In John 8 vs 3, a woman was made to stand before Jesus after being caught in an act of adultery but there is no mention of the man. Why is that?

3 Answers 3


The reason for‘ no man’ is in the reason for this account. It wasn’t about the adultery .... at all. It was about the Law.

The Pharisees were trying to have Jesus violate (speak against) the Law. Jesus had to fulfil the Law, both as a Rabbi, and as a ‘man’ having to fully ‘keep’ the Law.

Jesus was going about preaching grace and Mercy, but could not be allowed to use this against the Law. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning, and Jesus had to agree - and he did! He could not say No!

Jesus could not Let her ‘off’, nor exercise Mercy - the Law has no room for Grace nor Mercy. He had to demand what the Law demanded - it was his Fathers Law! If, through compassion, he went against the Law, he would have been a ‘bleamished’ sacrifice.

The Pharisees thought they had set up the perfect snare to have Jesus break the Law, thereby ‘legally’ having an excuse to put him to death - (a Rabbi not enforcing the Law was breaking it.) - which was their intent.


In John 8:1-11, not mentioning the man involved in this clear Jewish setup, was part of the plot. The woman was used and the man was very possibly one of the accusers who wanted to "frame" Jesus by trapping Him (v6).

In fact, their actions, in themselves were also illegal under Torah. If anyone saw that a crime was to be committed (v4), that person should make every effort to avoid the crime being committed. Therefore the accusers were as guilty as the woman they were accusing, especially the man involved!

It was such provisions that made it almost impossible to accuse someone of a crime worthy of the death penalty because several witness must observe the crime and such must try to prevent the crime being committed.

Jesus was also correct that the one who had no sin was to be the first to cast stones; none did because all knew they were themselves guilty.

None of this says that the woman was innocent; only used to trap Jesus. Jesus approached the situation in such a way as to save both the woman and the accusers. All left chagrined (v9), but the woman left to presumably begin a new life (V11).


The Torah, in prescribing the death penalty for adultery, required that both the adulterer and the adulteress be put to death. It was not lawful to slay one and spare the other.

Also, by claiming that the woman had been caught in the very act, they affirm that the adultery was not established by some other basis of evidence. Nor did they claim that the man, having been caught, had escaped, so they had no excuse for failing to haul the man as well as the woman into Jesus' presence for judgement.

That this is a set-up is obvious; if the case was as open-and-shut as they declared it to be, there was no reason to get Jesus' opinion on the matter; the execution could have proceeded without bringing Him into it. How the set-up was intended to work isn't too hard to imagine. If Jesus tells them to go ahead with the stoning, the accusers would "forget" that they had proposed an unlawful execution and spread the tale that He had ordered it, but if He told them to spare her, they would leave out the unlawful nature of what they proposed and spread the tale that He had let an adulterer go unpunished.

Instead, He chose not to even dignify their challenge with a response.

They of course prodded Him, perhaps supposing that He was stalling for time in order to think the matter over, and His response is not what they expected. He neither endorses the execution, nor opposes it, but instead gives the qualification of who may impose the penalty: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Since only God is without sin (of those who have the capacity to understand), only God is qualified to take human life outside of the Torah.

One by one, they realize that He has seen through their game, and depart; and with the departure of those who cared nothing for the Torah, He upholds it.

(I have heard it argued that part of the trap was that endorsing the execution would have gotten Him into trouble with the Roman authorities, but this makes no sense. To punish an adulteress with death was a fairly common sentiment; unless the words are backed up with action, the Romans simply had more important thing to worry about.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.