The Missing Passages - Part 2

In the previous article, we observed that there are some translations today which have verses that others do not.  This was not the result of modern translations taking away from God’s word but the result of trying to be as accurate as possible to what was originally written.  The debate about who is right is complicated, and one that you and I are probably not qualified to answer.  What the average person can do, though, is look at the major passages in question and determine what is being lost or gained by the translator’s decisions.  How big of an impact is this on our faith?

This week, let’s consider 1 John 5:6-8.

The New International Version reads: “This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

The New King James Version reads: “This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”

Notice, the words in bold in the NKJV are nowhere to be found in the NIV (unless you take the time to read the footnotes).  Those bold words are a clear and concise description of what we call “The Trinity”.  

The Trinity is a belief that there is one God but that there are also three.  One in three and three in one.  It is hard for us to wrap our minds around, and there are those who refuse to accept it.  In so doing, they deny the deity of Jesus and often the individuality of the Holy Spirit.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, believe that Jesus is only an angel and not God.  As for the Holy Spirit, they think of Him as more of an active force than a living being.

Is that what is going on with the NIV?  Is it a denial of the Trinity?  Are all of those who use modern translations such as the NIV, ESV, and NET Bibles being misled?

No.  That’s not the case.  Otherwise, those translations would have been careful to avoid other evidences of the Trinity.  Even the modern translations include the following:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt. 28:19 NIV)

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14 NIV)

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV – Jesus speaking).

There are more but that should suffice.  It may take a little more page turning, but the NIV did not lose any doctrinal significance in this case.  The scholars and translators can debate whether those additional words were in the original text, but we can take comfort in knowing that Christians can come to the same doctrinal conclusions whether they have extra words or are missing words in I John 5:7.