Biola Broadcaster - 1969-03

and even regularly in the two sacra­ ments. “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness.” This is undoubtedly a ref­ erence to the Holy Spirit. The form of the Greek construction indicates that it is characteristic of the Spirit that He “bears witness” as it is of Christ that He “came” (at the be­ ginning of the verse). The fact that He is said to bear witness gives evi­ dence, “the more striking because in­ voluntary” (Smith), of His person­ ality, since testifying is an activity of persons. Of what His witness con­ sists is not explicitly stated, but both the context and the teaching of Epis­ tle and Gospel suggest that He tes­ tifies to Christ (e.g. 4:2). He is com­ petent to do so, Jesus said, because He is “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26, 16:13; cf. I John 4:6). John goes further and writes because the Spirit is truth, or, more accurately, “is the truth” (RV, RSV; contrast John 14:6) ■— conveying either that He is “essentially fitted” to bear wit­ ness, or that He is “constrained” to do so (Westcott). The truth cannot be hid. But how does the Spirit bear witness? John appears to be refer­ ring to the inward witness of the Holy Spirit, who opens our eyes to see the truth as it is in Jesus (cf. I Cor. 12:3, etc.). Certainly he has written twice already of how the Spirit has been “given to us” as an indwelling possession (3:24, 4:13) and has twice ascribed our confes­ sion of Christ as the divine-human Lord to the “anointing” or enlighten­ ment of the Spirit (2:20, 27 and 4:1-6). We have then here, as in 4:13, 14, two kinds of corroborative testimony, objective and subjective, historical and experimental, water and blood on the one hand and the Spirit on the other. “He it is who seals in our hearts the testimony of the water and the blood” (Calvin). Verse 7. The whole of this verse must be regarded as a gloss, as must the words in earth in verse 8. Plum- 32

mer calls the reading “quite inde­ fensible” and gives a very thorough survey of the evidence in an Appen-’ dix, and so does Brooke. The words do not occur in any Greek MS. ver­ sion or quotation before the fifteenth century. They first appear in an ob­ scure fourth-century Latin MS and found their way into the AV because Erasmus reluctantly included them in the third edition of his text. They are rightly absent even from the margin of RV. and RSV. Some tidy- minded scribe, impressed by the threefold witness of verse 8, must have been made to think of the Trinity and so suggested that there was a threefold witness in heaven also. Actually, his gloss is not a very happy one, as the threefold testi­ mony of verse 8 is to Christ; and the biblical teaching about testimony is not that Father, Son and Holy Spirit bear witness together to the Son, but that the Father bears wit­ ness to the Son through the Spirit. Verse 8. Having written indepen­ dently of “the water and the blood” (6, RSV), and of the Spirit, with­ out stating that the former were in any sense a “witness,” John now brings the three together and de­ clares that they all bear witness. Moreover, these three agree in one, or better, simply “agree” (RSV) or “are in agreement” (NEB). The false witness at the trial of Jesus, seeking to discredit Him, did not agree (Mark 14:56, 59); the true witnesses, however, the Spirit, the water and the blood, seeking to ac­ credit Him, are in perfect agree­ ment. The importance of the “three witnesses” (RSV, NEB) is that ac­ cording to the law no charge could be preferred against a man in court unless it could be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15; cf. John 8:17, 18). In contrast to verse 6, the Spirit is here placed as the first witness, partly be­ cause “the Spirit is, of the three, the only living and active witness,”

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