SF045 - JESUS AND THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN (John 8 1-11)
JESUS AND THE aDULTEROUS wOMAN
March 10, 2002
This passage is one of the most hotly debated passages in all the New Testament. The issue at stake is whether or not it appeared as part of the original text. Because the oldest manuscripts do not include it, many scholars (both conservative and liberal) have concluded that it was a later addition. Pink in his commentary one this text offers the follow observations that I found to be excellent.
“Personally we have not the slightest doubt but that it forms a part of the inspired Word of God, and that for the following reasons:
First, if our passage be a spurious one then we should have to pass straight from John 7:52 to 8:12. Let the reader try this, and note the effect; and then let him go back to John 7:52 and read straight through to John 8:14. Which seems the more natural and reads the more smoothly?
Second, if we omit the first eleven verses of John 8, and start the chapter with verse 12, several questions will rise unavoidably and prove very difficult to answer satisfactorily. For example: ‘Then spake Jesus’ - when? What simple and satisfactory answer can be found in the second part of John 7? But give John 8:1-11 its proper place and the answer is immediately after the interruption recorded in verse 3. ‘Then spake Jesus again unto them’ (verse 12) unto whom did Jesus speak? Go back to the second half of John 7 and see if it furnishes any decisive answer. But give John 8:2 a place and all is simple and plain. Again in verse 13 we read, ‘The Pharisees therefore said unto him’: this was in the temple (verse 20). But how came the Pharisees there? John 7:45 shows them elsewhere. But bring in John 8:1-11 and this difficulty vanishes, for John 8:2 shows that this was the day following.
In the third place, the contents of John 8:1-11 are in full accord with the evident design of this section of the Gospel. The method followed in these chapters is most significant. In each instance we find the Holy Spirit records some striking incident in our Lord’s life, which serves to introduce and illustrate the teaching which follows it. In chapter 5 Christ quickens the impotent man, and makes that miracle the text of the sermon He preached immediately after it. In John 6 He feeds the hungry multitude, and right after gives the two discourses concerning Himself as the Bread of life. In John 7 Christ’s refusal to go up to the Feast publicly and openly manifest His glory, is made the background for that wondrous word of the future manifestation of the Holy Spirit through believers - issuing from them as ‘rivers of living water.’ And the same principle may be observed here in John 8. In John 8:12 Christ declares, ‘I am the light of the world,’ and the first eleven verses supply us with a most striking illustration and solemn demonstration of the power of that ‘light.’ Thus it may be seen that there is an indissoluble link between the incident recorded in John 8:1-11 and the teaching of our Lord immediately following.”
1A. The Teacher (8:1-2)
1B. When He came (8:1a)
He came in the morning, setting for us an example of how we should begin our day.
Psalm 88:13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
2B. Where He went
He went to the Temple, God’s house. Again the example is powerful: we are to seek God in the morning.
Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
3B. Who came to Him
The text states, “all the people were coming to Him.”What does this mean? Does it mean that every single person in Jerusalem came to Him that day? I don’t think anyone really believes that. However, some will take the same language in other verses (for instance John 12:32) and translate it to mean every single individual. Pink does a masterful job with this in his commentary.
“This is another instance where the word ‘all’ must be understood in a modified sense. Again and again is it used relatively rather than absolutely. For example, in John 3:26 we read of the disciples of John coming to their master in complaint that Christ was attracting so many to Himself: ‘all come to him,’ they said. Again, in John 6:45 the Lord Jesus declared, ‘They shall be all taught of God.’ So here, ‘all the people came unto him.’ These and many other passages which might be cited should prevent us from falling into the errors of Universalism. For example, ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all unto me’ (John 12:32), does not mean all without exception. It is a very patent fact that everybody is not ‘drawn’ to Christ. The ‘all’ in John 12:32 is all without distinction. So here ‘all the people came unto him’ (John 8:2) signifies all that were in the temple, that is, all kinds and conditions of men, men of varied age and social standing, men from the different tribes.”
4B. What He did
The text tells us that He sat down and taught. Sitting down was common for teachers in Israel, it symbolized His authority.
2A. The Trap (8:3-6)
1B. The scribes (8:3a)
The scribes and Pharisees were not interested in justice; they were only interested in discrediting Jesus in the eyes of the people.
2B. The sinner (8:3b-4)
They brought this woman, claiming to have caught her in the very act of adultery. To do so they would have had to have two witnesses of the very act. The obvious question is: where is her partner? Adultery requires two people. This fact further betrays the evil of their hearts. They were not concerned with upholding the law (see Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:23-24) they were only concerned with trapping Jesus.
3B. The dilemma (8:5-6)
If Jesus answered “don’t stone her,” He would appear to be setting aside the Mosaic Law and thus contradicting Himself (Mark 5:17). If he answered “stone her,” He would have denied His own stated mission (Luke 19:10; John 3:17). To stone her would have also brought Him into conflict with the Roman government, because they did not allow the Jews to practice executions.
This points to a larger dilemma,: how justice and mercy could be harmonized, God righteous judgment must be satisfied (Exodus 34:7). Pink describes the dilemma in the following manner.
“Let us observe how each of the essential elements in this problem of all problems is presented in the passage before us. We may summarize them thus: First, we have there the person of that blessed One who had come to seek and to save that which was lost. Second, we have a sinner, a guilty sinner, one who could by no means clear herself. Third, the law was against her: the law she had broken, and the declared penalty of it was death. Fourth, the guilty sinner was brought before the Savior Himself, and was indicted by His enemies. Such, then, was the problem now presented to Christ. Would grace stand helpless before law? If not, wherein lay the solution?”
3A. The Trial (8:7-11)
1B. Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees (8:7-9)
Jesus calls attention to their sin (8:7)
Ø He reminds them that they themselves are sinners and are not fit to pass judgment on this fellow sinner.
Ø Again, we must remember that Jesus knew their hearts; He knew their evil motives. They were not seeking justice and God’s glory; they were seeking to trap God’s Son.
Jesus’ words bring conviction to their hearts. (8:8-9)
Ø Notice the effect of conviction on them and the crowd. Rather than drawing them to Jesus the conviction drove them away. Pink comments…
“Here were men who were ‘convicted by their own conscience,’ yet instead of this causing them to cast themselves at the feet of Christ, it resulted in them leaving Christ! Nothing short of the Holy Spirit’s quickening will ever bring a soul into saving contact with the Lord Jesus.”
2B. Jesus changes the woman (8:10-11)
Notice her confession – “No one, Lord”
Ø Her confession of Christ as Lord confirms the work of God’s grace in her life.
Notice the Lord’s forgiveness – “I do not condemn you, either.”
Ø How could this be, how could justice be satisfied? Again I turn to Pink…
“And the ground, the righteous ground, on which He pronounced this verdict ‘Neither do I condemn thee,’ was, that in a short time He was going to be ‘condemned’ in her stead. Finally, note the order of these two words of Christ to this woman who owned Him as ‘Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3). It was not, ‘Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee,’ for that would have been a death-knell rather than good news in her ears. Instead, the Savior said, ‘Neither do I condemn thee.’ And to every one who takes the place this woman was brought into, the word is, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation’ (Romans 8:1). ‘And sin no more’ placed her, as we are placed, under the constraint of His love.
Here was a concrete case of a guilty sinner leaving the presence of Christ un-condemned. And it was neither because the law had been slighted nor sin palliated. The requirements of the law were strictly complied with, and her sin was openly condemned — ‘sin no more.’ Yet, she herself, was not condemned. She was dealt with according to ‘grace and truth.’ Mercy flowed out to her, yet not at the expense of justice.”
Ø This fact, that God forgives us not by setting aside the Law but by placing its penalty on Christ, is what makes it possible for God to be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). God demonstrates His holiness by condemning sin, and His mercy by forgiving us.
Notice the Lord’s command – “From now on sin no more?”
Ø A changed heart demands a changed life (Romans 6:12)A changed heart causes a changed life (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Notice how the Lord receives sinners…
He understands our sin and need. He is neither naïve or cynical. He knows that we are sinners and need God’s forgiveness.
He is compassionate toward the sinners. He really does care.
He is forgiving; only Christ can forgive sin.
Preparing for Next Week
1. Read John 8:12-32.
2. What is meant by “the world” in verse 12? Do not jump to conclusions.
3. What kind of light does “the world” enjoy? (verse 12)
4. What is “the light of life”? (verse 12)
5. To what “witness of the Father” was Christ referring? (verse 18)
6. What does “die in your sins” (verse 21) prove concerning the Atonement?
7. What is the meaning of verse 31?
8. What does the truth make us free from? (verse 32)
 Pink, Arthur W., Exposition of the Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 415-16.
 Pink, 419.
 Pink, 424.
 Pink, 426.