Neither Do I Condemn You
Topic: The Gospel Passage: John 7:53–8:11
• What do the scholars say about this passage?
• Why we can trust the scriptures?
• Why am I teaching this passage?
• What is going on in this story?
• What would God say to us through this story?
When this story is included in John, it appears in different places:
o Earlier: after 7:36
o Earlier: after 7:44
o Here: 7:53-8:11
o Later: after 21:25
o Another book: after Luke 21:38
Some of the Greatest Theologians of All Time say this passage should be in John
• Augustine: "Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord's act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said 'sin no more' had granted permission to sin."
• John Calvin: “[This passage] has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.”
However, the Greatest Modern Day New Testament Scholars say
No, This Does Not Belong in John
John MacArthur: "This section dealing with the adulteress most likely was not a part of the original contents of John…for the earliest and best manuscripts exclude it. … The vocabulary and style of the section also are different from the rest of the gospel, and the section interrupts the sequence of v. 52 with 8:12ff.”
Don Carson, who teaches at Trinity, and is in my view one of the best New Testament scholars in the world, writes, "Despite the best efforts . . . to prove that this narrative was originally part of John's Gospel, the evidence is against [them], and modern English versions are right to rule it off from the rest of the text (NIV) or to relegate it to a footnote (RSV)." - Don Carson (The Gospel According to John, 1991, p. 333)
Bruce Metzger, one of the world's great authorities on the text of the New Testament until his death in 2002: "The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the periscope of the adulteress is overwhelming." (The Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971, p. 219)
Leon Morris: "The textual evidence makes it impossible to hold that this section is an authentic part of the Gospel." (The Gospel According to John, 1971, p. 882)
Andreas Köstenberger: "This represents overwhelming evidence that the section is non-Johannine." (John, 2004, p. 246)
And Herman Ridderbos: The evidences "point to an unstable tradition that was not originally part of an ecclesiastically accepted text." (The Gospel of John, 1997, p. 286)
6 Reasons This Section Isn't Original to John's Gospel (John Piper)
1. The story is missing from all the Greek manuscripts of John before the fifth century.
2. All the earliest church fathers omit this passage in commenting on John and pass directly from John 7:52 to John 8:12.
3. In fact, the text flows very nicely from 7:52 to 8:12 if you leave out the story and just read the passage as though the story were not there.
4. No Eastern church father cites the passage before the tenth century when dealing with this Gospel.
5. When the story starts to appear in New Testament manuscript copies, it shows up in four different places (after 7:36; 7:44; 21:25 and Luke 21:38).
6. Its style and vocabulary is more unlike the rest of John's Gospel than any other paragraph in the Gospel.
How does this affect my view of the Bible?
1. I understand that there are questions regarding the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20.
2. I gain greater confidence in the translators who put together these Bibles.
3. I have greater confidence in the truth of the scriptures.
Authenticity of Scriptures: Manuscript Support for NT versus Other Great Works of Antiquity
Conclusion from Textual Criticism
No Doctrines of Christianity are Threatened & Truth of Scripture is Confirmed
Fredric Kenyon: "It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God" (Frederic G. Kenyon, The Story of the Bible).
“So John, if you have questions about the authenticity of this passage, then why are you going to teach it?”
Why I’m going to teach this passage.
1. I believe it really happened.
• Many scholars agree that though this passage was likely not written by John, it probably really did happen.
2. It fits the context of Jesus life and ministry.
• The religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus. This was just another one of their tests. Like in _____ where they asked him if they should pay taxes to Caesar. They give him a conundrum where there’s no right answer without getting yourself into trouble. If I say no, I get in trouble with Rome. If I say yes, then I’m acknowledging the validity of a wicked kingdom and paying into their coffers. The religious leaders thought they had him either way. Similarly, this situation
• Jesus coming up with a brilliant response that fits his character and keeps himself from falling into the trap.
3. It fits who Jesus is and what he came to do.
• This passage has Jesus written all over it.
4. This story is a beautiful illustration of the power of the gospel.
• The sinful person stands rightly condemned by God’s law and Jesus brings grace and sets the sinner free.
John MacArthur: “Many [scholars], however, do think that [this passage] has all the earmarks of historical veracity, perhaps being a piece of oral tradition that circulated in parts of the western church… In order for us to justify presenting it, I want to ask a few rhetorical questions...
• Question #1: Do these verses teach truth that violates other Scripture? The answer is no, they do not.
• Question #2: Do they in fact corroborate other Scripture and substantiate it? The answer is yes they do.
• Question #3: Is there definite and conclusive evidence that they should be left out? The answer is no.”
“The fact that it does not violate Scripture and it does … portray a very beautiful and accurate picture of Christ and beyond all question reveals divine insight and divine wisdom, leads me personally to believe that … we ought to study it. We certainly will learn and profit by it.”
The crowd with stones in hand, seeks to execute this woman, but Jesus gets the people to consider their own guilt, which causes them to drop their rocks and walk away…and Jesus says to her…
Title Slide: Neither do I condemn you.
We’re like her: If we’re honest with ourselves, we are so much like this woman. We’ve been caught in the very act of adultery. We’ve cheated on our God by disobeying his commands. We’ve been caught red handed. We’ve been thrown at the feet of Jesus. Satan cries out his accusations:
o This one was caught in the very act of telling a lie.
o This one was caught gossiping.
o This one was caught looking at dirty websites.
o This one was caught watching a worldly movie.
o This one was caught speaking harshly to his wife.
o This one was caught in the very act, Jesus. Shall we stone him? Shall we stone her?
• And we await Jesus’ verdict. What did he do with this woman? What will he do with us?
• What happens when law and grace collide at the feet of Jesus Christ?
• I so want you to see yourself as this woman. I don’t want you to see yourself as the self-righteous people taking up stones to kill her, thinking of themselves as so much better than her.
o If you see yourself in the crowd…
ï‚§ You’ll grow proud and cold.
ï‚§ You’ll have nothing to offer a sinful world that needs grace.
ï‚§ You won’t know the joy of your salvation.
o If you see yourself as the woman caught in adultery…
ï‚§ You’ll realize how serious your sin is.
ï‚§ You’ll come face to face with your depravity.
ï‚§ You’ll realize how you truly deserve God’s judgment.
ï‚§ THEN WHEN JESUS SAYS TO YOU NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU…
ï‚§ Your God will be so much greater to you.
ï‚§ Grace will be so much sweeter.
ï‚§ The gospel will become your heart-cry, your life message and the banner you wave.
ï‚§ You will grow to love Jesus Christ like never before. He will be your truest friend…and the love of your life!
ï‚§ And that’s the sweet spot where your heart if filled with the joys of heaven…where you truly begin to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “I came to give you life and that more abundantly.”
Where Jesus Spends the Night (John 7:53-8:2)
53 [[They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
• Jesus who created the world had no home in the world he created. He was a homeless man. His disciples went home, but he went to the Mount of Olives.
• Mount of Olives: This was a special place for Jesus. He had taught people from the Mount of Olives. The garden of gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and was arrested on the night of the crucifixion is at the base of the mount of olives. 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives.
• This night he goes there for the evening, either to sleep or to pray… or both.
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
• Jesus is in Jerusalem presumably just after the feast of booths.
• The rabbis would teach sitting down with the people sitting below him.
• Enter the religious leaders.
The Test (John 8:3-6)
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?”
• I imagine these men enter abruptly interrupting Jesus’ teaching and throw the woman down in the middle people.
• Stand-Off: The religious leaders are standing, the woman is on the ground in the middle of all these people, Jesus is sitting above the crowd when they throw this question in the face of Jesus.
• So what do you say?
• This is a very complicated scenario and they demand an immediate answer from Jesus. There’s lots of issues going on:
o There’s something fishy going on. She was caught in the very act of adultery and yet she’s the only one about to be stoned. Where is the man who was fornicating with her? Why isn’t he about to be stoned?
o These men act as if they care so much for the law, and yet it’s obvious that they don’t. Verse 6 says…
6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.
• If they really were trying to implement the law, the man would be there too.
• Also, they’re the scribes and the Pharisees. They’re the religious leaders. They’re the ones in charge. If they think she’s justly deserving of execution, why don’t they just stone her themselves? Why ask Jesus?
• They know what they’re doing. This is not a group of men that are concerned with obeying the law, but rather a group of men that want to trap Jesus.
o “YES – Stone her.” – Then he’s in trouble with Rome because only they had the power to execute people. If Jesus said yes, he might end up being executed by the Romans himself.
o “NO – Don’t stone her.” – If he says “No”, then they can accuse him of having no regard for the law.
• Jesus recognizes the dilemma he’s in, and he sees right through their hypocrisy. So what did he do?
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
• As if to say, “Does this even deserve a response?”
• He leaves the question hanging in the air, so all the onlookers can really think about what’s going on, perhaps so they too could see the hypocrisy.
• Theories about what Jesus wrote:
o Names of the people standing there
o Sins of the people
o 10 commandments
o I think he was just doodling. If he was writing something so significant as names, sins or the 10 commandments, I think it would have been recorded in the story.
o I think he was just trying to get the attention off himself and onto the scribes and the Pharisees for a moment, so people could see the evil intents of their hearts.
• These moments of silence make the religious leaders start seeing what fools they are making of themselves. Silence is not their friend and this point. They get frustrated and anxious. They want an answer, so they start pestering him more and more. “So what do you say? What do you say? Come on! What do you say, Jesus?”
Jesus’ Response and Their Reaction (John 8:7-9)
• I imagine Jesus stands up, slowly takes a breath, and says: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
• Then, Jesus goes back to writing in the sand. He’s given them a decision to make. He’s brought them to a fork in the road: Will they stone her or will they walk away?
o To throw a stone is to claim sinlessness.
o They don’t have a come-back this time, and they know if they throw a stone, they’re just going to show everyone what horrible hypocrites they are.
• Jesus gives the crowd think time.
• I heard a speech coach say, “Consider the power of the pause. After you make a strong point, go silent and let people think about what you said.”
• Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And then he goes silent.
• Let us consider Jesus words today! We who throw stones at others. We who judge people’s driving. We who judge their hairstyles, their makeup and their music. We who so enjoy trashing others’ reputation with our words…We throw stone after stone at others. And Jesus would say to us, “Let him who is without sin, throw the first stone.” [SILENCE]
9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones,
• I think the older you get, the more you realize your own moral frailty. You can look back on your life and see a lot things you did that aren’t pretty. You’re more aware of your sin, and you’re more willing to admit your depravity and give grace to others.
• The older ones, the wiser ones, the ones with gray hair…they leave first.
• The young guys are zealous for the law, stones in hand, muscles bulging with their arms cocked back. They’re ready to rock’n’roll.
• But they’re hesitant as they see grandpa and grandma go soft. They see the older ones change in their posture, lower their arms and drop their stones on the ground. The grandpas and grandmas leave first. Then the uncles and aunts, moms and dads…and finally these young zealots follow suite, drop their rocks and go home to ask grandpa, “What just happened there?” “Why did we let her off?” “Why did everyone just walk away?”
• Everyone has departed. The scribes and Pharisees recognize their defeat and they slip out of the crowd. The people who were listening to Jesus…perhaps they too had taken up stones…but now they have left as well…The landscape has cleared, the dust has settled and “Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.”
o There’s no one left. It’s just her and Jesus.
o May you get to that moment…where it’s just you and Jesus.
o You’re sin has been exposed.
o You have been sentenced to death.
o You deserve the punishment…
o But Jesus… But Jesus… But Jesus…steps in!
o And Jesus changed everything!
o This woman is standing in a amazement. She’s befuddled. What just happened?
o She looks at Jesus, and he’s still writing in the sand. [Verse 10]
Jesus and the Woman (John 8:10-11)
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]
• One PERSON in the crowd that day was qualified to throw a stone. One person was without sin. But it was that one person that said to the woman…
• Neither do I condemn you:
o Jesus doesn’t condemn her. She deserves punishment. She deserves the wrath of God.
o Imagine how Jesus felt about her sin: I think in order to understand, you’d have to imagine if this was your spouse caught sleeping with someone else. Consider the betrayal you would feel. I think that feeling will help you understand how Jesus felt about this woman’s sin. He didn’t take it lightly.
o Her sin of adultery was first and foremost a betrayal of God. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t care about her sin. He cared deeply. He cared so much that he wanted her to be set free from it.
o Jesus gives her grace! Once you believe on Jesus, there is no more condemnation for you!
o Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
o Galations 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
o Galatians 5:13 “13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.”
• go, and from now on sin no more:
o Go and be different. Set your face toward righteousness!
o You have been the recipient of incredible grace. Go now and live like it’s true!
o Graceïƒ Works: It’s so critical we get the order right. We don’t work to try an earn God’s favor. We believe and receive it freely…and this life transformation leads to good works in our life. How often we get this wrong?
ï‚§ I’ve got to clean up my act before I go to God.
ï‚§ I’ve got to be a better person before I can go to church or pray.
ï‚§ No. You’ve got it all wrong. Take your messed up self to God. He will transform you. Jesus says, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden.” Come to him. He’ll clean you up!
The Law Condemns Us All
• Our Depravity: We look into the perfect law of God and we see our wretchedness in living color. We look into the eyes of Jesus and he says, “I do not condemn you.”
• Jesus isn’t being soft on sin here: He is planning to go to the cross in less than 6 months to die for this woman’s adultery.
• Jesus takes her place: He takes her condemnation upon himself. He says, “Don’t stone her. Crucify me.” I understand she deserves to die. Let her go free. Take me instead. He goes to the cross. From the cross he cries out, “It is finished!” It’s done. It’s accomplished. Paid in full! I’ve paid the price for her sins. Your sins which are great, are washed away. By faith in Jesus Christ, you have been made righteous.
Go and sin no more! Not that you’ll never sin again, but set your face toward righteousness. Walk circumspectly. Be quick to repent of sin. Be empowered by the gospel and by the Holy Spirit to live a life of holiness.
Where are you right now?
• Holding a Stone: Are you holding a stone, ready to fire it at someone? Do you stand in judgment of another person? Are you condemning them when Christ would call you to offer them grace? ïƒ I’d say to you walk away. Sooner rather than later. Leave with the older and the wiser. Go back to town, find your prayer closet, and fall on your face saying, “Whoa is me a sinner! I should be the one being stoned. I stand condemned before a holy God. Where would I be if it wasn’t for the grace of God?”
• Laying on the Ground Condemned: Stand up and look at the man writing in the sand. Stand amazed at his grace. Look into his eyes. See the love he has for you and the determination with which he goes to the cross to die in your place. And let this moment change you. Don’t go back to your adulterous relationship. Don’t go back to your unprotected internet. Don’t go back to your worldly way of life. Soak in the grace, marinate in the gospel, in the love of Jesus … and then set your face toward righteousness! Do it because he’s changed you. Do it because you love him. Do it because you’re not the same person anymore!