53 [[They went each to his own house, 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.” John 7:53 - 8:7 (ESV)
In today’s passage we read about Jesus’ response to a woman who was brought before Him to be judged
because she was caught in the act of adultery. We learn from Jesus how we should respond, judge and
treat others whose sins have been exposed for all to see.
Some Bibles have a set of double brackets, a line or an asterisk that says something like “The earliest
manuscripts do not contain 7:53 to 8:11”. It is pretty much accepted among Bible scholars across the
board that this passage is not in the original and earliest texts of John. However, it is found in a small
number of Medieval Greek manuscripts. There are some accounts from extra biblical sources as well that
contain related stories of a woman caught in adultery that were recorded during Jesus’ ministry, but this
story was not part of the original Gospel of John.
Even though it is not in the earliest manuscripts, it is widely accepted as authentic, and apostolic. (1)
Regardless, it is in the Bible we read today and should be considered an important lesson for the reader.
Jesus was in the Temple teaching and the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in
adultery before Him and all who were at the Temple. It is probable that the men brought the woman to
Jesus not so much to punish the woman for her sin but as a test to Jesus and put him in a tough spot.
I have always wondered where the man was in this story. Theologian D.A. Carson writes, “Adultery is
not a sin one commits in splendid isolation: One wonders why the man is not brought with her. Either he
was fleeter of foot than she, and escaped, leaving her to face hostile accusers on her own; or the accusers
themselves were sufficiently chauvinistic to focus exclusively on this woman.” (2)
According to the Law of Moses the act of adultery was punishable by death (Deut. 22:22- 24 & Lev.
20:10). Since Israel was under Roman rule the practice of stoning was not customary at this time. I
believe that the men brought the woman to Jesus to question his loyalty. If Jesus said let the woman go,
he would have been considered a friend of Rome. If he said to have her stoned, he would have been
considered a rebel to Rome and turned in to the authorities.
The main points of this passage are forgiveness, humility, and compassion. It is interesting to see how
Jesus response to sinners. He was tough on the Jewish leaders because they knew better, and they were
seeking to control people with their authority. However, the common sinners that Jesus encounters in the
Gospels may have known better, but they often responded in repentance that is required for forgiveness of
(1) This means it was either witnessed by one of the Apostles or it was recorded by one who interviewed
someone who was an eyewitness.
(2) Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 335 Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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