A Woman Caught in Adultery

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” — John 8:1-12.

The scribes and Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery and say that she should be stoned as commanded by Moses in the law. Jesus simply advises that the person without sin should cast the first stone. The crowd melt away being convicted by their conscience. Jesus then tells the woman to stop sinning.


The Law says —

‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.’ — Leviticus 20:10.

“If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” — Deuteronomy 22:22.

The Law prescribed the death penalty for adultery. While the Law did not speak of stoning, stoning was the most common way in which Israel carried out the death penalty.

There are two key aspects to the story that must be noted. First, twice the text tells us that she is caught in adultery. She is not accused of adultery. It is not that she has a reputation of being an adulteress. She has been caught.

Second, verse 6 reveals that the scribes and Pharisees said these things to test Jesus. They are continuing to look for a charge to bring against Jesus. Nothing in this text is legitimate. It is not that these men were walking down the street and encountered this woman in the act of adultery and thought they should have Jesus’ opinion on the matter.

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem want Jesus killed and they are seeking a charge that will be sufficient to allow them to arrest him and have him executed. All of this is to trap Jesus, not to uphold God’s law.

The leaders are not trying to uphold the law of God. The text tells us that they are trying to trap Jesus. There is a serious discrepancy in this narrative. Where is the man in this story? The law was very clear that both the man and the woman were to be put to death, not just the woman. For the man to not be brought forward with this woman shows us that there is something wrong. Justice is not being served here.

Jesus knows what they are up to and puts the onus on them to carry out the requirement of the law, if they are without sin. Their guilt cause them to leave. Jesus tells the woman He doesn’t condemn her nor does He condone her sin! He sends her on her way by telling her to quit sinning.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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