and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (8:9b–11)
After the departure of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing where she was, in the center of the court. The text does not say whether the crowd that had been listening to Jesus’ teaching (v. 2) had also left. Whether they were still there or not, the focus of the narrative is on the Lord and the woman.
For the first time, someone addressed the woman. Straightening up from His posture of stooping to write, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” The term woman was a polite, respectful form of address (cf. Matt. 15:28; Luke 13:12; 22:57), one with which Jesus addressed His mother (John 2:4; 19:26), the Samaritan woman at the well (4:21), and Mary Magdalene (20:13, 15). With her accusers gone, there was no one left to condemn her. Exercising His divine prerogative to forgive sin (Matt. 9:6; cf. John 3:17; 12:47), Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Forgiveness does not imply license to sin. Jesus did not condemn her, but He did command her to abandon her sinful lifestyle. Gerald L. Borchert writes,
Jesus’ verdict, “neither do I condemn,” however, was not rendered as a simple acquittal or a noncondemnation. The verdict was in fact a strict charge for her to live from this point on (apo tou nun) very differently—to sin no more (mēketi hamartane). The liberating work of Jesus did not mean the excusing of sin. Encountering Jesus always has demanded the transformation of life, the turning away from sin.… Sin was not treated lightly by Jesus, but sinners were offered the opportunity to start life anew. (John 1–11, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002], 376)
As Paul wrote in Romans 6:1–2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
This story is far more than a battleground for textual critics. It paints a marvelous picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose gracious humility, infinite wisdom, convicting speech, and tender forgiveness are its central themes. All Christians should be grateful to God for sovereignly preserving it.
11. Neither do I condemn thee. We are not told that Christ absolutely acquitted the woman, but that he allowed her to go at liberty. Nor is this wonderful, for he did not wish to undertake any thing that did not belong to his office. He had been sent by the Father to gather the lost sheep, (Matth. 10:6;) and, therefore, mindful of his calling, he exhorts the woman to repentance, and comforts her by a promise of grace. They who infer from this that adultery ought not to be punished with death, must, for the same reason, admit that inheritances ought not to be divided, because Christ refused to arbitrate in that matter between two brothers, (Luke 12:13.) Indeed, there will be no crime whatever that shall not be exempted from the penalties of the law, if adultery be not punished; for then the door will be thrown open for any kind of treachery, and for poisoning, and murder, and robbery. Besides, the adulteress, when she bears an unlawful child, not only robs the name of the family, but violently takes away the right of inheritance from the lawful offspring, and conveys it to strangers. But what is worst of all, the wife not only dishonours the husband to whom she had been united, but prostitutes herself to shameful wickedness, and likewise violates the sacred covenant of God, without which no holiness can continue to exist in the world.
Yet the Popish theology is, that in this passage Christ has brought to us the Law of grace, by which adulterers are freed from punishment. And though they endeavour, by every method, to efface from the minds of men the grace of God, such grace as is every where declared to us by the doctrine of the Gospel, yet in this passage alone they preach aloud the Law of grace. Why is this, but that they may pollute, with unbridled lust, almost every marriage-bed, and may escape unpunished? Truly, this is the fine fruit which we have reaped from the diabolical system of celibacy, that they who are not permitted to marry a lawful wife can commit fornication without restraint. But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.
Go, and sin no more. Hence we infer what is the design of the grace of Christ. It is, that the sinner, being reconciled to God, may honour the Author of his salvation by a good and holy life. In short, by the same word of God, when forgiveness is offered to us, we are likewise called to repentance. Besides, though this exhortation looks forward to the future, still it humbles sinners by recalling to remembrance their past life.
12 Therefore Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 13 The Pharisees therefore said to him, Thou testifiest concerning thyself, thy testimony is not true. 14 Jesus answered, and said to them, Though I testify concerning myself, my testimony is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but you know not whence I come, and whither I go.
11 Jesus is not saying that the woman’s act of adultery is not worthy of condemnation but that he doesn’t intend to press charges. In no way does he condone her sin. Neither does he offer her divine forgiveness for what she has done. He simply tells her to “go, and never sin again” (Montgomery). We would hope that the guilty woman repented of her sin, but the text is silent about that. And of course there is room in the kingdom for every kind of sinner (including the adulteress) who turns from sin and embraces by faith the Lord Jesus.
8:10–11. The first two scenes of the story described the charges and their response. Now we come to the verdict. With the accusers gone, there remained no condemnation. The Son of God refused to press the issue. Her sin was not just set aside; soon Jesus would pay the penalty for both the woman and her accusers.
James Boice tells the story of a man who sat in his office aware of his deep sin but unable to do anything about it. Boice ministered to him by using the illustration of a man walking along a street and splashed by a car in the dark. As he continued he came into the light of a street lamp and became aware of the stains on his clothing. Finally, the man decided he could not go on, turned around, and went home to put on clean clothes. At that point the young man in Boice’s office responded by saying, “My problem is that I don’t have any clean clothes.”
Precisely. Chapter 8 tells about a woman who had no clean clothes—and about Pharisees who also had no clean clothes. She knew she did not; they thought they did. Jesus offered the clean clothes of forgiveness to all of them—and to us as well.
Jesus asked a rhetorical question and the woman answered it simply. Forgiveness rests upon the Lord’s understanding. In this vignette we find recognition, repentance, regeneration, restitution, and reconciliation.
A second important lesson in these two verses is that forgiveness rests upon the Lord’s grace. Remember the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15? The father showed unconditional forgiveness and restoration when the son returned. Salvation does not come from suffering; it comes from grace—from the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf.
Finally, we see that the verdict rests upon the Lord’s forgiveness. Forgiveness demands a clean break with sin. In Matthew 9:2 we read, “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.’ ” In searching for a way to translate this, a missionary linguist working among the Guajira tribe in Colombia rendered the Lord’s words, “I forgive you. Let’s be friends again.”
The same Jesus offers forgiveness today to sinners whose sins equal that of the woman or those of the Pharisees. And not only forgiveness for initial salvation but also for daily sins of anger, disobedience, envy, greed, and the judgmental character shown by the Pharisees which gave birth to this episode.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 329–330). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Gospel according to John (Vol. 1, pp. 323–324). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 472). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, pp. 160–161). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.