Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part III: Presentation Of The Messenger Of Salvation
C. Christ's Credentials Revealed In Confrontations With Men
9. Handling A Questionable God-Appointed Authority Entity Well
(John 7:53-8:11)
  1. Introduction
    1. When an authority figure such as a leader or a Scripture passage is questioned as to that entity's credibility, our reaction to it can expose our hearts: if we assume an irreverent attitude in such a case, we tend to dismiss a questionable authority figure as errant or false, revealing sinful rebellion. If we blindly defend a questionable authority figure, we thereby reveal our errant dependence on men instead of God.
    2. We have a very questionable text before us in John 7:53-8:11 -- one that godly men of God as well as serious critics of Scripture have a real problem believing was actually written by J ohn. However, even godly doubters of the passage admit it exposes qualities of what Scripture elsewhere presents of Christ. Accordingly, we use this opportunity to exemplify how to respond rightly to an authority that is dubious. whether that questioned authority is a human or a text in Scripture (as follows):
  2. Handling A Questionable God-Appointed Authority Entity Well, John 7:53-8:11:
    1. There are genuinely serious questions about the credibility of John 7:53-8:11 being in John's Gospel:
      1. Externally, the best and earliest Greek manuscripts omit the section, cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 219-222; Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 346.
      2. Internally, circumstances of the account are very non-Jewish as Edersheim, a Christian convert out of Judaism recounts in a footnote in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. ii, p. 163 (as follows):
        1. It is highly unlikely that the Jewish authorities would have brought a woman taken in adultery before Jesus instead of dealing with the problem in a court they would have accepted as authoritative.
        2. The witnesses to the adultery were absent, something in direct conflict with Jewish legal practice.
        3. The leaders called for death by stoning where the discipline for adultery was death by strangulation.
        4. The idea that this scene with all of its legal errors would have dared to have been performed by Jewish religious leaders in the temple itself as John 8:2-3 states is highly unlikely!
    2. Yet, though Edersheim has doubts of John ever writing the account, he admits it "contains much which we instinctively feel to be like the Master, both in what Christ is represented as saying and as doing." (Ibid.)
    3. Accordingly, in view of the fact that this account is both questionable and yet may contain actual truth, we will apply what other unquestionable Scripture passages reveal match the character and deeds of Christ found in the questionable text out of RESPECT for what truth may be in the account itself (as follows):
      1. First, Jesus is recorded in the Greek text as referring to "the sin" in John 8:7, implying Christ was allowing those present who were without the same sin of adultery to cast the first stone (UBS Greek New Testament, p. 414). This concept would represent truth taught elsewhere, for Christ taught in the undisputed text of Matthew 7:1-5 that we should not be hypocritical in criticizing another until our own sin is handled!
      2. Second, Jesus is recorded in John 8:11 as saying the woman should sin NO more (mayketi) -- and not (as some claim) that Jesus implied adultery was not a sin! Jesus is presented as accurately calling adultery sin in accord with the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:14)! We should thus NOT commit adultery or tolerate it in any way as being anything less that SIN!
Lesson: (1) From John 8:7 and 8:11 in light of other REPUTABLE Scripture texts, we know we must not hypocritically judge another party before we have judged sin in ourselves. (2) We should also treat adultery as a sin to be shunned. (3) In CASE w e err in NOT accepting MORE of the John 7:53-8:11 text as having truth, we RESPECTFULLY leave it in the Bible and make no further remarks about it!

Application: Whether there is a questionable Scripture text of John 7:53-8:11 or questionable human leader appointed by God's chain-of-command order, we must VERIFY from undisputed Scriptures our questions but LEAVE for the APPROPRIATE authorities t o deal out any PUNITIVE judgment!