FORNICATION (Heb. zānâh, Gr. porneia). Used in the KJV for unlawful sexual intercourse of an unwed person. It is to be distinguished from adultery, which has to do with unfaithfulness on the part of a married person, and from rape, which is a crime of violence and without the consent of the person sinned against. When these sins are mentioned in the Bible, they are often figurative of disloyalty. Idolatry is practically adultery from God. This ugly sin ought not even to be a subject of conversation among Christians (
FORNICATION (πορνεία, G4518, meaning unchastity or immorality). Some form of πορνεία, G4518, appears forty-seven times in the NT.
Four different NT meanings are obvious. 1. In
2. In two passages (
4. In other passages fornication refers to harlotry and prostitution (e.g.
Out of seven lists of evils in the writings of Paul, the word fornication is included in five of them (
Jesus related fornication to adultery when he said “Everyone (πα̂ς ὁ) who looks at a woman lustfully [with a thought of sexual intercourse] has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (
Note that possible unmarried people are included in the meaning of fornication in all of those passages where it refers to adultery, immorality, harlotry, et al. Those who state that the NT makes no reference to premarital sex relations and gives no advice on the personal and social problems involved are overlooking the NT use and meaning of the word fornication, esp. in such passages as
D. S. Bailey, The Mystery of Love and Marriage (1952), 50-53; D. R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage (1953), 221-267; L. Kirkendall, “Premarital Sex Relations: The Problem and Its Implications,” PP (Pastoral Psychology) (April, 1956), 43-46; W. G. Cole, Sex and Love in the Bible (1959), 230-267; O. E. Feucht (Editor), Sex and the Church (1961), 48f., 70f., 216f.; J. T. Landis and M. G. Landis, Building a Successful Marriage (1968), 165-184; H. J. Miles, Sexual Understanding Before Marriage (1971), 204-206.