Archive for September 4, 2019

Bible Contradiction Answered Part 3: To Punish vs not to Punish

A certain skeptics website lists down examples of Bible contradictions.
One if it is as follows:

The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.
Lev 20:10

But, why didn’t Jesus punish the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 according to the Old Testament Law?


Firstly, while many Christians think Lord Jesus was being gracious and merciful, the passage in John 8:1-11 is actually not really about grace and forgiveness.

In fact, Lord Jesus used this occasion to morally condemn both the priests and the adulterous woman

In the Old Testament, the Israelites had a certain judicial system (Exodus 18).
The leader of 10s and 50s and 100s served as lower court while Moses served as the supreme court, in today’s language.
God’s commandment (including Leviticus 20:10) then served as Penal Code back then.

Hence, we need to examine John 8 from judicial point of view with Lord Jesus acting as the Judge.

Firstly, we should notice that the law specifically says both the man and the woman must be punished.
However, the scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman only to Lord Jesus.
Where was the man?
This is the first legal difficulty.
Since an important element of the law was not satisfied (the man was missing), Pharisees’ case of punishment was much weaker.

Secondly, when Lord Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”, He was using that occasion to show the scribes and the Pharisees that they were not any better morally than the adulterous woman.
We notice that they felt convicted and then left.

Lord Jesus then asked the woman, “Where are those accusers? Has no one condemned you?”. The woman said, “No one, Lord.”
He was actually asking a legal question: where are the accusers?

Picture a court room with a judge, a prosecutor and a defendant.
If halfway through the court process the prosecutor leaves the room, what will the judge do?
The judge will simply dismiss the case.
Since the Pharisees and the scribes left, that would make it the second legal difficulty.

Due to at least 2 legal difficulties above, Lord Jesus let the woman off, though He agreed she had committed adultery.
When He told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”, Lord Jesus was actually condemning her morally but not legally.
In today’s word, “You are lucky this time. But you better stop your sinful action!”

(Compare this with the high profile case of ex-NUS professor Tey Tsun Hang who was charged in sex-for-grades case. Justice Woo Bih Li acquitted him of all the charges. Yet, Justice Woo still condemned him morally calling him ‘a man without honor’)

In conclusion, Lord Jesus actually upheld God’s law by not condemning her.
There is no contradiction here.
The Bible is trustworthy.

Posted September 4, 2019 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Bible Study