Woman Caught in Adultery

September 7 at Central Park : John Chapter 8
Submitted by Doug Cowan on Sun, 09/07/2014 – 07:40

Today we are looking at John chapter Eight, and the Woman Caught in Adultery. There’s a lot to this – and here are my notes for the morning: John 8 : Woman Caught in Adultery

Here is a link to the full 55 minute version of John 8 and the Woman Caught in Adultery. It includes music, just like our radio program. Good music. The outline for the sermon is in the previous article, so you can follow along with notes if you would like to.

links to 55 minute mp3 file at: http://newideas.net/kaxl/john8woman_55min.mp3

Legitimately Disputed Passage?

1. Not included in four of the oldest manuscripts in existence (400-600 AD)

  • But two of these are copies of a single older source
  • Out of the 1000 oldest manuscripts, only 70 omit the story

2. It is included in Textus Recepticus which is the source for Luther’s German Bible, Tyndale’s English Bible, and the King James Bible

3. But was preached about in

  • 110 AD by Papias, who knew John
  • 230 AD included in the Didascalia Apostolorium
  • 375 AD Abrose’s sermon : “Earth Accuses Earth “
  • 400 AD Jerome quotes it in defense against Peligians
  • 400 AD Augustine says some deleted it from manuscripts because they feared it. He says that men, “from fear lest their wives should gain impunity in sin, removed from their manuscripts the Lord’s act of indulgence to the adulteress.”
  • 900 AD Nicon writes that the reason that this story had been expunged from manuscripts written by the Armenians is that it was “plainly…mischievous.”

4. Here are the Options:

  • It never happened, so the early Early Church made it up. But this is unlikely because the early church would not have made up THIS story which seems to have Jesus excusing the sin of adultery, in an age where there were already lax morals;
  • It did happen, but wasn’t originally included by John in his gospel so someone else wrote it up and added it later,
  • It did happen, but wasn’t originally included by John in his gospel so he wrote it up and included it later,
  • It did happen, and was written down by John in his gospel, but some early manuscripts did not include it because it was too “racy.”
Lessons From the Story

1. Context:
a. Jesus has just interrupted the big finish of the Festival
b. The religious leaders want to either discredit him or kill him
c. So this is likely a “set-up” to trap Jesus – at the expense of a woman that apparently no one valued either.
i. Jesus is FOR the TRUTH
ii. Jesus is FOR WOMEN
iii. Jesus is AGAINST INJUSTICE and UNTRUTH.
iv. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
v. What does the Lord require of thee O man? But to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
d. Women could be accused of adultery simply by
i. Being alone with a man, not her husband
ii. Having her head uncovered in public. Think Burkqua
iii. Women could be treated very poorly by the men in this culture
e. “Where’s the man?”
i. apparently he was either part of the conspiracy to set-up both this woman and Jesus,
ii. or the man wasn’t technically guilty of adultery – didn’t know she was married.
iii. Or the accusers were OK with male adultery…
f. In a stoning, who would throw the first stone?
i. The Witnesses who testified against the accused in the trial
ii. The Oldest to the Youngest
g. A woman accused of adultery could appeal her case to the priest if she knew she was innocent, and undergo the “ordeal of bitter water.” She would be brought before God, and the priest would represent God. But this woman knew she was guilty. Caught. But she was brought before God anyway, by the religious leaders
h. This event took place very early in the morning when there were not CROWDS around. This was the Pharasees’ opportunity to get at Jesus with just a small crown around him. Trap him. Arrest him.
i. Just a few hours later, in another dispute with Jesus (chapter 8) they take up stones to kill Jesus with – because their plan earlier in the day had failed – and apparently there are a lot of stones around.

2. In this situation, only the Romans could pass the judgment to execute someone, so:
a. If Jesus says “Yes, obey Moses’ Law and stone her” then he is going to be in trouble with the Romans;
b. If Jesus says “NO, don’t hurt her” Then he will have gone against the Law of Moses and be discredited by the Religious Leaders

3. “But Jesus bent down (he was already sitting down, teaching as a Rabbi) and started to write in the [dust of the earth].”
a. What did he write? We don’t know, but they all saw it.
b. The [dust of the earth] is the basis for the sermon “Earth Accuses Earth” or “Dust Accuses Dust”. That would be an interesting sermon.
c. He seems to be ignoring them, or avoiding them. But they keep insisting that he answer. So he straightened up…

4. “The one among you without [ that sin ], let him cast the first stone at her.”
a. The Aramaic Bible reads “… THAT SIN” as in “that specific sin.”
b. The Greek manuscripts, if they include this story, just read “…sin” as if he is referring to “…any sin, of any kind.”
c. Then he starts writing in the Dust of the Earth once again.
d. No one remained to “give (pass) judgment” on the woman. They wanted Jesus to act as the Judge, but he would not. Even the “so called” witnesses refused to “pass judgment” against the woman in the presence of the Messiah. They did not want their own sins revealed.
e. Hosea 4:14 reads, “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with prostitutes.”

5. Is Jesus excusing her sin?
a. First, Jesus is NOT her judge. See Verse 15 below. “You judge according to the flesh, but I judge no one.” He will one day, and his judgment is TRUE, but this is not the day.
b. NO, he tells her to go … and he tells her not to sin any more. He does not excuse her sin. “Go now, and leave your life of sin” NIV
c. He does give her GRACE and MERCY.
d. He treats her as a PERSON with VALUE

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity : If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity (sexual sin) as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst [pleasures of sin] are purely spiritual. The pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing, and patronizing, and spoiling sport, and back biting; the pleasures of power and hatred. For there are two things inside me … they are the animal self and the diabolical self; and the diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But of course, it is better to be neither!