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1while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”


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Joh 8:1-11. The Woman Taken in Adultery.

1, 2. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives—This should have formed the last verse of the foregoing chapter. "The return of the people to the inert quiet and security of their dwellings (Joh 7:53), at the close of the feast, is designedly contrasted with our Lord's homeless way, so to speak, of spending the short night, who is early in the morning on the scene again. One cannot well see why what is recorded in Lu 21:37, 38 may not even thus early have taken place; it might have been the Lord's ordinary custom from the beginning to leave the brilliant misery of the city every night, that so He might compose His sorrowful and interceding heart, and collect His energies for new labors of love; preferring for His resting-place Bethany, and the Mount of Olives, the scene thus consecrated by many preparatory prayers for His final humiliation and exaltation" [Stier].

3-6. scribes and Pharisees—foiled in their yesterday's attempt, and hoping to succeed better in this.

4, 5. woman … in adultery … Moses … commanded … should be stoned—simply put to death (De 22:22), but in aggravated cases, at least in later times, this was probably by stoning (Eze 16:40).

but what sayest thou—hoping, whatever He might answer, to put Him in the wrong:—if He said, Stone her, that would seem a stepping out of His province; if He forbade it, that would hold Him up as a relaxer of the public morals. But these cunning hypocrites were overmatched.

6. stooped down—It will be observed He was sitting when they came to Him.

with his finger wrote on the ground—The words of our translators in italics ("as though He heard them not") have hardly improved the sense, for it is scarcely probable He could wish that to be thought. Rather He wished to show them His aversion to enter on the subject. But as this did not suit them, they "continue asking Him," pressing for an answer. At last, raising Himself He said.

7. He that is without sin—not meaning sinless altogether; nor yet, guiltless of a literal breach of the Seventh Commandment; but probably, he whose conscience acquits him of any such sin.

cast a stone—"the stone," meaning the first one (De 17:7).

8. again he stooped down and wrote—The design of this second stooping and writing on the ground was evidently to give her accusers an opportunity to slink away unobserved by Him, and so avoid an exposure to His eye which they could ill have stood. Accordingly it is added.

9. they … convicted … went out one by one … Jesus was left alone—that is, without one of her accusers remaining; for it is added.

the woman in the midst—that is, of the remaining audience. While the trap failed to catch Him for whom it was laid, it caught those who laid it. Stunned by the unexpected home thrust, they immediately made off—which makes the impudence of those impure hypocrites in dragging such a case before the public eye the more disgusting.

10. Woman, &c.—What inimitable tenderness and grace! Conscious of her own guilt, and till now in the hands of men who had talked of stoning her, wondering at the skill with which her accusers had been dispersed, and the grace of the few words addressed to herself, she would be disposed to listen, with a reverence and teachableness before unknown, to our Lord's admonition. "And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." He pronounces no pardon upon the woman (such as, "Thy sins are forgiven thee" [compare Lu 5:28; 7:48]—"Go in peace" [compare Mr 5:34; Lu 7:50; 8:48]), much less does He say that she had done nothing condemnable; He simply leaves the matter where it was. He meddles not with the magistrate's office, nor acts the Judge in any sense (Joh 12:47). But in saying, "Go and sin no more," which had been before said to one who undoubtedly believed (Joh 5:14), more is probably implied than expressed. If brought suddenly to conviction of sin, admiration of her Deliverer, and a willingness to be admonished and guided by Him, this call to begin a new life may have carried with it what would ensure and naturally bring about a permanent change. (This whole narrative is wanting in some of the earliest and most valuable manuscripts, and those which have it vary to some extent. The internal evidence in its favor is almost overpowering. It is easy to account for its omission, though genuine; but if not so, it is next to impossible to account for its insertion).