— Explanation of the Woman Caught in Adultery, An

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Someone emailed me:


Hello, Robert,
      I know that Rushdoony wrote something about this in his "Institutes of Biblical Law", but it is not all that well written, as I recall, and gets rather convoluted.  Our guest pastor, speaking of God's mercy, referred to the woman taken in adultery.  Here is a paraphrase of what he said: "They were about to throw stones at her, but Jesus intervened and said something like, "OK, boys--but you had better be careful that each of you is without sin'.  That stopped them.  And then Jesus Himself, who DID have the authority to judge, and who WAS without sin, chose to forgive her".  The implication was that the death penalty for adultery was abolished.  But the OT was in force on that occasion, and certainly God did not require that those performing executions had to be "without sin".
   However...Jesus DID have the authority, and WAS without sin, and even He did not impose any punishment.  How do we respond to this?   Thank you. 

This person is utterly ignorant of Scripture and has no business teaching it. What part of not one jot or tittle does he not understand. If he would take off his rose colored glasses, humble himself, call upon the Holy Spirit and actually read THE ENTIRE Word of God, he might begin to understand, and then maybe, he could teach under supervision.

It has nothing to do with Christ being God and being able to forgive her since He was sinless. Were that the issue, any passage of the Gospels could be twisted out of context; Christ did not come (the first time) to Judge; so that is a smokescreen.

There are MANY factors here, which this "teacher" overlooks completely, because he is completely ignorant of the Old Testament (which was not abolished; again, not one jot or tittle...).

FIRST of all the woman was taken in adultery because the evil Pharisees were trying to entrap Jesus and find any excuse to brand Him a heretic and have Him put to death; so they grabbed at every chance to try and trip Him up. This incident had very little to do with adultery and the majority to do with the evil Pharisees dishonest machinations in the attempt to kill Christ. While Christ indeed had authority to judge HE HAD DIVESTED HIMSELF of His Power and Glory and exercise of His Rights. Christ was not the High Priest of Israel (though indeed, He is our High Priest); neither was He the King of Israel (though indeed He is the King of Kings and our Coming King and will done day ascend the Throne of David) and He was not even on the Sanhedrin / Council / ruling body, so, no, He did not have authority as man (and His manhood is stressed as He continually calls Himself the Son of man; while indeed He was and is God, the exercise of His Godhood was not His mission when he was born of Mary, and He was not in the legal position as man to act as Judge).

While He did have authority as a prophet (evidenced by His miracles and unimpeachable teaching), like John the Baptist, the recognition of that office was one of courtesy, because the priests and judges and kings never cared too much for the prophets God established; though the prophets had authority in God's eyes, they generally did not in the eyes of men, and the priests and kings and judges more or less tolerated the prophets, sometimes they would try to put them to death (and sometimes succeeded), but other times, they knew God's Hand was upon them and they dared not, though they were so arrogant and godless that they refused to heed the words of the prophet.

THIRD of all, in order for this woman to have been convicted of adultery, there had to be evidence that she had actually committed adultery. WHERE WAS THE MAN? This is further evidence toward point one, in that the evil Pharisees were trying to entrap Christ, but were doing it dishonestly. HOW they find this woman in adultery? Most probably they set her up. Where was the man? the one she committed adultery with? If it was the man who was married (if is only adultery if one party is married) where was he? Maybe he was one of the Pharisees themselves and the woman made no attempt to expose him, knowing it was the word of all those pharisees ("fine pillars of the community") against hers. To make accusations that would be branded false would probably only make the situation worse. If it was the woman who was married, then it was HER HUSBAND who was the injured party, who would have the decision to make concerning her judgment. Which brings us to the next point.

FOURTHly, while death was A POSSIBLE penalty for adultery, it was NOT always carried out because the injured party had the right to forgive. David himself committed adultery as King of Israel. The offended party himself died (Uriah), so if someone wanted to bring charges of adultery against David, it would have been one of Uriah or Bathsheba's male relatives. In this case, most probably Ahithophel intervened, who had been David's trusted counsellor. However, it seems Ahithophel had better plans for revenge, and waited and counselled Absalom to mutiny against his father David, and even violate his father's concubines. Since no one demanded the death penalty (if anyone could bring proof, if David and Bathsheba did not confess) then David was not put to death. Clearly, if a man's wife commits adultery, he cannot forgive her, but demand the adulterer to be put to death. It was forgive both or put both to death. Many different passages in the Law of God discuss adultery; by simply considering each of them, it is clear that the death penalty was NOT always carried out (a man can "put away", that is, kick out of his house WITHOUT divorcing her, in cases of adultery, and a man can divorce a wife in cases of adultery and she is then free to go and become someone else's wife... both those declarations of the Law would be unnecessary if the woman was put to death for adultery). The penalty of death was no more done away with for adultery THAN THE LAW AGAINST ADULTERY ITSELF. Christ taught that whosoever shall break even the least of the Commandments in the entire law--and teach others to do the same, shall be least in the Kingdom of Heaven... IF he is even converted, because John says, He who says that he knows God and keeps not His Commandments IS A LIAR (that is, he does NOT know God) and the truth is not in Him. Tell me, is someone truly converted IF HE DOES NOT KNOW GOD and IF THE TRUTH (the Holy Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth) is not in him...? The issue is that this "teacher" does not understand the Bible, and blasphemes it by his false interpretation.

FIFTHly, Christ did not say "you had better make sure you are without sin." Also, Christ did not "change" the Law of God. Nowhere did Christ say that before anyone could bring lawsuit against another person in any area of transgression, the injured party had to be sinless. This is preposterous. The Pharisees had thrown this poor woman (whom they had entrapped) at Christ's feet to see what He would do. In essence, they were seeking His Counsel (at face value, but actually trying to entrap Him—but they had to play along, so they had to accept His verdict IF His verdict did not violate the Law of God, which is what they were trying to entrap Him to do). Therefore, IN THIS ONCE INSTANCE, KNOWING THEIR HEARTS, knowing that they had entrapped this woman, knowing that they could not bring legal accusation against her because they were not the injured party and because they were actually accomplices in the sin because they were hiding the other guilty party, the man with whom she was "caught" in adultery (a person cannot commit adultery all by himself, another person is required).... in this one instance, Christ declared, NOT as a rule by which every single transgression was to be adjudicated, but in this one instance because NONE of these men had any right to bring accusation against this woman and because they were guilty of entrapment and accomplices and hiding the guilty party, in this one instance Christ knowing their hearts said "he who is without sin cast the first stone." NOTE: Christ did NOT say, unless you are sinless you cannot cast a stone. He actually encouraged them, to step right up and cast the first stone if they met the qualifications. But this all hinges on what Christ wrote in the sand.

SIXTHly... I propose that Christ wrote in the sand the names of all those pharisees, and then He wrote the names of the women with whom THEY were guilty of committing adultery. He then made the declaration that He made, because if one of them attempted to cast a stone, Christ would have said, "Hold on there for a minute, are you _____ not yourself committing adultery with _____, _____, and _____? So then why do you think that you have right to cast a stone at this woman who has injured you in no way; however, what we can do is go get the husbands of the women with whom you have been committing adultery and see what THEY want to do ABOUT YOU!" With this in mind, the pharisees all slunk away in shame.

SEVENTHly, Christ said He did not condemn the woman either, because He was not her husband or father or brother and as a man He had no right to condemn (that is judge and sentence) her. Of course He had right as God, but that is completely beside the point. Christ had power to judge and condemn every single one of the those Pharisees, as well as Herod, the priests and High Priest, etc., but that is not the point.

Such BLIND Bible teaching makes the Word of God of none effect. The implication is not that the death penalty has been abolished. The implication is that those who are without spiritual understanding think that they can change the Word of God based upon their confusion, and missing the entire point, like a corrupt politician, he creates all sorts of nonsensical smokescreens to prevent anyone actually understanding what the passage is about.