The Woman Taken in Adultery

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The so-called pericope adulterae of John 7:53-8:11 has frequently been used to suggest that Jesus did not approve either of the application of the Mosaic Law or of the death penalty (or both). Christopher Marshall for example claims that “there is only one passage in the New Testament that refers directly to the legitimacy of the death penalty (John 7:53-8:11).”1 Marshall concludes that what we have in this crucial passage is an example of “restorative justice overthrowing retributive justice in the Christian age.”2 Thus, here Jesus overthrows the justice of the Old Testament in favour of a more gracious approach to social ethics. Arguing from a clearly different theological/ethical framework, Kaiser too appeals to this passage, viewing it as important evidence that “the morality of the law abides while the sanctions may change.”3

The Text Critical Question

The first and perhaps most important thing to note about this pericope is that as far as we know it is probably not genuine. The current edition of the United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament (4th revised edition) gives an A rating for its omission from John’s Gospel. This list of sources that do not include it is impressive: Ì66, 75, Í, Avid, B, Cvid, L, N, T W, D, Q, Y, as well as a considerable list of other manuscripts and Patristic sources. In some manuscripts the pericope is found in different places; after Luke 21:38, after Luke 24:43, after John 7:36 or after John 21:25, and there is a number of variants within the pericope itself (seven significant variants in twelve verses).4 The Old Syriac and Coptic versions reveal no knowledge of the passage, and it is absent in the best manuscripts of the Peshitta.5 The only manuscript prior to the eighth century to contain the passage is Codex Bezae,6 a passage notorious for its interpolations. Metzger elucidates: “No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament text. Codex Bezae’s special characteristic is the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences and even events.”7 With regard to the Patristic evidence, “In the east, no Greek father mentions the passage for one thousand years.”8 Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) was the first to mention it, although he claims that it is an insertion, and that accurate versions omit the passage or mark it out as suspicious.9

Against such impressive evidence however, there are advocates for the authenticity of this pericope. Charles Baylis reasons that “Its omission from early Greek manuscripts may have been based on the impression that Christ was too easy on adultery.”10 Similarly, some have argued that the Church Fathers did not cite the passage out of fear that it might encourage the sin.11 The former argument does not seem to carry much weight, since all we know about textual transmission suggests that scribes had a greater tendency to conflate than to omit. “Therefore, if all else is equal the shorter text has greater likelihood of being correct.”12 Can we reasonably imagine the deliberate omission of such a large passage for the sake of prudence? The latter suggestion might be more plausible were it not for the fact that some of the Fathers who did not cite it had such good cause to do so. We can accept that certain Fathers might not have drawn unnecessary attention to the passage by choosing it for direct comment in order to launch into a teaching on adultery, but Origen, in his commentary on John, moves directly from 7:52 to 8:12. Perhaps more noteworthy is Tertullian (De Pudicitia, c. 220) and the 55th Epistle of Cyprian of Carthage, where specific directions are given in cases of adultery, yet this passage is not mentioned.13

There are, nonetheless, some later Western patristic citations of this text, dating as early as Ambrosiaster (who died around 350), and including Ambrose and Augustine. Yet it was not until Jerome and the translation of the Vulgate that this pericope found its way into the mainstream Western tradition.14 Also worthy of note is that in both Eusebius and the Didascalia Apostolorum an oral tradition is referred to that sounds similar to the pericope under consideration here (although most of the details of the pericope from John 8 are missing).15 For reasons such as this, Metzger suggests that what we have before us is “a piece of oral tradition which circulated in certain parts of the Western church and which was subsequently incorporated into various manuscripts at various places.”16 Other commentators similarly suggest that while this is not a part of John’s Gospel, it may still be a true story – or at least similar to an event that did happen. Leon Morris tells us that “Throughout the history of the church it has been held that, whoever wrote it, this little story is authentic,”17 and thus Derret’s treatment of the passage begins with the statement that the pericope “is a piece of authentic tradition going back to the beginnings of the church, though it is extra-canonical and its text evidently suffered from its independent wanderings before it found its way into the canonical Gospels.”18 Nonetheless, with regard to its Johannine authenticity, Metzger’s summary of the evidence seems fair:

When one adds to this impressive and diversified list of external evidence the consideration that the style and vocabulary of the pericope differ noticeably from the rest of the fourth Gospel (see any critical commentary), and that it interrupts the sequence of 7:52 and 8:12 ff., the case against its being of Johannine authorship appears to be conclusive.19

I am not suggesting that if this pericope were authentic, it would indeed mean what its defenders might say it means about the law or the death penalty (in fact there are good arguments to the contrary). The advice of Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, however, is surely wise. “Perhaps the most important hermeneutical principle to learn from textual criticism is that one must not derive theological or ethical principles solely from passages that are textually uncertain.”20

The Question of Interpretation

Having suggested that this passage should not be given significant weight on text critical grounds, I now ask what it means. Let us set the scene. A group of scribes and Pharisees has brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. That they urge her stoning has caused many to speculate as to the age of the woman, as well as her marital status. The Law prescribed stoning as the punishment for betrothed women and their lovers (Dt. 22:23-27), but no specific method of punishment is set down for married women who are unfaithful (Dt. 22:22). However, the Mishnah specifies that married woman and their lovers are to be strangled, while betrothed virgins and their lovers are to be stoned (Sanhedrin 7:4).21 This might suggest that the woman (girl) brought before Jesus is betrothed, and therefore probably quite young (12 years of age!). But this evidence certainly cannot be determinant, because we do not know that this distinction existed in Jesus’ day (the Mishnah did not yet exist). Moreover, it has been argued that moiceuvein (here translated “adultery”) and its derivatives “in the LXX and related Greek writings were used exclusively of adulterous actions of married persons.”22 Whatever the case, the malpractice of the scribes and Pharisees cannot be missed. The Law requires the punishment of both parties. “Both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman” (Dt 22:22, cf. 22:24). It is clearly impossible that this woman could have been caught “in the act” (v. 4) without the male offender being witnessed as well. Carson suggests only two possibilities to explain this: either the man was a faster runner, or the accusers were chauvinistic enough to focus solely on the sin of the woman.23 But surely there is at least one other possibility, as suggested by Derrett (and which surely seems obvious even to the casual reader of this text if one bears in mind the requirements of the Law). The Law of Moses to which the scribes and Pharisees appealed requires at least two witnesses to the crime before the death sentence can be handed down (Dt. 19:15-21). Since the accusers were so certain that the death penalty should be handed down in this case, we may assume that there had in fact been (at least) two witnesses. Since a man could not be a witness against his wife, these two or more witnesses were “in addition to, or exclusive of, the husband.”24 The testimonies would need to be clearly grounded and in perfect agreement. They must both have actually seen the couple in the compromising position, and the witnesses must have seen them at the same time, and in the presence of one another.25 Any Sanhedrin judge would have asked them (separately of course) to describe the scene, the colour of the cloth covering the couple, or the sheet upon which the woman lay, or a description of the ruined building if that is where they were caught.26 Derrett puts these facts together:

How were two or three persons in such a position? Hardly by chance, one would suppose. People in love are notoriously careless, though in a crowded city filled with people who believed that adultery deserved death one would expect precautions against discovery. The situation at once raises a doubt whether the whole thing was not planned beforehand. It seems that the husband had suspected his wife, had had his suspicions confirmed, and had called some ‘respectable’ citizens to hide and to watch. The woman was caught, it seems almost certain, in a trap. People are hardly ever caught in adultery, but to require that they be seen in coitu by two or three people is to make convictions for adultery rare indeed.27

“Thus,” Derrett concludes, the situation spells doubt:

doubt whether the husband has not deliberately engineered a situation, which implies failure to prevent the crime from being committed; doubt whether the husband and/or the witnesses have not corruptly allowed the adulterer to escape; and lastly the virtual certainty that the witnesses “stood by” and allowed the crime to be commenced, and proceeded with. Res ipsa loquitur.28

The woman is brought to Jesus not to see that justice is done, nor to genuinely seek His advice, but “to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.” If Jesus sanctioned her execution, He would violate Rome’s rule, which reserved for itself the right of execution. If, in deference to Rome, Jesus did not allow her execution, He would be in violation of the Law of Moses.29 Christopher Marshall does not accept this depiction of the dilemma (although he considers it “possible”). After all, he argues, it is unlikely that Jesus could have been successfully condemned in the eyes of Rome for something so trivial as the lynching of a Jewish adulteress. Such concerns certainly never prevented the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:58. Instead, what we have here is the dilemma of having Jesus either condone her death and thus violate His own principles (and not the Roman prohibition of Jewish execution), or repudiate her death and prove Himself to be in opposition to Moses (which is, in reality, precisely what He was, says Marshall).30 This, of course, is to assume that Jesus’ own principles would force Him to set aside the application of the Mosaic Law, an assumption that has some weighty difficulties. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law of Moses (Matt 5:17-19), and in fact where the Pharisees themselves set aside the sanction of death for at least one other offence, Jesus accuses them of nullifying the word of God (Mk 7:11). Additionally, it would not be the only time the Jewish leaders had attempted to pit Jesus against Rome to His detriment. We might think of the question about paying taxes to Caesar (Mt. 22:15-22, cf. Lk. 23:2) or the cry before Pilate that Jesus was usurping Caesar’s authority (Jn 19:12-16).

Now which way would Jesus turn? Would he violate Rome or Moses? His answer is often quoted, but perhaps much less often understood. “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” At least three possibilities spring to mind as to what could be meant.

  1. Only those who are absolutely without sin are permitted to pass criminal sentence on this woman.
  2. If you are not doing anything sinful in this prosecution, then you may punish this woman.
  3. If you are not just as guilty as this woman, then you may punish this woman.

Of these three possibilities, 1.) seems improbable beyond any reasonable doubt. 2.) and 3.) are certainly possible, and neither interpretation would mean that we must take Jesus’ words to be an abrogation of Mosaic law. Whatever Jesus meant, it must be seen as something that the Pharisees and scribes themselves would see as grounds not to proceed to an execution, since upon hearing it, they (gradually) left the scene. In itself this seems to rule out any suggestion that Jesus was arguing that absolute sinlessness was required before a woman could be executed for adultery. Surely if the woman’s accusers accepted this claim then the question would never have been put to Jesus in the first place! The “sin” must have been such that one who claimed fidelity to Moses would recognise that prosecution could not continue without impugning the accuser. An observation of the scene as we have outlined it here certainly provides examples of such sins. They were malevolent witnesses, and in all likelihood had been party to the offence itself (if Derrett’s analysis is fair). What must not be missed however, is that Jesus’ reply is actually an imperative. “Reviewing the case, Jesus brought forth the judgment, ‘Stone her.’ Unfortunately for the Pharisees, He had required, as the Law had stated, that the witnesses be qualified.”31 Derrett makes the same observation, noting that Jesus’ saying “does not deny that she may be stoned, but insists on the innocency and therefore the competence of whoever stands forth against her as an accuser and witness.”32 The imperative could thus be framed as a question: “Who is to be the executioner in this case?”33 The reaction of the accusers shows that on reflection, they themselves were unwilling to put themselves in such a position of responsibility – and danger! A witness who was found to be malicious would suffer the same fate as he had sought for the accused, death in this case (Dt. 19:16-21).

Greg Bahnsen has gone further than saying that the accusers were guilty of malpractice for the reasons outlined above.

However, the scribes were the ones who ended up being caught by their own woeful ignorance of God’s law. They came to test Jesus, but as elsewhere, they failed to know the law. God requires, in conviction for capital crimes, that the witnesses who bring the accusation against a person be innocent of that very same crime (Deut. 19:15); furthermore, the law specified that in the event of capital punishment the accusers had to cast the first stones (Deut. 17:7)… The woman’s accusers, then, either were not witnesses or were not free of adultery; hence Christ dismisses her with the admonition to sin no more.34

While Bahnsen does not commit himself to any one explanation (he accepts that the accusers might not have been witnesses), his suggestion that the “sin” referred to here is adultery is less than persuasive. His Old Testament basis (Dt. 19:15) does not obviously lend itself to the interpretation he suggests:

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

It seems that the point being made regards the number (rather than the quality) of witnesses. It may be however that Bahnsen sees another meaning in the more literal wording of the authorised version. A more literal translation still would be:

One witness shall not rise against a man for any transgression and for any sin, in any sin in which he sins. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses shall a matter be decided.

Perhaps Bahnsen meant to suggest that the phrase “in which he sins” does not refer to the accused but to the one who rises in accusation (i.e. “in which he himself sins”). If this is the case, he stands alone among commentators on Deuteronomy. His suggestion (if this is what he is suggesting) may be grammatically possible, but it is unlikely, since it sits between the emphatic vya!B= dj*a# du@ <Wqy*-aO (One witness shall not rise against a man) and the prescription that at least two witnesses are required. I suggest that Bahnsen’s proposed options for understanding Jesus’ response are too few, and that he could have considered that the accusers were engaging the matter sinfully, although not necessarily themselves guilty of the crime of which the woman was accused.

Marshall, in arguing that Jesus referred to perfect sinlessness, notes that “Jesus alone was ‘without sin’… and therefore qualified to throw the first stone. But he refused to do so despite her legal guilt.”35 That Jesus did not do so, Marshall seems to adduce, suggests that the penalty of the Law no longer applied. But Marshall has jumped far too quickly to the conclusion that Jesus was qualified to execute. On what grounds was he qualified to do so? He was not a witness or a judge, and thus regardless of the quality of the witnesses, he had no legal right to carry out any sentence. What is more, if the case was cobbled together as poorly and unjustly as I suggest here, then nobody, no matter what his legal standing was, would have been qualified to execute. It is not the case that Jesus “refused” to throw the first stone any more than that Jesus “refused” to raise or lower the taxes in Judea. He was in no place to do so in the first place.

Moreover, we must express alarm at the conclusion Marshall draws from this passage. He claims that Jesus refuses to allow the execution to go ahead because “his own presence on earth announces divine forgiveness for sins committed.”36 Given the context of a criminal offence, we are left to assume that what Marshall means is that all people are forgiven of their sins, and this entails that all people ought to be forgiven on a civil and criminal level. While elsewhere he advocates the Old Testament notion of restitutional justice, the principle espoused here cannot but lead to the forgiveness of debt to other people, and effectively the denial of any right to restitution. How may we claim restitution for an offence that God has forgiven on a civil and criminal level? Moreover, what then should a Christian’s response be to charges brought against herself? Can she bring to her defence the fact that she is forgiven by Christ, and therefore need not pay the speeding ticket? Facetious though the suggestion might seem, it is difficult to see how Marshall’s use of this passage could avoid such problems.

Concluding Remarks

In light of the above, I do not consider John 7:53-8:11 to be evidence either that Jesus wanted to overturn the moral standards of the Old Testament Law or that the New Testament condemns the death penalty. Firstly, it is certainly not part of John’s Gospel and its historical reliability is in doubt. Secondly, it does not lend itself to the suggestion of Christopher Marshall that it depicts an overthrow of a retributive idea of justice as presented in the Old Testament in favour of a more gracious outlook. In fact, Jesus’ response, as best I can tell accords well with the stipulations of the Law. Now, Marshall is unwilling to consider such a suggestion plausible, because it “casts Jesus in a rather unflattering light as a sharp legal attorney who secures the release of the guilty party by discrediting the witnesses for the prosecution and uses legal technicalities to subvert the just penalty of the law.”37 Technicalities! It is not difficult to observe the rather circular nature of the argument. Against the claim that Jesus adhered to the Law in this incident, Marshall argues that this could not be the case, as it would portray Jesus as one who adhered to the technicalities of the law! Marshall has made the mistake of assuming that if the death penalty is just, and if this woman is guilty, then it makes no difference how fair or unfair her trial is. One gets the impression that a low view of the law itself has given rise to a somewhat careless view of how it should be applied (if it were to be applied). Likewise we cannot accept Kaiser’s view that this passage demonstrates that the moral standards of the law have not changed, but the sanctions for disobedience have. I reject this suggestion for the same reason that I reject Marshall’s claim – Jesus seems to adhere to the Law of Moses here.

In short, those who have claimed that this passage teaches the abrogation of the Law or of the death penalty have passed overt he text critical question too quickly, they have misinterpreted what is said because an understanding of the Law has not adequately contributed to the interpretation of this passage, and they have not come to terms with the main point. Gerard Sloyan’s observation warrants attention: “Perversely, over the centuries, Jesus’ denunciatory, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her’ (v. 7b) has become a watchword of exculpation for the solidly guilty. The actual issue in the story is the far greater guilt of the accusers than the woman.”38 Rather than setting aside the Law, if we may make any inference from this story “it is that Jesus required the whole Law to be applied.”39

Glenn Peoples

Notes

1 Christopher D. Marshall, Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 214. We think it is manifestly false that there are no other texts speaking to the legitimacy of the death penalty. We might list John 19:10, Hebrews 2:2-3 and Acts 25:10-11. We would further suggest that it is problematic to demand that the New Testament advocate the death penalty before we accept its validity. Why should we assume by default that the Old Testament ethics must be disregarded?

2 Ibid., 234. What may we conclude form this other than that Marshall sees the justice expressed in the Old Testament prior to the “Christian age” as something that is not to be interpreted, revered or applied to day, but instead to be overthrown?

3 Kaiser, “Response to Greg L. Bahnsen” in Wayne G. Strickland (ed.), Five Views on Law and Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 156.

4 Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini and Bruce M. Metzger (eds), The Greek New Testament: Fourth Revised Edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993, 4th ed.).

5 J. H. Berhard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St John vol. 2, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburg: T and T Clark, 1928), 715. Like some other commentators (e.g. C. K. Barrett), Bernard does not include his comments on this passage after John 7:52, but adds it as an appendix to his commentary.

6 Gary M. Burge, “A Specific Problem in the New Testament Text and Canon: The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11),” JETS 27:2 (1984), 142.

7 Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, 3rd ed.), 50.

8 Ibid.

9 E. C. Hoskyns, The Fourth Gospel, ed. F. N. Davey (London: Faber & Faber, 1947), 563, cited in Burge, “A Specific Problem in the New Testament Text and Canon,” 142.

10 Charles P. Baylis, “The Woman Caught in Adultery: The Test of Jesus as the Greater Prophet,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146:582 (1989), 171.

11 S. T. Bloomfield, The Greek Testament (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1839), vol. 1, 440, cited in Baylis, “The Woman Caught in Adultery,” 171.

12 Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1991), 45.

13 Burge, “A Specific Problem in the New Testament Text and Canon,” 142-143.

14 Ibid., 143.

15 Ibid.

16 Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), 220-221.

17 Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 884. This view is echoed by numerous commentators, e.g. D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 333, George R. Beasley-Murray, John, WBC (Waco: Word Books, 1987), 143, and while C. K. Barrett cannot bring himself to declare that it is in fact a true account, he suggests that at least “it represents the character and method of Jesus as they are revealed elsewhere,” Barrett, The Gospel According to St John (London: SPCK, 1978, 2nd ed.), 590.

18 J. Duncan M. Derrett, “Law in the New Testament: The Story of the Woman Taken in Adultery,” New Testament Studies 10:1 (1963), 1.

19 Metzger, A Textual Commentary, 220.

20 William Klein, Craig Blomberg and Robert Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Dallas: Word, 1993), 73-74.

21 Carson, The Gospel According to John, 335.

22 Beasley-Murray, John, 145. Beasley Murray is citing the work of J. Blinzler, “Die Strafe für Ehebruch in Bibel und Halacha. Zur Auslegung von John viii 5,” New Testament Studies 4 (1957-58), 32-47.

23 Carson, The Gospel According to John, 334.

24 Derrett, “Law in the New Testament,” 4.

25 Ibid., 5. Derrett draws on the requirements of witnesses in Jewish Law from Z. Frankel, Der gerichtliche Beweis nach mosaisch-talmudishem Rechte. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntniss des mosaisch-talmudischen Criminal- und Civil-rechts (Berlin, 1846), 121, 285.

26 Derret, 5, citing the Mishna, Sanhedrin v. 2 and Maimonides, M.T. 15 (Book of Judges), 2:2.

27 Derret, 5.

28 Ibid., 7-8.

29 Barrett, The Gospel According to St John, 591-592.

30 Marshall, Beyond Retribution, 231-232.

31 Baylis, “The Woman Caught in Adultery,” 184.

32 Derrett, “Law in the New Testament,” 22.

33 Bernard, The Gospel According to St John, 720.

34Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics (Nacogdoches: Covenant Media Press, 2002, 3rd ed.), 229.

35 Marshall, Beyond Retribution, 233

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid., 231.

38 Gerard S. Sloyan, John, Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988), 97.

39 Derrett, “Law in the New Testament,” 25.

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35 thoughts on “The Woman Taken in Adultery

  1. I found this very interesting! You gave me a lot of information that I was not aware of (plus 3 new fonts). Especially dealing with how the witnesses played such an integral part of a *fair* trial!

    Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this. The passage from John is a favorite of liberals and antinomians alike, and it’s nice to have a holistic rebuttal.

  3. This was an interesting read Glen.
    It is interesting that in your conclusion you don’t state your position on whether or not you believe it should be included in the Bible!
    Gleaning your opinion, I take it you choose to believe it is an un-authoritive addition, not written by John and therefore a Satanic deception??
    Reading this piece I am not surprised at all to find you have no references to the Christian/jewish doctrines of scriptural preservation. It is conspicuously absent…and I may confidently infer that as an ‘educated modernist’…not only do you doubt the soul…you doubt the existance of a preserved scripture and trust in scholarship for your faith rather than the Word of God…and to test the validity of this assumption all I need to ask you is….”Where do you say the Word of God is today?”….You obviously doubt the King James Bible, which includes this text. Is the word of God trapped in some archaic Greek text?….if so which one do you say is authoritive? I doubt you will be able to answer me which will prove you give authority…if you even believe we have an authority…to scholarship such as your own! Ie you would have Christians reject the King James Bible in favor of listening to your opinions! This is a doctrine of devils…seducing spirits!
    Im sorry…I wont buy that unscriptual position!…”Let God be true and every Man a Liar”
    “If we or an Angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you let them be accursed”
    ‘We are not as many who corrupt the word of God”…yes there are many corruptions out there Glen…none the less…the word of God standeth sure!….”Thou shalt keep them O Lord…Thou shalt preserve them from this generation Forever”
    “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, yet my words shall not pass away”.
    These are the preservation doctrines that you shun in favour of atheistic Textual criticism and scholarship.
    It is a joke to tell me this text in question does not fit the Gospel and that you must go to the Greek to make such a case!!!
    It fits perfectly into the KJV and with the Nature of Christ! Two very important observations you have been trained by Greek textual critics to miss!
    The Holy spirit within me says this text is absolutely true! It is a marvel of divine wisdom and grace and I am shocked that Christians allow themselves to doubt such a patently true and divine message that reveals both Christs sinlessness and divinity!
    He had full Divine Authority to forgive sins and did so! This is a example of him not avoiding judgment but executing it…and he chose to have mercy, not stone her.
    If you were a Dispensationalist you would understand that Christ came to fulfill the Law…and the promises made unto the Jewish fathers…”I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”…and …”Not one jot or tittle (of the Law) shall pass until all things be fulfilled”….thus your assumption that Christ did not come to negate the Law is correct, yet you miss the fact that in addition to his kingdom ministry to the Jews, God was also working towards the mystery of the Cross and the future age of Grace to the Gentiles that would be revealed by Paul, after the Jews rejected the re-offer of the kingdom by Peter. And Johns gospel is especially written to show the nature of Gods grace rather than Law! Ie it is the story of Christ most fitted for reading in our current Age of grace. Thus it has this story!
    So I hope my criticism does not provoke resistance within you but goads you towards a better/ more scriptural view of faith….specifically faith in the 1611 King James Bible to be your final authority in all matters of your faith…as it is mine. If you wish to cross scholarship swords I would put it to you that your modern scholars whom are so quick to cast doubts upon the bible are not a pimple on backside of the giants whom translated the King James Bible, and who included the text…resulting in the greatest monument of Christianity there has ever been….resulting in the Liberty of Protestant enlightenment and progress.
    It ended reliance on priestcraft/ scholarship by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people! Atheistic Modern textual critics seek to remove it again…and with it remove our God given rights and liberties…and put us back under a moral dictatorship of the state.
    “Faith commeth by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.
    It is my life’s testimony to you brother to trust the King James Bible.
    When I die I shall be trusting my immortal soul to its truth and I can find no safer…no more sure place or alternative!

  4. Tim, I have tried to be faithful to the facts. The question of whether a piece of writing is actually part of the Bible is not the same as the question of the trustworthiness of what is in the Bible.

    The KJV translation of the Bible was excellent, but far from perfect. Don’t trust in a specific translation for your immortal soul’s security (even if you had such a thing).

    I am not a dispensationalist. This view is a modern creation as far as I can tell, and it has little to commend itself to Christians. I am pleased that its influence is fading, and it is gradually leaving the church once more.

  5. So I was right. You don’t believe in the doctrine of Preservation.
    You attack the King James but don’t have anything to replace it with.
    You don’t even believe the manuscripts that contradict it are inerrant showing the façade you practice in holding them up as evidence against the KJV! You use manuscrits you believe are corrupt to prove the KJV is corrupt!
    And what poor reasoning and an unchristian doctrine it is to resort to probability statistics making the mere statistical occurrence of documented conflations over omissions to be any sort of any weight that this passage is a addition! That’s terrible and utterly atheistic hermeneutics!
    As You know, your Bible doubting effectively destroys any claim Christianity has to superiority over other false religions. You think the Bible is full of mythical corruptions, fables and short falls (omissions).
    You treat the Bible like its just another ancient manuscript, not divinely protected…not divine at all!
    So much for faith standing on the power of God! Yours stands upon the wisdom of Men…a complete negation of the Word of God (1 Cor 1). As for me and my house we shall believe God not your atheist critics! You worship human wisdom. I worship the word of God which he has magnified above his own name….”We have a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as a light that shineth in a dark place…”
    You have nothing to compare with the rock upon which I stand!
    The inerrant Word of God in English.
    I worship The God of the King James Bible.

  6. Tim, as I said, I try to follow the evidence. And no, I don’t have one flawless translation to replace the KJV with. But the fact that there isn’t a perfect translation does not de facto make the KJV perfect. In fact the eviodence shows that it is less perfect than a lot of other translations.

    I thank God for the very wide range of evidence that we have available to enable us to discenr things like this.

    Could you tell me what the doctrine of preservation is? Could you indicate how the Scripture teaches that doctrine, and show that it Scripture is speaking tot he issue of textual integrity in the form of one perfect copy when it so speaks. Thanks.

    “I worship the God of the King James Bible?” How sad. I worship something much bigger. Take care, brother, that the ‘God of the’ doesn’t drop out of that devotion you have to a seventeenth century book.

  7. “No translation is perfect” – Dr Bruce Waltke

    A translation is.. A TRANSLATION…
    Honestly the whole “my translation is better than yours” is just stupid. Its like saying “my imperfect thing is better than your imperfect thing”, or “my second hand car is better than your second hand car”, or better, “my hand-me-down undies are better than your hand-me-down undies”.

    NO translation can be perfect or inerrant (without error), that is the nature of translation. To “translate” is to “make an equivalent” – it can never be identical.

  8. A translation does not have to be identical to be God inspired Geof.
    The New testament is full of God inspired translations of old testament scriptures, and they are authorities….God inspires translations…this is biblical doctrine and part of the Gods method of preservation.
    And Dispensationalism is not New at all Glen. Augustine said “Distinguish the ages and the scriptures harmonies”.
    Dispensationalism is the fullness of the Protestant Reformation…a re-establishment of Biblical truths that were buried under the false doctrines that developed from Constantine’s corruption of the church with the Roman Pagan state. Ie it is the pure doctrine of the apostle Paul.
    I notice the real ‘newness’ of modern textual criticism has not put you off from embracing it any more than its atheistic origins and forsaking the ancient doctrines of faith based preservation. You have nothing but conjecture…an evil Satanic conjecture that equates to Satan’s first words to mankind…”Yea hath God said…”
    I have everything. I have Gods inerrant word upon which my salvation is secure.
    I have ‘The word of truth’…rightly divided….a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.
    (2Tim 2vs15 KJV). You have departed from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
    You cant distinguish between Law and grace, Peter and Paul, Kingdom and the fellowship of the mystery….
    You have the false comfort of being a part of what today is considered modern orthodoxy…You are puffed up in your own wisdom. I suffer the true pain and loneliness that comes from holding to the truth in an age of apostasy. I’m not puffing myself up. I am a chief sinner for whom Christ was sent…a fool God uses to confound the wise…
    (1 Cor 1)
    I speak as testament to the truth and out of brotherly love that you may recover yourself from a snare of the Devil in which you are serving his will by propagating the lie that God has not preserved his word for us and translated it into English.
    “Who saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Tim1vs9)

  9. Tim,

    With due respect, you didnt say “inspired”, you said “inerrant”. I believe the KJV is inspired, but I do know it is not without error. There is not a translation existing that “perfectly” equates what the author was saying. Hell, Glenn is here posting in English, and you can ask him to clarify what he said, and explain, and STILL people get it wrong.

    Dispensationalism is Darbyism, and it is a perversion of the gospel. If you want to join that heresy, feel free. Go to http://www.theologyonline.com and hang out with a likeminded anti-gospel community. I’ve been debating and dealing with dispensational madmen since 1996 (since my wife came from a dispensational church in the USA). There is virtually nothing beneficial in its doctrine. And it leads to other perversions of the truth like Open Theism.
    Dispensationalism starts with humans and not God.

  10. *Corrected copy of my last post. Please deleate previous comment*

    Glen,
    I did not say Augustine was a Dispensationalist, but that he made a fundamental dispensational observation, which is essential to proper understanding of the scriptures. It is so fundamental as to consider it to be false is absurd.
    It is Dispensationalism in a nutshell and everyone is a dispensationalist to certain degree yet most wrongly divide the word of God instead of rightly dividing it.
    Let me mention a few ‘dispensations’ or ages that I believe you must accept.
    1. Eternity passed….before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, and before the creation of Lucifer and the angels…when there was just God the trinity.
    2. The age of the creation of Lucifer, the universe etc…before Lucifer invented sin.
    3. The Fall of Lucifer to the restoration of the earth (Dry land)
    4. The restoration of the Earth to the creation of Adam and Eve.
    5. Sinless and perfect Adam and Eve communing with God under his conditional covenant in the Garden.
    6. The entry of Satan into the Garden and his deception against what God had said and the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin and the consciousness of Good and Evil.
    7. Gods curse upon Mankind and planet and our separation from God. Yet God immediately declares his plan of salvation through Christ and institutes substitutionary animal sacrifices as a means of attaining mercy.
    8. Sinful Adam and Eve begin to procreate Kind after their Kind…sinful children whom are violent, proud, and rebellious. The world fills with violence, corruption and false religion, and Angels too join with Mankind in corruption leading God to judge and destroy the world by flood save those in the Ark (a type of Christ)
    9. God makes a covenant with Noah, Mankind is to eat meat, lifespan drastically shortens, Shem is to be the forefather of Christ, Man multiplies yet are of one tongue, Nimrod arises with his evil empire and False Religion, God confounds the languages at Babel.
    10. God calls out Abraham to be a separate chosen father. HE BELIEVES GOD and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    11. After that God makes a covenant with him and his children the symbol of which is circumcision….

    Now I could carry on this list right up to the current Gentile Age of Grace under St Paul, and beyond into the prophetic future which would include the Tribulation period, the Second advent, The Kingdom of God on Earth, The great Judgment, The end of this universe and beginning of a new Heaven and Earth.

    What must be understood is that while some things never change (are absolutes) Many very important things do change and develop (are relative truths to their ages….eg There was a time when Mankind was not sinful, there was a time a Man needed to be circumcised, Later he also had to keep the mosaic Laws (Faith plus works), Today all we must do is call upon the name of the Lord (salvation is again the gift of God upon belief as it was for Abram), There will come a time when human government will be ended and Christ shall rule as King of kings ) and thus if we are to correctly understand what is happening in the various stages we must rightly divide the scriptures into dispensations.
    God is not the author of confusion, yet man is apt to confuse himself via poor reasoning and laziness, and a tendency to accept false traditions of man, rather than bold following the scriptures wherever they may lead. This is why the Pharisees did not recognize Christ, and why also there is so much confusion the Church today regarding keeping the Law, Baptism, etc because the majority have failed to distinguish between Christ and Peters Kingdom ministries to the Jews from St Paul’s special Ministry and new Gospel of The Grace of God and the fellowship of the mystery.
    That there are fundamental differences and different gospels in different ages has been both confused and Lost.
    Here are several gospels.
    1.Christs Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews (Reoffered by Peter after the cross)
    “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand! “(And be baptized for the remission of sins)
    2. St Pauls Gospel of the Grace of God.
    “ God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ Died for us….for by grace are ye saved through faith, it is the gift of God…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved…”
    3. The Everlasting Gospel preached by angels in the great tribulation.
    “Repent…Fear God… for the hour of judgment has come…”

    Of course Satan is trying his best to deceive the world and he uses Mans sin and vanity to his advantages. He has corrupt ministers preaching false gospels, writing corrupt manuscripts, and teaching false wisdom.
    The Church went through a Reformation that resulted in a re-establishment of the authority of the scriptures, the purification of the gospel of grace without works…the dispensational distinction of the Law from grace which also re-established the separation of the church and state and restoration of religious liberty and the church as a voluntary association, yet sadly the Reformation and the enlightenment it fostered has all but disappeared with the disappearing faith in the King James Bible as Gods word. Satan has done a great job!
    Today he has so called Christians acting like Atheists…denying the word of truth, believing in Godless evolution and materialism, and vainly trusting in their own wisdom like Pagan Greeks.
    This is the snare of Satan that I see you are victim of and it is both my duty to God and my loving desire to help you that I have written this criticism and I pray the Lord opens you mind to the truth of what I have declared to you my brothers.

  11. Tim, to say that every person who thinks that history can be divided up by certain events is lending support to dispensationalism is a bit silly I think.

    I think you also have an unfortubnate tendency to take every belief you strongly disagree with, and to accuse Christians who accept that belief of being partly atheist.

    For my part, I take comfort in the fact that it appears to me that in God’s providence he is allowing dispensationalismn to fade away, so that this modern fad will perhaps soon be just a memory.

  12. I could say you are silly Glen not appreciating the important effects of these historical events and changes, on the doctrines and covenants, and how they effect mans changing relationship to God, for eg Adam had very different relationship and covenant with God before he sinned to that which resulted afterward. Likewise Noah did not keep the Levitical Law of Moses, was not circumcised and ate all manner of meat, Abraham was circumcised but had many wives but did not keep the Mosaic Laws either, Moses was circumcised, and introduced the Law designed to make the children of Isreal a peculiar people and had special dietary laws forbidding the eating of certain meats, kept the Passover etc…all things that we Gentile Christians today do not follow…we are not under the Jewish Laws and this is true because of the dispensational nature of the scriptures and covenants. We are saved today by Grace without works…without circumcision, without baptism, without keeping the Sabbath, without abstaining from meats, without animal sacrifices etc, our relationship to god being according to Paul’s Gospel not The Law of Moses. When this age of grace is over and the tribulation period is in full swing Salvation will not be guaranteed by grace alone but by Faith plus works…they will have to endure unto the end to be saved, they must refuse the mark of the beast, they must help Israel in their time of trouble under the beast etc, And Israel will again become the focus of God in establishing his kingdom and fulfilling his promises to Abraham, Israel, Moses, and King David just as he attempted when he send Christ in humility to the Jews, though they rejected Him and were punished by God for not recognising the time of their visitation.
    The Age of Grace fills the intervening era between Christ’s rejected offer of the kingdom in meekness, with his return in Power and glory which will not be offered in meekness, but will be imposed in that future day that God has determined.
    And for the record Glen I know exactly what I mean by the term ‘atheist’ when I use it, and you are an advocate of atheist philosophy…a godless philosophy of unbelief in spiritual realities and a reliance on mundane explanations that rely on Nature and deny Gods hand. That you think my list was merely historical and not spiritual/doctrinally relevant is a testimony of your utter inability to see spiritual truths among the events of history. You have carnal eyes. The eyes of a spiritual Babe, or worse an absolute infidel.
    It is to be expected you don’t grasp Dispensationalism because you don’t believe the scriptures are inerrant. The purity of the King James Bible is the only Bible that may be dispensationally understood, the rest are perversions which Dispensational truth has been destroyed. All your writings like Matts are void of biblical spirituality and read like pagan philosophy, and human wisdom. Preachers of the Word you are not.
    You may indeed be saved if you Believe Christ died for your sins, and you dress yourselves in public as Christians but you are otherwise unbelievers and teachers of false doctrines.
    God has given me the task of tell you so in meekness and love, in the hope that ye recover yourselves from snare of Satan and become mighty Warriors for Christ and is preserved word, The King James Bible.

    That faith in The KJV and Dispensationalism is indeed fading may be true, yet your belief that that this is providential is contrary to scriptures which teaches that it is the truth and sound doctrine that will fade away because of false teachers who will not endure sound doctrine and instead propagate Fables (like evolution) and doctrines of devils (like mankind having no souls)…thus you are found out to be the lover of apostasy and your whim is to see sound doctrine vanish…which it is doing exactly as foretold.
    Your false doctrines will grow….is that really something you ought to relish?
    Ask yourself where is your pride? Is the fact that I challenge your education filling you with blind hate? Is the truth that that I declare that you propagate atheism, not Christianity such a thorn that you despise me for my honesty, just as the Pharisees despised Christ for challenging them? Who am I you may say? What uneducated religious fool dares to challenge your great institutions of learning?
    How dare I raise the Bible above your schooling?
    Yes I so dare….in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.
    Dont let foolish pride blind you to the amazing truth I am declaring to you! If you should percieve its glory it will propell you to get things for God and fill your heart with faith!

  13. if he knew well he would have done some study and have stopped espousing heretical doctrines like dispensationalism and KJV onlyism.

    And dispensationalism IS heresy – at its core is 2 gospels. One method of salvation for some, and another for others. And that.. is heresy.

  14. Thank you Glen, I am rude of speech, and don’t know how to say these things in a non-combative way, even though I am desperate to communicate the truth in a way that does not offend.
    All I ask is for you to think about what I have said.
    You know I am a Libertarian and respect everyone’s right to peacefully hold their own beliefs and the right to free speech and association…to promote the truth as they see it and to criticize error as they see it.
    I know my position is ‘Radical’. I have never experienced being part of ‘the norm’. My whole life seems to be lived on the fringe.
    Im am following what I believe to be right yet would be lying if i said I enjoyed being considered ‘an extremist’. I long for fellowship and understanding.

    Geoff. It matters not to me that you call me a heretic. The greatest men of truth and faith were all considered Heretics…even Jesus Christ.
    That there is more than one Gospel is a fact….The Gospel of the kingdom to the Jews preached by Christ is absolutely different to the Gospel of Grace of God to the Gentiles preached by Paul. The cross was not a part of Christ’s Kingdom gospel! He began to talk about the cross late in his ministry to which Peter said ‘Not so Lord’…the mystery of the cross being hid from him.
    That there are more than one Gospel is expressly stated in Galatians 2vs 7 (KJV).
    Dispensationalism is expressly mentioned in Ephesian 3vs1 (KJV).
    Thus you may call me a heretic just as the Catholic church called Wyclif a Heretic, yet I would stand with him unto the death against the ‘orthodoxy’ of the church!

  15. Tim,

    It should matter. When a doctrine is CLEARLY against what the bible teaches (2 gospels (methods of salvation), for example), then it is not true, and therefore heresy.

    I’ve been called a heretic a million times by dispensationalists, also called a devil worshipper, wife beater, antichrist, unchristian, gay, faggot, and countless other things. None of which they could have any ability to know the truth of (since none of them even live in NZ, let alone know me personally).

    Let me ask you, were the disciples part of “the Church” or not?

  16. Well there is little to be gained from me becoming number 1000001 Geoff.
    You are a typical example of how an traditional false assumption can stop a man from thinking and blind them to the most obvious truths.
    How is it that slavery and prejudice was able to prosper amongst the so-called
    Enlightened Christians? It was such an ancient and accepted error that many bible readers could not discern its evil.
    Likewise it is with you need to make the bible into a tale of one gospel.
    That God does treat different people differently is a fundamental truth. He is a Judging God…a discerning God. Just look at how he separated The Jews from the gentiles, which was a fundamental dispensational change with Jew gaining Gods preferential treatment and the Gentiles being outside the covenants…at THAT time …being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world…Eph 3
    I ask you to study what I say and may the Lord remove the scales from your eyes….The key to understanding the scriptures is before you if you do not harden your heart, and when you realise the amazing dispensational lay out of the scriptures you will gain a new faith in the trustworthiness of the King James Bible.
    Christ was sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Rom 15vs 8
    Paul was the chosen vessel to the Gentiles. Rom 11vs 13 Rom 15vs15,16.
    Will you continue to trust the blind traditions of Men over the plain truth revealed in the scriptures?
    Don’t just blindly assume you are right and I am wrong. Check the references in your King James.

  17. Ah well, that pretty much speaks for itself really.

    Its amazing how you can say, “Will you continue to trust the blind traditions of Men over the plain truth revealed in the scriptures?” – and yet that’s what you derbyists do. I could check references in any bible translation and they would say the same thing. The Scriptures are a unity, not a “dis-unity”.

    So, you DO believe in 2 gospels. Salvation by works for Jesus and the Jews, and salvation by grace for everyone else. And THAT… is a perversion of the truth. NO ONE EVER was saved by works. No Jew, No gentile, no one.
    If your bible teaches that, then your bible is false. But since no bible teaches that, you must have heard it somewhere.

  18. Bollocks Geoff!
    Of course Gods benevolence towards man has always remained but his covenants have changed and modes of salvation too.
    The jew had to follow the Law, had to be circumcised, had to perform the ritual sacrifices to obtain Gods conditional mercy, without which they were cut off.
    The same is true of Cain and Able. Cain was rebuked because he failed to obey Gods expressed conditions…Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was according to Gods conditions. You have utterly confounded Law and Grace and cannot discern the difference between Judaism and Christianity and in so doing I bet you believe witches and homosexuals should b outlawed! I bet you are a good little Political Calvinist Nanny statist, anti freedom, pro political coercion.

    Why don’t we have to be circumcised today Geoff? Why don’t you sacrifice animals?. Why does Paul expressly call his gospel the gospel of the un-circumcision in direct contrast to Peters earlier gospel of the circumcision?

    Why is it Christ preached his Gospel of the kingdom, to the jews, avoiding the gentiles back READ MATT chapter 10 with special attention to vs 5, 6,7, 18, 22. Here will read what their message was and the cross is absent from their message, to whom they were o preach and it was expressly to the jew only, and that their salvation was not by grace alone but that they had to ‘endue unto the end to be saved’. Christ did not reval to his disciples that he was to die until much later. (Matt 16vs 21,22) to which Peter showed his complete ignorance because he was expecting Christ to rule as King, not be killed!
    In Luke we are told that the Death, burial and resurrection of Christ was a mystery hidden from Christs Kingdom preaching disciples (Luke 18vs 31-34 KJV) and is why even after Christ’s resurrection Thomas still would not believe…because the Cross was contrary and completely foreign to what Christ had taught them regarding the Kingdom gospel.
    Even in the early book of Acts the mystery of the Salvation of the cross was continued and the cross was preached as condemnation…as murder…not as a glorious act of Salvation…and the disciples kept the Law and had all things common in expectation of Christ’s eminent return to establish his Kingdom in Israel. It was not until after The Jews reject Peters Gospel of the circumcision at the stoning of Steven, that instead of Christ returning in Power, cutting off the infidel Jews who rejected ‘that prophet’ and making his foes his footstool that he raised up Paul as a special apostle with a New Gospel that was completely by grace without works in which The mystery of the cross was finally revealed…as the great salvational work of God. It was only after St Paul that the cross was full understood such Parallels as Abraham sacrificing Isaac.(Not even Satan understood it for if he did he would not have crucified the Lord of glory).
    All this transition from Law to grace, from Jew to gentile, from Peter to Paul, which is the purpose of the book of acts is obscured today as we have the full revelation and is is difficult for many today to understand the ignorance of the cross as hidden mystery to Peter and the twelve prior to Paul.
    Do you understand that Martin Luther wanted to rip the Book of James out og the Bible because it taught Faith plus works in contradiction to st Pauls gospel of Grace without works?
    This is because the book of James is not written to the gentile church?
    It must be dispensationaly understood, along with the book of Hebrews both of which are doctrinally inapplicable to us who are to follow St Paul’s doctrines for our age.
    The other non-Pauline Books like James, contain legalistic doctrines that belong outside the gentile age of grace and are inapplicable to us, yet will be valid after the rapture and end of this age of grace, during the tribulation period when again salvation will be by faith plus works, and you must endure unto the end to be saved (refuse the mark of the beast etc)
    When you a able to distinguish the ages…the scriptures harmonize as one.
    I beg you not to continue commenting here without taking the trouble to check my references.
    The greatest Spiritual truths are before you if you will but open your eyes.
    Don’t be like Pharisees whom blindly followed the traditions of men.

  19. Tim,

    You are confusing what it means to be a Jew, with what it means to be saved. The Jews believed that one enters the covenant by faith, AND THEN is obedient.
    To be circumcised is a Jewish Custom, not a requirement for salvation. Sacrificing animals was SUPERCEDED by Christ’s sacrifice, so technically the need for sacrifice has not gone away (ie, is continuous).

    Paul says his gospel is to the uncircumcised because that’s to whom he was taking it. The JEWS were circumcised (national identity/custom) and everyone else was not, therefore “the uncircumcised”.
    He was not saying “i have a different gospel” any more than a missionary to China would be, if they said “I am preaching a Chinese gospel” – he is merely saying “I am taking my message to _these_ people).

    “When you a able to distinguish the ages…the scriptures harmonize as one.”
    On the contrary, you end up making a mockery of scripture and introducing errors such as “two gospels”.

    I’ve checked your references. My wife is from a dispensational Church in the USA. I have been discussing this with them for 12 years. To the point I even wrote a research paper on it at BCNZ (a mere 18 months worth of reading). Sorry, but it is YOU who needs to check your references. I’ve checked mine.

  20. The Jew is circumcised on the 8th day of life Geoff, thus comes earlier than ‘faith’ so you are wrong!
    And even when faith did come first (proselytes) it was still necessary to be circumcised and keep the Law to be a part of God conditional covenants to the Jewish fathers. Not to do so was to be cut off. Circumcision of the flesh was not sufficient in itself to guarantee salvation, it was essential to be circumcised of heart….to love God and your Neighbor, and keep the Law esp the animal sacrifices which were to atone for your failings in keeping the Law. Any transgressions were punishable under the law…there was no religious liberty in Israel. Worshipping any other God brought death to you and your family. Now apprehend the difference under Christian Grace which is not a collectivist political association, but a voluntarily fellowship and moral way.
    That we don’t do any of that strict OT legalism today…that we are under the Gospel of the un-circumcision is absolutely a dispensational truth. It does not merely mean ‘to the gentiles only’ as The Gospel of the grace of God is a universal gospel that everyone including the Jews living today must believe to be saved…thus they too must forsake their old religion that distinguished them from the gentiles, forsake the preference of God that comes from being a child of Abraham, forsake the righteousness that comes from keeping the Law, forsake the covenant of circumcision and the Sabbath and put their faith in the finished work of Christ alone.
    Christianity is not Judaism. It is a completely different relationship to God similar to Abrahams Pre-circumcision, Pre Law of Moses relationship with God…by faith without works.
    The Gospel of the Un-circumcision means just that…an end of circumcision as a sign of being inside the covenant of God. No Circumcision…not under the Law…not Jews!
    And I would not pin too much on the religious advise of the modern Christ-denying Jew today either Geoff as they are in a state similar to how the Gentiles were before the Gospel of grace, having been set aside as a Nation (Romans 11 KJV) during this time of the Gentiles, and the fellowship of the mystery.
    It is a most difficult thing for a Jew to become a Christian as it is to forsake Millennia of tradition, much of which was legitimate in its proper dispensation of the Law, but is today set aside.
    Most Jews today are in utter spiritual darkness and many are atheists, socialists,…and secular intellectuals whom have virtually abandoned the scriptures as authortive. Ie are of the same ilk as modern Christian apostates like Glen and Matt Flannagan who claim to hold ‘orthodox’ beliefs strangely similar to moralizing Pharrasees who murdered Christ, ie having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof and teaching the traditions of men as the commandments of God.
    The Holy Spirit and scriptural authority is no where to be seen in Glens or Matts ‘teachings’, neither is there ever a plea for the Gospel. There is much moralizing, but never an accusation of someone being a lost soul and in danger of the judgment of God.
    It is easy to infer why Modern Bible critics and Pagan Greeks with their Godless moralizing rantings hold the chief seats in their intellectual synagogues, having displaced St Paul, Moses, God, etc. because Glen and Matt have an utter distaste for what they see as Mysticism and the miraculous which is the essence and heart of the Gospel and faith in the inerrancy and authority of the scriptures. You will never see either Matt or Glen hold up a scripture as a legitimate argument against a secular argument. They always accept the secular/goddless terms and rationale and have sold out Christianity before they have even opened their mouths. They would be embarrassed before their Godless intellectual peers to stand nakedly upon a scripture. They would sooner sell out their church than their school, indeed this has become habitual for them…the norm…Making the majority of their so called apologies for religion into retreats just like Matts Canaanite peace, and this piece of Glens regarding the legitimacy of the text Re: The adulterous woman.
    This is attacking the word of truth, not preaching it! This is a phony atheism, not Christian faith. They undermine Faith and promote pure humanism under a cloack…calling themselves ‘Christian theists’.
    The Jew today ought to understand that Gods conditional covenant was about obedience and that their 1st century ancestors must have done something horrendously wrong to get thrown out of the promised land and their temple destroyed, and to be oppressed and enslaved, and slaughtered for the last 2000 years. If they realized how God keeps his covenant, they would realize that they murdered their Messiah and would repent of it. Thus their homelessness and sorrow ought to have been a guide to the great evil that resulted in such a heavy collective judgment and loss of blessings. God has been absolutely faithful to his covenant.
    There is a dispensational change about to occur. The Jews have been restored to their land and the Christian age and the Gospel of grace is drawing to an end, with the Time of Great judgment and tribulation about to fall from Heaven like the flood of Noah.
    The Land of Israel is again returning to the focus of God and after the tribulation Period he will retun it power and glory and establish his world kingdom from Israel, to fulfill the promises he made unto the fathers…the same promises that Christ came in meekness to fulfill at his first advent yet was rejected…when he preached “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.
    I know your Modern Othodoxy is to Deny God is such a Judging God, Deny Noahs flood, Deny the Jews are suffering under their own conditional covenant today, Deny God would send such a thing as the Great tribulation and Anti-Christ. I know you guys have abandoned the Gospel along with belief in Hellfire, and think in your hearts all that is needed is for a person is to be ‘Good’ according to Humanist terms without any need to receive Christ. You have utterly sold out to the evolutionists and moral legalists having lost faith in the power of the Gospel and the essentials of Liberty and rights for true voluntary Christianity to flourish.
    Why don’t you go around telling people to …”Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” like Jesus did Geoff?
    Why don’t you sell all your possessions like they did in the early book of Acts Geoff?
    Do you preach Baptism is necessary for salvation?
    Do you preach that one can loose their salvation? That it is not by pure grace but that you must keep the Law and endure unto the end to be saved?
    Your doctrines are in utter confusion without dispensationalism and that you using words like ‘supersedes’ shows that you know the necessity of making dispensational distinctions yourself to avoid the obvious contradictions that arise from not making doctrinal divisions…not recognizing changes in covenants etc.
    So I hold you to be in self contradiction, blinded by false tradition and it renders you a hypocrite.
    The moment you admit that today circumcision is not apart of Gods Christian gospel you must confess to the dispensational nature of the scriptures. You can only continue your bogus denial of dispensational truth by self delusion.
    The moment you realize the distinction between Law and grace and its moral implications for society, you will cease to be a Nanny state socialist and become a Libertarian. (Many dispensationalists still fail to grasp the consequences of the age of grace in contrast to the establishment of the kingdom).

  21. Sorry Tim, but I’m not even going to read all that.. I’ve been through all this countless times.

    You shot yourself in the foot with your opening line:
    “The Jew is circumcised on the 8th day of life Geoff, thus comes earlier than ‘faith’ so you are wrong!”
    On the contrary, this shows I am right. Circumcision is a right by which one becomes JEWISH (thus proselytes) and has NOTHING to do with faith. It is, and has NEVER been required to be saved. That idea is a totally manmade and false understanding.

    That pretty much ends the argument, since you will just carry on contradicting yourself and placing derbyist tradition over what the Scriptures really say.

  22. Slinging ‘Denominationals’ about is meaningless ‘bag and tag’…it is a sidestep from confronting the issue, not an argument at all.
    You cant label me a Darbyist and write me off as a carbon copy. That’s a cop out.(I only called you a Calvinist to show you how annoying and shallow it is to cast such labels about)
    While I have looked up Darby in the past and probably said to myself it would be good to get some of his books to check out , they are not easily found and so I am not familiar with him at all. Im not a ‘Darbyist’. I dont know what he represents so cannot say if I indorse him or not.
    He certainly did not write 2Tim2vs15! If he was the first modern man to understand its significance…good for him! It must be understood as the crowning feature of the Reformation, the final realisation that the true Church is not attempting to establish Gods kingdom on Earth, but is a special intervening fellowship of the mystery that fills the interval between the Jews Rejection of their Messiah being offered by Peter and the Great Tribulation period.
    You must confuse the whole bible together into a jumble…and it makes you blind to the obvious error of your ‘one size fits all’ theology.
    For example. You foolishly say Circumcision was not necessary for ‘Salvation’ to the Jews!
    Talk about the most skewed view of the Old Testament!
    You try and equate it with Paul’s gospel of the un-curcumcision!
    Circumcision was ABSOLUTELY necessary to become a Jew to be apart of the Abrahamic covenant, and separate from the uncircumcised Gentiles!
    Moses even circumcised his Son because the Lord sought to kill him because he was not circumcised!

    http://www.biblestudy.org/question/before-the-exodus-why-did-god-want-to-kill-moses.html

    Is your Wife still a dispensationalist Geoff? I hope so.
    Has she prayed to the Lord that he may guide you into his truth?
    If so, the Lord has sent me in answer to her Prayers for your sake.
    But it is up to you and the condition of your heart.
    The Lord is faithful, but will not force you to embrace the truth.
    I am not writing this stuff for my own vanity.
    I am not trying to prove myself smarter than you.
    I understand how difficult it is to make doctrinal changes.
    I only write these things in faith that it is what God wants me to do.
    I am a Libertarian, I believe you have the right to peacefully hold any beliefs you think are true, even if I disagree with them.
    In a free society of tolerance and equality, it is by free speech that conflicts of faith like this one we are having ought to be sorted out…letting reason hold sway, not political oppression, not religious persecution and puritanical Laws.
    Thus it is in Good will, not malice that I write these things as an appeal for your good and wellbeing. That is my only motive. I have no spiritual vanity to maintain.
    I only have a personal testimony to share.

  23. I just like to add that I dont endorse everything said in that link I posted either. I simply posted it as an easy reference to what I was discussing.
    It is my understanding that God was going to slay the un-circumcised boy not Moses.
    Yet I may be wrong about that. It matters little as the Necessity of circumcision is apparent either way.
    This also raises an interesting truth…that doctrinal ignorance or error in some areas of scripture are less grievous than others. It means it is important to have your essentials right, and to have good fellowship means to be in accord with these essentials, yet it is not possible to have complete accord in all things to be able to maintain fellowship.
    We are to exercise Grace and longsuffering, and to instruct and guide with prayer…in meekness.

  24. “Is your Wife still a dispensationalist Geoff? I hope so.”

    No… why would she be? once she was free of those “indoctrinators” and was shown there is a more sensible way to understand scripture, she abandoned it for the truth.

    Derby and Scofield popularised dispensationalism, some might even say “invented it”. Certainly they are the founders of your faith. Its as new as about 1830ish… certainly not much older. Dispensationalism is the invention of these 2 men, and is NOT biblical.

  25. ps: i recommend you actually study what you believe and where it came from. If you dont know who J N Darby is, and you are arguing for dispensationalism, you should probably stop, and read up. Really… that’s pretty bad.

  26. Sorry to weigh in on an old topic but it seems to me the apostolic tradition of Hippolytus (which we have touched on before) is decisive on the issue of capital punishment, at least insofar as one thinks it accurately represents the apostolic tradition. As discussed either it says “a soldier in authority should not execute” (the translation you prefer) or “a soldier of the civil authority should not kill”. In the latter case you have pacifism, ruling out capital punishment in the process. In the former you have a prohibition on capital punishment per se, at least by soldiers (and thereafter also a prohibition on serving as a magistrate).

  27. Glenn wrote: ‘Likewise we cannot accept Kaiser’s view that this passage demonstrates that the moral standards of the law have not changed, but the sanctions for disobedience have. I reject this suggestion for the same reason that I reject Marshall’s claim – Jesus seems to adhere to the Law of Moses here.’

    Your description of Kaiser’s view is apt: this is exactly the difference between the old and the new covenants. The eye for eye law is not a law about moral standards, it is a law about sanctions for disobedience. Jesus addressed that specific law very directly, and he did not seek to continue with sanctioning coercive legal consequences against those who damaged eyes or teeth. Needless to say, on the topic of the death penalty, part of that law is life for life, and so the coercive legal consequences against those who took lives, in the form of capital punishment, is necessarily excluded by the new administration and reign of Jesus.

    The most pertinent coverage of the practice and application of the death penalty in the New Testament is Mat 5:21-26. Although the point of the teaching is against civil litigation and coercive judgement and enforcement of civil debts, the way the rhetoric and argument runs is instructive on the death penalty. Moses prescribed the death penalty for murder, however, the judges at the time of Jesus were against applying the death penalty in all cases. They jacked up the standard of proof in capital cases to the impossible and thereby de facto abolished the death penalty. When the Romans took the power of the death penalty from the Jews, they didn’t miss it. So, the Jews at the time of Jesus spared murderers from the death penalty, for unwillingness to see the law take the life of a man, even a guilty one, even one guilty of the most serious of capital crimes, and even on solid evidence short of the impossible standard of proof the Jews constructed around capital cases. However, the Romans applied the death penalty, and they did so not so much for murder, but for those who made trouble for Rome such as tax protesters, rioters and agitators. Even for those who insulted the ‘wrong’ person. Or as a show of Roman power, they could round up some hapless Jewish subjects, crucify them, and their bodies would be in danger of the fire of gehenna, the rubbish dump outside the city (translated ‘hell’ in this passage). The point Jesus is making, is, however, about civil litigation and civil debt enforcement: he presents the most ridiculous lawsuit possible: the man whose only injury is to his pride, for whom Moses provided no remedy. The Jews of the time of Jesus, however, considered injury to reputation to be a serious matter and permitted suits for insult and for the civil judgement and debt enforcement procedures listed by Jesus in connection therewith. Now a review of the passage shows that the rhetoric doesn’t work if Jesus actually wanted to give the Jewish judges a hard time about making the law of Moses of no effect with their impossible standards of evidence for capital cases. What the Jews did de facto, Jesus did de jure, by abolishing eye for eye, tooth for tooth (Mat 5:38-39), and, by implication, life for life.

  28. The set up in the case of the woman caught adultery was not of the woman but of Jesus. The set up shows that indeed he was against the death penalty, his opponents were correct about that, just as they were correct that Jesus was against Roman taxes. We should give his opponents more credit in their knowledge of Jesus and his positions as well as the law of Moses — these skirmishes were with well educated and clever foes, and it appears they knew the law of Moses a whole lot better than many modern theologians.

    The case was an illegal ‘honour’ killing of a woman caught in adultery. The Jewish authorities did not practice the death penalty for adultery or anything else, so fairly obviously there was no legal basis for the execution under the law of Moses theoretically, under the law of Moses in actual operation at that time, or as permitted under Roman imperial rule. However, all that did not stop the occasional practice of illegal ‘honour’ killings of women caught in compromising situations, but for just men it was not a lawful option (Mat 1:19).

    The response of Jesus to the trap weaves both the law of Moses and his new law of grace and forgiveness and non-violence and non-coercion together in a shrewd and beautiful manner: the reference to the one throwing the first stone is of course a requirement of the law of Moses that the witnesses had to be the first to throw stones. The point of this regulation of Moses was to drive home to the witnesses the gravity of their sworn testimony, in that by giving evidence under oath that they were enabling the court to authorise the throwing of stones or the seizure of property etc. Of course Jesus prohibited swearing oaths, robbing the court of what it needs to authorise the throwing of stones etc., clearly excluding our participation in coercive legal retribution against sinners and delinquent debtors etc. But Jesus added a new element, not from the law of Moses: let him without sin throw the first stone. There is nothing in the law of Moses requiring the witnesses to be without sin, either absolutely, or in relation to the offence type, or even in relation to the trial. (For witnesses to give inconsistent testimony, for example, is not a matter of sin of the witnesses, but a matter of evidence and procedure.) Now this invites those reading to consider what they are really doing in throwing stones to kill someone: they are sinning, and the guilt of the target is not justification for it under the standard of mature perfection Jesus taught. Jesus demonstrates for us what he means by this: as the accusers left, Jesus was left alone with the woman and he showed what he meant by being without sin: he did not throw stones, but he manifested the unconditional love of ‘do no harm to a neighbour’ (Rom 13:8-10), even one who is guilty. The love Jesus taught and showed is the love of the father: as unconditional as the rain that falls on the just and the unjust, and as unconditional as the light that shines of the good and the bad.

    Thus Jesus diffused the trap set for him by shrewd appeal both to the law of Moses and to his own teaching of mature perfection and unconditional love.

  29. Another aspect of the difference between the old and the new covenants is this: the old covenant was physical and literal, the new is metaphorical and spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). The old covenant regulations were not the real thing, they were types and shadows (Col 2:17; Heb 8:5; 10:1).

    So the old covenant expressed God’s law and his rule through physical, coercive punishments for lawbreaking, administered by the assembly (Heb 2:2). The new covenant, however, is not like the old covenant in this regard, the new covenant is God ruling and reigning through his messiah in heaven. He rules spiritually, and we rule and reign spiritually with him. Spiritually means without coercion (Mat 20:25-28), a kingdom that is not with your observation (Luke 17:20-21), and ruled by the invisible king (1 Tim 1:17). So, this means we rely on the organic principle of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7-9), rather than on promises of present or future imposed coercive physical punishments. The whole concept of punishment, and the fear of punishment as a motivator, is the opposite of New Testament teaching, which is about love: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’ (1 John 4:8).

    The old covenant order passed away in divine wrath and punishment, and this example shows us the nature of God’s judgement and punishment. The Jews of the First Century rejected and killed the Messiah, and in doing so, the filled up the measure of sin, resulting in judgement in that generation (Mat 23:29-38; 1 Thes 2:14-16). Now the judgement of Jerusalem for filling up the measure of her sin, the sin being the blood of the saints, martyrs, apostles and prophets (Rev 17:6, 18:20), and was to be given the measure of her own sin back, even a double measure, in the cup of wrath (Rev 17:2,4,6; 18:3,6). Jesus taught that her judgement was to be by foreign armies (Luke 21:20), because she rejected peace (Luke 19:41-44). Now this entire order passed away, the temple, the sacrifices, the city, the mountain, the priesthood, the kingdom, the assembly. All these were physical, literal and the kingdom was coercive, and it used coercion to rule and reign, just like the gentiles. Yet the same coercive type of power destroyed her, she lived by the sword and she died by the sword. The beast turned on her and killed her, God put it into their hearts to fulfill his purpose (Rev 17:16). Yet it was not God who lifted a finger against the pregnant women, the nursing mothers, the innocents of Jerusalem (or, for that matter, the guilty). God’s heart towards his fallen wife in connection with her desolation is seen from the weeping of Jesus over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).

    The judgement promised by Jesus was metaphorical, not literal. The court-room analogy is a poor one, as the judgement is metaphorical. The men of Nineveh rose from the dead in the first century to judge Jerusalem (Mat 12:41) — how? Literally? They broke out of their graves? They were on the jury hearing the case? They heard the evidence and the took a vote? Obviously not, they judged Jerusalem by their example or repentance, and they rose in vindication with the fall of Jerusalem. Jesus said he would not judge, but that our own words would judge us (Mat 12:37). That judgement is internal and metaphorical, the thoughts of their own hearts and the witness of their own consciences (Rom 2:15).

  30. Essentially David advocates Christian anarchism/pacifism. I find the exegesis persuasive in the light of the early fathers, whilst agreeing with Glenn that there is enough diversity of witness to allow for dissent. But whilst military service may be an option for Christians I don’t think support for capital punishment is, in the light of the Apostolic Tradition. Given that it goes on to prohibit joining the military I think the translation “a soldier of the civil authority shall not kill” is more probable, but if we prefer “execute” we are left with the same conclusion regarding capital punishment. I did read that another collection of church rules also forbade Christians from bringing a capital charge or one that attracted a flogging that might result in death but I can’t cite chapter and verse. Incidentally it seems that only fragments of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus are available in Greek. The fullest texts are in Latin and oriental languages.

  31. I have to say I am not persuaded by David’s notion that the whore of Babylon was Jerusalem and the phrase “a double measure” might be better translated “a twin measure” meaning Babylon is punished in exact proportion to her sins, in accordance with the lex talionis. If David is right in the rest of his exegesis that right to proportionate revenge must be foregone by those under the New Covenant, but God still possesses it.

  32. If you look at Tertullian’s argument you will see that the early church writers were against capital punishment because they were against physical / coercive punishment generally, including in the form of civil litigation in worldly/coercive courts:
    Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs? (Tertullian, The Chaplet, Ch XI)

    Clearly the form of argument is not that killing in the name of the law or in the name of national defence etc. is prohibited because it is too extreme, because it may be in error, because it may produce more harm than good, because it may be ineffective as a deterrent etc. The form of argument is not even that life is sacred and only God has the right to take it away. Rather, the form of the argument is that the law of Christ prohibits all forms of coercion, even the ‘civilised’ version of filing suit, pleading a case, swearing an oath to give evidence, entering a verdict, attaching judgement debtor property etc. If these regulated, civilised and ‘legitimised’ forms of coercion are off limits to the Christian, how much more is the actual shedding of human blood, whether judicially or militarily?

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