|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-11 Christ neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees. Those are self-condemned who judge others, and yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the faults of others, are especially concerned to look to themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to insnare him, he sought to convince and convert them. He declined to meddle with the magistrate's office. Many crimes merit far more severe punishment than they meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that upon ourselves to which we are not called. When Christ sent her away, it was with this caution, Go, and sin no more. Those who help to save the life of a criminal, should help to save the soul with the same caution. Those are truly happy, whom Christ does not condemn. Christ's favour to us in the forgiveness of past sins should prevail with us, Go then, and sin no more.
Verse 3. - And the scribes and Pharisees are bringing - dragging by main force - (to him) a woman taken in adultery; and, having caused her - forced her, notwithstanding the hideous shame of her discovery - to stand in the midst, they say unto him, Master. The "scribes" are not elsewhere referred to in John's Gospel, although the phrase, "scribes and Pharisees," is very frequently used in the synoptic Gospels for the opponents of our Lord and the subjects of his invective. They come together in the final scenes as combining to thwart and tempt him. John refers to "Pharisees" twenty times, and four times in connection with the "priests;" but never with the "scribes." The scribes are elsewhere in the New Testament spoken of as νομικοί or νομοδιδάσκαλοι, and also as "rabbis" in the Mishna. The scribes and Pharisees are no deputation from the Sanhedrin, nor are they representatives of the party of Zealots, as some have pretended. There is no indication of any mere sectional animosity or of any genuine desire to receive an authoritative or prophetic response to their inquiry. The Sanhedrin itself would certainly not have condescended at this epoch to have submitted any question of its own action to the arbitrament of Jesus. Numerous witnesses of the act of adultery are inconceivable, though in the excitement and confusion of the Feast of Tabernacles in a crowded city and suburbs, this may have been more feasible than might otherwise be supposed. The probability is that the act was undeniably committed in such a way as to bring this woman under the cognizance of these reformers or defenders of the theocracy who cropped up on all sides, and that a group of bigots scow at once that capital might be made for their antagonism to Jesus by proposing to him a query which would, however it might be answered, lower his prestige. According to ver. 10 (omitted in Codex B), these scribes and Pharisees were, if not the "witnesses" of adultery, the "accusers" ready to take the case before the highest court. Considering the long desuetude of the Law, and the impossibility of even the Sanhedrin legally inflicting the penalty of stoning, even if it were so disposed, the whole question looks like a subtle but ill-considered plot to entangle the Lord in his judgments, and to induce him to sacrifice his influence with the people. The absence of the guilty man is noteworthy (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Scribes and Pharisees,.... The members of the sanhedrim, who had been so miserably disappointed the day before, were no less diligent and industrious in their wicked way, seeking all opportunities, and taking all advantages against Christ; and fancying they had got something whereby to ensnare him, and bring him into disgrace or danger, they pursue it; and
brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; who, as some conjecture, might have been taken in it the day before, in one of their booths; being drawn into it through intemperance and carnal mirth, which at this feast they greatly indulged themselves in; which shows, that they were far from drawing the Holy Ghost at this time upon them; that on the contrary, they fell into the hands, and under the power of the unclean spirit: who this woman was, is not material to know; what is pretended to be taken out of the annals of the Spanish Jews, is no doubt a fable; that she was the wife of one Manasseh of Jerusalem, an old man, whose name was Susanna (d):
and when they had set her in the midst; of the company, as the Persic version reads, to be seen by all the people. This history of the woman taken in adultery, is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in other ancient copies; nor is it in Nonnus, Chrysostom, and Theophylact; nor in any of the editions of the Syriac version, until it was restored by De Dieu, from a copy of Archbishop Usher's; but was in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and in the Harmonies of Tatian and Ammonius; the former of which lived about the year 160, and so within 60 years, or thereabouts, of the death of the Evangelist John, and the other about the year 230; it was also in Stephens's sixteen ancient Greek copies, and in all Beza's seventeen, excepting one; nor need the authenticness of it be doubted of; Eusebius (e) says, it is in the Gospel according to the Hebrews; nor should its authority be called in question.
(d) Vid. Selden. Uxor Hebr. l. 3. c. 11. p. 377. (e) Hist. Ecless. l. 3. c. 39.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3-6. scribes and Pharisees—foiled in their yesterday's attempt, and hoping to succeed better in this.
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