What does John 8:9 mean?
ESV: But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
NIV: 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.
NASB: Now when they heard this, they began leaving, one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman where she was, in the center of the courtyard.
CSB: When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center.
NLT: When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.
KJV: And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
NKJV: Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Verse Commentary:
Of all of Jesus' responses to His critics, this seems to be the most dramatic. Typically, those who challenged Jesus (Matthew 16:1; 19:3; Matthew 22:35; Luke 10:25; 11:54) were simply foiled, or frustrated. In this case, they're driven off entirely. The Pharisees have attempted to trick Jesus by challenging Him to stone a woman caught in adultery. However, they have not followed the entire law. The guilty man is not present (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), they are not planning to begin the execution themselves (Deuteronomy 17:7), and they seem to have no appreciation for God's sense of mercy (Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 145:8).

When Jesus writes on the ground and challenges their approach, the men turn and leave. Not only do they fail to ruin Jesus' reputation with the people, they actually make Him look even wiser, and themselves even less holy.

The phrasing here can be interpreted to mean that Jesus and the woman are literally the only two people in this area. However, the context strongly suggests that Jesus and the woman are only alone "in the midst" of the crowd, now that the Pharisees have left. In other words, once the accusers are gone, all that is left in front of the crowd are Jesus and the adulterous woman.
Verse Context:
John 7:53—8:11 is one of the most famous stories of the New Testament. However, scholars do not believe it was originally found in this particular place in Scripture. The flow of the gospel of John seems interrupted by the story. Also, in ancient manuscripts, these verses are located in various places. This leads to the consensus that it is a true story, but not part of John's original narrative of the Festival of Booths in chapters 7 and 8. Jesus' response to a trap sprung by the Pharisees is masterful. Though He alone has the moral authority to execute the woman for her sin, Jesus instead chooses forgiveness. This highlights a major concept of Christian ethics: just because one has the power to do something does not mean it's the best option.
Chapter Summary:
John chapter 8 includes the story of the adulterous woman, a well-known but controversial passage. Most scholars believe this story is authentic, but not originally found in this exact spot in Scripture. This chapter continues Jesus' preaching during the Feast of Booths, where He once again comes into conflict with local religious leaders. Here, Christ will make His second ''I AM'' statement, using the analogy of light, which is a common theme in Hebrew theology. This conversation will become more and more heated. Eventually, Jesus' opponents are enraged enough to attempt killing Him right then and there.
Chapter Context:
Jesus is attending the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, and has once again come into conflict with the local religious authorities. In the previous chapter, Jesus referred to Himself as a source of living water, playing off of the festivals' ritual pouring of water in the temple. In this chapter, Jesus will use the imagery of lights, also related to festival traditions. This chapter demonstrates Jesus' willingness to be direct, even aggressive, with His critics. The next few chapters will complete Jesus' public ministry, as He prepares for His impending death.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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