Re: Matt. 5 - porneia

From: Williams, Wes (
Date: Wed Oct 01 1997 - 12:36:14 EDT

From: Graeme Codrington <>

<<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?). >>


PORNEIA refers to extra-marital intercourse, whether married or single
persons are involved. I below quote two references in support, TDNT and

TDNT, Vol VI, p.592 comments on Matt 5:32 and 19:9 saying: "PORNEIA
refers to extra-marital intercourse" On p. 594, it says with reference
to Eph 5:3,5 and 1 Cor. 7: "[Paul] realises that not every one has the
gift of continence, 1 C. 7:7. As a protection against the evil of
fornication the [single] man who does not have [continence] should take
the divinely prescribed way of a lawful marriage, 1 C. 7:2." Thus,
PORNEIA also applies to single persons.

Westcott, in Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, 1906, p. 76 comments
on the various meanings of PORNEIA and says in a note on Eph 5:3;
"This is a general term for all unlawful intercourse,
1) Adultery: Hos. ii. 2,4 (LXX.); Matt. v. 32; xix. 9;
2) Unlawful marriage, I Cor. v. 1;
3) Fornication, the common sense as here [Eph 5:3].

I take Westcott's "common sense" as referring to the modern sense of
sexual relations between unmarried persons, in agreement with TDNT p.

Wes Williams

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