Fornication and Adultery

Strong’s Lexicon defines fornication as:

1.  Illicit sexual intercourse

a. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality,  lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc.

b. Sexual intercourse with close relatives (Leviticus 18).

c. Sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman (Mark 10:11-12).

2.  Metaph, the worship of idols

Greek Lexicon defines porneia (fornication) as “prostitution, unchastity, fornication, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.”

The word “fornication” is thus a broad term and is used in the Bible to cover all types of sexual immorality. The New Testament has a great deal to say about adultery and fornication (Matthew 5:27-32Matthew 19:9Mark 10:11Luke 16:18;Romans 1:29Romans 7:3Romans 13:9Galatians 5:19Acts 15:20I Corinthians 5:1I Corinthians 6:13I Corinthians 6:18I Corinthians 7:2I Corinthians 10:8II Corinthians 12:21Ephesians 5:3Colossians 3:5I Thessalonians 4:3Jude 7).



There is much misunderstanding on the topic of fornication and adultery. One well-known preacher said: “Remember, adultery is not a sexual word. Fornication is the sexual word. The word adultery means covenant breaking. Adultery means disloyalty to pledges and covenants. So Jesus says don’t get involved in divorce because divorce itself is adultery. Forget remarriage; remarriage is not what makes it adultery. It’s divorce. That’s covenant breaking.”


Some brethren need to listen to Jesus’ question, “have ye not read?” In Matthew 19:9 Jesus did not say “whosoever puts away his wife commits adultery.” He said,“whosoever puts away his wife, except it be for fornication and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” Adultery occurs when one marries another after an unscriptural divorce!


If all putting away is adultery then if the innocent party of Matthew 19:9 puts away the guilty party for fornication, then the innocent party is guilty of adultery. In other words, everyone who divorces is an adulterer. This brother says adultery is not a sexual sin. Consider John 8:3-4. This woman was “taken in adultery, in the very act.” Now what happened was this woman was down at the courthouse filing for divorce and she was caught by the scribes and Pharisees signing these legal documents! Do you really believe this was what she was caught doing? No, this woman was not caught at the courthouse filing for divorce. She was caught in a sex act itself which the Bible calls adultery. The Bible says adultery is a sexual word.


It never ceases to amaze me how far out some people will go trying to get around what the Bible says. Another good example of this is seen in Divorce & Remarriage: A Study Discussion by Wayne Jackson and Truman Scott. Truman Scott is now an instructor in the Biblical Institute with the Sunset church in Lubbock, Texas. Notice what Scott said on page 74:


I am suggesting that one should go back and review every time the word porneiaoccurs in the New Testament and where it translates in the Old Testament and try to determine by the context, first of all, what is being done. Most of the time it does not say what is being done: it simply states they committed fornication. One cannot know what they did. They may have been stealing watermelons or they may have been doing something else as far as the context is concerned, because the context does not define it in those cases. But when the context does define it at least as far as I have been able to determine, without an exception it is describing a sin that has gone to a place of degradation. It has gone to a repetitive, immoral promiscuity. It describes a sin that is therefore becoming a pattern of life.


According to brother Scott who knows, perhaps “stealing watermelons” is grounds for divorce and remarriage! Perhaps the woman of John 8 was caught red-handed stealing watermelons! Also, according to brother Scott stealing one watermelon would not be so bad  as long as it did not become a pattern of life. Brethren who respect the Bible as God’s Word can see through such silliness. We can understand what the Bible says concerning adultery and fornication.

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