“Sin No More” Not in Scripture?

Perhaps you have noticed in your translation of the Bible that John 7:53-8:11 is set off in brackets with a footnote saying something like, “the earliest and best manuscripts do not include verses 7:53-8:11.” It is a bit jarring to see such a note attached to one of the most beloved stories in our English Bibles (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone”). Nevertheless, the note is correct. This text was most assuredly not a part of the original text of John but was added centuries later.

Every semester in the hermeneutics courses that I teach at Boyce College, I do a brief section on textual criticism—the science and art of reconstructing the original text of the Bible. In that section, we discuss this text from John, and someone will usually ask me how to address this issue in church when preaching through the gospel of John. Last Sunday, I think John Piper provided an excellent example of how to handle it. Watch the video above, listen below, or download here.



  • Louis Tullo

    This is why John Piper is one of my favorite preachers! He has a respect for God’s Word, and has made a way to speak about the Gospel in the midst of dealing with a difficult text. 🙂

  • Jeff Brewer

    Well, since John 7:53-8:11 was not part of the original and since it was added centuries later, why doesn’t Zondervan, Lockman Foundation, Thomas Nelson Publishers or Crossway publishers omit it and just leave it out? They leave it in there because it is a familiar story to bible readers. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t part of the original. They leave it there because its a precious story and so familiar. It begs the question: is the bible truly and entirely the Word of God? If we say the Bible is the Word of God and that it is without error, then how can we say that John 7:53-8:11 isn’t a God-breathed passage of Scripture? Or can we even make that claim? Isn’t it contradictory on our part because we believe and proclaim the whole bible as His Word and yet…a portion isn’t supposed to be there? Bottom-line, this simply casts doubt as to whether the bible is a trustworthy document.

  • Charlton Connett


    Thank you so much for sharing this. Listening to this reminds me of a conversation I had with my father not too long ago about how to preach on texts that we fairly certain do not belong in the Bible. I pray that all of us would hold the text, and the teaching, of Scripture in the same high regard as John Piper did in this sermon.

  • Donald Johnson

    I disagree with what Piper said about it being a good thing that we do not have the original manuscripts.

    I agree with him and many others that this is not original but it does “smell” authentic.

    However, it smells authentic to me as Jesus is shown to be upholding Torah, contra some ECF. John circles around this even quoting Torah, but does not end up seeing how Jesus upholds Torah, so the teaching fails in that aspect.

  • Michael Marlowe

    This is the first time I’ve watched a sermon by the celebrated pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. I must say that I wasn’t impressed. All the clowning and snickering in the second half of the sermon makes it hard for me to take his exposition seriously. Is this normal for Piper?

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