The stoning of blasphemers / sabbath breakers


God explicitly ordered the stoning of Jews for crimes such as blasphemy and breaking the Sabbath in the Old Testament.

Jesus said in the New Testanment ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.

If God in the Old testament declared stoning to be just how could Jesus forbid it?

If it is because of God’s mercy, does this not pose a problem? How can God’s level of mercy change?



It doesn’t- our interpretation of it changes.


Our interpretation of Jesus’s words?


No, our interpretation of what God wants. If you read the Old Testament, it’s not a load of information about what God wants, what God says. It is His communication and action with His communication. Our attempts to understand Him and His reaching out to us through all time. The stories are about His attempts to communicate to His chosen people. But the Jews got it wrong a lot!. That’s why they were exiled. When they came back, they had a different idea about God.

The idea of God develops through the Bible because His word was distant at first and it has taken time for us to understand. In the end, He was manifest to us in Jesus, He spoke His Word and in His Word, everything He wanted us to understand was said.


As Catholics, we understand the difference between doctrines and disciplines. Doctrines are teachings on faith and morals that can never change. Disciplines are directions from God and/or his church as to how to live out those doctrines in a given time and place.

The Hebrews had just left Egypt and were constantly in danger of slipping back into the idolatry and abominations of Egypt. They were also constantly wanting to go back to Egypt and abandon God completely. So God inaugurated some very extreme and immediate punishments to quickly condition the Hebrews to obey him. These punishments were disciplines, not doctrines. They were instituted for that people in that place and time.

God love you,


Scripture is salvation history. We see that different actions are required for obedience to God along the way.

Adam and Eve need only have refrained from eating that apple. They did not, and were forced from Eden.

Noah need only build the Ark and save what he was commanded to save of the antediluvian world. He did.

Abraham had to be willing to sacrifice Isaac. He was.

Moses had to strike with his staff as God instructed. He did not, and was prevented from entering the Promised Land.

We see time and again where God tells us what we must do, rewards us when we do it, and punishes us when we do not.

The point is obedience to God. Where we go astray is when we place our own desires above His, whether it is out of pride, sloth, anger, envy, gluttony, greed, or lust.

The adultress gave in to lust, but was repentant. Those who wished to stone her likely were acting from anger or pride, and were not repentant. The only non-sinner there was the Lord; the only pure judge was the Lord.


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