John 7:53-8:11, The Woman Caught in Adultery
Everyone went to his own house, but Yahshua went to the Mount of Olives. Now
very early in the morning, he came again into the temple, and all the
people came to him. He sat down, and taught them. The scribes and the
Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the
midst, they told him, “Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the
very act. Now in our Torah, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then
do you say about her?” They said this testing him, that they might have
something to accuse him of.
But Yahshua stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.
They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one
by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Yahshua was left
alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. Yahshua, standing
up, saw her and said, “Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?”
She said, “No one, Master.”
Yahshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more.”
This portion of Scripture is frequently misunderstood and/or misquoted in a
number of ways; for instance, some wrongly use it to say that no one
has the right to judge the actions of another person. These faulty
lines of reasoning are used as a crux by those who refuse to recognize
the sins of others, to say, "We're under the age of grace, so I
shouldn't judge." By the sinner it is used as a defense, to say, "Who
are you to judge me?" When we look at this portion of text from a
completely literal (straight forward) perspective, without the
prejudices of cultural understanding, we see that this line of
reasoning is completely incorrect. There are a couple of questions that
come up in an analysis of the text that need to be critically examined
to really understand the impact of the passage.
Question #1: What did Yahshua write on the ground?
This question is best answered by another question: what's wrong with this
picture? Looking at the case brought before Yahshua, what elements were
the Pharisees missing to make a valid case against the woman for
stoning her? The avid studier of the Torah will already know the
answer, but for the rest of you...
Leviticus 20:10, "The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he who commits
adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress
shall surely be put to death."
Deuteronomy 22:22, "If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall
both of them die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman: so you
shall put away the evil from Israel."
At this point, the missing element in this case should be apparent to see: the
adulterer was missing, and only the adulteress was brought before
Yahshua for judgment. I believe it can be stated with a high degree of
certainty that the Torah commandments (as written above) are exactly
what Yahshua was writing. What else could cause these the "pious"
religious leaders to leave the scene, one ny one being convicted in
Question #2: What is Yahshua teaching in the text?
Some assert that Yahshua was establishing a new "dispensation of grace", and
that the "old law" had been done away with. But how can this be, when
He Himself said in Matthew 5:17-18, "Do
not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. For most
certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one
smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from
the Torah, until all things are accomplished."
How can it be that Yahshua established a "dispensation of grace" when it is written in Psalm 118:4, "Let those who fear Yahweh say that His mercy endures forever." For even before Yahshua had come, it was written in Psalm 104:10-12, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us for our
iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is
His mercy toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the
west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." So
then, knowing that Yahweh is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we
see that mercy is not a "new testament" concept, and that grace has
existed from the very beginning.
The real essence of what Yahshua was saying here was this: "He who has correctly followed the Torah, even this very commandment, let him throw the first stone at her."
Of course, there was none present who had correctly followed this
commandment of the Torah. How could any one of them have been righteous
enough to cast the first stone, when they had all failed so miserably
in honoring the commandments of God? Did not Yahshua say in Matthew 5:20, "Unless
your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is
no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." It is therefore not only the right of the righteous to execute judgment, but their divine responsibility.
Yet this council was not righteous, but corrupt! They sought to accuse
Yahshua, and furthermore sought to use this woman's life as a
bargaining tool against him. But by quoting a pure Torah against them,
and not adjusting the Torah to fit the doctrines of man, he had sent
them away, convicted of their wrong doing.
Other interesting tidbits regarding this story:
While most modern translations place this story between John 7:52 and 8:12,
there are a good handful of ancient manuscripts that actually place it
elsewhere. Some of these include: after John 21:25, after Luke 24:53,
after John 7:36, after Luke 21:38. Many ancient Codices, such as
Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi, exclude it entirely.
Eusebius claimed that Papias, one of the earliest so-called "church
fathers", knew of the story, and had attributed it to a text called
"the Gospel according to the Hebrews". While most "modern scholars"
deny it to be genuinely attributed to John, I personally cannot find
any solid internal evidence to deny Johnanine authorship of the story.
The writing style is consistent with the rest of the Gospel according
to John, and it seems to fit well with the context of the rest of the
Gospel. Regardless of who the author was, this is certainly a powerful
little passage of Scripture.