The woman caught in the sin of adultery story – the Pericope Adulterae controversy – Textual Variance and Textual Criticism

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Today many professing Christians on social media respond as if we’re not to oppose or expose the sin of adultery. Or that we should somehow sweep that sin under the rug. The verse that they will wrongfully quote is John 8:7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

More about that verse later.

Truth is, adultery is still a heinous crime against God, a transgression of His Law, as well as an egregious sin against others involved.

For starts,

  1. Adultery in the Old Testament was punishable by death
  2. Adultery is still a sin in the New Testament
  3. And Ephesians 5:1-21 is an admonishment to oppose, rebuke, and even expose sin (though we should be wise how we do that).

Back to the verse.

The problem with using that story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11), is that most reliable scholars agree it was not in the original manuscripts. This is known as the Pericope Adulterae controversy. Admittedly I did not know about this debate for years after my salvation.

Though the Textus Receptus includes this passage, as well as some other Greek and English texts, others do not. Others will have a footnote advising this passage was not in the original manuscripts. I believe in the latter.

Therefore, even if you believe this passage was canonized, Jesus was never easy or soft on adultery. We live in a time when perhaps many professing Christians believe it’s always either wrong or even sin, to be critical. Albeit the Scriptures command us to rightly divide His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), and to be good Bereans, examining His Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11), and to defend and teach sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3 Titus 2:1).

So, the disciplines of Textual Variance and Textual Criticism are needed today more than ever.

In the below video, Dr. James White discusses various textual variances in the Bible, at timestamp 32:35 he discusses the variances of John 7:53-8:11. But pay particular attention to timestamp 51:40-53:30.

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