An Adulteress Forgiven
1Jesus walked up the Mount of Olives # 8:1 Named for the many olive trees on its slopes, the Mount of Olives was a high slope just east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. near the city where he spent the night. 2Then at dawn Jesus appeared in the temple courts again, and soon all the people gathered around to listen to his words, so he sat down and taught them. 3Then in the middle of his teaching, the religious scholars # 8:3 Or “scribes.” The scribes were not merely professional copyists, they were the scholarly experts who were to be consulted over the details of the written law of Moses. and the Pharisees broke through the crowd and brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery and made her stand in the middle of everyone.
4Then they said to Jesus, “Teacher, we caught this woman in the very act of adultery. 5Doesn’t Moses’ law command us to stone to death a woman like this? # 8:5 See Lev. 20:10 and Deut. 22:22–24, where it is clear that both the man and woman were to be stoned to death. Tell us, what do you say we should do with her?” 6They were only testing Jesus because they hoped to trap him with his own words and accuse him of breaking the laws of Moses.
But Jesus didn’t answer them. Instead he simply bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. # 8:6 This is not the first time God wrote with his finger. See Ex. 31:18. 7Angry, they kept insisting # 8:7 As translated from the Aramaic. that he answer their question, so Jesus stood up and looked at them and said, “Let’s have the man who has never had a sinful desire # 8:7 The Greek word anamartetos means more than simply “sin,” but is best translated “a sinful desire.” throw the first stone at her.” 8And then he bent over again and wrote some more words in the dust. # 8:8 See Jer. 17:13. Jesus wrote in the dust to fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy that those who forsake God (spiritual adultery) will be written in the dust. All of the accusers were guilty of having forsaken God, the fountain of living water, and yet were so anxious to stone this woman to death. The same finger that wrote the Ten Commandments in stone also wrote the names of each of the accusers, or perhaps he wrote Jer. 17:13 in the dirt in front of their eyes, pointing to their hypocrisy.
9Upon hearing that, her accusers slowly left the crowd one at a time, beginning with the oldest to the youngest, # 8:9 The Aramaic can be translated “starting with the priests.” with a convicted conscience. 10Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?”
11Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.” # 8:11 The Aramaic contains a powerful testimony from this woman. Apparently the woman had the revelation of who Jesus really was, for she addressed Jesus with the divine name in the Aramaic, MarYah, Lord Yahweh! See also 1 Cor. 12:3. The Greek texts use the word kurios for “Lord,” which can also mean “sir” or “landowner.”
Jesus said, “Then I certainly # 8:11 The Greek has the emphatic use of the personal pronoun. don’t condemn you either. # 8:11 The Aramaic is “Neither do I put you down” (or “oppress you”). The Torah required two witnesses. There were none left! Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” # 8:11 Or “no longer be sinning.” It should be noted that this entire episode (referred to commonly as the “Pericope Adulterae”) is missing in the majority of the most reliable Greek manuscripts. There are some manuscripts that have this story at the end of the book of John and at least two that include it in the Gospel of Luke. Many scholars surmise that this episode in the ministry of Jesus was added after the Gospel of John had been completed. However, it is the conclusion of this translation that the above text is indeed an inspired account of the ministry of Jesus and may have been deleted by many translators and copyists who doubted that Jesus could tell an adulterer that he would not condemn her. Augustine, one of the early church fathers, mentioned this story and stated that many translators had removed it because they interpreted it as Jesus giving license to immorality. God’s grace always seems to startle the religious (Augustine, De Conjug. Adult., II:6.)
Jesus, the Light of the World
12Then Jesus said, “I am # 8:12 Again we see Jesus using the words “I Am,” which is the name of God. light to the world, and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never # 8:12 The Greek word is a double negative, emphatically saying, “never, no never!” walk # 8:12 The Aramaic is “they will never be driven (pushed) by the darkness.” in darkness.”
13The Pharisees were immediately offended and said, “You’re just boasting about yourself! Since we only have your word on this, it makes your testimony invalid!”
14Jesus responded, “Just because I am the one making these claims doesn’t mean they’re invalid. For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going. But you Pharisees have no idea about what I’m saying. 15For you’ve set yourselves up as judges of others based on outward appearances, but I certainly never judge others in that way. 16For I discern the truth. And I am not alone in my judgments, for my Father and I have the same understanding in all things, and he has sent me to you.
17“Isn’t it written in the law of Moses that the testimony of two men is trustworthy? # 8:17 See Deut. 17:6. 18Then what I say about who I am is true, for I am not alone in my testimony—my Father is the other witness, and we testify together of the truth.”
19Then they asked, “Just who is this ‘Father’ of yours? Where is he?”
Jesus answered, “You wouldn’t ask that question if you knew who I am, or my Father. For if you knew me, you would recognize my Father too.” 20(Jesus taught all these things while standing in the treasure room of the temple. # 8:20 Jesus unlocks that “treasure room” to us, his temple. When we receive him as our life-giving light, we see the treasures that have been given to us by grace. And no one dared to arrest him, for it wasn’t yet his time to surrender to men.)
“I Am Not from This World”
21One day Jesus said again, “I am about to leave you. You will want to find me, but you will still die in your sins. # 8:21 Jesus gave a stern warning of dying before you have turned away from sin and put your faith in the Savior. You won’t be able to come where I am going.”
22This so confused the Jewish leaders that they began to say, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What’s he talking about—‘You won’t be able to come where I am going’?”
23Jesus spoke up and said, “You are all from the earth; I am from above. I am not from this world like you are. 24That’s why I’ve told you that you will all die in your sins if you fail to believe that I AM who I AM.” # 8:24 Believing the truth that Jesus Christ is the “I AM,” God who became a man, is an essential part of our faith as followers of Christ.
25So they asked him plainly, “Who are you?”
“I am the One I’ve always claimed to be.” Jesus replied. 26“And I still have many more things to pronounce in judgment about you. For I will testify to the world of the truths that I have heard from my Father, and the Father who sent me is trustworthy.” 27(Even after all of this, they still didn’t realize that he was speaking about his heavenly Father.)
28“You will know me as ‘I AM’ after you have lifted me up from the earth # 8:28 There is a dual meaning in these words. To honor Jesus and exalt him reveals his true identity to our hearts. The word for “lifted up” can also mean “to exalt” and therefore “to honor.” However, Jesus was “lifted up” on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth, and died for the sins of all mankind. Both of these implications are found in these words of Jesus. as the Son of Man. Then you will realize that I do nothing on my own initiative, but I only speak the truth that the Father has revealed to me. 29I am his messenger and he is always with me, for I only do that which delights his heart.” # 8:29 The Aramaic is “I only do what adorns [beautifies] him.” 30These words caused many respected Jews to believe in him.
The Son Gives Freedom
31Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are my true followers. 32For if you embrace the truth, it will release true freedom into your lives.” # 8:32 The truth Jesus gives us releases us from the bondage of our past, the bondage of our sins, and the bondage of religion. Jesus was speaking these words to those who were not fully free from man’s traditions. Truth must be embraced and worked out through the divine process of spiritual maturity. The Greek word for “truth” is reality. To embrace the reality of Christ brings more freedom into your life. See the book of Galatians for a clear explanation of the freedom Jesus referred to here.
33Surprised by this, they said, “But we’re the descendants of Abraham and we’re already free. We’ve never been in bondage # 8:33 The Greek is translated “slavery.” However, the Aramaic word used here (abdota) refers not to slavery but to paying off debts (indentured servants). The Jews were not forgetting their slavery in Egypt, but rather saying that they were not in bondage to serve anyone as free sons of Abraham. Jesus reminded them that ancestral lineage does not guarantee spiritual freedom. to anyone. How could you say that we will be released into more freedom?” # 8:33 The Aramaic is translated “released as children of freedom.”
34“I speak eternal truth,” Jesus said. “When you sin you are not free. You’ve become a slave in bondage to your sin. 35And slaves have no permanent standing in a family, like a son does, for a son is a part of the family forever. 36So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! 37Even though you are descendants of Abraham, you desire to kill me because the message I bring has not found a home in your hearts. 38Yet the truths I speak I’ve seen and received in my Father’s presence. But you are doing what you’ve learned from your father!” # 8:38 Some Greek manuscripts have “Since I’m saying what I’ve seen while with my Father, put my Father’s words into practice.”
39“What do you mean?” they replied. “Abraham is our father!”
Jesus said, “If you are really Abraham’s sons, then you would follow in the steps of Abraham. 40I’ve only told you the truth that I’ve heard in my Father’s presence, but now you are wanting me dead—is that how Abraham acted? 41No, you people are doing what your father has taught you!”
Indignant, they responded, “What are you talking about? We only have one Father, God himself! We’re not illegitimate!”
42Jesus said, “Then if God were really your father, you would love me, for I’ve come from his presence. I didn’t come here on my own, but God sent me to you. 43Why don’t you understand what I say? # 8:43 The Aramaic is “Why don’t you receive my manifestation?” You don’t understand because your hearts are closed to my message!
44“You are the offspring of your father, the devil, # 8:44 The word for “devil” in Greek means “slanderer-accuser.” The Aramaic word is akelqarsa, or “adversary.” It is taken from a root word that means “to ridicule” or “to gnaw.” See v. 48 where the Jewish leaders ridiculed Jesus’ words. and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires. He’s been a murderer right from the start! He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue. # 8:44 Or “when he lies he’s only doing what is natural to him.” He is a master of deception and the father of lies! 45But I am the true Prince who speaks nothing but the truth, yet you refuse to believe and you want nothing to do with me. 46Can you name one sin that I’ve committed? Then if I am telling you only the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47If you really knew God, you would listen, receive, and respond with faith to his words. But since you don’t listen and respond to what he says, it proves you don’t belong to him and you have no room for him in your hearts.”
48“See! We were right all along!” some of the Jewish leaders shouted. “You’re nothing but a demon-possessed Samaritan!” # 8:48 They are obviously scorning Jesus by calling him “a demon-possessed Samaritan.” The Jews despised their northern cousins, the Samaritans, for their ancestors had come from Assyria and occupied Israel’s lands. The three major groups in Israel at that time were Judeans (Jews), Galileans, and Samaritans. The Jerusalem Jews saw themselves as superior and more faithful to the God of the Hebrews than their northern neighbors. Jesus was a Galilean, having come from Nazareth. But Nazareth was part of the northern region looked down upon by the Jews. The Aramaic can be translated “You’re a crazy Samaritan.”
49Jesus replied, “It is not a demon that would cause me to honor my Father. I live my life for his honor, even though you insult me for it. # 8:49 The Aramaic is “you curse me.” 50I never have a need to seek my own glory, for the Father will do that for me, and he will judge those who do not. 51I speak to you this eternal truth: whoever cherishes my words and keeps them will never experience death.”
52This prompted the Jewish leaders to say, “Now we know for sure that you’re demon possessed! You just said that those who keep watch over your words will never experience death, but Abraham and all the prophets have died! 53Do you think you’re greater than our father Abraham and all the prophets? You are so delusional about yourself that you make yourself greater than you are!”
54Jesus answered them, “If I were to tell you how great I am, it would mean nothing. But my Father is the One who will prove it and will glorify me. Isn’t he the One you claim is your God? 55But in reality, you’ve never embraced him as your own. I know him, and I would be a liar, like yourselves, if I told you anything less than that. I have fully embraced him, and I treasure his every word. 56And not only that, Abraham, your ancestor, was overjoyed when he received the revelation of my coming to earth. Yes, he foresaw me coming and was filled with delight!” # 8:56 This refers to the prophetic insight God gave to Abraham about the coming Messiah. Many Hebrew scholars believe this was given to Abraham on the day of “binding.” That is, the day he tied his son, Isaac, to the altar to offer him as a sacrifice. It was then that God showed him a ram that was caught in a thicket nearby to be the substitute for Isaac. See Gal. 3:16; Heb. 11:13, 17–19.
57But many of the Jewish leaders doubted him and said, “What are you talking about? You’re not even fifty years old yet. You talk like you’ve seen Abraham!”
58Jesus said to them, “I give you this eternal truth: I have existed long before Abraham was born, for I AM!” # 8:58 Proper English grammar would be, “Before Abraham was born, I Was.” However, Jesus indentified himself with the “I AM that I AM” of Ex. 3:14, when Yahweh appeared to Moses in the flames of the sacred shrub.
59When they heard this, they picked up rocks to stone him, but Jesus concealed himself as he passed through the crowd # 8:59 Some reliable Greek texts present Jesus’ exit in a less than supernatural way. But the Aramaic and many other Greek manuscripts make it clear that it was a supernatural exit from the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill him. See also Luke 4:30 for another incident of Jesus walking through a hostile crowd. Chapter 8 begins with the self-righteous wanting to stone the adulterous woman and ends with them wanting to stone the sinless Messiah. and went away from there.