Would Jesus Have Been Right In Stoning the Woman? (John 8:1-11)

Lego Moses melting Lego Golden Calf


Jesus was not a magistrate during His earthly ministry (making a distinction since He has now been given all authority to act as judge, which we see in other passages). If He picked up a stone to stone the women, acting as a judge, He would have disobeyed the Law. Moses was a magistrate and acted as such (for example Ex. 32 and the Golden Calf). The issue is a categorical error. We should note that God has created the magistrate to uphold His justice (Rom. 13:1-2) and the church to proclaim salvation (Matt. 28:19-20). Does the church talk about justice and cry out for justice? Absolutely. Do they deploy or enact justice? No. The Westminster Standards make a distinction between the kingdom of grace and kingdom of power.

Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, (which is, Thy Kingdom come,) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrates; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him for ever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.
Matt. 6:10; Eph. 2:2-3; Ps. 68:1, 18; Rev. 12:10-11; 2 Thess. 3:1; Rom. 10:1; John 17:9, 20; Rom. 11:25-26; Ps. 67:1-7; Matt. 9:38; 2 Thess. 3:1; Mal. 1:11; Zeph. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Acts 4:29-30; Eph. 3:14-20; Rev. 22:20; Isa. 64:1-2; Rev. 4:8-11; Eph. 6:18-20; Rom. 15:29-30, 32; 2 Thess. 1:11; 2 Thess. 2:16-17.


(WCF Ch. 25) II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law) consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children; and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
Psa 2:8; Rom 15:9-12; 1 Cor 1:2; 12:12-13; Rev 7:9. • Gen 3:15; 17:7; Ezek 16:20-21; Acts 2:39; Rom 11:16; 1 Cor 7:14. • Isa 9:7; Mat 13:47. • Eph 2:19; 3:15. • Acts 2:47.

To say that Christ had all the right and authority to stone her misunderstands the point. God has ordained the magistrate to carry out His justice (1 Pet. 2:13-14), not the Church. Christ was not a magistrate during His earthly ministry. So, what is the duty of the magistrate?

(WCF Ch. 23)III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

2 Chr 2:8 • Isa 49:23 • 2 Chr 19:8

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