Part 1: The Exegetical Paper
Sentence level observations
In the passage John 8:1-11, there are different sentences that are used to bring about the intended meaning. There are long and short sentences, which are mixed together to bring about a clear understanding and avoid vagueness of the passage. Overuse of short or long sentences in a passage makes a passage boring and not easy to understand. Some of the simple include; but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. These sentences are direct and converse the intended message. In addition, there are complex sentences like
At dawn, he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them and At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. The mixture of simple and complex sentences makes the reading more enjoyable.
Apart from short and long sentences, the passage also uses questions and direct quotes to spice up the conversation between and make the passage more lively and accurate quoting verbatim conversations. For instance, the verse below is a quote from the Pharisees that is intended to end the monotony of reported speech.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?”
Furthermore, the passage has questions and answers between the conversations between the adulterous woman and Jesus, which are intended to bring the actual meaning of the conversation without any distortion.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The woman was apprehended in the act of committing adultery. She involved herself in a sexual activity that violated either her paramour or commitment to her marriage. Adultery is condemned because it breaches marriage covenant and marriage is ordained by God. As a result, there is no controversy in this case. Consequently, several biblical testimonies condemn the act of adultery – it is even in the Ten Commandments. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). The modern society holds that adultery is covenant breaking even if it does not involve sexual transgressions.
It is clear to many that the Pharisees and the Scribes were not much interested in executing justice for the adulterous act committed by the woman, but they were out to trap Jesus. If the Pharisees and the Scribes were in pursuit of justice against the ill act, they would have taken the woman to the authorities that handle such issues for remedy. However, their action proved that it was a trap meant for Jesus. The Pharisees and the Scribes failed in their plan because of committing a colossal tactical blunder — the way they wanted the woman to be punished exposed their hypocrisy. Moreover, the accusers even justified the way the woman was caught in the act but still failed to trap Jesus. As a result, the accusers of the sinful woman did not manage to trap Jesus, as He did not pronounce a judicial sentence on the woman. The Jewish leaders did not get an excuse of reporting Jesus to the Roman authority as they had hoped. According to John 18:31, the Jews were not supposed to execute people who broke the law.
The Historical-Cultural Context of your Passage
The Bible urges Christians to live a righteous life and avoid sins like adultery. As a result, the Bible assures Christians of punishment when they commit adultery. In the Old Testament, the verdict of committing adultery was death through stoning. The punishment is according to the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 20:10). However, in the New Testament, adultery is acknowledged as a sin but does not advocate death as the punishment, and even gives hope of forgiveness to the adulterers if they humble themselves before the Lord and ask for forgiveness.
The scribes and the Pharisees took a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus for Him to judge her. The accusers were known for abiding by the law, though in this situation they wanted to trap Jesus through the adulterous case. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus what they should do to the way woman. The accusers further quoted how the Law of Moses required them to treat adulterous people. At this point, the Pharisees and the Scribes openly show how they value culture more than human life, which is contrary to what Jesus came to do on earth: calling sinners to repentance, giving eternal life, and His life as a ransom to many. Jesus could not allow a person He came to save to be stoned to death because she had violated the law. Jesus goes against the culture of the Jewish when He does not condemn the woman according to the law, which the Jews take as their culture.
Jewish leaders confronted Jesus with a case of a woman caught in an adulterous act; the verdict of the case seemed too self-evident. The law at that time clearly said that an adulterous act is punishable by death: “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbor – both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). So the Pharisees and the scribes wanted to see if Jesus would uphold the law. However, the leader had forgotten that the Bible also warns against judging one another by their appearances (John 7:24).
The Pharisees and the Scribes were right on the punishment to be given to the woman according to the Law of Moses; however, they were biased in their actions. Since the woman was caught in the act of adultery, there also was a man who was with her in the act. The law is clear that both victims of adultery should be put to death and the woman only. As a result, the accusers have also sinned by ignoring clear statutes of the law. Jesus did not want to condemn the woman caught in the adulterous act the way the law required. Despite the fact that at one point He said He did not come to change the law, he was not going to follow its requirements. Besides, He came to save the sinners and not judge, condemn, or punish them by death. Jesus knew the accusers of the woman were not as sinless as one could think considering the way they were reacting to the sin of the adulterous woman. He challenged them to condemn the woman if they have never sinned and no accuser condemned the woman. The Pharisees and the Scribes were guilty of a travesty of justice. The accuser left one after the other until the woman was left with Jesus. He saved the woman from being condemned but told her to lead a righteous life.
Two significant words in the passage
The words “condemn” and ‘condemnation” are translated from Greek words: “krino” and “krima.” The word “krino” literally meant to decide or distinguish by implication to punish. The word “krima” is translated as condemnation or judgment.
Pharisees and scribes tried to force Jesus to condemn the sinful woman since she was caught committing adultery. The accusers wanted the woman to be punished by being stoned to death the way the Law of Moses commanded. However, Jesus knew the law but took a different approach. The law in the Old Testament concerning punishment for adulterous act states that stoning should be done if there are two or three witnesses. Jesus knew the woman had sinned, but He did not pass a verdict of condemnation. For some time Jesus does nothing about the case, He writes on the ground. While the accusers of the adulterous woman demanded action and agitated for answers, He patiently waits for the matter to simmer.
At last, Jesus breaks the silence; He tells the accusers if they have never sinned then they are free to judge the woman according to the law. The case of being sinless to judge another person scares the accusers away and they leave the place one after the other until the woman is left with Jesus only. Jesus tells the woman “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” In this case, the way Jesus acts is very shocking. One would have expected something different from Jesus. For example, “This is the law, this is your infraction, so this is the punishment according to the law.” The act of Jesus when He does not condemn the woman portrays how God is gracious, merciful, and loving.
Sin is an English word derived from two Greek words: “hamartia” and “hamartano.”The word “hamartia” means “to commit an offense” and it has featured 174 times in the Greek text. On the other hand, the word “hamartano” means “miss the mark,” and it has featured 43 times in the Greek text. According to the Greeks Definitions of Thayer, it states that both “harmatano” and ‘hamartia” define sin as ‘to make an error or wander from the path of uprightness.’ However, the most basic definition of sin is an attitude, thought, or action that contradicts God’ perfect character of love or will.
Sin in this context is undeniable since even the woman being accused does not deny the sin. Adultery is a sin that is punishable by death according to the Mosaic Law. The accusers are aware of the law behind the scene and are out to make the woman pay for her bad behavior. However, they do not adhere to everything the law requires in the occurrence of such instances. The main aim is to trap Jesus through the sin of the woman. The law requires both the man and the woman caught in the act of adultery to be punished, but the accusers only present the woman. Besides, they do not reveal the identity of the people who witnessed the act as required by the law before seeking judgment. Jesus is aware that the accusers are right because the act is against the law, but He knows the accusers had ever sinned in their lifetime despite acting like they were Angels when they wanted Him to condemn the woman. Jesus took advantage of them ever sinning to save the woman from their wrath. When He is sure that the plan of the accusers has failed and they will not bother the woman again, He shows mercy by forgiving the woman and warns her against sinning.
The book of Psalms described the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as truthful, meek, and righteous before He came to the world. The Pharisees and the Scribes who wanted to condemn the adulterous woman knew the characters of the long-awaited Messiah, and they had seen Jesus exhibit all the characteristics as prophesized about the Messiah. The Jewish leaders knew that Jesus was truthful as a teacher; and meek and gentle as a protector even when His enemies challenged Him. Moreover, He righteously did everything. The Pharisees and the Scribes respected the meekness and truthfulness of Jesus; however, they were envious of his righteousness, and that is why they came up with different issues to upend him.
The incident was meant to trap and put Jesus into a dilemma between righteousness and gentleness: between mercy and justice. The accusers knew what the Mosaic Law commanded to be done to those who committed adultery, and it being the Law of Moses; it could not command unjust actions. As a result, if Jesus had to show mercy to the adulterous woman and not advocate for her stoning, then He would be unjust and unrighteous in his actions. Moreover, they would have a chance to accuse Jesus of being against the Mosaic Law. On the other hand, if Jesus followed the law and advocated for the stoning of the adulterous woman, He would be seen as a merciless. The case here would make him lose influence with the people since people loved Him because He was a gentle person.
It is obvious the response of Jesus to the accusers when they inquired him what to do to the adulterous woman portrayed justice and mercy. However, he did not say directly the way the Pharisees and the Scribes thought He would say. He neither said the woman should be stoned nor should not be stoned. Instead, He put back the question they had asked back to them: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The phrase made the accusers of the adulterous woman to look inward at what they have done to violate the same law they wanted to crucify the woman. The phrase justified what He had said on time about judging others: “How can you say to your brother, “Brother let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42). As a result, this left the accusers with only two options if they had to take action against the woman: to either let the adulterous woman go or perceive their quest for condemnation and receive the penalty of the law together with the woman.
Jesus knew it was just to punish a sinner, but He did not support the act of a sinner punishing the other sinner. When things proved to be tough for the accusers and tables turned on them, they left the place one after the other leaving the woman and Jesus only. The woman received mercy with an admonition to live a righteous life. The act of forgiveness shown by Jesus raises concern; a sinner is ready to crucify another sinner whereas a righteous person is ready to forgive despite the sin being unforgivable.
What is the exegetical idea?
An exegetical idea is a complete sentence that summarizes the major idea of a passage and tells the subject and the object of the passage. The aim of exogenesis is to bring out the meaning from a passage of scripture. Exegesis comprises of the textual criticism, the intention of the author, application of the passage, what it is in theology, and its meaning.
What is a homiletical idea?
Homiletical ideas are statements that are treated unconsciously and considered as an exaggeration. Therefore, the homiletical idea of passage involves extending beyond the mere identification of the central idea in preaching the text. In this case, the homiletical idea is going beyond the context of a page in a scripture.
What is the purpose of your sermon?
The purpose of the sermon is present in a sinful society, which Jesus Deigned to mix. The scene of the passage is a temple, which contains a mixture of people with good intentions and others with malice and in the center is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth who is the light and salvation of the world. The audience was interrupted with an incident of an accused woman brought before Jesus, a scene that gives a remarkable opportunity for memorable and characteristic teaching on the part of the Divine Load. This sermon, therefore, integrates the Old Testament and the New Testament and shows that Jesus did not come to destroy the Law of Moses but rather strengthen it.
In church and society, there exist people who accuse others of their sins but at the same time, they cannot see their own sins. This preaching, therefore, intends to show that everybody is a sinner but in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, sins can be forgiven and we can be redeemed. The passage presents human frailty in a poor, shame-stricken, and trembling woman brought before Jesus to show the moral weakness of humanity. There is a possibility that the woman’s seducer was hundredfold guiltier than the woman but she was the only one blamed here for the act.
Furthermore, the sermon intends to show the picture of human censoriousness. This is evident that those who were accusing the woman were those who delight in other’s sins who instead of covering fault are ready to drag it in light. However, Jesus unravels their sins and they leave one after another and the woman remained standing alone before Jesus. This shows that people can magnify one’s sins and forget about their sins. This also shows that sin is a sin and that all are sinners regardless of the nature of the sin committed.
The third intention of the sermon is to unravel human malice. Given that the Pharisees were staunch followers of the Law of Moses, which they considered that Jesus was preaching against, they involved Him in a conversation that would make His utterances used against Him. Therefore, their motive was to use the case of the adulterous woman. In the process, their alignment and hatred to Jesus are evident.
Sinful society that Jesus came to redeem
How Jesus deals with sin
The destination Jesus will reach
The destination that some may probably not reach
The destination that all may reach
Baylis, Charles P. “The Woman Caught in Adultery: A Test of Jesus as the Greater Prophet.” Bibliotheca Sacra 146, no. 582 (April 1989): 171-84.
Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament Volume 4 John by Klink – Zonderman – Clinton Arnold General Editor
F.F. Bruce The Gospel of John – Eerdman\’s Publishing Co.
Hodges, Zane C. “Problem Passages in the Gospel of John Part 8: The Woman Taken in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11): The Text.” Bibliotheca Sacra 136, no. 544 (October 1979): 318-32.
Holmes, Michael William. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999
James, Stephen A. “The Adulteress and the Death Penalty.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22, no. 1 (March 1979): 45-53.
The Gospel of John volume 2 revised edition by William Barclay – The Westminister Press
The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris W.M. B. Erdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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