Is John 7:53–8:11 part of the original text of John?

The text of John 7:53 through to 8:11 is known to Biblical scholars as The pericope adulterae. Concerning this, Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes:

Have you noticed the double brackets in the ESV that surround John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available)? Those double brackets mean that the ESV’s translation committee does not consider this passage to be original to John’s Gospel. You also find double brackets around Mark 16:9–20 in Logos Bible Software (if available).

Do you know what it means that these passages are marked off–correctly–as not coming from the authors of these respective Gospels? If John did not write what is enumerated as 7:53–8:11, that means it doesn’t belong between John 7:52 in Logos Bible Software (if available) and 8:12 in Logos Bible Software (if available) because it does not come from the author who was “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” If John did not write this passage, it isn’t Scripture because it was not “breathed out by God.” If it isn’t Scripture, it shouldn’t be in the text, and pastors shouldn’t preach it.

That’s what those double brackets mean about these passages. I submit that if a translation committee has come to the conclusion that they should put double brackets around these texts, they would serve pastors and Bible teachers better by putting these texts in a footnote rather than in the text. Those double brackets are too easy not to notice. The ESV puts John 5:4O in Logos Bible Software (if available) in a footnote because the editors do not think John wrote that verse. The same should be done with Mark 16:9–20 in Logos Bible Software (if available) and John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available).

What is the evidence for such a conclusion? In what follows I will only present the evidence for John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available), evidence that comes from the New Testament manuscripts (external evidence) and from the flow of thought in John’s Gospel (internal evidence). [If you’re interested in the Mark 16 issue, I discussed that passage also from the pulpit].

The Manuscripts

We are dealing with books written long before the printing press and long copied by hand. John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available) is not in any of the earliest manuscripts, and Bruce Metzger notes that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it.”

That means that at some point a scribe copied this passage into a manuscript of John’s Gospel, and then that got perpetuated. The fact that we have enough evidence to determine this to be the case should increase our confidence in the text of the New Testament. That there is a consensus on this point should make us more confident in the Scriptures not less.

John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available) is not in any of the best texts: P66, P75, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, etc. As the note above the passage in the ESV states, the earliest manuscripts do not include it. As the footnote in the ESV text states, some manuscripts contain this passage, but not following John 7:52 in Logos Bible Software (if available). Some have it after John 7:36 in Logos Bible Software (if available) or 21:25 in Logos Bible Software (if available) or even Luke 21:38 in Logos Bible Software (if available). Again, the fact that we have enough manuscript evidence to arrive at this conclusion shows that we can be practically certain about the original contents of the text of the New Testament.

The Flow of Thought in John’s Gospel

In addition to the manuscript evidence indicating that John the author of the Gospel did not put this passage here, we can also observe that the passage interrupts the flow of thought in this section of the Gospel. The opponents of Jesus are ready to kill him (John 5:18 in Logos Bible Software (if available); 7:19–20 in Logos Bible Software (if available), 25 in Logos Bible Software (if available)). They seek to arrest him (7:30, 32), and they are frustrated when the officers don’t bring him in (7:45–47). Their minds are made up. They have just rejected Nicodemus’s counsel that they investigate Jesus (7:51). They are past the point of testing Jesus or seeking charges to bring against him, as the interpolated passage has them doing in 8:6. They do not need charges against Jesus. He has called “God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18 in Logos Bible Software (if available)), so they can bring him up on charges of blasphemy.

There are accounts in other Gospels similar to this one about the woman caught in adultery, but there are no accounts like this one in John. The passages most similar to this interpolated passage are the ones that depict the scribes and Pharisees disputing directly with Jesus over someone who is in need. Interestingly, the two accounts closest to this one involve the healing of the paralytic and the man with the withered hand. Mark places both of those incidents (Mark 2:1–12 in Logos Bible Software (if available); 3:1–5 in Logos Bible Software (if available)) prior to the Pharisees’ fateful decision to seek to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6 in Logos Bible Software (if available)).

John Doesn’t Talk This Way

Have you noticed that John always refers to the opponents of Jesus as “the Jews”? Did you notice that John never refers to the scribes? The only instance of the word “scribes” in John’s Gospel is in the interpolated passage at 8:3. In fact there are 14 words in John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available) passage that occur nowhere else in John’s Gospel.

Continuity Between John 7 and 8

If we pass over 7:53–8:11, we find that the setting and situation in the rest of John 8 matches the setting and situation of John 7. As we move to John 8:12 in Logos Bible Software (if available), John continues to present Jesus speaking at the temple (7:28; 8:20) on the last and greatest day of the feast (7:37).

Not only is the setting of John 8 the same as that of John 7, the points under discussion are the same. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the water pouring ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles in 7:37–39. That water pouring ceremony likely commemorated the water from the rock in the wilderness (Exod 17:1–7 in Logos Bible Software (if available); Num 20:2–13 in Logos Bible Software (if available)). In addition to the water pouring ceremony there was a ceremonial lighting of candles, likely commemorating the way the Lord lit Israel’s way through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and flame. In John 8:12 in Logos Bible Software (if available), Jesus will assert that he is the light of the world. Other points of contact between John 7 and 8 include the following:

Testimony, 7:18, 28; 8:13
Where Jesus comes from and where he goes, 7:25–30, 31–36; 8:14, 21–22 (cf. esp. 7:34–35 and 8:21–22)
Righteous judgment, 7:24; 8:15
The Jews don’t know God, 7:28; 8:19, 55
The seeking of glory, 7:18; 8:50, 54
A Plea to Translation Committees

Bible translation committees responsible for the ESV, CSB, NIV, NAS, and any other translation preached from pulpits should do pastors a favor and put these texts in footnotes. Mark 16:9–20 in Logos Bible Software (if available) was not written by Mark, and John 7:53–8:11 in Logos Bible Software (if available) was not written by John. Those passages do not belong in the text and should not be preached from pulpits. The snake-handlers are woefully mistaken. They should not think there is any warrant in the New Testament for such a practice. Similarly, those who cry that no one should throw stones anytime sinners are called to repentance have misunderstood this interpolated passage (Jesus does tell the woman to stop sinning in 8:11), but still the passage has no business in the text. It was not written by John, and it should not be there interrupting the flow of though between 7:52 and 8:12. Put it in a footnote.

[it was my privilege to preach John 7:53–8:29 in Logos Bible Software (if available) at Kenwood Baptist Church today, and for any who may be interested in the way I addressed this issue from the pulpit, the sermon audio is online].

Update on “The Trial” Tract

Trial - MalayalamGood News: 10,000 of “The Trial” tracts have now been printed in English, with another 25,000 printed in Malayalam (a dialect in the state of Kerala, INDIA).

It has also been translated into Hungarian and is being distributed in the city of Budapest, HUNGARY.

Now it is being used for ministry to merchant seafarers in their ships off the coast of AUSTRALIA. All glory to God.

May the tract be used by God for many to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wesley’s Failed Marriage

John Wesley’s Failed Marriage by passion for evangelistic preaching, and skill at organizing the budding Methodist movement are all notable traits. And God used those qualities to help spark the Evangelical Revival in England in the mid-18th century (a revival that paralleled the Great Awakening in North America). In that respect, there are many helpful things that we can learn from Wesley’s example.

His marriage, however, left a different kind of legacy; one which is also noteworthy, but not for good reasons.

As Methodist author John Singleton explains:

The saga of John Wesley’s marriage is a cautionary tale from the roots of Methodism that ought to resonate today with any couple so involved in church life that they fail to leave enough space for each other.

Wesley and Mary Vazeille, a well-to-do widow and mother of four children, were married in 1751. By 1758 she had left him—unable to cope, it is said, with the competition for his time and devotion presented by the ever-burgeoning Methodist movement. Molly, as she was known, was to return and leave him again on several occasions before their final separation.

Due to her husband’s constant travels, Molly felt increasingly neglected. She grew jealous of her husband’s time since he was often away. And she became suspicious of the many friendly relationships he maintained with various women who were part of the Methodist movement. Wesley for his part did little to assauge her fears.

Consequently, their marriage was a rocky one, as Stephen Tomkins’ blunt biography reveals. Here are just a few brief episodes recounted in his book:

– [When Wesley left for a ministry tour in Ireland in 1758, Molly reported that her husband’s parting words to her were:] “I hope I shall see your wicked face no more.” (p. 155)

– “Reunited in England, they clashed violently—Wesley refusing to change his writing habits [of sending affectionate letters to other women] and Molly accusing him of adultery and calling down on him, in her own words, ‘all the curses from Genesis to Revelation.’” (p. 155)

– “Almost the sole surviving record of this marriage from Molly’s side dates from December 1760, when she said Wesley left a meeting early with one Betty Disine and was seen still with her the following morning. She told him ‘in a loving manner to desist from running after strange women for your character is at stake.’” (p. 159)

– “In 1771, Molly announced that she was leaving John again. On 23 January, the Journal reports, ‘For what I cause I know not to this day, [my wife] set out for Newcastel, purposing “never to return.” I did not leave her: I did not send her away: I will not call her back.’” (p. 174)

Numerous other anecdotes could be cited. But as that final excerpt reveals, Wesley was not sad to see his wife leave. The trouble in their marriage had started just three months after their wedding, and it ended in a permanent separation. Sadly, John Wesley didn’t even hear about his estranged wife’s passing until four days after she had died.

Commenting on the tragic marriage of Methodism’s founder, Singleton brings the issue home:

The gap between husband and wife widened emotionally and physically until they reached the point of no return. If you have the opportunity to visit Wesley’s Chapel in London, you will see among the artifacts in Wesley’s house his bureau, complete with hidden compartments. It was here, at this very piece of furniture, that Molly read some of her husband’s letters to his “dear sisters” and misinterpreted and misconstrued their often affectionate and florid language. And so the fires of jealousy were fueled.

It is a sad episode, but at least it brings home to us the humanity of Wesley. On this occasion and others, the founder of Methodism reveals some of the inner turmoil taking place behind his relentless regime of travel, pastoral work and preaching. There must be a lesson there for many of us.

Indeed, John Wesley’s failed marriage stands as a sober warning to any would-be pastor or elder. For those tempted to confuse their God-given priorities, Wesley’s negative example in this area ought to be a powerful wake-up call. God’s Word sets the standard high for those who would lead in the church; and those qualifications include an elder’s home-life.

Church Discipline

Justin Taylor writes:

The following notes are from Jonathan Leeman’s short and very helpful book, Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

3 Forms of Discipline

Formative discipline helps to form the disciple through instruction.

Corrective discipline helps to correct the disciple through correcting sin (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 5:11; Titus 3:10; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; 1 Cor. 5:1-13).

Preemptive discipline disallows someone from participating in the fellowship of the church in the first place (2 John 2:9-10; see an example of this in Acts 8:17-24).

The following notes have to do with “corrective discipline.”

6 Reasons Churches Should Practice Church Discipline

Church discipline is biblical.
Church discipline is an implication of the gospel.
Church discipline promotes the health of the church.
Church discipline clarifies and burnishes the church’s witness before the nations.
Church discipline warns sinners of an even greater judgment to come.
Most importantly, church discipline protects the name and reputation of Jesus Christ on earth.

4 Ways Church Discipline Demonstrates Love

Church discipline shows love for the individual, that he or she might be warned and brought to repentance.
Church discipline shows love for the church, that weaker sheep might be protected.
Church discipline shows love for the watching world, that it might see Christ’s transforming power.
Church discipline shows love for Christ, that churches might uphold his holy name and obey him.

5 Purposes of Church Discipline from 1 Corinthians 5

1. Discipline aims to expose.

Sin, like cancer, loves to hide. Discipline exposes the cancer so that it might be cut out quickly (see 1 Cor. 5:2)

2. Discipline aims to warn.

A church does not enact God’s retribution through discipline. Rather, it stages a small play that pictures the great judgment to come (v. 5). Discipline is a compassionate warning.

3. Discipline aims to save.

Churches pursue discipline when they see a member taking the path toward death, and none of their pleading and arm-waving causes the person to turn around. It’s the device of last resort for bringing an individual to repentance (v. 5).

4. Discipline aims to protect.

Just as cancer spreads from one cell to another, so sin quickly spreads from one person to another (v. 6).

5. Discipline aims to present a good witness for Jesus.

Church discipline, strange to say, is actually good for non-Christians, because it helps to preserve the attractive distinctiveness of God’s people (see v. 1). Churches, remember, should be salt and light. “But if the salt loses its saltiness . . . ,” Jesus said, “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matt. 5:13, NIV).

4 Foundational Assumptions for Church Discipline

1. An expectation of transformation.

The new covenant promises that Christ’s people will live transformed lives through the power of the Spirit. Even if change comes slowly, churches should expect change—the visible fruit of God’s grace and Spirit. Discipline is the right response to a lack of visible fruit, or, even more, the presence of bad fruit.

2. The work of representation.

Christians are to be little Christs, representing Jesus on earth. The concept of representation depends on the idea that Jesus is Savior and Lord; it depends on the fact that Christians are given a new status and a new work. Discipline is the right response when Christians fail to represent Jesus and show no desire for doing so.

3. The local church’s authority.

Jesus gave the local church the authority of the keys to officially affirm and oversee citizens of his kingdom. Churches do not make people Christians. The Spirit does that. But churches have the declarative authority and responsibility for making public statements before the nations about who is and isn’t a Christian. A church’s act of excommunication, therefore, does not consist of physically and forcibly removing the individual from its public gatherings, as if the church had the state’s power of the sword to physically move people’s bodies; rather, it consists of the public statement that it can no longer vouch for an individual’s citizenship in heaven. Excommunication is a church’s declaration that it can no longer affirm that an individual is a Christian.

4. Membership as submission.

Christians are called, as a matter of obedience to Christ, to submit to the affirmation and oversight of local churches. When threatened by a possible act of disci­pline, therefore, church members cannot simply preempt the church’s action with a resignation. That would be analogous to an individual resigning his national citizenship before a court could prosecute the criminal activity for which he had been indicted.

5 Principles for the Process of Church Discipline

The process should involve as few people as possible for yielding repentance.
When the process moves beyond one or several people, church leaders should lead the process.
The length of the process depends on how long it takes to establish that a person is characteristically unrepentant.

Individuals should receive the benefit of the doubt until the evidence indicates otherwise.
Leaders should involve and instruct the congregation as appropriate.
What Excommunication Signifies

“The church removes its public affirmation by barring the member from the Lord’s Table. It takes away his passport and announces that it can no longer formally affirm the individual’s citizenship in Christ’s kingdom” (p. 50).

1 of 3 Conclusions Churches Need to Arrive at before Determining It Is Time to Act

When a church becomes convinced that a person is genuinely repentant, it should not proceed with any form of discipline (and I cannot think of a single exception to this principle).
When a church becomes convinced that a person is characteristically (not temporarily) unrepentant, it should proceed with excommunication.

When a sin is so deliberate, repugnant, and indicative of a deep double-mindedness that a congregation is left unable to give credence to a profession of repentance, at least until time has passed and trust has been re-earned, it should pro­ceed with excommunication, determining to test for repentance after the fact.

See also, Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign into Thin Air and 22 Mistakes Pastors Make about Church Discipline.

Miscellaneous Quotes (99)

quotes“The world was created that from thence Christ might obtain his spouse.” – Jonathan Edwards

“The love of Jesus Christ constrains me to lift up my voice like a trumpet. My heart is now full; out of the abundance of the love which I have for your precious and immortal souls, my mouth now speaks; and I could now not only continue my discourse until midnight, but I could speak until I could speak no more.” – George Whitefield

“We never get past the gospel.” – Derek Thomas

“The true church is too different for the world to tolerate it.” – Sinclair Ferguson

“No man who is full of himself can ever truly preach the Christ who emptied himself.” – J. Sidlow Baxter

“God’s grace in saving miserable sinners has been replaced by heretical teaching, such as saying that it is because we are so valuable that Christ came to redeem us. Not all who hold self-esteem views go so far, but many do.” – Jay Adams

“As a husband, your love for your wife has a specific goal: her holiness.” – Winston Smith

“George Whitefield was convinced that any presentation of the gospel must begin by exposing the listener’s sin and his dire need for salvation.” – Steven Lawson

“The first thing the sinner needs is life. He cannot ask for life, for he is dead. God gives him life, and he proves that he has it by believing the gospel. Quickening is the first step. It is the first thing that happens. I do not ask to be quickened. If I asked to be quickened I would not need to be quickened. I would already have life.” – Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Ephesians – God’s Way Of Reconciliation)

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you’re a beast in the pulpit but a coward in your neighborhood, something has gone wrong.” – Matt Chandler

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot

“The grace of God has no charms for men till the Holy Spirit gives them a taste for it.” – John Calvin

“God is dependable. His predestination cannot fail, and no one can withstand Him.” – Martin Luther

Conditional Standing?

John-HIn article entitled “Is Our Continued Standing in Christ Conditional?” John Hendryx writes:

Good works and obedience may be the necessary fruit of conversion but they are not the gospel which saves, nor do they play ANY part of what maintains our right standing before God. That office is reserved for Jesus alone. We contribute nothing to our justification. And if, as some claim, our continued standing in Christ is ultimately conditional, then it would directly contradict any feigned assertion that justification comes through Christ ALONE. Again, fruit is necessary, but it is Christ’s fruit.. He chose us and APPOINTED US TO BEAR FRUIT… fruit that will abide (John 15:16)

What about passages which call us to obedience and warn about disobedience. Well, this is what actually happens to true believers who fall into sin:

“But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we MAY NOT BE condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:31-32)

When a believer acknowledges his sin and the righteous judgment of God, God will not judge us, but when we sin we are judged by GOD as a form of discipline SO WE MAY NOT BE CONDEMNED ALONG WITH THE WORLD. Such discipline drives us back to obedience, and never results in causing God to forsake our status as His children. No one, including you or me, would have hope if any of our salvation depended, even a little, on ourselves. The idea that Christ can lose a believer also directly contradicts God’s promise that His call is irrevocable to all those he has given Christ. (Rom 11:29; John 6:39)

Theologian Robert Reymond once noted that in 1 John there is “a cause and effect relationship exists between God’s regenerating activity and saving faith/obedience/perseverance.” When one takes into account that John says in 1 John 3:9a that “everyone who has been begotten [gegenn?menos] by God does not do sin, because [hoti] his seed abides in him” and then in 1 John 3:9b that “he is not able to sin, because [hoti] he has been begotten [gegenn?tai—the word in 5:1] by God,” we definitely find a cause and effect relationship between God’s regenerating activity as the cause and the Christian’s not abiding in sin as one EFFECT of that regenerating activity. [The reverse is true that those who continue to abide in sin have not been regenerated]…In every other place where it occurs — an?then, means “from above.” [i.e. those who have been begotten [perfect tense] by God sins [present tense] not,”[ Though he does not say so in so many words, it is surely appropriate, because of his pattern of speech in 1 John 3:9 and elsewhere this word is used, to understand him to mean that the cause behind one’s not abiding in sin [and even the cause of one’s faith (1 Jn 5:1)] is God’s regenerating activity.”

In other words, the work of grace which the Lord does for us in the gospel is a complete work, and lacks nothing. Jesus Person and work is sufficient to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). Jesus says, “I have come to do your will … And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)