The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 22


(John 8:1-11)


1.     “The Woman Taken In Adultery” (John 7:53-8:11) passage has been either omitted or put in brackets in most of the modern Bible translations.   These “bibles” also have misleading notes.

2.     Some early Christians had trouble with this passage.  They apparently felt that this story seemed to suggest a lenient attitude toward adultery, and might be misunderstood, especially by those just saved out of wicked and immoral heathenism. 

3.     The Scofield Study Bible says the passage, “is not found in some of the most ancient manuscripts. Augustine declares that it was stricken from many copies of the sacred story because of a prudish fear that it might teach immorality.”

4.     According to Augustine (c. 400), it was this moralistic objection to the story, which was responsible for its omission in some of the New Testament manuscripts known to him. “Certain persons of little faith,” he wrote, “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” (The King James Version Defended by Edward F. Hills).

5.     Notice that Augustine thought they were wrong for removing the passage from certain manuscripts.

6.     Jerome (c. 415) wrote that “in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story of the adulterous woman who was accused before the Lord” (Hills).

7.     Jerome personally accepted the story as genuine and he included it in his Latin Vulgate.  Other authorities could be cited but I will just refer to these two since they are the most well-known.  Again, I want to stress the accuracy and the supremacy of the KJV (cf. Rev. 22:18, 19).

8.     Textural critics, like the infamous Westcott and Hort, insist that these verses were added to the Bible, but all the evidence indicates that they were deleted.   There are motives for omitting it but no motives for adding it.  Again – stick with the King James Version!

9.     The modern Bible translations cannot be trusted.  God has preserved His Word, and the KJV is the most accurate and trustworthy translation.


I. THE SIN (8:1-4)

1.     We are told in John 8:3 that the scribes and Pharisees brought unto our Lord a woman taken in adultery. While our Lord was teaching in the temple, these religious hypocrites rudely dragged in this adulterous woman (8:2, 3).

2.     They way they described her sin – “in the very act” (8:4) – shows how lewd and crude these religious leaders really were.

3.     Adultery is a wicked sin.  The seventh commandment says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

4.     There is a unique stain and scar that comes from the sin of adultery that makes it distinct from all the other sins recorded in the Bible (cf. Pro. 6:32, 33).

5.     Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

6.     When a person loses his purity, no amount of money can buy it back. I knew a preacher that had to leave the ministry because he committed adultery.  He lost his ministry but fortunately he didn’t lose his family.  However to this day he and his wife have been quarreling, and he can no longer preach.


II. THE LAW (8:5)

1.     Back in those days, adultery was a capital crime. 

2.     Deuteronomy 22:22 says, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”  Notice it says “both of them.”

3.     Leviticus 20:10 says, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”  Notice it says, “the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (not just the adulteress).

4.     What a shame that the men often run away while the women have to face the shame and disgrace by themselves.  This is a lesson for young women.  Watch out for smooth-talking adulterers and fornicators.

5.     Back in those days, those who were caught committing adultery were stoned to death.  Today, the adulterer and the adulteress kill the baby, but that’s not the way it worked back in those days.

6.     I remember when Pat Buchanan ran for punishment, he ran as a strong pro-life candidate.  A liberal reporter asked Mr. Buchanan, “What about rape?  Shouldn’t abortion be allowed when a woman is raped?”  Buchanan replied, “Why should the baby be executed?  Execute the rapist, not the baby!”

7.     The scribes and the Pharisees demanded that this adulterous woman be stoned.  They not only wanted to stone the woman, but they wanted to tempt our Lord (8:5, 6).   This brings us to our next point.


III. THE MOTIVE (8:5, 6).

1.     We see their motive in verse 6, “This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him.”  They wanted to kill our Lord but that proved rather difficult (cf. 7:1, 11, 19, 20, 25, 30-32, 44-46).

2.     Though they were unable to take our Lord by force, the religious leaders continued to try and discredit Him in the eyes of the people.  They knew that many of the people recognized Jesus as the Messiah and they were determined to stop that if they could.

3.     They knew Jesus was a friend of sinners and so they saw this as a golden opportunity to trap Him.  If our Lord told them to release her it would appear that He was condoning adultery, and He would undoubtedly lose the support of the people.

4.     On the other hand, if He ordered her stoned to death, they might go to Pontius Pilate and put in a complaint because only the Roman government had the authority to execute criminals.

5.     These men went to the temple for the wrong reasons.  They wanted to expose the sins of others, but they had no interest in confessing their own sins. 

6.     Unfortunately there are some religious people like that today.  They can quickly see the sin in others, but are blind to the evil in themselves.



1.     This is the only time we see our Lord writing.  There has been much speculation these past 2,000 years regarding what He wrote.   My pastor said he thinks our Lord wrote, “Where is the man?”

2.     To be caught “in the very act” (8:4) meant that the woman’s partner must have been caught in the very act too, but why wasn’t he dragged into the temple?

3.     I am not saying this is what our Lord wrote, but He may have.  We will have to wait till we get to heaven to find out what He wrote.


V. THE REPLY (8:7)

1.     Our Lord’s actions indicate an unwillingness to answer their question, but as they persisted, He finally spoke up (8:7).

2.     Orthodox Jews are the direct descendants of the Pharisees.  A few years a Jewish man came to my house to clean my carpet and I gave him a Gospel tract.  He said the Orthodox Jews that he knew were terrible adulterers and whoremongers.

3.     Not long after that incident, I was taking one of those five-hour driving classes at a local synagogue, and the teacher told me the same thing.

4.     We do not know what our Lord wrote on the ground but we know His words must have hit the mark (8:7) because no one said a word after that.

5.     It should be emphasized that our Lord’s answer did not lower the standard of the law (cf. John 7:46).

6.     King Solomon was considered the wisest man in the world, but our Lord said in Matthew 12:42, “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”



Just as we do not know what our Lord wrote the first time, we do not know what He wrote the second time (8:8). 



The arrow of conviction hit the bull’s eye (8:9).



1.     Everyone had now left (8:10).  The crowd had gone away but her sin remained.  Her accusers had left but she was still guilty before God.

2.     Her reply was short, and she addressed Him as “Lord” (8:11; cf. Rom. 10:9).

3.     The law condemned her but Jesus forgave her.   “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

4.     Though it is not clear in the text, I believe our Lord saved this adulterous woman.  Why else would He tell her, “Go and sin no more” (10:11)?

5.     “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

6.     “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).



1.     It should be stressed that Jesus did not condone her sin and He did not dismiss her sin.  He died for her sin.  Her sin (and yours and mine) put Jesus on the cross.

2.     Our Lord’s admonition is similar to what He told the impotent man, who had an infirmity for 38 years (cf. 5:14).



1.     One commentator wrote, “No one could have invented this story” (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels – John).

2.     Referring to Psalm 85:10, another said, “Only in Him are mercy and truth met together; only in Him do righteousness and peace kiss each other” (RVG Tasker, John).

3.     This story illustrates what the apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 10:1, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…”



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