RE: Matt. 5 - porneia

From: Peter Phillips (
Date: Wed Oct 01 1997 - 03:24:57 EDT

Isn't the question rather what does 'porneia' mean than 'does it include
marital unfaithfulness or withholding sexual intercourse'. I've always
taken 'porneia' to refer to sexual immorality, i.e. sexual behaviour that's
steps outside of the writer's (and therefore in the NT by extension God's)
accepted criteria (faithfulness, heterosexuality, external to the family
and all that). Therefore, I think, marital unfaithfulness and withholding
intercourse (see 1 Cor 6-7) may well fit into the overall domain of
'porneia' if they stand outside of the author's (and God's) normative
criteria. However, they are two possible areas of meaning within the
concept of porneia which must contain several more.

I wonder whether the question is similar to asking whether the concept
'tree' could be translated by the terms rose bushes and redwoods?

Pete Phillips,
NT Lecturer, Cliff College
From: Graeme Codrington []
Sent: 01 October 1997 10:09
Subject: Matt. 5 - porneia


Excuse my elementary questions, but I have once again been confronted
with the issue of divorce and remarriage, and going back to the
Biblical texts, once again am confused by all the literature on the
use of the word, porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9's (in)famous
exception clauses.

Does porneia, NIV = "marital unfaithfulness" refer only to sexual
adultery (or fornication), or can it refer to other marital
misconduct. Also, could it have reference to withholding sexual
intercourse (cf. 1 Cor. 7:5-6 - and if this is so, what is the
meaning of verse 6?).

Graeme C

Honeyridge Baptist Church

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