Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

What did Jesus write on the
Ground in John 8:6?

-by Tony Warren

John 8:3-6

  • "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

  • They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

  • Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

  • This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

    The truth is, no one knows as an absolute certainty, what Jesus wrote on the ground, but judging by the context (Moses and the Law that was written), the wording, the accusatory nature, and the fact that the only other place in Holy scripture where we see the illustration of the finger of God writing is in the writing the law, this strongly implies that Jesus was writing the commandments of God.

    Exodus 31:18

  • "And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him on Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God!"

    Deuteronomy 9:10

  • "And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the Mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly."

This was the law of God, written with the finger of God, and which "accuses" all of us! And likewise, the context of John chapter 8 is of the law of God (law of Moses), and how it accuses this woman, and condemns her to death for her transgression. But Jesus having come to fulfill the law (not abolish it), that it not condemn us who are likewise guilty of transgression of the law, lifts Himself up and says,

    John 8:7-8

  • "..He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

  • And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground."

It is in "this context" that Jesus again writes upon the ground. After asking the question of who among them could stand before God and not be condemned for their transgressions, He writes with the finger of God again. i.e., which one of them/us has not transgressed these commandments of God? ..me? ..you? ..any of them? There are none, no not one! Perhaps Jesus was writing their personal transgressions of the law, or perhaps He wrote their names in the earth beside the commandments they had broken. We'll never really know on this side of the grave, because God didn't choose to reveal it here. But whatever the Lord wrote, it was illustrative that we all are guilty of the violation of the law, just as this Woman was, and were thus as guilty of sin as she was. For when we look at ourselves honestly, the truth is as the old axiom, "..There but for the Grace of God, go I". And that is what Jesus "forced" these people to do. Look at themselves honestly and understand that they were sinners just as this woman was. And to her own master she stands or falls. All of us in forsaking God's laws deserve to have our names written in the earth. And there but by the Grace of God, we would.

    Jeremiah 17:13

  • "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of Living waters."

Was Jesus writing their names in the earth as a signification that they had "like this woman" forsaken the law of God? Whatever He wrote, shamed those who condemned this woman, because they were convicted of their own transgression of the Law. Not one of them in his conscience could say he was without sin, and so not one of them could condemn her. By Grace we are Saved, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. We are not Saved because we are good and keep the law of God, while others don't, or because we are more righteous than others are. We are Saved by Sovereign Grace. Not one of us can righteously condemn another. That's God's Sovereign right alone.

    John 8:9

  • "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the Woman standing in the midst."

There are some Theologians who say that the only reason Jesus wouldn't allow them to stone her is because they were devious, and simply trying to trap him. While it is obviously true that these had come with this woman to try and trap him in His words, that they might have reason to accuse Him to the authorities. The fact is, Jesus is God! He didn't have to circumvent the law here simply to placate the Pharisees. No, that may be man's supposition, but that is not why Jesus did this. Rather, Jesus did this as an "obvious" demonstration that they were no better than this woman, and as transgressors just as she was, they stood in the very same position. What Jesus did was to turn the law around upon them, whereby their eyes were opened and they saw that they were the accused themselves, and the transgressors themselves. It is another demonstration of why every single one of us need a Saviour.

Thus, when the accusers confronted with "the law," and saw themselves honestly, they realized that they had no basis to see themselves as any better than this woman. And one by one, beginning at the eldest (the wisest), they walked away knowing their own transgressions.

Here we see the moral of the story is that the woman, who was guilty of the transgressions of the law, was because of the Lord Jesus Christ, found to be without accusers! A spiritual example of the Church. They couldn't condemn her because of Christ convicting them, and neither did the law condemn her anymore, for she was made free from the law, because of Christ. The woman represents the Church, and her adultery, our sins which accuse us. Christ represents our redeemer from the transgressions of the law, which condemn us. This great spiritual truth permeates the scriptures.

    John 8:10-11

  • "When Jesus had lifted up Himself and saw none but the Woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

  • She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more."

The Woman had no accusers by the law, because of Christ's intervention, and neither was she condemned of God. Jesus is the faithful high Priest who dipped His finger in blood and sprinkled it before the veil, and made atonement for sins. The adulterous Woman is to go free, uncondemned, because of Christ's intervention, and without sin! This is the marvelous picture which God has signified in John chapter 8.

The overview is that the commandments of God (the law) would accuse them all, unless they were without transgression themselves. And no man except those pardoned of Christ, entering through the veil (which is His flesh) would escape the condemnation. The Picture God is showing is that we all, looking upon the commandments of God, and seeing our own sin in the earth (transgression of that law), cannot condemn others. And just as these people were convicted by their own conscience, we must all, judging ourselves by the commandments of God, also be convicted, and realize that it is totally by Grace that we are Saved. And not one of us is without fault.

Matthew 7:1-3

  • "Judge not, that ye be not judged.

  • For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

  • And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

Anyone who can look at the laws of God, and then turn around and condemn others as if he stands sinless, doesn't understand this principle that, "as God has forgiven us all our sins by no merit of our own, we are to likewise forgive our brethren."

Where are thine accusers, Jesus asked the woman. Neither do I accuse you! Go, and sin no more! A tremendous example that we are made sinless and not condemned by the law, but are under the Grace (unmerited favor) of God. If we condemn, we shall also be condemned of God. We have the mercy and forgiveness of Christ, we should likewise show mercy and forgiveness! Consider the parable of the unjust King (Matthew 18:21-35). We must understand that when the commandments of God are written in the earth, we all come up short. And so we must judge between right and wrong, bad and good, righteousness and unrighteousness, but we must not judge another man's servant (Romans 14:4). To His own master he stands or falls. Judge not, lest ye be Judged!


Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
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Created 8/9/98 / Last Modified 3/23/01
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