John 8:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 8:11, NIV: "No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,'Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"

John 8:11, ESV: "She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ]]"

John 8:11, KJV: "She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

John 8:11, NASB: "She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on do not sin any longer.']]"

John 8:11, NLT: "'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said, 'Neither do I. Go and sin no more.'"

John 8:11, CSB: ""No one, Lord," she answered."Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus. "Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.""

What does John 8:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

A woman has been brought to Jesus, by the Pharisees, after being caught "in the act" of a capital offense: adultery. There is no question about whether or not she committed the act, so she is morally guilty. The law explicitly outlawed adultery, and assigned it the death penalty (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), so she is legally guilty. The man she stands before is sinless (Hebrews 4:15), and perfect (John 8:46), so He has an unquestionable authority to punish her for her sin. In a profound lesson, however, Jesus takes a different approach.

Jesus challenged her attackers, pointing out that they weren't really following the entire law. For example, accusers were supposed to cast the first stone (Deuteronomy 17:7). Also, even though the law calls for the death of both guilty parties, the woman is the only one who is being accused of wrongdoing. Jesus pointed these things out, and with some unspecified writing in the dirt, He has driven off every single one of the men who called for her death.

What happens in this verse must be taken in its full context. Jesus does not tell the woman, "you did nothing wrong." He does not say, "don't worry about what you did." Instead, Jesus simply states that He does not condemn her—which in this context refers specifically to stoning her for this particular sin—and also explicitly tells her not to sin anymore. This incident is often misapplied by those who think Christians ought never to speak out against sin. The exact opposite is true: Jesus showed this woman spectacular grace, while still holding firm in calling her adultery what it was: a moral failure which should not be repeated.

This incident serves as a useful example for Christians. The adulterous woman is morally and legally guilty, and Jesus is morally and legally perfect. No one on earth had greater justification to kill her for her sin than Jesus did in that moment. And yet, Jesus chose not to do what He was allowed to do. Instead, He chose to do what He should do, which was to exercise "right judgment" (John 7:24), to show mercy (Proverbs 21:10; Zechariah 7:8–9; Matthew 23:23), while still speaking out against sin. Having the right to do something does not mean it's the best option; sometimes, the right thing to do is to be softer, gentler, and more forgiving than the world (Mathew 12:7; John 13:35; 1 John 2:16).