Summary of passage: Note: Many early manuscripts and other early witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11. Scholars wonder if it was added later or fell at a different place in the Gospel. Here, the Pharisees weren’t following Moses’ law (anyone surprised?), which required the woman’s partner in crime to appear also.
Jesus retreats to the Mount of Olives and then appears in the temple to teach. The Pharisees, attempting to trap Jesus, brought a woman who committed adultery to him and asked if she should be stoned like the Bible says to do. Here, Jesus writes in the sand and says his famous line “If any one of you is without sin, let hi be the first to cast the first stone.” Of course, we’ll all sinners so all dispersed. Since no one condemned her, Jesus tells her to go and leave off her life of sin.
3) Jesus retreats again to be alone with the Father. He appears again in the temple even at risk to himself in order to shepherd His people. Jesus once again points out man’s hypocrisy and shows mercy to the woman by telling her to not sin. His heart is overflowing with love for his people.
4) Personal Question. My answer: Galatians tells us to restore a person gently who is caught in a sin. Carry each other’s burdens. Be humble and not think you’re better than someone else. Share the gospel with others. Forgive those who fail. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter to me about other’s disobedience (except my family) because it’s between them and God. My family is different. It’s my job to teach my kids obedience and I appropriate consequences accordingly. To adults that are close to me, I try to forgive. I think it reflects Jesus’ character. Not perfectly of course but close.
5) Forgive sin. Don’t be a hypocrite. There is still a place for exposing and rebuking and directly dealing with the sins of others in God’s family, but it must always be done with a heart that recognizes itself as a forgiven sinner. When done right, confronting sin is done more often with tears and a broken heart than with anger and condemnation.
Conclusions: Not sure about the last question. Seems thrown in. Love this verse about not casting stones. We all sin and are deserving of eternal judgement. Instead, Christ redeems and forgives and we need to remember that when others sin.
End Notes: Jesus has been teaching at the temple on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Now, everyone has gone home and Jesus has retreated to the Mount of Olives to sleep.
This passage is the most controversial in John because scholars argue whether it even belongs in the Bible and if so, scholars argue where. This passage was omitted in most of the early Greek versions of the Gospels. Some later versions marked it with an asterisk. Some insert this passage after Luke 21:38 or John 21:24 or John 7:36.
Some early scholars purposely omitted this text (St Augustine included) because they thought it made Jesus approve of sexual immorality. However, most modern scholars believe this actually happened since it appears in writings in the early 100’s AD and it is true to Jesus’ character. They also believe it is consistent with John’s writings.
Others believe it was either Simeon or Jude (early 2nd century), who seem to have been connected with the editing of this gospel, for they are probably the ‘we’ of John 21:24 and the two unnamed disciples of John 21:2.
Taking this account to belong here, Jesus remained in Jerusalem then a few days after the Feast of the Tabernacles to preach at the temple despite the authorities quest to silence him.
The Pharisees did this as Jesus publically taught in the temple courts to be as public as possible, to embarrass both the woman and Jesus.
Scholars believe her accusers had some special vindictiveness against her since her crime could have been dealt with in private.
The verb “caught” is in the perfect tense, meaning ‘taken with her shame upon her’, or the continuing act of adultery.
It takes two to commit adultery and note the man is not brought out publicly–a clear example of how women were treated as lower than second-class citizens in ancient times.
For adultery to be charged, the act had to be physically witnessed by two people. Hence, this was a setup in order to trap Jesus. Since the evidence was so high, execution was rare in these cases.
If Jesus said to let her go, he’d appear to be breaking Moses’ law. If he said execute her, he’d be breaking Roman law since the Romans now were the only ones who had the authority to execute (where Pontius Pilate comes into play). Matthew 22:15-22 is a similar dilemma recorded. It seems the Pharisees were relentless in their pursuit of Christ.
Jesus ignores them and stoops down, a stance of humility and identifying with the woman.
Jesus writes! But what? Scholars have speculated since this was written. The verb wrote could also mean to draw so some say he doodled or to write down a record. Some say he quoted the Bible. Others say this was a stalling tactic. Some say he wrote the names of the accusers or their sins. No one knows but it’s fascinating to speculate.
Still being pestered, Jesus rises up and addresses the men. In Jewish law, witnesses to crimes were the first to cast the first stone in a stoning verdict. Jesus’ point: people are quick to point out others’ sins while ignoring their own.
Jesus again stoops, out of concern for the women and not to gloat over the shame the men must certainly be feeling. Christ is merciful to all.
Some versions have “being convicted by their conscience” as they leave. Seemingly it was Jesus’ words and not what he wrote that convicted them.
Scholars are unsure why the oldest left first. Some say it pertained to what Jesus was writing on the ground, perhaps the sins of the oldest first. They kept on going away.
The verb for standing could be a figurative sense and this is the only reference to the woman’s posture. Based on Jesus’ stance, scholars believe she was stooping as well during this ordeal although she could have been forced to stand the entire time. This is unknown.
Jesus notes her accusers are gone. The woman must have felt relief with her accusers gone and her life regained–all a gift of Jesus who took her sin upon himself, foreshadowing the cross. “There is no condemnation for those in Christ” Romans 8:1
Jesus did not approve nor accept her sin. Here, we see a great example of how we are to move on from our sin in life: admit you were sinning, repent and give up sinning, and continue in the hope of Christ. No doubt this woman’s life is ruined as she’d be shunned and rejected by her husband and community. Jesus gives her hope as he does us all.
Fun Fact: Verse 6 records the only time in the Bible of Jesus writing.