In this negative and jaded world we live in, it sometimes feels like Mission: Impossible to try to spread the Good News of God’s love and guidance for the human beings He created. It seems many people have already written off the possibility of God and have an image of Him, and His followers, that isn’t really accurate. In August and September, Pastor G is going to walk us through eight key passages in the Gospel of John that show us that sharing the Good News of Jesus with our village is actually Mission: Possible.
In this message, from week five, Pastor Greg introduces us to Textual Criticism and the history of our English Bible as a foundation for the study of the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel. Pastor Greg takes us on a deep dive to understand all that is going on in the story of the woman caught in adultery.
You can’t teach what you don’t know and you can’t share what you don’t have. ~ Pastor G ~
Erasmus: 1st Printing Press Version Of Greek New Testament ~ 1516
William Tyndale: 1st Printing Press Version Of English New Testament ~ 1526
Textual Criticism: Simply stated, textual criticism is a research and study method used to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible said.
TYPES OF GREEK MANUSCRIPTS
Uncials: All upper case (capital) Greek letters.
Minuscules: Smaller, more cursive like Greek letters.
Papyri: Very old, written on papyrus “paper.”
OTHER ANCIENT HISTORY MANUSCRIPTS
When you look at Greek and Roman historians, the oldest surviving manuscripts were written 500-700 years later, after the original writings.
And there are typically only 1-20 surviving ancient copies of these works.
New Testament Manuscripts and Fragments
Many copies were written within 30-40 years of the time when they were originally written. 5,801 EARLY Manuscripts: 322 uncial texts, 2,907 minuscule texts, 2,445 lectionary portions, and 127 papyri. Over 25,000 handwritten manuscript copies by the fifteenth century. Copies agree on all major parts 95% of the time.
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; ~ John 20:31
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. ~ John 21:25
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?” ~ John 8:1-5
They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust. 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. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” – “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:6-11
LORD, You are the hope of Israel; all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water. ~ Jeremiah 17:13
The REALLY Good News of the Good News
This woman’s guilt was real and valid. They have her dead to rights. She DID commit the crime of adultery. She was caught “in the very act.” THE GOOD NEWS? Jesus would take her place.
But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” ~ Isaiah 53:5-6
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. ~ Romans 7:14-25
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1-4
Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more. ~ John 8:11b
ALOHA GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1) Does it bother you to learn that this passage of John’s Gospel was not in the original manuscript? Why or why not?
2) Were you surprised to hear how many copies of ancient Biblical manuscripts are in our possession compared to other ancient historical texts? Why or why not?
READ: John 20:31 and John 21:25
1) Pastor Greg shared that he believed the story about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery did happen and felt the fact that it was not initially included in John’s account could be explained by these two later passages of John. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
READ: John 8:1-11 & Jeremiah 17:13
1) Pastor Greg shared his theory about what Jesus was writing in the dirt? Do you agree with his theory or do you have a different theory?
2) Why do you think the woman’s accusers did not also drag the man out into the street to be judged?
3) Based on the Law at that time, were they justified in wanting to stone her to death for her crime?
4) Did Jesus find her guilty or innocent of the crime?
READ: Isaiah 53:5-6 and Romans 8:1
1) How are these verses related to what Jesus did for the woman caught in adultery?
2) When Jesus told her “neither do I condemn you” what was He intending to do about her justly deserved punishment?
3) Have you ever thought of your sins this way? That you are 100% guilty and you deserve to be judged and punished and yet you have been given grace instead only because Jesus took your place?
4) Pastor Greg said that these Scriptures indicate that God never looks the other way. He ALWAYS judges and punishes sin. The difference is, for those who accept the offer, He endures the penalty in our place. Do you agree or disagree? Why? How does this make you feel about the grace Jesus has offered you? What should you do with that great gift of His grace?
READ: Romans 7:14-25
1) Can you relate and identify to this passage? If you had to paraphrase the “big idea” of this passage to a friend who had experience with Christians, Church, Jesus or the Bible, how would you explain this passage to them?
2) When you recognize these conflicting feelings about your desires and behaviors what should you do?
3) How does this passage relate to what happened between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery?
READ: Romans 8:1-4 and John 8:11
1) Do you see why Pastor Greg referred to these Scripture this week in the following way? “This is where the Good News gets REALLY GOOD!” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
2) How do these two Scriptures relate to each other, specifically in the area of “condemning someone?”
3) In your own words, why didn’t Jesus condemn the woman? Did Jesus condemn or punish anyone else for what she did? Why?
READ: Romans 5:20-6:2
1) Some people find this passage, by Paul, a little confusing. Pastor Greg thinks it is one of the most meaningful and beautiful passages in all of Scripture. According to Paul why was the Law, which often condemned people to punishment, judgment and death, a good thing for us?
2) How is it possible that where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more? What is the connection? What is the impetus?
3) Based on all that we have studied today, should we feel happy and free that we can sin as much as we want because Jesus is willing to keep pouring out grace and forgiveness no matter what? Why or why not?
4) Paul concludes this passage with the following words: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Why do you think that is? Why do most Christians continue to live their lives, actively sinning instead of remaining dead to sin in their lives?
5) Is there any limit to the number of times Jesus will forgive you for the same sin, the same error, the same mistake, the same judgment call? Why or why not?