The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

5. Jesus the water of life, 7:1-8:11

v] Neither do I condemn you


Jesus is confronted by a crowd intent on stoning a woman who has committed adultery. Jesus invites those without sin to cast the first stone, and so consequently, the crowd dissipates. Jesus tells the woman that he too is unwilling to condemn her; "go and sin no more."


Jesus the messiah comes not to offer the condemnation of the law, but rather the grace of forgiveness.


i] Context: See 7:1-13. The insertion point of this story is interesting, given the diverse nature of the dialogues / discourses in chapters 7-8. To some extent the story serves as a significant event illustrating the Law / Grace issue revealed in the dialogues / discourses of chapter 7. Hoskins, on the other hand, argues that it well illustrates the theme of judgment in chapter 8, cf., 8:15.


ii] Background: It is unlikely that this very synoptic story was ever part of John's gospel. It is not found in the oldest manuscripts, and where it is found, it takes up different positions in the gospel, eg., one manuscript has it after chapter 21. It is even found in a copy of Luke's gospel after 21:38. It presents as a piece of oral tradition which never found a home in the synoptic gospels and so was preserved by inserting it into John's gospel. It is often argued that its language is non-Johannine, but when compared to other narratives in John it is not overly distinctive. Yet, the fact that it is not found in the oldest manuscripts, and that in later ones it is found in no less than five different positions, means that it "was not part of the original Gospel and therefore should not be regarded as part of the Christian canon", Kostenberger. Against this view are those who hold that canonicity is determined by the use of a text in the early church. Augustine and Ambrose happily refer to the story and Jerome included it in the Latin Vulgate. Augustine suggested that the story had been removed during the more puritanical early years of the Christian church for fear that "their wives be given impunity in sinning." This possibly does explain why the story was not readily accepted in the first two centuries of the Christian church. None-the-less, the early Church Fathers make no mention of the episode and no Eastern Fathers make mention of it before the tenth century, other than Didymus the Blind of Alexandria, who refers to a similar narrative.

For an argument in favor of Johannine authorship see Zane Hodges, Bibliotheca Sacra, #136 and 137.


iii] Structure: Neither do I condemn you:

Setting, v1-2;

Jesus is confronted by a lawless crowd, v3-5;

Editorial comment, v6a:

"They were using this question as a trap."

Jesus responds to the crowd, v6b-8;

Jesus responds to the woman, v9-11.

"Neither do I condemn you"

"go, from now on sin no more."


iv] Interpretation:

The story portrays Jesus as the merciful judge who achieves a delicate balance between justice and mercy. This woman is clearly an adulterer, a sinner in need of God's mercy, but at the same time a just judgment must apply. There is no indication that she has already been judged by the Sanhedrin, and in any case, the Sanhedrin does not have the power, under Roman law, to execute criminals. What we have here is a male lynch mob who are acting outside the law, apart from due process. As well as acting illegally in their treatment of the woman, they obviously intend Jesus harm, cf., v6a. "Teachers of the law and the Pharisees" would not be inclined to seek a legal judgment from Jesus except that it might put him in an invidious position with respect to the Law of Moses (similar to the question of paying taxes to Rome, Mk.22:21). An adulterous wife was a serious matter and any soft-peddling by Jesus on the subject would set him against the religious establishment.

Jesus' response exceeds the wisdom of Solomon, but it does come with a question or two. We can well understand why the story did not easily find a place in the Christian Canon. Jesus' liberality seems to encourage libertarianism, an anything goes attitude - "why not sin that grace may abound?" On a recent interview with a pedophile priest, the interviewer asked whether he felt God would forgiven him. The interviewer was shocked with his definite "Yes" - it all seemed like easy grace to her. Of course, as we know, it wasn't easy for Christ. So, the first problem is that the woman seems to get off too lightly.

The second problem concerns the notion of a just judgment. Jesus seems to imply that a sinner really doesn't have the capacity, nor right, to pass judgment on another's sin - "judge not lest you be judged." If that were true, the rule of law would not exist, and anarchy would be the result. Jesus has clearly stated that he did not come to dispense with the Law, but to "fulfill / complete" it. Jesus is in the presence of a lawless assembly who are taking the law into their own hands, and are doing so without any indication that they have properly assessed the actions or motives of the husband or his wife, nor their own motives, nor the ultimate purpose of the law, namely, to lead the sinner into the presence of God's mercy. So, Jesus exposes their hypocrisy, and then, without addressing the crime itself and what may, or may not, be the appropriate punishment in the circumstances, he goes to the heart of the matter, namely, the woman's standing before God. In Christ there is no condemnation, but rather justification - by grace through faith its JUST as IF I'ED never sinned. And so she is sent on her way, encouraged to do better next time around - "go .... sin no more."

As for the pedophile priest, he was rightly suffering incarceration as a just punishment for his evil behavior; he did the crime, now he is doing the time. Yet, beyond the application of natural justice there is divine justice. For those who will, there is the one who bears the burden of broken humanity, such that from the throne we may hear the words, "neither do I condemn you."


Propositional Truth and Modern Theology: We in the West live in an age where objective truth is being replaced by subjective truth. If there is no God to dictate truth, then truth becomes a matter of personal opinion where my opinion is right and yours is wrong. It is no longer beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but truth, morality, justice, ..... is in the eye of the beholder. Where truth is subjective, there is an inclination to approach art and literature with a what it means to me mindset. Artists may wish to convey a particular truth through their work, but that is their truth, not my truth. My truth is what I learn from their work of art, despite what truth the artist may wish to convey to me.

This mindset has influenced modern theology, Feminist, Environmental, and the like - all just reflections of the shibboleths of our age. The story of The Adulterous Woman (or better The Story of the Hypocritical Men) well illustrates deplorable sexism, but is that the message of the story, is that the intended truth, or is it just the truth for me? If we believe in a God who speaks to us through his prophets of old, through Jesus and his apostles, and today through the scriptures, then the intended message of the inspired author is the message we must take from the story.

What then is God's revealed truth in this story? Propositional truths are notoriously difficult to draw from scripture - an is is not necessarily an aught; a description is not necessarily a prescription; a promise or command to a particular person at a particular point in time is not necessarily a promise or command to all people at all times. Jesus' promise to an adulterous woman "neither do I condemn you" does not necessarily apply to all adulterous women, nor to all adulterers, nor in the end to all sinners. In fact, we know from scripture that God does condemn sinners, but we also know from scripture that "God is a merciful God and will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with you ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath", Deut.4:31 (in union with Christ, the one who is the true remnant of Israel, the promise of covenant inclusion and blessing applies to all believers). So, with this adulterous woman we see something of God's mercy at work. She may stand condemned by a band of hypocrites, but through faith in Christ her sins can be washed away. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus", Rom.8:1.

What about "go and sin no more"? Again we have a specific command to a specific person at a specific point in time. Yet, it is a command reflecting propositions which apply to all believers; "I beg of you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God - your service with understanding. And do not conform to the present world scheme, but be transformed by a complete renewal of mind, so as to sense for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God", Rom.12:1-2.

Context may also have something to say to us, although is the placement of this particular pericope divinely sanctioned? Yet, the story does seem to illustrate the law / grace issue evident in chapters 7 and 8; "a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law", Rom.3:28


v] Homiletics:

A second chance at life. The story of the woman taken with adultery powerfully illustrates a Biblical principle which touches our personal everyday life and that of our society at large. It is the principle of divine mercy - the second chance. All of us will, at some point in our life, mess up big time. Selfishness will have its way and then, as is so often the case, the consequences will flow. At that point, our life could well be over, all lost in the desire for worldly mammon - the illusion of wealth, power, or sexual gratification. Yet, as it was for the adulterous woman so it is for us; if we humbly stand before the living God, we will receive his pronouncement, "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." It is as if God says to us, "I'm wiping the slate clean; off you go and this time make a better fist of it." In Christ, our God is the God of the second chance. Of course, being slow learners God often has to provide a few more chances along the way!

Western civilization, based as it is on the teachings of Jesus, incorporates the second chance in law; you do the crime and so do the time, and then your debt is paid in full. In theory, at least, you are not marked for life; you start out afresh. Like that woman long ago, some selfish addiction, whether it be sex or otherwise, can easily destroy the fabric of our life. As we flay around in its devastating consequences, let us remember that our failings are not the end. Our God is the God of the second chance; he allows us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try try again.

Text - 8:1

Neither do I condemn you, v1-11; i] Setting, v1-2. The synoptic gospels mention that during passion week Jesus resided in Bethany, with pauses along the way at the Mount of Olives. Our story reflects this setting. It is early morning and a crowd has gathered in the outer court of the temple to hear Jesus expound the Law.

de "but" - but/and. More likely transitional than adversative, indicating a step in the narrative; "Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and on the next day he was back again in the Temple courts."

twn elaiwn (a) gen. "[the Mount] of Olives" - [jesus went to the mount] of olives. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / identification, limiting "the mount"; "the mount which is called / which is known by its olive trees."


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

orqrou (oV) "at dawn" - [he came again] of early in the morning. The genitive is adverbial, of time, indicating the time of Jesus' coming; "At dawn, Jesus appeared in the temple courts." The outer court of the temple was the usual venue for scribes to teach the law to their students and so Jesus is most likely following standard procedure.

eiV + acc. "in [the temple courts]" - into [the temple court]. Spacial, expressing the direction of the action and arrival at, so Jesus came again "to" the temple, arriving "in" it.

proV + acc. "[the people gathered] around [him]" - [and all the people were coming] toward [him]. Spacial, expressing movement toward.

kaqisaV (kaqizw) aor. part. "he sat down [to teach them]" - [and] having sat [he was teaching them]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperfect verb "to teach"; "he sat down and taught them", ESV. The imperfect verb "to teach" may be treated as inceptive, "began to teach them", Barclay, or durative, "was engaged in teaching", NEB. Of course, the imperfect is often used for background information, which may be its intent here. Jesus takes up the usual position of a scribe when teaching his students; the teacher sits and the students stand.


ii] Jesus is confronted by a lawless mob, v3-5. The action of these religious zealots can rightly be described as lawless because if their action was other than rough justice, they would also have with them the male offender, as is required by the law of Moses, Lev.20:10, Deut.22:22-24. There is also no mention of the necessary two eye witnesses to the act of infidelity, neither of whom can be the husband. The Law of Moses is the last thing this mob has on its mind - they are a lynch mob happy to have some sport with Jesus on their way to execute rough justice. Of course, the whole event may be a set-up where it is not the woman who is on trial, but Jesus. Jeremias argues that a trial has already taken place and the mob is on the way to execute judgment, but then as Brown and Schnackenburg note, why would Jesus ask "Has no one condemned you"?

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

kateihmmenhn (katalambanw) perf. mid./pas. part. "caught" - [the scribes and the pharisees lead a woman] having been taken = caught. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "woman"; "a woman who had been caught in adultery", ESV.

epi + dat. "in [adultery]" - in [adultery]. Here an adverbial use of the preposition serving to introduce an adverbial phrase modifying the verbal aspect of the participle "having been taken = caught", manner ="in the act of adultery", or temporal = "while committing adultery." The adultery referred to here is obviously not premarital sex, nor a single woman having sex with a married man, nor sex with a prostitute, but a betrothed or married woman having sex with someone other than her husband.

sthsanteV (iJsthmi) aor. part. "they made [her] stand" - [and] having stood [her]. The participle is best treated as attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", "and they stood her in the middle and said to him", but it may also be treated as adverbial, modal, "placing her in the midst they said ....", or temporal, "after placing her in the midst they said ....."

en + dat. "before [the group]" - in [midst]. Local, expressing space. Obviously not in the middle of the crowd, but in the middle between the crowd and Jesus; "they stood her between themselves and Jesus, and said to him", TNT.


autw/ dat. pro. "[said] to Jesus" - [they say] to him. Dative of indirect object; "and then said to him", Phillips. Note how narrative transition is indicated by the move from the standard narrative aorist tense to the present tense "they say."

moiceuomenh (moiceuw) pres. mid./pas. part. "[was caught in the act of] adultery" - [teacher, this woman] committing adultery [has been caught in the act]. This participle may be viewed as the nominative complement of "woman", so adjectival, predicative, but also adverbial, maybe temporal; "this woman was caught while in the very act of committing adultery." "She was caught sleeping with a man who isn't her husband", CEV. The preposition ep (epi), here with the adjective autofwrw/, "in the act of", is adverbial, as v3, probably modal, expressing manner; "caught in the very act of adultery", TNT.


en + dat. "in [the Law]" - [but/and] in [the law]. Local, expressing space; "Moses instructed us in the Law."

liqazein (liqazw) pres. inf. "to stone" - [moses commanded us] to stone to death. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Moses commanded / instructed, namely, "that such a woman should be stoned"; "Moses laid it down in the Law for us that the penalty in such cases is stoning", Barclay.

tas toiautaV pro. "such women" - the such a one. The use of a distant demonstrative pronoun (here with a nominalizing article) is disparaging; "such a creature", Moffatt.

oun "So" - [you] therefore [what do you say]? Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion,"So what do you say?", or just transitional, as NIV; "What do you have to say about it?" NAB.


iii] Editorial comment, v6a. When it comes to the Law of Moses, the apostle Paul was viewed as a libertine, although his perspective was not of his own creation. Paul's teaching on law and grace derives from Jesus who was similarly viewed by the pietists of his day as a teacher out to "abolish" the law. Of course, as Jesus made clear, he had not come to "abolish" the law, but "fulfill / complete" it. What he sought to abolish was the notion that the law sanctifies, whereas it only makes us more sinful. Holiness in the sight of God, and thus divine acceptance, is a gift of grace appropriated through faith in the faithfulness of Christ, apart from the law. The law's prime purpose is to facilitate the appropriation of God's grace by exposing sin and thus our need for a savior. Having found holiness apart from the law, the law goes on to serve as a guide for the life of faith. For those entrenched in a sanctification by works mentality, daily tithing "mint, dill and cumin", Jesus is a libertine teacher of the law whose heretical teachings need exposing.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, here to an editorial comment - John explains the real motive for this show trial.

peirazonteV (peirazw) pres. part. "as a trap" - [they were saying this] tempting / testing [him]. The participle is adverbial, best viewed as final, expressing purpose; "in order to put him to the test" = "in order to entrap him."

iJna + subj. "in order to [have a basis]" - that [they might have]. Here adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order that / so that they might have ...."

kathgorein (kathgorew) pres. inf. "for accusing" - to accuse [him]. The infinitive could be taken to introduce an object clause, serving as the direct object of the verb "to have", "in order to have / that they might have a charge against him", so Novakovic. Both Zerwick and Harris suggest that the construction is complementary, "that they have = might be able to charge him", cf., BDAG 421b for ecw + inf.

autou gen. pro. "him" - Genitive of direct object after the kata prefix verb "to accuse = to bring a charge against."


iv] Jesus responds to the crowd, v6b-9. Jesus' act of writing in the ground with his finger before addressing the crowd is an interesting detail, but its meaning is illusive. Is this an embarrassed response, or even an expression of Jesus' disgust with the behavior of the mob? Augustine suggested that it was prophetic, "they will be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water", Jer.17:13. Derrett suggests that Jesus wrote down Ex.23:1b. The ten commandments would have been very applicable in the situation! Maybe it's a symbolic act, a judgment written in the soft earth, soon blown away by God's mercy. Maybe Jesus is cooling things down, giving time for everyone to focus on his response rather than the woman and her failings. Standing, Jesus refocuses the crowd, not back onto the woman, but back onto their own sin. Jesus then returns to his doodling.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative - best left untranslated.

kuyaV (kuptw) aor. part. "[Jesus] bent [down]" - [jesus] having bowed, stooped [down]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperfect verb "to write"; "Jesus bent down and wrote", ESV.

kategrafen (katagrafw) imperf. "started to write" - was writing. The NIV treats the imperfect as inceptive; "began to write", Cassirer. The kata prefix extends the sense from "was writing" to "was tracing, drawing." Jesus may just be doodling.

eiV + acc. "on [the ground]" - into [the ground]. This preposition, when expressing arrival at, moves close to en "in, on", so "in the ground."

tw/ daktulw/ (oV) dat. "with [his finger]" - in [the finger]. The dative is adverbial, instrumental expressing means, "by", or modal expressing manner, "with".


Jesus' words seem to draw on Deut.13:9, 17:7. Carson suggests that the sin the crowd must be free of is the sin of adultery, not just sin in general - "witnesses of the crime must be the first to throw the stones, and they must not be participants in the crime itself." All these men would have certainly committed adultery in thought, and as Jesus makes clear in the Sermon on the Mount, the thought condemns us, but it is hard to believe that all the men present had at some time or other slept with a woman other than their wife. Was infidelity that rampant in the first century? Sin in general is surely in mind. When we judge others we place ourselves before God's judgment seat, and none of us are without sin, cf., Rom.2:1, 22, 23. Jesus seeks to "confront all who, ignoring their own sin, want to judge and condemn others without mercy, to confront such judges with what awaits them if the heavenly judge should some day judge them by the same standard, cf., Matt.7:1ff", Ridderbos.

wJV "When" - [but/and] as. The NIV takes the conjunction here as temporal, "when, while", but possibly causal, "because, since"; "as they persisted in their question", Moffatt.

epemenon (epimenw) imperf. "they kept on" - they were remaining, continuing. The imperfect here expresses durative action; "as they persisted in questioning him", Cassirer. Probably not "as they remained standing questioning him." "They kept on asking Jesus about the woman", CEV.

erwtwnteV (erwtaw) pres. part. "questioning [him]" - The participle is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to continue; "they persisted questioning him."

autoiV dat. pro. "[said] to them" - [he straightened up = stood up and said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[let any one] of you [who is without sin" - [the one without sin] of you. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, "among you", as NIV. "The sinless one among you, go first. Throw the stone", Peterson.

ep (epi) acc. "[throw a stone] at [her]" - [let him throw a stone first] at, on, upon [her]. Spacial use of the preposition.


katakuyaV (katakuptw) aor. part. "[again] he stooped down" - [and again] having bent down [he was writing into the earth]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to write"; "he stooped down again and wrote", Moffatt. Again the imperfect verb "to write" may be expressing a durative sense, "continued writing", Phillips, or inceptive, "began to write", CEV.


v] Jesus responds to the woman, v9-11. Having made the point that sinners should think twice about throwing stones at sinners, the crowd departs, from the oldest to the youngest, leaving Jesus and the woman alone in the temple court. There are no witnesses, nor accusers, and so there is no case to answer. Jesus is not a witness to the case, and chooses not to make an accusation. And technically, it would be improper for him to make an accusation, or a judicial finding of guilt, without witnesses. Irrespective of the technicalities, Jesus acts graciously toward the woman and encourages her to live her life in accord with God's will. As for the principle - there is no forgiveness without repentance - it does not necessarily have to apply in all circumstances. So, whether this woman repented or not is beside the point - all is grace.

de "At this" - but/and. Transitional; indicating a step in the narrative.

oiJ ... akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "those who heard" - the ones having hearing. The NIV treats the participle as a substantive; "the people left one by one", CEV. On the other hand, the article oiJ can serve as a personal pronoun introducing the verb "were going out" and with de indicate narrative transition. In that case the participle is best viewed as adverbial, probably temporal; "But when they heard it, they went away one by one", ESV, so Novakovic.

exhrconto (exercomai) imperf. "began to go away" - were going out. The NIV treats the imperfect as inceptive, with stress on the commencement of the action.

ei|V kaq ei|V "one at a time" - one by one. Idiomatic Semitic distributive construction; "one after the other", cf., BDAG, 293.5. We would expect the second ei|V to be accusative, e{na, but obviously it is viewed as indeclinable.

apo + gen."-" - [having begun] from [the older ones]. Expressing separation - here the point of separation; "away from"; "The older men were the first ones to leave and then the younger men", TH. The articular adjective "the elder, older" serves as a substantive, "the older ones = the older men."

arxamenoi (arcw) aor. mid. part. "first" - having begun. The participle is adverbial, model, expressing the manner of their leaving; "they left one by one, beginning from = with the eldest." Note the variant "convicted by their conscience." The older men obviously get the point first.

ou\sa (eimi) pres. part. "[with the woman still standing]" - [and he was left alone and the woman] being. The participle is adverbial, probably best treated as temporal; "Jesus was left alone with the woman as she stood there", Berkeley.

en + dat. "there" - in [the middle]. Local, expressing space; "Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the center of the court", Cassirer.


anakuyaV (anakuptw) aor. part. "Jesus straightened up" - [but/and] having straightened up [jesus said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", as NIV. Note variant; "straightening up and seeing no one but the woman Jesus said"

auth/ dat. pro. "her" - to her. Dative of indirect object.

gunai (h aikoV) voc. "Woman" - woman [where are they]? The vocative "woman" in English sounds disrespectful and is often dropped; "Jesus straightened himself, 'Where are they', he said", Barclay. Note variant, "your accusers." Brown comments "Surprise? Or gentle sarcasm?"

katekrinen (katakrinw) aor. "has [no one] condemned [you]?" - [no one] condemned, judged, rendered guilty [you]. A technical word for judicial use. As noted above, the woman's negative answer to this question implies that not only is there no one from the crowd willing to come forward and condemn her her, but also, that she has not already been condemned at a judicial hearing. "Is there anyone left to accuse you?", CEV.


de "-" - but/and [she said no one lord] but/and [jesus said neither i condemn you]. Transitional, indicating steps in the dialogue - Jesus speaks, de the woman speaks, de Jesus speaks.

poreuou (poreuomai) pres. "Go" - Not necessarily a harsh instruction, so "you may go", NAB.

apo tou nun "from now" - [and] from the now [sin no longer]. Temporal construction; the preposition expressing separation, followed by a nominalizing article turning the temporal adverb "now" into a substantive, "from the now / present." Taken literally the sense of the command is "be on your way and cease from sinning from this time on", Cassirer - if only we could stop sinning! What is Jesus asking her to do? In general terms it could be a command to give more attention to living an upright life, but given the context, Jesus is probably telling her to cease her adultery.


John Introduction

TekniaGreek font download


[Pumpkin Cottage]