Did Jesus stone or enable stoning?


Let us read the story.
The Jewish leaders brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. Read John 8 - New International Version (NIV)

1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.


3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group


4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.


5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”


 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.


7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”


8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”




Jesus said, "If you want her stoned then fine but find somebody worthy to do so."












Lazy people who know of Jesus guess that he saved a woman from being stoned to death for adultery. The Bible tells the story in John 8. God commanded his people in the Bible, in the law, to stone adulterous people to death without pity. The Jews brought a woman who committed adultery and was caught in the act to Jesus to see if he would tell them to go ahead. He said that only those of them who had no sin could stone her. They walked off and Jesus let her go.
The story allegedly says that Jesus condemned the sin not the sinner even though Moses' law said she should be condemned to death as a sinner. In fact, honest scholars admit that the story does say sinners should be condemned to death but the problem is that everybody sins. That was why Jesus let her go. It was not about the principle but about the practicalities. The story cannot be used to argue that Jesus was so strongly pro-life that he abolished the killing laws.
Also, we are not told or cannot know all the circumstances. Jesus letting her go does not necessarily imply abolition of stoning. And if it did, it would be referring to her stoning being cancelled and would not mean that cancelling or abolishing stoning was now the policy for all sinners like her. You cannot argue from this individual case that Jesus wanted to save all adulterers from stoning.
"Jesus observed all of the [Jewish] Law" Dave Armstrong, The One Minute Apologist, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, New Hampshire, 2007.
Christian, Matthew Henry "Christ neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees."
“The thought is not that no human being has the right to execute another. No, the point is to say that they don’t have to press charges this particular time. ..Jesus says he has no problem with it as long as the eager would-be executioners are quite sure they have the moral superiority to act as her judges. ” Blaming Jesus for Jehovah by Robert Price.
Jesus in Matthew 5 denies that he will alter the law but said he will fulfil it. His aim was the fulfilling the law for it came from God and is without error. If Jesus contradicted the law we must put that down to misinterpretation - it does not mean he meant to contradict it or that he thought contradicting it was okay.

Is the story a story of mercy?  Let us assume it is for the purpose of argument.  The story is adored by anti-capital punishment activists who cannot see that it only seemingly says Jesus gave mercy to a woman who in justice should have been stoned.  Mercy upholds the law.  A country that gives mercy to all on death row is not abolishing capital punishment but recognising it and just not implementing it.  The capital punishment law is still upheld.  Mercy only means that the judge is not able to give you what you really should get for some reason.  Mercy reinforces the law as much as carrying the law out to the letter does and in a sense reinforces it even more.  Mercy always retains the thinking of the law.  If the law says she ought to die then mercy says she ought to die but she will be reminded of that and punished with that thought.  Mercy and justice are meant to agree.  Unjust mercy is not mercy at all.

Even the Church says that the woman Jesus "saved" from being stoned to death deserved to be stoned and should have been. Jesus's God - Jesus is God and the writer of the Bible ultimately according to core Christian doctrine - commanded stoning in his Bible. The Church says that the only reason she was not was because Jesus gave her mercy. That is extremist doctrine for nobody deserves that treatment or such a patronising passive aggressive "mercy". If somebody exaggerates what you deserve and then offers mercy that is not mercy but a farce. The Church has no right then to complain if some Catholics start stoning tomorrow. Strictly speaking, it was the men who were poised to stone her that saved her by walking away not Jesus. The story gives no hint that Jesus had any pity for the woman. That is unsurprising for the God of the law said pitying such was a sin.
They asked him if she should be stoned to death.
None did cast a stone.
They walked away.
Jesus told her he would not stone her and that she must not commit adultery again.


William Lane Craig thinks that the brutal laws of the Bible really did come from God. But he says that does not mean they are for us today. Back then times were so godless and brutal that God had to make the best laws possible under the circumstances though those laws seem harsh to us.


First, the Bible says that God's book in which he wrote these laws, the Torah is perfect and ideal.


Second, the Torah never says that God was forced to make the laws.


Third, Craig is blaming the victims and is merely speculating.


Fourth, he is blaming the Israelites and saying they were so terrible that there was no option but to make laws for them that fell short of the ideal.


Fifth, what Bible verse has he got to back up his idea? None.


Jesus allegedly said that Moses wrote the divorce law for the Jews for they were too stubborn to live without it but it was not what God really wanted. But the law merely assumes that divorce was happening and tries to regulate it a bit but does not say that divorce is allowed. It does not mean that we can think the same about other laws. Adulterous people were not being stoned in Israel forcing God to regulate it. He did not regulate it. He simply commanded it. Religion says God has the right to tell you to kill specific people but here he is letting corrupt man decide who to kill! That does not sound like a God who is forced to make such laws for the people are so bad. You do not make laws like that that are to be implemented by uncivilised and corrupt and stubborn people. And people who are good at their core, not just people who do good things, do not make excuses for stuff like that. And if there is a God they have to answer for slandering him in the name of Christ.
Jesus was careful not to command that she not be stoned. That is significant and implies that the Church has the right to reinstate stoning.
We conclude that the story is about Jesus' support for killing the woman but the problem was that the people wanting to execute her were shown they should be stoned too. The story strongly reinforces the belief that Jesus Christ did not do away with killing adulterous people. And his permitting it if the circumstances were right means that even though the Roman Empire ruled the nation, the Jews had a moral right to continue with the executions. Some liberal Christians lie that the killing laws only applied to the Jews if they ruled themselves. Jesus strongly disagreed and rather than nudging the men to think about drowning her or something instead urged them to continue thinking she should be stoned if not by them. They left still wanting to stone her but unable. So much for the humane Jesus!




The theologian JP Holding says, “Jesus … told the accusers that whichever one of them was sinless ought to start the stoning. A ‘no, don’t stone her”, would not have challenged the power of the state; it would have challenged the authenticity and authority of the Old Testament law.”


So he is clear that Jesus was not against the stoning for it was the stoners he had the problem with.  And it shows he clearly did not want to challenge the authority of Old Testament law for he regarded it as infallible.  If people want to think he was more concerned about the law as a cultural and religious law than her let them.  But it seems the reason he was concerned not just because it was what he lived under but because he considered it to be God's infallible word.



Scholars admit that Jesus failed to distance himself from the savage law of God that a woman guilty of adultery should be stoned.  The law also requires three witnesses.  Jesus never pointed that out.  The story does not mention witnesses.  It says, "She was caught in the act", but that sounds like hearsay.  The witnesses needed to be mentioned so their omission means they didn't exist.  Jesus could have walked away.  He left her feeling he would sanction stoning and telling the others to stone if they had no sin must have made her terrified.  He did not make sure she was escorted away but told her she was an adulteress thus leaving her stigmatised and under threat of being stoned later on.  He did not ask her to go to the judge with him to make sure that she could get mercy.  She was owed it as the attempt to liquidate her failed.  He did not even forgive her or say he did.  And surely his being on his own with her with her reputation was going to get him in trouble?  He did not really think she was guilty.

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