus was created, which means that Jesus had a beginning. But Jehovah, who created all things, had no beginning” (“What Can the Bible Teach Us?” p 44). (Emphasis mine).
Before I get to the main issue here, I would correct an error in this statement from the Watch Tower where they say: “Some people believe that Jesus and God are the same person”. Orthodox Christians do not say that Jesus and God are the same Person; we say that Jesus and God are two of the separate and distinct Persons within the Godhead, which consists of three Persons; it is the Sabellians, Modalists, and Oneness Pentecostals who say that Jesus and God are the same Person.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in deducing that Jesus was created, according to the reading in Micah 5:2 in all the modern bible versions. How could they come to any other conclusion? But the big question and more important issue is, how can Evangelical and other Bible-believing Christians accept that this is the true and correct reading? Can they not smell a rat? Can they not see the implications for the doctrine if the NIV reading is true? It totally undermines and opposes every other passage which teaches the deity of Jesus Christ. It clearly and specifically declares that Jesus had a very ancient origin. So, no matter how far back in “ancient times” one likes to go, Jesus had a beginning; therefore he was created. No matter how glorious a Being he might be, he is still a creature, and thus falls infinitely short of deity. Such a conclusion cannot be avoided if the reading in the modern bible versions is accepted.
This corrupt reading also exposes the bible to attack from Muslims, atheists and other enemies of the Gospel who love to “prove” that the Holy Bible can’t be trusted because it is full of discrepancies and contradictions; and they derisively contrast Micah 5:2 with John 1:1-3, for example, as one such contradiction.
But the writer of Hebrews had no illusions or doubts as to the deity of Jesus. He writes: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever……Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth” (Heb 1:8, 10). And Moses says of God, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps 90:6 cf Jn 1:1-3, 10). This is Jesus, our God and Saviour; the One of whom the prophet Micah speaks, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”.
Henry Morris, in the comments on Micah 5:2 in his Study Bible, says, “The Messiah was to be brought forth as a baby in Bethlehem, but was also to have been ‘going forth’ from eternity. Such an amazing prophecy sounds impossible, but was literally fulfilled when God became man, in divine incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. The ‘goings-forth’ of Deity also imply the perpetually outflowing energy which sustains the created universe, ‘upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb 1:3)’” (Morris 2012, p 1327).
Matthew Henry says, “Going forth is used (Deut 8:3) for a word which proceeds out of the mouth, and is therefore very fitly used to signify the eternal generation of Him who is called the Word of God, that was in the beginning with God, John 1:1-2” (Comment on Mic 5:2 in his Study Bible).
Only the KJV (and NKJV) preserves and protects this doctrine of the deity, and consequently the eternal pre-existence, of Jesus Christ. If it wasn’t for the correct reading of this verse in the KJV, it could well be that Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and other Unitarians and deniers of the deity of Jesus would have legitimacy. And if the readings in the modern English versions were genuine, even those other verses in the bible which testify to the deity of Jesus could be legitimately understood or reinterpreted to mean that Jesus had a beginning and therefore has not always existed. And verses such as Genesis 1:1, for example, would have to be interpreted as God having a beginning, an origin, and that there was a time when he was not; likewise, the Word, who is stated to be God in John 1:1-2, would also have a beginning. In Colossians 1:15, Jesus is called “the firstborn of every creature”, and is a favourite proof text of the Watch Tower that Jesus was created. However, Matthew Henry gives the correct understanding of it when he writes: “Not that he is a creature, for the word is “born or begotten before all creation,” or before any creature was made, which is the scriptural way of representing eternity. It signifies his dominion over all things” (his Study Bible Col 1:15).
So we can see the absolute necessity of a correct reading of this verse so that we can have a correct understanding of it; and we only find the correct reading of it in the KJV (and NKJV, MEV). It is a doctrine, belief in which is essential to salvation, as the apostle John tells us when he writes, “And many other signs did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (Jn 20:30-31).
God was Manifest in the Flesh – 1 Timothy 3:16
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory”.
If you use a modern English version, you won’t have this reading which is such a powerful testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ; indeed, it is one of the clearest declarations that Christ is truly God; and you will be very much the poorer for its absence in your bible. This verse is an early creed with clear statements of doctrine, and at the top of this creed is the central doctrine that God became truly human. Without this fundamental and crowning statement, the others don’t have any value for us. If the Divine Son of God did not become truly human and die in our place, our sinless Substitute and atonement, what does it matter if he was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, and received up into glory? Is he not that anyway? And what does it matter if he was preached unto the Gentiles and believed on in the world – what would be the point? What would we be putting our faith and our trust and believing in – a great teacher? There are plenty of great teachers for us to choose from. A great example? What good is that to fallen sinners who are at enmity with God? What did he achieve for us if he was not God manifest in the flesh? He couldn’t die in our place if he wasn’t human, and his death would be of value only to himself if he wasn’t God; so who really cares about what else he did, however kind, loving and noble? I speak metaphorically, of course – the things that Jesus did are important, but if we don’t have salvation, we will end up in hell; consequently, no matter how lovely Jesus is, we’d never be able to have anything to do with him. Without his being God and born as a human being, all the rest is useless to our eternal salvation, and we’ll languish in hell for ever, without him.
So what reading do the modern versions based on the Critical Text have if they don’t tell us that it was God who was manifest in the flesh? Instead of “God”, they have “He” or “Who”, or “He who”, or “Which”, or “the one”. A couple even have “Christ”, but even that isn’t an unequivocal declaration that Jesus is God. And besides, the word “Christ” isn’t even in the text. A Jehovah’s Witness can say that Christ came in the flesh but they don’t believe that he is Jehovah. Even a Muslim will say that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and thus came in the flesh, but they categorically deny his deity. Unless you have a King James Bible, you will be without the clearest statements of Jesus’ divinity. And with all the enemies ranged against us as Christians, we need every such verse with all their clarity and unequivocal and unapologetic definitions we can get.
Which is Correct, and how did it Happen?
The Greek word for “God” is “Theos” and it consist of three letters – the first letter, “th”, is named “theta”; The second letter, “e”, is named “epsilon”; the third letter, “s”, is named “sigma”. Theta is signified by “O” with a bar or stroke across the centre; sigma is signified by a symbol identical to our capital “C”. It was normal practice for scribes when copying the early manuscripts to write everything in capital letters, or “uncials”; and it was also normal for them to abbreviate the name of God to Theta Sigma, with a short line above the word to indicate it had been shortened. Thus, “God” appears as “OC” with a little stroke through or across the centre of the “O”, with both letters beneath a small horizontal line.
There is another word in Greek which is almost identical to the contracted form of God; it is the word for “who” or “which” or “that”. It consists of two letters – the first letter is named “omicron” and is signified by “O”. The second letter is named “sigma”. So “who” appears as “OC”, and the difference in appearance between “Theos” and “who” is a little stroke of the pen. When copying these words it would be very easy for a scribe to miss the pen stroke in the letter “theta”, especially if the manuscript was worn and faded, and would therefore be written as “O”.
The verse only makes sense and becomes significant if it reads “God was manifest in the flesh”. To say “Christ was manifest in the flesh” is obvious, because he was a man, and it doesn’t necessarily ascribe deity to him anyway. To say “who” or “which” or “that” was manifest in the flesh doesn’t make sense. You don’t start a sentence with a relative pronoun out of the blue – it must refer to something antecedent to itself. But there is nobody in the passage to whom it could refer except God (verse 15). And the word “he” isn’t even in the text; it had to be inserted into it by the translators to try and make the verse more intelligible than leaving it as “who”, “which” or “that”. David W. Daniels writes, “Without a doubt, the Scripture says, ‘God was manifest in the flesh.’ The vast testimony of history shows us clearly that the word in question is ‘God’, not ‘he’ or ‘who’” (Daniels, 2003, p 62).
The Three Heavenly Witnesses (or the Johannine Comma) – 1 John 5:7-8
“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 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” (1 Jn 5:6-8).
As can be seen in the above verses, this passage clearly and unequivocally declares and describes the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead, and is the only passage in the whole Bible which does so. In making this clear statement of the unity in trinity of the Godhead, it necessarily implies the deity of Jesus. In his gospel, John declares that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). In so doing, he reveals that the Godhead consists of more than one Person. In this passage, the Johannine Comma (a technical name for it), John gives us further revelation, that the Godhead consists of three Divine Persons, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and that they are One. Therefore we are able to speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; this is a correct statement based on these verses even though it is not stated in this way in scripture, and it makes clear which Divine Person we are speaking of.
Although there are other passages in the New Testament which bible-believing Christians use for their proof that God is triune in nature, they do not state the Trinitarian nature of God unequivocally, and leave room for other interpretation. Being the only verse which states the Trinity so clearly, its absence by omission allows a question mark to hover over the doctrine of the Trinity. It is the verse upon which the other Trinitarian verses depend for clear definition of the doctrine. Its presence in the bible stops all denial of Jesus’ divinity dead in its tracks; it stands as a mighty colossus astride the path of unbelief and false teaching. Every single verse which is presented as proof against Jesus’ divinity, or proof that he had a beginning etc. is dashed to pieces against this immovable rock. As long as 1 John 5:7 is in the bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is invulnerable to any attack.
But so effective has been the strategy, instigated by Satan, to remove it from the texts that today hardly a Reformed, Evangelical, or Fundamentalist scholar, theologian, or pastor (all supposedly the bible’s friends) believes that the Johannine Comma has a right to be there. And this success has been achieved by corrupting the text early in its history. And now, the Johannine Comma, that wonderful, that beautiful, that uncompromising declaration of the Holy Trinity, is missing from every Greek manuscript except four, all of which are very late, and every English bible except the KJV (and NJKV and MEV).
One speculative reason there are no early copies of a Greek text which has the Johannine Comma would have to be that the verse was removed from the text at a very early date. This would mean fewer copies to tamper with and which were closer together geographically. John wrote his letters at the time of early heresies such as proto-Gnosticism, Docetism, Cerinthianism, and the Ebionites; in his second letter, he writes, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 Jn 9-10). So even at this seminal period there were enemies of the Gospel and false teachers, none of whom believed in the deity of the Son; and any of them would have taken the opportunity if it was presented to change the text of scripture.
H. A. Scrivener writes, “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 a hundred 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” (TBS booklet quoting Scrivener, p 8; emphases mine).
Providentially, however, the fact is that some manuscripts which contain 1 John 5:7 escaped the vandalism of unbelievers because we find the verse in many Latin copies. For example, Cyprian (200-268), Bishop of Carthage, in discussing the unity of the Church, uses the divine unity of the Trinity as an example of unity, and quotes from two scripture passages: “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one’” (Cyprian p. 423). The latter is from 1 John 5:7. For Cyprian to have used these words he clearly had the complete verse in his copy of scripture, and quoted it directly or from memory. One obvious inference from this is that the Latin manuscript from which he quoted was a copy of an even earlier manuscript. For it to have been copied and reached Cyprian in Africa from wherever the apostle John wrote it would have taken some time so it is at least possible, even likely, that it originated in the 2nd century from a still earlier or even original Greek manuscript. And Cyprian wrote this at least a hundred years before Codex Vaticanus, that much vaunted “oldest and best” manuscript, supposedly dated 300-325 AD, and which omits 1 John 5:7.
Further discussion of the Johannine Comma can be found in my article “E. F. Hills and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8)” in the “King James Bible” section.
The above passages which declare the deity of Christ can only be found in the King James Version of the bible (and NKJV/MEV). They have antiquity and majority and are widely spread around the Roman world, and this is very much in their favour. Those manuscripts which omit, weaken, or change them, while being relatively early, are in the small minority and are restricted geographically to one area. Unfortunately the promoters of the modern versions have chosen to base their translations on a corrupt text, a text which undermines the deity of Jesus Christ.
There is a danger, if the Church is not more diligent, that this doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ will be virtually lost in the next generation or two because our Evangelical youth are being brought up on corrupt versions such as the NIV, ESV and NLT; versions which are the darlings of today’s Evangelical leaders because of their “accuracy of translation” of the latest version of the Critical Text. On the one hand, these versions dilute, undermine, or deny the deity of Christ in many places, while on the other hand, in other places, they uphold his deity. Our youth will be confused because of such contradictions they see in their bibles and will look for answers; consequently they will be vulnerable to false teachers such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. And when these and other avowed enemies of Christianity such as atheists and militant ex-Christians, and false religions such as Islam, attack the bible because of its apparent contradictions and discrepancies which, on the surface, look very intimidating, these young people may well be so confounded that they will abandon the faith, just as the ex-Christians did for the same reason. Perhaps this is the means by which the final apostasy will commence (2 Thess 2:3).
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 Jn 5:10).
Carson, D.A. 1979, “The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism”, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Copyright 1979, 2005
Cyprian of Carthage, 200 AD- 268 AD, “Ante-Nicene Fathers: On the Unity of the Church”, Vol. 5, p. 423 (see also note 5), publ. Hendrickson, Peabody, Massachusetts
Daniels, David W. 2003, “Answers to your Bible Version Questions”, Chick Publications, Ontario, California
Henry, M. “The Matthew Henry Study Bible: King James Version”, ed. A. Kenneth Abraham, copyright 1994, 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Publisher Hendrickson Bibles
Morris, Henry M. 2012, “The Henry Morris Study Bible”, Master Books, Green Forest, Arizona, USA
TBS booklet “God was Manifest in the Flesh: 1 Timothy 3:16”, publ. Trinitarian Bible Society, London, England, copyright 1993, 2002
“What Can the Bible Teach Us?” Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2015