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John 7:53-8:11

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You belong here because He died for you!

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Intro

Leon Morris

It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.

Leon Morris
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

The textual evidence makes it impossible to hold that this section is an authentic part of the Gospel. It is not attested in the oldest manuscripts, and when it does make its appearance it is sometimes found in other positions, either after verse 36, or after verse 44, or at the end of this Gospel, or after Luke 31:38. It seems clear enough that those scribes who felt it too important to be lost were not at all sure where to attach it. And if they could not agree on the right place for it, they could not agree on the true text for it either. The manuscripts that have it do not agree closely. The very large number of variants indicates that the textual history of this pericope is different from that of the fourth Gospel. In addition to the textual difficulty many find stylistic criteria against the story.3 While the spirit of the narrative is in accordance with that of this Gospel the language is not Johannine. The passage is too short for this argument to be completely decisive, but for what it is worth it does tell against Johannine authorship. There is also the fact that the passage does not fit well into the context, whereas 8:12 follows naturally after 7:52.

But if we cannot feel that this is part of John’s Gospel, we can feel that the story is true to the character of Jesus. Throughout the history of the church it has been held that, whoever wrote it, this little story is authentic. It rings true. It speaks to our condition. And it can scarcely have been composed in the early church with its sternness about sexual sin. It is thus worth our while to study it, though not as an authentic part of John’s writing. The story is undoubtedly very ancient. Many authorities agree that it is referred to by Papias.5 It is mentioned also in the Apostolic Constitutions (2.24). But it is not mentioned very often in early days. The reason probably is that in a day when the punishment for sexual sin was very severe among the Christians this story was thought to be too easily misinterpreted as countenancing unchastity. When ecclesiastical discipline was somewhat relaxed the story was circulated more widely and with a greater measure of official sanction.

John Calvin

It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.

Gerald Borchert
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

I consider this text to be divinely inspired and fully authoritative for life

You Belong Here!
John
John 8:2–11 ESV
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Prayer

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Clarity
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Message

John 8:1–11 ESV
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:2–11 ESV
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:
V2-6a
Early = at / before dawn
hh
Full crowd - Sunday Morning service...
Scribes / Pharisees| only here | = in agrement - trap Christ
placing in their midst…
Teacher!
Caught in the act !?
The law says - what do you say
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

The story raises a number of issues and as a result has led to a considerable amount of discussion by scholars. Among the questions raised one wonders what happened to the man in the story. Why was he not brought before Jesus? Did he escape? Was he merely a plant by a vengeful husband? or by a group seeking to condemn Jesus? Also, Was the husband among the accusers? What was the nature of the woman’s matrimonial state? Was she married or merely engaged? What law is being cited and what was the state of the law in Jesus’ day? Whose responsibility was it to execute punishment? These questions provide part of the framework for the scholarly discussions.

Caught in the act
The law says - what do you say
Leviticus 20:10 ESV
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Deuteronomy 22:22 ESV
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
Lev 20
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

It is perhaps worth noticing that they slightly manipulate the text of the law. They say “such” are to be stoned, where their word is feminine, “such women,” whereas both relevant passages (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) say that the man as well as the woman is to be put to death. The accusers are also a little more specific than the Old Testament, for they speak definitely of stoning, whereas the passages cited do not indicate the manner of execution.

catch 22 !!
Taxes to Caesar? = ; ;
Matthew 22:17 ESV
Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
Mark 12:14 ESV
And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
Mark
Luke 20:20 ESV
So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
Luke 20:20 ESV
So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
this was the goal -
against the Law
against the Romans
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

Instead of falling into the trap of answering them, Jesus stooped down and used his finger to write or draw (katagraphein at 8:6a and graphein at 8:8) on the ground (ge). What did he write or draw? There have certainly been many theories. Was he merely doodling? Or, as has often been suggested, was he listing the erring ways of the accusers?14 Was he copying the pattern of the Roman justices in writing the sentence and then orally stating the same, as T. W. Manson suggested? Was he acting out the implications of Jer 17:13 concerning writing in the dust “those who turn away” from the Lord? Or did Jesus write Exod 23:1, 7 concerning joining in evil witnessing and avoiding false charges, as Derrett has proposed? Unfortunately we cannot know for certain.

teacher -
the law says both should be here - where is the guy?
V6b
V6b
WWJD
only recorded instance of writing
Wrote What!?
unpointed Hebrew?
their sins
Jeremiah 17:13 ESV
O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

Instead of falling into the trap of answering them, Jesus stooped down and used his finger to write or draw (katagraphein at 8:6a and graphein at 8:8) on the ground (ge). What did he write or draw? There have certainly been many theories. Was he merely doodling? Or, as has often been suggested, was he listing the erring ways of the accusers?14 Was he copying the pattern of the Roman justices in writing the sentence and then orally stating the same, as T. W. Manson suggested? Was he acting out the implications of Jer 17:13 concerning writing in the dust “those who turn away” from the Lord? Or did Jesus write Exod 23:1, 7 concerning joining in evil witnessing and avoiding false charges, as Derrett has proposed? Unfortunately we cannot know for certain.

Jeremiah 17:13 ESV
O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

According to the Torah (Deut 17:7), the actual witnesses were responsible for casting the first stones. But Jesus went beyond the usual interpretation of that prescription and demanded of the accusing witnesses that they themselves not be in breach of God-given precepts, namely, that they be without sin. The standard Jesus demanded was that authentic accusers themselves not be subject to accusation.

Exodus 23:1 ESV
“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts 6. The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

In this particular offense there would normally be no witnesses, since its nature would demand privacy. Either the witnesses became such by accident, which would be unusual; or they were present purposely to create the trap for Jesus, in which case they themselves were guilty; or they condoned the deed, and this would make them partners in it. According to Jewish law, in any case of capital punishment the witnesses must begin the stoning. Whether Jesus by his statement implied that they were guilty of condoning or of committing adultery with this woman, or whether he was speaking about past personal guilt is uncertain. In either case, each one of the accusers would either have to admit that he was guilty or else refrain from demanding the woman’s death.

Exodus 23:7 ESV
Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.
Ex
V7-8
Jesus response =
Deuteronomy 17:7 ESV
The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

According to the Torah (Deut 17:7), the actual witnesses were responsible for casting the first stones. But Jesus went beyond the usual interpretation of that prescription and demanded of the accusing witnesses that they themselves not be in breach of God-given precepts, namely, that they be without sin. The standard Jesus demanded was that authentic accusers themselves not be subject to accusation.

Deuteronomy 17:7 ESV
The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Witnesses to a private sin?
accidental
setup
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts 6. The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

In this particular offense there would normally be no witnesses, since its nature would demand privacy. Either the witnesses became such by accident, which would be unusual; or they were present purposely to create the trap for Jesus, in which case they themselves were guilty; or they condoned the deed, and this would make them partners in it. According to Jewish law, in any case of capital punishment the witnesses must begin the stoning. Whether Jesus by his statement implied that they were guilty of condoning or of committing adultery with this woman, or whether he was speaking about past personal guilt is uncertain. In either case, each one of the accusers would either have to admit that he was guilty or else refrain from demanding the woman’s death.

Whether Jesus by his statement implied that they were guilty of condoning or of committing adultery with this woman, or whether he was speaking about past personal guilt is uncertain. In either case, each one of the accusers would either have to admit that he was guilty or else refrain from demanding the woman’s death.
Romans 2:1 ESV
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
Matthew 5:28 ESV
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Ma
Matthew 12:38–39 ESV
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Without Sin!!
unpointed Hebrew?
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

Derrett is of the opinion that he will have written some words from the law (thus showing on what he would rely if he were to give a decision), and that he will have used unpointed Hebrew. This would haven enabled him to suggest all the meanings associated with the various possible pointings.

either way…
Deuteronomy 17:7 ESV
The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

It could not possibly be construed as a rejection of the law; Jesus specifically enjoined that a stone be thrown. But his limitation on who might throw it effectively prevented any harm coming to the guilty woman. The saying “does not deny that she may be stoned, but insists upon the innocency and therefore the competence of whoever stands forth against her as accuser and witness.” If, for example, the witnesses were guilty of not giving a warning (as the facts of the case make almost certain), then the woman could not be convicted on their evidence. For anyone to take part in a stoning on the basis of such evidence would be to incur the guilt of “joining with the wicked.” The words of Jesus are both an appeal to conscience and a warning to the hearers that their own lives might very well be at stake. If they stoned the woman, they must be very sure of the witnesses.

Exodus 23:7 ESV
Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.
Ex 23.7
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

In reflecting on this declaration of Jesus, it is imperative to remember two matters. First, one must not overgeneralize and argue that Jesus was ruling out a critical evaluation of sin (8:11; cf. 5:14; 8:21, 24; 9:41; 15:22; 16:8–9). Second, one must remember that the context here involved self-righteous men who were full of judgment and ready to destroy a woman for their own evil ends. Jesus saw through their pseudorighteousness and judged it for what it was. Religious people are thus here fully forewarned of the temptation to self-righteous judgment of others. The point is that Jesus can accuse accusers.

Guit
Jesus does not deny
Justice
Jesus does not deny justice
Gravity of God’s Standards
V9
When they heard it = When their consciences were reproved / exposed
Romans 2:15 ESV
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Went away - why?
Older ones first - why?
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

The continuous tense in this last verb gives the thought of something like a procession. They kept on going out. The exodus began with the elders, who would naturally be expected to give a lead and whose greater experience would enable them to grasp more quickly the implications of Jesus’ words. They, moreover, would have a certain responsibility to see that justice was done. If the witness was false, or not legally valid, and the woman was killed, the oldest men present would have a major share of the responsibility.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts 6. The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

The older ones either had more sins for which they were answerable or else had more sense than to make an impossible profession of righteousness.

The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

The text also specifically adds that the departure began with the eldest or the most senior (presbyteros, 8:9). In a society where age and seniority are revered for status, the departure of the most revered first quickly depleted the authority of the accusing group. The junior members were not going to be left out on a limb.

Alone = without sin = able to cast stones
The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

The woman was left alone. “Left” is a strong word, and might be translated “abandoned.” When the force of Jesus’ words struck home they were no longer interested in her sin, but in their own. They made no attempt to interfere with her, for she was left “still standing there.”

we will all stand alone before Jesus one day!!
how will he judge you?
1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
1 Corinthians 11:31 ESV
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.
2 Timothy 4:1 ESV
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
V10-11
Who condemns you…? = Satan, People, Your Consciences
neither do I… Why?
Romans 8:31 ESV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:33–34 ESV
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Romans 8:31–35 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:33 ESV
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Sin no more…?
The New American Commentary: John 1–11 IV. A Biblical Addition: The Woman Seized in Adultery (Pericope de Adultura [7:53–8:11])

Jesus’ verdict, “neither do I condemn,” however, was not rendered as a simple acquittal or a noncondemnation. The verdict was in fact a strict charge for her to live from this point on (apo tou nun) very differently—to sin no more (mēketi hamartane). The liberating work of Jesus did not mean the excusing of sin. Encountering Jesus always has demanded the transformation of life, the turning away from sin.

The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

He, too, will not condemn her. But that does not mean that he condones her sin; he tells her to sin no more. The form of the command implies a ceasing to continue an action already started: “Stop your sinful habit.” And “no more” (NIV paraphrases with “leave your life of sin”) points to the thought of no return. She is to make a clean break with sin.

The Gospel according to John Appendix: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

His words are perfectly general. He is calling the woman to amendment of life, the whole of life. It should not be overlooked that he says nothing about forgiveness. The guilty woman had as yet given no sign of repentance or of faith. What Jesus does is to show mercy and to call her to righteousness.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts 6. The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53–8:11)

Meeting a man who was interested in saving rather than exploiting and in forgiving rather than condemning must have been a new experience for her. Jesus’ attitude provided both the motivation and the assurance she needed. Forgiveness demands a clean break with sin. That Jesus refrained from condemning her was a guarantee that he would support her.

Romans 6:1 ESV
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Romans 6:15 ESV
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
What happened to this woman?
Guilt
Romans 7:15 ESV
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Sanctification…!
Romans 6:19 ESV
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Romans 6:22 ESV
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Guilt
this woman was guilty there was no question about it
Jesus showed these men that they were guilty too
scripture tells us that we are guilty before God… and we know it is true
Romans 3:23 ESV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:10–18 ESV
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:10–11 ESV
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3.10
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Justice
God is a God of Justice
We (created in His image) yearn for justice
except when it is directed toward us
God’s justice toward sin is hell… OR Jesus
Romans 6:23 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 3:24–26 ESV
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mercy
Jesus does not excuse her guilt only her punishment…!
mercy cannot be earned by us… (she gives no defense)
mercy (forgiveness) comes from Christ alone
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Response
decision time!
what will she do?
what will you do?
Romans 10:9 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 ESV
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Matthew 3:2 ESV
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Decision

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