John 8

Chapter eight begins with a disputed passage. From John 7:53-8:11, the passage about the woman caught in adultery, scholars are divided on its authenticity. Many Bible translation committees chose to bracket and footnote it rather than completely remove it, although they do not believe it is original. Whether the event itself is true or not (and there is no reason to think that it is not), the language, style, and placement do not fit this narrative, which naturally resumes in John 8:12. The great truth of the account is that Jesus showed the religious leaders their own sinfulness, while at the same time forgiving the woman of hers. 1 It is essential to note his final words to her were “do not sin any more.”

Jesus responded to the retaliation against him from chapter seven with his second famous “I am” statement – “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Since he was likely standing in the Temple (John 7:37), the reference may have been to the large candlesticks erected for the feast. Again, the Pharisees rejected Jesus’ testimony about himself, so he responded with one more additional testimony than he gave in chapter five – God himself as Jesus’ Father (John 8:12-20). He continued stating some of the same things again, this time also prophesying his death, but still they did not understand (John 8:21-30).

However, many people had believed him and many more did at this time, so he addressed them directly with spiritual teaching. The result was more negative response from the religious leaders (John 8:31-59). First, they questioned his teaching. Then, they attacked his personal background. Finally, they charged him with being demon-possessed. Each time Jesus responded with more truth against their lies. In a last statement he plainly declared his deity by claiming that Abraham was glad to see him arrive, because “before Abraham came into existence, I am!” (invoking the Old Testament personal name of God). At this the mob tried to kill him, but he left the Temple.


  1. Also debated is exactly what Jesus wrote in the dirt. Since the account does not say, it is impossible to be certain, but one view with a great deal of possibility was that he wrote the 10 Commandments, covering any sin they may have committed. Of special note is that he wrote “on the ground with his finger” (John 8:6). Compare this to the 10 Commandments which were “written by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).