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Bible Question and Answer

What does fornication mean?

Topic(s): Bible Study, Moral Issues

Todd Clippard

Fornication is from the Greek porneia, and is a broad term encompassing all kinds of sexual sins including, but no limited to, sexual intercourse before marriage, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and other acts of sexual uncleanness (Galatians 5:19-21).

Sometimes it is used specifically to describe sexual intercourse before marriage. For example, in John 8:41, the Jews accused Jesus of being "born of fornication," that is to say, his parents had sexual intercourse prior to their marriage. I believe it has this specific meaning in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 because there are three other sexual sins listed alongside it.

Sometimes porneia is used to describe all kinds of sexual sins, as in 1 Corinthians 5:1. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 we are told to flee fornication. This would be the broad use of the word which includes all types of sexual immorality.

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