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John 8:1-30 (web)

He that is without sin

8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
8:2 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.
8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery.
Having set her in the midst,
8:4 they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act.
8:5 Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such.
What then do you say about her?"
8:6 They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.
But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger.
8:7 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."
8:8 Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.
8:9 They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience,
went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last.
Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle.
8:10 Jesus, standing up, saw her and said,
"Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?"
8:11 She said, "No one, Lord." Jesus said,
"Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more."

The Light of the World

8:12 Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying,
"I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness,
but will have the light of life."
8:13 The Pharisees therefore said to him,
"You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid."
8:14 Jesus answered them, "Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true,
for I know where I came from, and where I am going;
but you don't know where I came from, or where I am going.
8:15 You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one.
8:16 Even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone,
but I am with the Father who sent me.
8:17 It's also written in your law that the testimony of two people is valid.
8:18 I am one who testifies about myself,
and the Father who sent me testifies about me."
8:19 They said therefore to him, "Where is your Father?"
Jesus answered, "You know neither me, nor my Father.
If you knew me, you would know my Father also."
8:20 Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, as he taught in the temple.
Yet no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

8:21 Jesus said therefore again to them,
"I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sins.
Where I go, you can't come."
8:22 The Jews therefore said, "Will he kill himself, that he says,
'Where I am going, you can't come?'"
8:23 He said to them, "You are from beneath. I am from above.
You are of this world. I am not of this world.
8:24 I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins;
for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins."

8:25 They said therefore to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.
8:26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you.
However he who sent me is true;
and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world."
8:27 They didn't understand that he spoke to them about the Father.
8:28 Jesus therefore said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man,
then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself,
but as my Father taught me, I say these things.
8:29 He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn't left me alone,
for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."
8:30 As he spoke these things, many believed in him.

Discussion Questions

vs 1-11
What do you speculate Jesus wrote in the sand?
What did the Law say about adultery?
Did Jesus disagree with the Law?
Did he condone adultery?
Why in this country is adultery reckoned so trivially compared to murder?
And is that consistent with the Law of Moses?
What did Jesus make use of here to diffuse the situation?
Did Jesus throw a stone at this woman?
vs 12-20 Why was Jesus' testimony valid?
vs 24 Who did Jesus claim to be?
What will happen to people who don't accept that fact?
So what are you going to do about it?
vs 28 What does it mean to lift up the Son of Man?
What happens when he is "lifted up"?
(See also John 3:14; 12:32)


He who is without sin

vs 3-11
Here's a passage often abused by the licentious. The religious elite wanted to challenge Jesus with a controvesial issue so as to force him to make an unpopular decision one way or another. First we notice that they took a woman who was in the very act of committing adultery. So if she was in the "very act", then where is the man she was committing adultery with? Perhaps one these very men themselves had lured her into committing adultery. We don't know if this woman was a prostitute, in which case it would have been easy enough by paying her to commit adultery, or if she was an ordinary housewife or young woman committing adultery with a married man. These latter may have been held with more sympathy among the crowd and thus may have been more likely the target these religious leaders chose, so as to enrage the crowd against Jesus if he chose to stone her.

The Law states: "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-- with the wife of his neighbor-- both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." Lev 20:10 Actually if I were Jesus here I'd probably first ask for them to present the adulterer before continuing. But in a sense Jesus does this. What did he write in the sand? I think he most likely wrote down the 10 commandments just as he did when he presented them to Moses. "When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God." Ex 31:18 In this way he was preparing the people for his response. For though she broke the law, so has everyone else in various areas.

Jesus did not speak against the law here. He did not disagree with the law. (After all, he wrote it!) He simply requested that in this particular case for this particular woman that the person throwing the first stone at her in accordance with the law be without sin. This turned the tables on her accusers. For as Solomon has said, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." Ecc 7:20 They could have further challenged Jesus asking what gives him the right to impose such a requirement. But then again Jesus could have pressed them further concerning their individual sins and found each of them worthy of death as well. Thus playing the "sin" card diffused the situation.

Essentially what Jesus did was rather than tell them not to stone the woman, he was telling them - OK, along with this woman, who else should we stone? It made them think that each one of them may be worthy of stoning under the Law of Moses, seeing as even picking up sticks on the Sabbath is punishable by death.

Was Jesus condoning adultery? Certainly not. He told the woman to go and sin no more. Not only did he not condone her behavior, he didn't forgive her. What he was saying that, for now I don't condemn you, in order to give you time to repent. This is much as it says in Rom 2:3-5 "So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape Godís judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that Godís kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of Godís wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." The idea is that God will tolerate sin so to give people time to repent. But if they fail to do so, greater wrath awaits, not only due to the original sin, but because they disregarded God's grace.

This is often the case today in popular antinomian Christianity where, if you were to tell the licentious not to sin any more, you will be condemned by others as if you were throwing stones! Indeed if you follow Jesus' example you will be the one the religious elite will thrown stones at!

Now concerning civil law, it's interesting that under the Law of Moses murder and adultery were both punishable by death. That's God's point of view. Then tell me, in this country why is it that murder is punishable by death or life in prison while adultery has no penalty associated with it? Indeed in many states while adultery provides a basis for divorce, the fact of adultery does not even come into play when it comes to settlement issues. As former-President Clinton has demonstrated along with the media we live in an adulterous land where such behavior goes unpunished because it is the norm.

There is too much licentious behavior tolerated in the Christian community as well. Paul writes, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:9-13 However if a modern antinomian Christian lived in Paul's time he would brush off this command as if he were the Lord saying "He who is without sin cast the first stone". But in fact Paul has that application in here when he speaks of judging those outside. God who is without sin will judge them. But we are responsible to judge those inside. That's what the Bible says!

Jesus not condemning her here does not necessarily mean that she had been forgiven. He mentions nothing of the forgiveness of her sins here. Nor does it mention anything of her repenting. As he said previously speaking of his present mission on earth, "I pass judgment on no one." John 8:15 But in his second coming he will come to pass judgment. But here he provides an opportunity for her to repent. And that's what he's given us as well. Failing to do so will bring judgment in the future.

Valid Testimony

vs 12-20 Much of what he says about affirming testimonies he had also dealt with in John 5:31-47 However, notice this paradox:
John 5:31 "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid."
John 8:14 "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid"
The actual word for "valid" alethes, is the same word for "true". Thus most translations simply say "true". Unlike English, there appears no distinction in Koine Greek between "valid" and "true", but this ambiguity may affect the interpretation.  Not only John 5:31, but in this very passage in John 8:17 Jesus noted, "In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid." That's a sensible translation, for the testimony of two men is not necessarily "true", for they could both be lying. But in a legal sense the testimony of two is to be reckoned valid.

But when Jesus said, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid" (NIV) This is better translated, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is true" For Jesus knows that it is in fact true because he came from God who gave him that testimony. But they have a valid point in that though he may know it to be true, his testimony alone should not be considered sufficient validation. And thus he goes on to speak of the Father bearing witness to him. By which I take to allude to the miracles he was doing. For he made this same point elsewhere. In fact in the John 5 passage he mentions of the witness of John the Baptist and of the Father. And in John 10 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

Nicodemus himself acknowledged this line of reasoning in John 3:2 "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." And the former blind man of John 9 said, "Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." Jn 9:32,33

Such validated testimony imputes greater culpability. (The more evidence you have, the more you will be held responsible). Thus he says in John 15:24 "If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father."

In verse 19 he speaks of "knowing". But this is not "ginosko" - relational knowledge, but "eido" which is perceptive knowledge. What he is saying is that if you had perceived who I am, then you would have perceived also the testimony of my Father for me.

What's the application? Christians should also be confident that as we testify of Christ our testimony is valid for we are simply repeating what the Bible says and that has already been affirmed by the Father through miracles. Just as those who rejected Jesus rejected the Father, so also those who reject our message reject God.

vs 21,24 Here's another paradox:

John 8:15 "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one."
John 8:21 "you will die in your sin."
In fact Jesus was very judgmental. But John 8:15 I take it that Jesus is speaking by way of ellipsis, which is to say, "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one in that manner." He made this point previously in John 7:24 "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." A right judgment is not simply based on outward appearance.

vs 22 Will he kill himself? In some sense they were correct, for Jesus speaking of his life says, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." John 10:18 The cross was a suicide mission.

vs 23 Jesus is from above and he is not of this world, but what of the Christians? Have we not been born of the earth? Yes, but then again so was Jesus. But of his disciples Jesus says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." John 17:16"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." 1John 5:19  "They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." 1John 4:5.6

vs 25-30 "Who are you?" Jesus forces them to infer the answer from what he has said of himself. He needs not answer directly. We come to the revelation of who Jesus is when we exalt him. For he says, "when I am lifted up (or "exalted") from the earth, will draw all men to myself." John 12:32 And yes these verses speaking of lifting up Jesus (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32) do have dual meanings. For these could refer to his being exalted by God in his crucifixion and ascension, but these also could speak of exalting him in our hearts. The word "lifted up" in Greek means "to exalt" and is translated "exalt" 14 out of 20 times in the King James. Thus verse 28 can read "When you have exalted the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be" Thus if we want people to come to faith in Christ let us exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

"I do always those things that please him." May this be also our goal.
Eph 5:10 "and find out what pleases the Lord."
Col 1:10 "we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way:"
1Th 4:1 "we instructed you how to live in order to please God."

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020