Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery

The Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman accused of adultery before Jesus for trial. According to Mosaic Law, adultery requires two people committing it together and both should be sentenced by stoning.

Why doesn’t Jesus condemn her and punish the man with whom she committed adultery?

Jesus’ Response

The story of Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery is an impressive display of mercy found throughout Scripture. However, there is an unpleasant undercurrent to it that must be addressed; specifically, it appears that she had an ongoing history of promiscuous behavior prior to this incident. Teachers and Pharisees could have known about this before they brought her before Jesus for judgment under Jewish law (stoning was a legal way of punishing prostitution).

Though Jesus, as God in human form, could legally condemn this woman to death, He instead showed mercy and love by stooping down, writing on the ground, and pretending not to hear her accusers – showing His humility as well as showing that justice would be delivered fairly in accordance with Moses’ Laws.

The Accusers’ Response

The Pharisees and Scribes interrupted Jesus to seek His opinion about a woman’s case. Their malicious motive was evident: they wanted to trap Him by breaking Jewish law regarding adultery and make an example out of Him before His own people.

They knew that stoning would violate both Jewish and Roman law, so they wanted to see if He approved of their plan, which would reveal His disregard for Moses’ Laws.

Advocates of the Majority Text recognize there is no biblical basis for rejecting the authenticity of this narrative while acknowledging Christ’s strict administration of biblical justice cannot conflict with His grace for sinners. They nevertheless remain uncertain whether the woman’s story represents this distinction and thus refuse to preach this pericope.

Jesus’ Final Words

This passage, known as the pericope adulterae, can be difficult to interpret within John 7:53-8:11. Although an addition from Western texts that may predate John 7:53-8:11, it nevertheless provides a powerful and crucial illustration of God’s justice and mercy at work in salvation.

scribes and Pharisees interrupted Jesus’ teaching to bring a woman accused of adultery before Him, hoping to catch Him violating Moses’ Law of Moses. Instead of being drawn into their trap, He simply stooped down and began writing on the ground with His finger before offering this response: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Jesus’ response perfectly preserved Roman and Jewish law while simultaneously discrediting their accusers as biased witnesses – saving this woman from an unpleasant fate while providing hope that she could live free from sexual sin – eventually leaving all but their critics behind.


According to Scribes and Pharisees, this woman had committed adultery (Greek: moicheia) by having an extramarital affair outside of her marriage or betrothal agreement; Mosaic law required that she be stoned to death for this crime (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22).

The leaders brought her before Jesus in an effort to test and trap Him into an impasse; if he set her free, this would violate Moses’ Law by not throwing the first stone at her; on the other hand, having her stoned would disprove his claim as one who forgives sins.

This passage, commonly known as “the pericope adulterae,” has long been controversial among scholars, with some contending it didn’t belong in John’s Gospel and may have been added later; others, however, defended its inclusion by saying it would be unthinkable to leave it out altogether; though most ancient manuscripts do not include this story and many contemporary scholars consider its presence to have been an addition.

A Woman Caught in Adultery

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