Thomas Coke (1747-1814)
“The anti-trinitarian heretic trembles at this passage;
it is a thunderstroke to him, of which he well knows the weight;
therefore he leaves no means untried to turn it aside, or to avoid it… “
The chief mode has been to deny that this text was written by St. John; and under pretence, that it does not appear in all the ancient manuscripts of this epistle, and that some of the fathers who formerly wrote against the Arian heresy, did not avail themselves of it in proof of Christ’s Divinity, the heretics of the present day deny the authenticity of the text.
But a cause must be very desperate which can allege no better reasons against the strength and evidence of the text of Scripture. For, to give any force to such an argument, it would be necessary to show, that the passage in question existed but in very few manuscripts, or at least only in those of a modern date, and of small authority, and that it was unknown in all Christian antiquity: but the fact is, that this passage is found in a great number of manuscripts, and those the most ancient, and is quoted in books of the most venerable ecclesiastical antiquity, and all much older than those manuscripts which do not contain the passage, from the omission of which some modern heretics and daring critics pretend to draw inferences fatal to the authenticity of this text.
But, not to mention St. Jerome, who found it in the Greek manuscript of the New Testament from which he made his Latin version, in which we find it also, and a long comment upon it in his Preface to the Canonical Epistles,—we find it cited in proof of the Trinity in the Confession of Faith, presented about the end of the fifth century by the bishops of the African churches to Huneric king of the Vandals, an Arian, and a great persecutor of the orthodox defenders of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Source: Thomas Coke, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 6, 850 [read online]