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PARALLEL BIBLE - 1 John 5:21


CHAPTERS: 1 John 1, 2, 3, 4, 5     

VERSES: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

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King James Bible - 1 John 5:21

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

World English Bible

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Douay-Rheims - 1 John 5:21

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Webster's Bible Translation

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Greek Textus Receptus


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Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge

VERSE (21) -
1Jo 2:1

SEV Biblia, Chapter 5:21

Hijitos, guardaos de los ídolos. Amn.

Clarke's Bible Commentary - 1 John 5:21

Verse 21. Little
children] teknia? Beloved children; he concludes with the same affectionate feeling with which he commenced.

Keep yourselves from idols.] Avoid the idolatry of the heathens; not only have no false gods, but have the true God. Have no idols in your houses, none in your churches, none in your hearts. Have no object of idolatrous worship; no pictures, relics, consecrated tapers, wafers, crosses, &c., by attending to which your minds may be divided, and prevented from worshipping the infinite Spirit in spirit and in truth.

The apostle, says Dr. Macknight cautioned his disciples against going with the heathens into the temple of their idol gods, to eat of their feasts upon the sacrifices they had offered to these gods; and against being present at any act of worship which they paid them; because, by being present, they participated of that worship, as is plain from what St. Paul has written on the subject, 1 Cor. viii. 10, where see the notes.

That is a man's idol or god from which he seeks his happiness; no matter whether it be Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Minerva, Venus, or Diana; or pleasure, wealth, fame, a fine house, superb furniture, splendid equipage, medals, curiosities, books, titles, human friendships, or any earthly or heavenly thing, God, the supreme good, only excepted. That is a man's idol which prevents him from seeking and finding his ALL in God.

Wiclif ends his epistle thus: My little sones, kepe ye you fro mawmitis, i.e. puppets, dolls, and such like; for thus Wiclif esteemed all images employed in religious worship. They are the dolls of a spurious Christianity, and the drivellings of religion in nonage and dotage.

Protestants, keep yourselves from such mawmets! Amen.] So be it! So let it be! And so it shall be, God being our helper, for ever and ever! Subscriptions in the VERSIONS:- The end of the Epistle of the Apostle John. - SYRIAC.

The First Epistle of John the apostle is ended. - SYR. Philoxenian.

Nothing in either the COPTIC or VULGATE.

Continual and eternal praise be to God! - ARABIC.

The end. - AETHIOPIC; In this version the epistle is thus introduced:- In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, the Epistle of John, the son of Zebedee, the evangelist and apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ; may his intercession be with us for ever and ever! Amen.

In the MANUSCRIPTS:- The First of John. - AB.

The First Epistle of John the evangelist.

The First catholic Epistle of St. John the divine, written from Ephesus.

The Epistle to the Parthians. - See several Latin MSS.

The word amen is wanting in all the best MSS. and in most of the versions.

For other matters relative to the epistle itself see the preface: and for its heavenly doctrine and unction read the text, in the original if you can; if not, in our own excellent translation.

Observations On The Text Of The Three Divine Witnesses.

Accompanied with a plate, containing two very correct fac- similes of 1 John, ver. 7-9, as they stand in the first edition of the New Testament, printed at Complutum, 1514, and in the Codex Montfortii, a manuscript marked G. 97, in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

panta dokimazete, to kalon katecete. 1 Thess. v. 21.

The seventh verse of the fifth chapter of 1 John, has given rise to more theological disputes than any other portion of the sacred writings.

Advocates and antagonists have arisen in every quarter of the civilized world: but the dispute has been principally confined to the Unitarians of all classes, and those called Orthodox; the former asserting that it is an interpolation, and the latter contending that it is a part of the original text of St. John. It is asserted that (one excepted, which shall be noticed by and by) all the Greek MSS. written before the invention of printing omit the passage in dispute. How the seventh and eighth verses stand in these may be seen in the following view, where the words included between brackets are those which are wanting in the MSS.

oti treiv eisin oi marturountev ([entw ouranw, o pathr, o logov, kai to agion pneuma? kai outoi oi treiv en eisi. kai treiv eisin oi marturountev en gh]) to pneuma, kai to udwr, kai to aima? kai oi treiv eiv to en eisin.

Of all the MSS. yet discovered which contain this epistle, amounting to one hundred and twelve, three only; two of which are of no authority, have the text, viz.:- 1. The Codex Guelpherbytanus G, which is demonstrably a MS. of the seventeenth century; (for it contains the Latin translation of Beza, written by the same hand,) and therefore of no use or importance in sacred criticism.

2. The Codex Ravianus or Berolinensis, which is a forgery, and only a copy of the Greek text in the Complutensian Polyglot, printed in 1514, and so close an imitation of it, that it copies even its typographical errors; hence, and from the similarity of the letters, it appears to have been forged that it might pass for the original MS. from which the Complutensian text was taken. In this MS. some various readings are inserted from the margin of Stevens' edition of 1550.

3. The Codex Montfortii, or Codex Dubliniensis, cited by Erasmus, under the title of Codex Britannicus, in Trinity College, Dublin. This may be said to be the only genuine MS. which contains this text; as no advocate of the sacred doctrine contained in the disputed passage would wish to lay any stress whatever on such evidence as the two preceding ones afford.

Michaelis roundly asserts, vol. iv., page 417, of his Introductory Lectures, that this MS. was written after the year 1500. This, I scruple not to affirm, is a perfectly unguarded assertion, and what no man can prove. ln 1790 I examined this MS. myself, and though I thought it to be comparatively modern, yet I had no doubt that it existed before the invention of printing, and was never written with an intention to deceive. I am rather inclined to think it the work of an unknown bold critic, who formed a text from one or more MSS. in conjunction with the Vulgate, and was by no means sparing of his own conjectural emendations; for it contains many various readings which exist in no other MS. yet discovered. But how far the writer has in any place faithfully copied the text of any ancient MS. is more than can be determined. To give the reader a fair view of this subject, I here subjoin what I hope I may call a perfect fac- simile of the seventh and eighth verses, as they exist in this MS., copied by the accurate hand of the Rev. Dr. Barrett, the present learned librarian of Trinity College.

FAC-SIMILE of ver. 7-9, From the Codex Montfortii in Trinity College, Dublin. [Omitted] When I examined the original myself, though I took down a transcript, yet I neglected to take a fac-simile. That no mistake might be made in a matter of so much importance, I got a fac-simile, and after it was engraved, had it collated with the MS. by Dr. Barrett himself, and the plate finished according to his last corrections; so that I hope it may be said every jot and every tittle belonging to the text are here fairly and faithfully represented; nothing being added, and nothing omitted. I have examined this MS. since, and have not been able to detect any inaccuracy in my fac-simile. To it I have annexed a perfect facsimile of the same words, as they stand in the Complutensian Polyglot, which the curious reader will be glad to see associated with the other, as they are properly the only Greek authorities on which the authenticity of the text of the Three Witnesses depends.

FAC-SIMILE of ver. 7-9, From the Editio Princeps of the Greek Testament, printed at Complutum, in 1514. [Omitted] It may be necessary to observe, First, That the five first lines of the fac-simile of the text in the Complutensian edition are at the top of the opposite page to that on which the other four lines are found. The alphabetical letters, mingled with the Greek text, are those which refer to the corresponding words in the Latin text, printed in a parallel column in the Complutensian Polyglot, and marked with the same letters to ascertain more easily the corresponding Greek and Latin words, for the benefit, I suppose, of learners. The column containing the Latin text, which is that of the Vulgate, is not introduced here, being quite unnecessary.

Second. The sixth and seventh lines of the fac-simile of the Codex Montfortii belong to the second page of that leaf on which the other five lines are written.

This MS. is-a thick duodecimo, written on paper, without folios. There is an inscription in it in these words, Sum Thomae Clementis, olim fratris Froyhe. On this inscription Dr. Barrett remarks: "It appears Froyhe was a Franciscan; and I find in some blank leaves in the book these words written (by the same hand, in my opinion, that wrote the MS.) insouv maria fragkiskov; by the latter, I understand the founder of that order." If St. Francis d'Assise be here meant, who was the founder of the order of Franciscans, and the inscription be written by the same who wrote the MS., then the MS. could not have been written before the thirteenth century, as St. Francis founded his order in 1206, and died in 1226, and consequently quotes that the MS. could not have been written in the eleventh century, as Mr. Martin of Utrecht, and several others, have imagined.

Much stress has been laid on the dots over the i and u which frequently appear in this MS. Montfaucon has observed, Palaeographia Graeca, page 33, that such dots were in use a thousand years ago: hence the advocates of the antiquity of the Codex Montfortii have inferred that this MS. must have been written at least in the tenth or eleventh century. But as these are found in modern MSS. (see Palaeog. pages 324, 333,) they are therefore no proof of antiquity. In Michaelis' Introduction, vol. ii., page 286, where he is describing the MSS. of the Greek Testament, he gives the text in question as it is supposed to exist in the Codex Montfortii, in which two dots appear over every iota and upsilon in the whole five lines there introduced; but on comparing this of Michaelis with the fac-simile here produced, the reader will at once perceive that the arrangement is false, and the dotting egregiously inaccurate. Deceived by this false representation, Dr. Marsh, (bishop of Peterborough,) in his notes on the passage, page 754, observes, "that no MS. written in small characters before the twelfth century has these dots. That a MS. written in the twelfth century has these dots sometimes on the iota, but never on the upsilon; but MSS.

written in the fourteenth century have these dots on both letters, but not in all cases. Now as these letters are dotted always in the Codex Montfortianus, but not always in the MSS. of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and still less often in those of the twelfth century, we may infer that the Codex Montfortianus is at least as modern as the fifteenth century." On this quotation I beg leave to make a few remarks.

Dr. Marsh says, "that no MS. written in small letters previous to the twelfth century has these dots." This excellent critic has only to consult the Palaeographia Graeca, page 293, in which he will find No. 1, a fac-simile of one of the Colbert MSS. (No. 4954,) written A. D. 1022, where the iota appears thrice dotted; and in No. 2, on the same page, another fac-simile of a MS. written A. D. 1045, the iota is dotted in the word ihsou. Ibid., page 283, (No. 7,) a MS. written in 986, has the iota twice dotted in the word iemenei. Ibid., page 275, (No. 2,) a MS. of the ninth or beginning of the tenth century, has the iota dotted in acaiav? and in No. 3, a specimen of the Codex Regius, (No. 2271,) written A. D. 914, the iota is dotted in qeikhn. Ibid., page 271, (No. 4,) written about 890, the iota is dotted in ierwn? and in Spec. v. in the word poiia. See also Ibid., page 320, No. 3, another of the Colbert MSS. (4111,) written A. D.

1236, where the iota is dotted seven times. All these specimens are taken from MSS. written in small characters, and, as the dates show, (the last excepted,) long before the twelfth century. As to these dots being more frequent in manuscripts of the fifteenth than those of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, I cannot say much; it is certain they became more frequent towards the fourteenth century than they were in the twelfth, and yet this was not a general case. In two well-written manuscripts now before me, one of which I suppose to be of the fourteenth century, and the other of the fifteenth, these dots often occur, but they are by no means regular. I have noticed several pages in the oldest manuscript where they occur but once; and in other pages they may be met with ten or twelve times. On the contrary, in the more recent manuscript, whole pages occur without one of them; and where they do occur, they are much less frequent than in the former. So that it rather appears from this evidence; that they began to disappear in the fifteenth century. Dr. Marsh, misled by the specimen in Michaelis, vol. ii. page 286, says: "The letters in question are always dotted in the Codex Montfortianus." By referring to the fac-simile, the reader will be able at once to correct this mistake. The iota in the fac-simile occurs thirty times, and is dotted only in five instances; and the upsilon occurs nineteen times, and is dotted only in seven.

But arguments for or against the age of any MS., on account of such dots, are futile in the extreme; as the most ancient MSS. have them not only on the iota and upsilon, but upon several other letters, as may be seen in the Codex Alexandrinus, the Codex Rescriptus, published by Dr. Barrett, and the Codex Bezae; in the latter of which they seem to occur more frequently than they do even in the Codex Montfortii.

On the evidence of these dots, Mr. Martin of Utrecht supposed the Dublin manuscript to be as old as the eleventh century and on the same evidence Dr. Marsh argues, "that it is at least as modern as the fifteenth." Both these judgments are too hastily formed; medio tutissimus ibis is the best counsel in such a case; the manuscript is more likely to have been a production of the thirteenth than of either the eleventh or fifteenth. The former date is as much too high as the latter is too low; the zeal of the critics for and against this controverted text having carried them, in my opinion; much too far on either side.

In comparing the writing of the Codex Montfortii, with the different specimens given by Montfaucon in the Palaeographia Graeca, it appears to approach nearest to that on page 320, No. 4, which was taken from one of the Colbert manuscripts, (No. 845,) written in the year of our Lord 1272, which I am led to think may be nearly about the date of the Codex Montfortii; but on a subject of so much difficulty, where critics of the first rank have been puzzled, I should be sorry to hazard any more than an opinion, which the reader is at liberty to consider either correct or incorrect, as may seem best to his own judgment.

Though a conscientious advocate for the sacred doctrine contained in the disputed text, and which I think expressly enough revealed in several other parts of the sacred writings, I must own the passage in question stands on a most dubious foundation. All the Greek manuscripts (the Codex Montfortii alone excepted) omit the passage; so do all the ancient versions; the Vulgate excepted; but in many of the ancient MSS. even of this version it is wanting. There is one in the British Museum, of the tenth or eleventh century, where it is added by a more recent hand in the margin; for it is wanting in the text. It is also variously written in those manuscripts which retain it. This will appear more plainly by comparing the following extracts taken from four manuscripts of the Vulgate in my own possession:- 1. - Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hii tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, sanguis, et aqua. This is the same with the text in the Complutensian Polyglot, only aqua is placed before sanguis.

2. - Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et hii tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hii tres unum sunt.

3. - Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hii tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua, et sanguis.

4. - Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et hii tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hii tres unum sunt.

5. - Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et tres sunt qui testitnonium perhibent in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hi tres unum sunt.

This last I took from an ancient manuscript in Marsh's library, St. Patrick's, Dublin.

In what has been denominated the Editio Princeps of the Latin Bible, and supposed to have been printed between 1455 and 1468, the text stands thus: "Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus, et hii tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra. Spiritus, aqua, et sanguis, et tres unum sunt." In the Bible printed by Fradin and Pinard, Paris, 1497, fol., the text is the same with No. 2, only instead of testimonium dant, it reads dant testimonium.

The reader will observe that in Nos. 2, 4, and 5, the eighth verse is put before the seventh, and that 3 and 4 have filius instead of verbum. But both these readings are united in an ancient English manuscript of my own, which contains the Bible from the beginning of Proverbs to the end of the New Testament, written on thick strong vellum, and evidently prior to most of those copies attributed to Wiclif.

For three ben that geven witnessing in heven the Fadir, the Word or Sone and the Hooly Goost, and these three ben oon. And three ben that geven witnessing in erthe, the Spirit, Water, and Blood, and these three ben oon.

As many suppose the Complutensian editors must have had a manuscript or manuscripts which contained this disputed passage, I judge it necessary to add the note which they subjoin at the bottom of the page, by which (though nothing is clearly expressed) it appears they either had such a manuscript, or wished to have it thought they had such. However, the note is curious, and shows us how this disputed passage was read in the most approved manuscripts of the Vulgate extant in the thirteenth century, when St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, from whom this note is taken. The following is the whole note literatim:- "Sanctus Thomas in oppositione secunde Decretalis de suma Trinitate et fide Catholica, tractans istum passum contra Abbatem Joachim, ut tres sunt qui testimonium dant in celo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus; dicet ad literam verba sequentia. Et ad insinuandam unitatem trium personarum subditur. Et hii tres unum sunt. Quodquidem dicitur propter essentie Unitatem. Sed hoc Joachim perverse trahere volens ad unitatem charitatis et consensus, inducebat consequentem auctoritatem. Nam subditur ibidem: et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, S. Spiritus: Aqua; et sanguis. Et in quibusdam libris additur: et hii tres unum sunt. Sed hoc in veris exemplaribus non habetur: sed dicitur esse appossitum ab hereticis arrianis ad pervertendum intellectem sanum auctoritatis premisse de unitate essentie trium personarum. Hec beatus Thomas ubi supra." If the Complutensian editors translated the passage into Greek from the Vulgate, it is strange they made no mention of it in this place, where they had so fair an opportunity while speaking so very pointedly on the doctrine in question and forming a note for the occasion, which is indeed the only theological note in the whole volume. It is again worthy of note that, when these editors found an important various reading in any of their Greek manuscripts, they noted it in the margin: an example occurs 1 Cor. xiii. 3, and another, ibid. xvi.; why was it then that they took no notice of so important an omission as the text of the three witnesses, if they really had no manuscript in which it was contained? Did they intend to deceive the reader, and could they possibly imagine that the knavery could never be detected? If they designed to deceive, they took the most effectual way to conceal the fraud, as it is supposed they destroyed the manuscripts from which they printed their text; for the story of their being sold in 1749 to a rocket-maker (see Michaelis, vol. ii., page 440) is every way so exceptionable and unlike the truth, that I really wonder there should be found any person who would seriously give it credit. The substance of this story, as given by Michaelis, is as follows: "Professor Moldenhawer, who was in Spain in 1784, went to Alcala on purpose to discover these MSS., but was informed that a very illiterate librarian, about thirty-five years before, who wanted room for some new books, sold the ancient vellum MSS. as useless parchments, to one Toryo who dealt in fireworks, as materials for making rockets." It is farther added that "Martinez, a man of learning, heard of it soon after they were sold, and hastened to save these treasures from destruction; but it was too late, for they were already destroyed, except a few scattered leaves which are now in the library." On the whole of this account, it is natural to ask the following questions:


John Gill's Bible Commentary

Ver. 21. Little children, keep yourselves from idols, Amen .] From Heathen idols and idolatry, into which the saints in those times might be liable to be drawn, by reason of their dwelling among Heathen idolaters, and being related to them, and by the too great freedom used in eating things sacrificed to idols in their temples; and from all other idols that might be introduced by some who went by the name of Christians, as the Gnostics, who worshipped the images of Simon and Helena; and the passage may be an antidote against the worshipping of images, afterwards introduced by the Papists. Moreover, errors and false doctrines, which are the figments of men's minds, and what they are fond of, may be called idols, and should be guarded against, and abstained from; as also the lusts of men's hearts, and all the evil things that are in the world, which are adored by the men of it; and even every creature that is loved too much is an idol; hence covetousness is called idolatry; nor should any creature or thing be loved more than God or Christ: the one only living and true God, Father, Son, and Spirit, he is only to be worshipped, feared, and loved.

Matthew Henry Commentary

Verses 18-21 - All
mankind are divided into two parties or dominions; that whic belongs to God, and that which belongs to the wicked one. Tru believers belong to God: they are of God, and from him, and to him, and for him; while the rest, by far the greater number, are in the power of the wicked one; they do his works, and support his cause. This genera declaration includes all unbelievers, whatever their profession station, or situation, or by whatever name they may be called. The So leads believers to the Father, and they are in the love and favour of both; in union with both, by the indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit. Happy are those to whom it is given to know that the Son of God is come, and to have a heart to trust in and rely on him that is true May this be our privilege; we shall thus be kept from all idols an false doctrines, and from the idolatrous love of worldly objects, an be kept by the power of God, through faith, unto eternal salvation. To this living and true God, be glory and dominion for ever and ever Amen __________________________________________________________________


Greek Textus Receptus


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Vincent's NT Word Studies

21. Keep yourselves (fulaxate eauta). The exact phrase is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. See
2 Pet. iii. 17. Rev., rightly, guard. See on 1 Pet. i. 4.

Idols (eidwlwn). Strictly, images. The command, however, has apparently the wider Pauline sense, to guard against everything which occupies the place due to God.



CHAPTERS: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
VERSES: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

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