Why I didn’t Preach John 7:53-8:11; The Woman Caught in Adultery

If you look at your Bible right before 7:53, you should see something in brackets that says something like [The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53-8:11] (ESV) or [The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11] (HCSB). The reason that some KJV Bibles do not write this in brackets is because the KJV was translated from Greek & Hebrew in 1611 when they only had a small number of ancient manuscripts many of which were less reliable. It is now extremely clear that John did not write this section of the book because it was added much later by a scribe. This means that this section of John is not scripture and the author was not “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 2:21). The events in this section very well may have happened, but they were not recorded by the apostle John. There are two types of evidence that point to this reality. There is external manuscript evidence and internal evidence in the context.

  1. Evidence in Manuscripts – a manuscript is a handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. When we look at all of the many manuscripts that we have of the book of John dating back to the 2nd century and following, we see that this section of John is not recorded at all in the manuscripts that date back near when John wrote it. The story of the woman caught in adultery does not appear in any documents prior to the 5th century and it often appears in other places in John and even in Luke. Several early Christians also recorded the end of John 7 and the start of John 8 but skipped right over the story of the woman caught in adultery because this section was not added until later.
  2. Evidence in the Context- John always refers those in Jerusalem as “the Jews” and never calls them “scribes”, yet in this section he calls them scribes. In fact there are 14 words in John 7:53–8:11 that occur nowhere else in John’s Gospel. Also, if you look at the context, John 8:12 and following fit right onto John 7 while the story of the woman caught in adultery does not fit but breaks up what happened at the Feast of Booths.

Can we still trust the Bible? Yes! The fact that we have enough manuscripts to tell when a portion of scripture is trustworthy, gives us confidence in God’s word. Our modern translations are based off of over 25,000 manuscripts of the Bible, some of them with only short portions of the biblical text and some with much longer portions. Scholars study these manuscripts and compare them so that we can have confidence that our English Bibles are God’s word for us to read and enjoy with trust.

How Should we React to God’s Choosing of us?

John 6:44 says “No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.” In other words, apart from God drawing us, we would reject Jesus eternally and would be without hope. What effect should this reality of God’s adoption and election have on us?

  1. It should humble us. Titus 3:5 says “he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. You did nothing to earn a right standing with God. You can do nothing. This reality aught to lead us to the throne of God in humility.
  2. It should cause Thankfulness. When you realize that you did not save yourself, that God did all the work, you will be thankful. I think of Ephesians 1:4-5, “God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace.”
  3. It should bring Hope. Because of that fact that salvation does not depend on man’s ability, because of that fact that it is God who is in charge of salvation, you can have hope for those who are lost. No matter how dead in sin they are, no matter how resistant they are to the gospel, all it takes for them to come to Jesus is God drawing them to himself by opening their eyes to the beauty of the gospel. Salvation is rooted in God’s mercy and God’s power, not man’s ability.
  4. It should lead to Prayer. If no one can come to Jesus apart from the father drawing them, then praying is the most powerful tool in evangelism. You can prepare all you want. You can have all the right bible passages memorized. You have all of the most “effective” evangelism techniques. But if you are not falling on your face before God asking him to open the eyes of your lost neighbor, asking him to change the heart of you family member or coworker, you will be working with your own ability, witch is useless without the power of God.
  5. All glory goes to God. Biblical texts that deal with God’s choosing, election, and predestination say that it is all for the sake of God’s praise and Glory: “ChosePredestined…to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6), “Predestined…to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12), “God’s purpose of election…to show my (God’s) power… and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Rom. 9:17 & Ex. 9:6) “to make known the riches of his glory…which he has prepared beforehand for glory– even us whom he has called” (Rom. 9:23)

Why are there Samaritans in John’s Gospel?

Why does John include this interaction between Jesus and the woman at Samaria in his gospel?  It doesn’t seem to fit very well.  The first half of John, where this negative takes place, is all about Jesus doing signs and miracles but being rejoiced by the Jews.  So why does John include a negative with Samaritans believing when John also talks about Jews rejecting?  John 1:11 says, “He (Jesus) came to his own (creation) and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” When it says his own people did not receive him, it is talking about the Jews. Jesus came as the savior to the Jews that was promised long ago, but John wants his readers to realize something. Even though most the Jew’s did not believe in him (though many had superficial faith) his salvation is not just for them, but for any who turn to him.  Not only is Jesus the savior of the Jews, but also to all the nations. He is the blessing to all the nations that is promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. He is the one who brings about the fulfillment of Psalm 67:4-5:

“4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah 5Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”

When he is saying the  nations, the psalmist is including those who are not decedents of Abraham by birth.  We, the church (even though most of us are not Jewish) like the Samaritans in John 4, receive the blessing of living water, through faith in him.  We are now worshipers of God in fulfillment of Psalm 67.

Second, I want you to pay attention to Jesus’ call to his disciples. He calls them to go out and reap the harvest of eternal life. He is talking about leading people to repentance and faith. He says a similar thing in Matthew 9:35-38. Now that we have received the blessing of eternal life that we enjoy as we seek Christ every day, we tell others of the good news of living life for Christ.  This hard work leads to the great joy of seeing people be born again; the food that satisfies Jesus and leads to rejoicing in the church, and rejoicing in heaven.

What is spiritual blindness?

In the Book of John, so far, we have witnessed spiritual blindness over and over. Jesus again and again, speaks about spiritual realties yet people fail to understand what he is saying.

  • Jesus said to the Jews “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:19-22)
  • Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Nicodemus said to him, “Haw can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:3-4). Jesus was talking about being spiritually reborn of water and spirit like Ezekiel prophesied (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
  • Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that he can give her living water welling up to eternal life, and she responds by saying, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep…I want it so that I don’t have to draw water anymore. (John 4:10-15) But Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit who proceeds from him bringing spiritual life.(John 7:38-39)
  • Later, when the disciples tell Jesus to eat, he says “I have food to eat that you do not know about” and the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them that hisfood is to do the will of him who sent him and to accomplish the father’s work”.

Do you see how in each of them, there is a blindness to spiritual things? WE also suffer from spiritual blindness. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we are hopeless in understanding the things of God. This is where prayer and meditation and a reliance of God’s word come into play. Apart from God’s power, we are blind. Let each and every one of us rely on the Holy Spirit every time we read the Bible, and hear it preached falling on our faces pleading for the ability to understand and be changed.

The Old Testament in John 1:19-51

It is breathtaking to see all the things that God promised in the Old Testament come together in the gospel of John. Here are just a few that we see in John 1:19-51.

  • Elijah (v. 21a)

5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. Malachi 4:5 (ESV)

  • The Prophet like Moses (v. 21b)

15“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV)

  • The Voice in the Wilderness (v. 23)

3A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3–5 (ESV)

  • The Greater Jacob/Israel (v. 51)

As I talked about in the sermon, Genesis 28:10-22 gives us an amazing yet strange vision that Jacob had. He saw “a ladder set up [at Bethel] and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending (going up) and descending (going down) on it!” Jesus, in John 1:51 identified himself with this ladder. He is saying he is the ladder of heaven, the revelation of God, the true, new, and better Bethel (which means house of God in Hebrew).

  • The Son of Man (v. 51)

13“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

14And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV)

  • Others

The Lamb of God (v. 29), the Christ (v. 20), the Messiah/Christ (v. 41), the Son of God (v. 49), the King of Israel (v. 49)