Monday, January 11, 2010

Is John 7:53-8:11 a problem because it is not found in the earliest manuscripts?

The Woman in Adultery!

There is a debate about whether the context of this passage fits, as this passage is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. There is the possibility that this event did occur in the sequence of events during the feast in-between time of Jesus’ speaking engagements, but it is more probable that this occurred at another time. Of the earliest manuscripts that do have this passage, it is found in different sections of John and it is even in some manuscripts of Luke by verse 21:38. In addition, none of the early Church Fathers commented on this passage; over 90% of the NT was commented on. In the “textual criticism” of this passage, the Greek syntax is very different than the rest of John or Luke. Although, many stories in ancient religious cultures, including Judaism, had rich oral traditions and people memorized passages that were not written down until much later. So, is this a problem? Yes and no. Yes, because we have to play detective and see if this is an actual historical and accurate account of Jesus. After careful investigation, it is, so “no,” it is not a problem for our learning and edification of God’s Word. Even though this is a later addition that did not come to be in John until the fourth century, there is no indication that the narrative is wrong. This story follows the character of Jesus, the customs and historicity of the times (as in, this is a factual account that was known, along with many other stories about Jesus then, which have been lost to history.) This one, being of such importance, finds its way back. It can also be a testimony of the Bible’s reliability and impact, that if we wonder if anything was left out that we might need for our spiritual growth or understanding of God, the answer is “no.” We have what God wants us to have and it is up to us to get busy in the study and application of His most precious Word (John 21:25)!

But such debates often miss what is really important and the real point of the passage!

Adultery destroys relationships and affects generations. It is evil because it takes and steals what does not belong to the person. God wants us to be righteous with our current and future relationships, so when we are married, we will have a more solid marriage that will last, grow, and be much happier and joyful for us. Remember, God is the author of sexuality. In addition, He desires the expression of exclusive intimacy to be between a husband and wife. Adultery and premarital sex will ruin both our current and future relationships. Adultery does not stay private, or remain in secret or behind closed doors; it will be found out. It is sin; it migrates with you in the long term with all of your relationships, as well as into your marriage or future marriage. Many others will be affected too, such as the spouse or future spouse, the spouse of the person you were with who is robbed of what belongs to him or her, each one’s family and friends, and so on. The tranquility of the entire local Jewish culture would have been affected—family, friends, and the entire community sharing in the shame (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; Galatians 5:18-21; 1 Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).

God’s Word tells us that we choose the ways of adultery, fornication, and impure thoughts that make us eager for destructive behaviors, and pronounce them to be pleasure. These are what the Bible calls uncleanness. These are what create relationships filled with hostility, quarreling, jealously, anger, selfish ambitions, and divisions between people and God. The focus is on envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and all kinds of sin. This attitude conveys the idea that everyone else is wrong, and those who will agree with you become desired allies! The Bible gives us a harsh warning that if we pursue these things, workable relationships cannot be built with God or others. Nor can a relationship even be formed with God, as you will impede His presence with you, and His work to others through you. You will not inherit the kingdom of God (Psalm 55:16; Prov. 6:32-35; 16:32; Eccl. 4:8-10; Matt. 11:28-30; John 21:15-19; Heb. 13:4; 1 Pet. 5:1-2).

Questions to Ponder

1. Do you think this passage is a problem because it is not found in the earliest manuscripts or Early Church Fathers?

2. How would you feel if someone showcased your sin? Why do you think Jesus’ entrappers started to leave?

3. How is this passage a testimony of the Bible’s reliability and impact?

4. Have you ever wondered if there were something not included that we may need for our spiritual growth or understanding of God? How does “the answer is no” motivate you?

5. What do you need to do to allow the Word to touch your thinking, conduct, and character so you can then touch others by His Word and example?

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At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:05 PM, Blogger Richard said...


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