[26]   Summary and Conclusion (7:53-8:11)

Excursus: The Woman Taken in Adultery (7:53-8:11)

o        This passage is not found in the oldest manuscripts. Also, 8:12 follows naturally after 7:52. However, the story is true to the character of Jesus and is most likely authentic.

 

Explanation

8:1       The Mount of Olives is one of Jesus’ favorite places. Besides this verse, it is not mentioned in this Gospel though it is in all other three.

8:2       “Came” and “taught” are in continuous tense meaning people kept coming to Jesus.

8:3       “Scribes and Pharisees” is a term found often in the Synoptic Gospels but this is the only time in John. Scribes, teachers of the Law, could also be Pharisees. The scribes worked out all the rules and regulations and it was the Pharisees who devoted their lives to the keeping of them.

The adulterous man was not present. Apparently, the accusers wanted to punish her alone.

8:4       The woman’s guilt is certain.

8:5       The Law of Moses specifically provides for the death penalty in such cases (Lev 20:10; Dt 22:22). However, the accusers bent the law by pointing to “such women” because the law says that both the man and the woman are to be put to death. The law does not specify the manner of execution but stoning is prescribed for the guilty pair when the woman is “a virgin pledged to be married.”

The questions was: the law is plain; now what do you say? (“you” is emphatic) Jesus faced a charge under either Roman law or the law of Moses. If He said “Stone her,” then He would lay Himself open to the chrage of counselling action contrary to Roman law which did not provide for a death penalty with such cases. If He said “Do not stone her,” he could be charged with offending against the law of Moses.

Another explanation is that a verdict for stoning would have set Jesus against those who favoured leniency, while a verdict against stoning would set Jesus against the legalists.

8:6       They were not really seeking guidance but were testing Him. Jesus simply stooped and made marks in the dust. The verb used can mean “to draw” but more naturally mean “to write”. It is possible that He wrote the words He later spoke. In other words, He wrote His sentence as well as pronounced it. In Roman law, the judge first wrote down the sentence and then read it aloud from the written record. Some commentators believe that He wrote some words from the law (thus showing the ground on which He would rely on for His decision) or maybe something like Ex 23:1: “Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.”

8:7       The crowd pressed the question. Jesus then stood up and invited any one among them who was sinless (meaning general sinfulness) to throw the first stone. (Normally, the witnesses were to initiate a stoning, Dt 17:7.) Jesus insisted upon the innocency and therefore the competence of whoever stood forth against her as accuser and witness. For anyone to take part in a stoning on the basis of such evidence would be risking the guilt of “joining with the wicked.” If they stoned the woman, they must be very sure of the witnesses. But they were not.

8:9       The verb “left” is in continuous tense indicating something like a procession. The exodus began with the elders. If the witness was false, or not legally valid, and the woman was killed, the oldest men present would have a major share of the responsibility.

8:11     The command implies an end to a continuous action: “Stop your sinful habit.” “No more” points to the thought of no return. Repentence involves both stopping and changing. Jesus showed mercy and called the woman to repentence.

 

Summary

Chapter Themes

1

life and light, 2 major themes of the book; calling disciples

2

miracle of water into wine at marriage at Cana; cleansing of the temple

3

discourse on new birth (born again) to Nicodemus, and on life and light from the Son of God

4

discourse on the water of life to the Samaritan woman; miracle of healing the nobleman’s son

5

miracle of healing the lame man; discourse on the divine Son

6

miracle of feeding 5000; miracle of walking on water; discourse on the bread of life

7

discourse on the Holy Spirit; conflict with the Jewish leaders

8

judgment of the adulterous woman; discourse on the light of the world

9

miracle of healing the blind man; conflict with the Pharisees

10

discourse on the good shepherd

11

miracle of raising the dead Lazarus

12

anointing at Bethany, triumphant entry to Jerusalem

13

the Last Supper: feet washing; new commandment of love

14

discourse on Christ as the way, the truth, the life, and on the coming of the Holy Spirit

15

discourse on the true vine, and on the disciples’ coming persecution

16

discourse on the work of the Holy Spirit as the Counsellor, and on the prospect of joy

17

the high priestly prayer for the glorification of the Son and the unity of the disciples

18

Jewish trial and Roman trial before Pilate; Peter’s three denials

19

crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus

20

resurrection and appearances to Mary Magdalene and the disciples

21

miracle of draught of fish; restoration of Peter through three “Do you love me?”

 

Themes: light leads to life, life leads to love; faith in the Son of God leads to eternal life

 

Application

§         For those who have not believed, the gift of eternal life is offered. The only condition is to take the gift through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

§         For those who have believed, the commandment of love is given. This love leads to the fulfilment of God’s plan of the unity of God’s children.