Pharisees Condemn The Adulterous Woman

In Seattle, a 14-year old boy was found guilty of first degree murder and of five counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery. The Superior Court Judge, Charles Z. Smith, broke down and wept as he sentenced the boy. It is most unusual for a judge to weep over his cases. (Encyc … More

In this passage we find the Jewish religious leaders trying to set a trap. They brought a woman to Christ whom they said had been caught in adultery (v. 3). They said, “Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who isn’t her husband. The Law of Moses teaches that a woman like this should be stoned to death! What do you say” (vv. 4-6)? If He answered that the woman should be stoned, He would have been violating the Roman law which forbade such acts. If He said that she should not be stoned, He would be violating Moses’ law (Deuteronomy 22:24). Finally, He stood up and said, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her” (v. 7)! Basically there are four reasons why Jesus did not command that this woman be stoned:
  1. The Jews had no right to take the death penalty into their own hands. The civil rule of Israel was under the jurisdiction of the Roman Empire.
  2. The dishonest  intent of those who brought the woman was obvious. This was evidenced by the rude way these religious leaders interrupted Jesus.
  3. The law required that both the man and the woman found in adultery be stoned (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and not just the woman. There is no mention of the man that was involved.
  4. It was required by Jewish law that the accusers cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7).  In answering His accusers, Christ applied this law to the lives of those who accused the woman.

Instead of passing judgment on the woman, Jesus simply judged the judges. By applying the Law to the woman and not to themselves, these leaders violated both the letter and the spirit of the Law.


If  I had been in the crowd when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, I wonder which of the following I would have done?

  1. ____ Stood up for the woman.
  2. ____ Picked up a stone.
  3. ____ Looked the other way.
  4. ____ Prayed for the woman.

John 8:1-7 (English Standard Version)

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