1 Corinthians 6:18 Commentary



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1 Corinthians 6:18 Commentary

1Corinthians 6:18  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: pheugete (2PPAM) ten porneian; pan hamartema o ean poiese (3SAAS) anthropos ektos tou somatos estin, (3SPAI) o de porneuon (PAPMSN) eis to idion soma hamartanei. (3SPAI)

Amplified: Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.    (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
ASV: Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
Barclay: Strenuously avoid fornication at all times. Every sin which a man may commit is external to his body; but the man who commits fornication sins against his own body.
 (Westminster Press)
Berkley: Shun sexual immorality. All other sin a person commits outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.

BBE: Keep away from the desires of the flesh. Every sin which a man does is outside of the body; but he who goes after the desires of the flesh does evil to his body.
ESV: Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
GWT: Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don't affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies. 
ISV: Keep on running away from sexual immorality. Any other sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the person who sins sexually sins against his own body.
KJV: Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Moffatt: Shun immorality! Any other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his body.
NLT: Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Avoid sexual looseness like the plague!  Every other sin that a man commits is done outside his own body, but this is an offence against his own body.
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: That is why I say to run from sex sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body.
Wuest: Be fleeing from fornication. Every act of sin which a man may do is outside of his body, but he who commits fornication is sinning against his own body.
Young's Literal: flee the whoredom; every sin--whatever a man may commit--is without the body, and he who is committing whoredom, against his own body doth sin.


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1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians Study Guide
1 Corinthians Commentary - 296 pages
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6 Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 My Body His Temple
1 Corinthians 6:20 Illustrations
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 The Profitable Life (go to page 28)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Glorify God In Your Body
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 It May Be Your Body, But It's Still God's Temple
1 Corinthians 6 Notes
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:19 The Body: The Temple Of God
1 Corinthians 6 Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Relationship Between Spirituality & Sexual Morality
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary - Fornication
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary - Sin Against One's Own Body
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary - We Are Bought With a Price
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary - Ante-Nicene Fathers
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:19 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Seized by Temptation
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary (Expositor's Greek)
1 Corinthians Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Walking Through Life With Jesus
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Inattention to True Sexual Freedom
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 The Body for God
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1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
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1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Desecrating the Temple of God
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1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Commentary (Lange's Commentary)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 God’s Body
1 Corinthians 6:1-20 Failure to Resolve Personal Differences
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Commentary (Cambridge Commentary)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Christian Liberty and Sexual Freedom
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Christian Liberty and Sexual Freedom - Study Guide

Mortification of Sin
1 Corinthians 6:11-20 Commentary - Mp3 Only
1 Corinthians 6 Commentary (Critical & Exegetical)
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Act Like a Man on the Internet (Aka - Flee Immorality!)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 I Will Not Be Enslaved By Anything
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1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:16-21 Christianity in Relation to the Body (Homiletic)
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 A Purchased Possession (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:20 Glorify God (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:13-19 Duties to the Body (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Abuse of Christian Liberty (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Divine Ownership (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:19 The Temple Body and Its Sanctity (Homily)
1 Corinthians 6:19 The Christian Has No Personal Rights (Homily)
From Temptation to Triumph
Create in Me a Clean Heart A Serious Call to Sexual Purity
1 Corinthians 6 Word Pictures in the NT

1 Corinthians - A Critical and Exegetical commentary - p127
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 The Duty of Devoting Ourselves to God
1 Corinthians Commentary
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Commentary

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Bought with a Price

1 Corinthians 6:19-20. — Bought with a Price - Sermon Notes

1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23 Redemption by Price
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 What Are Bodies For?
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1 Corinthians 6 Word Studies in the NT
Man's Chief End is to Glorify God
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Glorify God in Your Body
1 Corinthians 1-6 - Part 1 - Download first Lesson
Lecture 6 Immorality Among You?
Slow Fade - Play this Before or After Sermon on 1Co 6:18-20

FLEE IMMORALITY: pheugete (2PPAM) ten porneian) :(Ge 39:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; Pr 2:16, 16, 17, 18, 19; 5:3-15; 6:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32; 7:5-23,24, 25, 26, 27; 9:16, 17, 18; Ro 6:12,13; 2Ti 2:22; Hebrews 13:4; 1Pe 2:11)

Recommended Resource: Slow Fade by Casting Crowns - Powerful Video with Superb Lyrics - Play this Before or After Sermon on 1Co 6:18-20


First let's examine the context (1Cor 6:12-17) which is vital if one seeks to accurately interpret an isolated verse or group of verses such as 1Co 6:18-20.

Paul had just reminded the Corinthian church of the radical supernatural transformation that had transpired in them when they were born again (washed, sanctified, justified - Read 1Co 6:9, 10, 11).

Warren Wiersbe explains the cultural background noting that...

There was a great deal of sexual laxness in the city of Corinth. It was a permissive society with a philosophy similar to that which the world has today: Sex is a normal physical function, so why not use it as you please? Paul pointed out that God created sex when He made the first man and woman, and therefore He has the right to tell us how to use it. The Bible is the “owner’s manual” and it must be obeyed.

In light of the Corinthians' "so great a salvation" [He 2:3-note] which brought new freedom/liberty in Christ [Ga 5:1, Jn 8:36 -  Freedom in Christ is not the right to do as one pleases but the power to do as one should!], MacArthur feels that

in this section, Paul exposed the error in the Corinthian Christians’ rationalization (argument) that they were free to sin (cp Paul's warning to the Galatian Christians - Ga 5:13), because it was covered by God’s grace (cp Ro 5:20-note, Ro 6:1, 2-note).

Vine adds that

The idea of Christian liberty had been perverted by some in the assembly, as well as by opponents (cp Ro 3:8-note, Col 2:8-note, Col 2:23-note), and had been made an excuse for license (cp Jude 1:3). Accordingly, the apostle sets forth the true significance and scope of liberty in Christ and the character and purpose of the body of the believer.

1Corinthians 6:12-17

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful for me (Speaks of one's freedom/liberty in Christ and may have been a slogan used in the Corinthian church to justify immoral behavior especially use of cult prostitutes in a culture where such behavior was readily accepted as a "religious" exercise in which one was simply visiting the "temple priestesses [prostitutes]"! Paul use of this phrase clearly does not legitimatize things that are sinful), but not all things are profitable (Some things might be allowable by God and yet not be profitable. So Paul lays down a principle that one must ask in light of our freedom in Christ - "Is it beneficial, expedient, good for my spiritual life?" cp Php 4:8-note; 1Th 5:21-note; Ro 12:9-note). All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything (This should prompt the question "Will this activity enslave me?").

John MacArthur sees this statement by Paul (1Co 6:12) as referring primarily to sexual sin which was rampant in Corinth (and was tempting to the believer's in the context of the permissive Corinthian culture and their new found freedom/liberty in Christ) writing that...

Sin has power. The word means “mastered” (cf. Ro 6:14-note), and no sin is more enslaving than sexual sin. While it can never be the unbroken pattern of a true believer’s life, it can be the recurring habit that saps joy, peace, usefulness and brings divine chastening and even church discipline (cf. 1Co 5:1ff.). See notes on 1Th 4:3, 4, 5-note. Sexual sin controls, so the believer must never allow sin to have that control, but must master it in the Lord’s strength (1Co 9:27). Paul categorically rejects the ungodly notion that freedom in Christ gives license to sin (cf. Ro 7:6-note; Ro 8:13-note, Ro 8:21-note).

1Cor 6:13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food (food is needed for the body and thus they are naturally suited one to the other and we are at liberty to use food), but God will do away with both of them (Food is lawful and profitable but its value is temporary and believers are not to live as if the greatest thing in life is to gratify their appetites [e.g., gluttony]). (Now Paul passes on to what is not lawful for the body and in fact is sin) Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.

Wiersbe feels that this was the second argument the Corinthians used to defend their freedom to frequent the temple prostitutes (the first being "All things are permissible"... including temple prostitutes!)...

Their second argument was, “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats” (1Co 6:13). They treated sex as an appetite to be satisfied and not as a gift to be cherished and used carefully. Sensuality is to sex what gluttony is to eating; both are sinful and both bring disastrous consequences. Just because we have certain normal desires, given by God at Creation, does not mean that we must give in to them and always satisfy them. Sex outside of marriage is destructive, while sex in marriage can be creative and beautiful.

1Cor 6:14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power (Reminding them of the greatness of their future tense salvation, that their bodies are destined for high honor, truth which should serve to motivate present progress in holiness).

1Cor 6:15 Do you not know (They did know) that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!

1Cor 6:16 Or do you not know (They did know) that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH."

1Cor 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him (This "oneness" of Christ and believers reflects an inherent truth of our new covenant relationship with Christ. Paul learned something of this oneness of believers with Christ in his Damascus Road experience when Christ asked him "Why do you persecute Me?". Clearly Paul's persecution of believers who were in covenant oneness with Christ was treated by our Lord as persecution of Himself because of this mystical but real and vital union between the Head and His body. See The Oneness of Covenant).

Flee - The present imperative is a command calling for all believers (flee = second person plural) to continually strenuously avoid the snares strewn about by variegated sexual temptations. You may be saying "This command was written some 2000 years ago. Paul was never tempted like we are today by the plethora of pornography pervading and perverting the internet!" That's true, but beloved, God's call to holiness (Lv 11:44, 45, 1Pe 1:15, 16-note) is always "in vogue" and fleeing the evil trap of pornography (in whatever form) is part of what it means to be continually pursuing holiness (He 12:14-note).

Secondly, the well known aphorism (which is Biblical) reminds us that "What God commands, God enables!" Part of the problem is trying to fight the good fight in our own strength. You are correct if you are thinking but "I cannot". Indeed, You Cannot! Paul could not either! While Paul did not have access to the fantasy world of the internet, there was the very real world of real women, posing as religious priestess/prostitutes in a society where every man did what was right in his own eyes (cp Jdg 21:25-note). If we think morals are "loose" today (and they are, and are growing "looser"!), the morals of the Corinthian society were so depraved that they birthed a new verb "corinthianize" meaning to practice sexual immorality or engage in sexually promiscuous behavior! Such was the norm in Paul's day.

And so Paul was tempted just as men today are tempted. And so the command remains in effect - Flee, which the English dictionaries say means to run away from danger or evil, scurrying to a place of security! (cp Pr 18:10-note) So believers today (primarily this addresses men, but women are not immune!) are charged to run away from email pornography spamming their computer, etc, etc. We are called to shun the evil and pursue that which is holy (1Pe 2:11-note), for we are being prepared for another world, a holy world, a forever world. And so we must acknowledge the weakness of our fallen flesh to even be able to flee (cp similar principle in Zech 4:6). Yes as believers we are commanded to continually work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12-note), by fleeing, running, shunning, etc, from the strong temptations to gratify our God given desires. But beloved, praise God, we are not left to our own flesh driven mental ingenuity, but can (and must) trust God's Spirit to give us the desire and the power to run (Php 2:13-note, cp Ezekiel 36:27, Ro 8:13-note, Gal 5:16-note, Gal 5:17-note). The more I study these Scriptures, the more mysterious becomes the unarguable juxtaposition of man's (my) responsibility and God's sovereignty (His provision of everything necessary for life and godliness 2Pe 1:3-note). So let us continually surrender to the wooing of the Spirit, that we might be protected and enabled to fend off and run from the seductive wooing of the flesh. For the glory of His Name and the holiness of His Church, the Bride of Christ, who is to be making her wedding dress spotless by her righteous (God energized) deeds (cp Rev 19:7, 8-note; see Good Deeds).

Now flee does not mean stay put and rationalize such a foolish course of action by saying "Steel is tempered by heat and thereby becomes stronger. I'll stand fast and become stronger by resisting the fiery temptation". Wrong! That is not Biblical and is a "surefire" guarantee for moral failure, dear believer! Yes, you are correct, God tells us to "Resist the tempter" (Jas 4:7-note) but not the "temptation" to sexual sin. Instead "flee from the temptress" (cp Pr 5:8-note, Pr 6:25-note; Pr 7:25-note). We are called not to a moderate degree of resistance to immorality, but to radical separation from it. The command says to "flee" not "flirt" with fornication!

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien*,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

*Mien = air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality)

Flee (escape) (5343) (pheugo) means to flee away in the sense of to take to flight in order to seek safety. To flee in the sense of to escape something, being made safe from danger by eluding or avoiding it (He 11:34-note, Mt 3:7, Acts 27:30). To flee in the sense of to avoid, shun (Webster says "shun" = to avoid deliberately and especially habitually), have nothing to do with (1Co 6:18). To vanish or disappear (Re 16:20-note, Re 20:11-note). Pheugo is the root of our English word "fugitive" defined as one who escapes from something or someone.


Dear Christian reader (especially the men), are you being tempted to look at internet pornography? Let's be honest, it's pervasive, persuasive and pernicious! If any of us think we stand, we don't stand a chance! (cp 1Co 10:12) Sin is powerful and the old flesh is like smoldering coals just waiting for gasoline to be poured upon them to set them into full blaze! Men, when you barbeque, you don't put your hand in the flame to see how hot it is do you? Of course not, for you're smart enough to know you'll be burned, and can incur an injury that is incredibly painful as the fire burns down to the level of the cutaneous nerve endings (second degree burn). Now if you leave your hand in the fire too long, you actually burn even the nerve endings and lose all sense of pain (third degree burn), in one sense good in that it doesn't hurt anymore, but obviously indicative of a deeper, more serious and potentially even life threatening injury (because of propensity to infection, fluid loss, etc). Do you see where I am going (you can tell I'm a physician can't you)? Internet pornography is the "gasoline" and our old flesh nature is the "smoldering coal" in our physical body, just waiting to be "stoked" by even a few sensual images! (cp Job 31:1) And your heart (spiritually speaking) not your skin, is the target organ at great risk of damage! (cp Pr 4:23-note) With "second degree" exposure to the fuel of internet pornography, there is damage which includes considerable "pain" (I don't have to explain this I'm sure). But if you keep pouring fuel on the fire, eventually the "nerve endings" of your heart will be seared and you won't even "feel the pain" (or at least you are so deceived, you don't think your heart is being hurt! cp "deceitfulness of sin" He 3:13-note, Ro 7:11-note, Ep 4:22-note) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin). This last state is worse than the first and it could even cost you your life, not to mention your marriage, your family, your reputation, etc! Paul, like a fire inspector, is saying to all Christian men "Don't try to test the flames to see if they are hot enough to burn you. Instead, flee the flame, lest you get severely burned, beloved!" (Related Resource: Act Like a Man on the Internet)

Robertson and Plummer put it this way...

'Do not stop to dispute about it; make a practice [present imperative] of flying at once.' So also of idolatry, which was so closely allied with impurity, (1Co 10:14). The asyndeton (omission of the conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words or clauses as in “I came, I saw, I conquered”) marks the urgency. cf. 1Th 4:3-note. (A critical and exegetical commentary - page 127)

Ray Pritchard...

In sexual temptation, the “way of escape” may only last a moment. The sad story of Samson reminds us of what happens a man keeps making the wrong choices. It’s too late to decide to do right when you wake up with your head in Delilah’s lap. At that point his doom was sealed. The same thing happens to any of us when we let our emotions drive our decisions. But for a moment, before you put the pedal to the metal and go wild, the way of escape is always there. That’s why the Bible tells us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1Corinthians 6:18) and “flee the evil desires of youth” (2Timothy 2:22). (From Temptation to Triumph by Dr. Ray Pritchard - November 1996)

NIDNTT has the following excerpt on the use of pheugo in classic Greek...

(cf. Lat. fugere). From the time of Homer, its most common meaning is “flee”, “take flight”, whether absolutely, or from someone or something (Homer, Plato, Herodotus, etc.). The present and imperfect tenses often express only the purpose or endeavor to get away. Hence the compounds apopheugo, katapheugo, ekpheugo, or propheugo may be added to the participle pheugon in a sentence to denote the escape itself. The accusative (and occasionally the genitive) with pheugo specifies that which is being “shunned”, “escaped from”, or “avoided”-whether death and war (Homer), evil (Demosthenes), or the consequences of murder (Euripides). Metaphorically reins may “escape from” the hands of the charioteer. Because a person may flee his country, the articular participle refers to “the exile(s)” (Homer, Xenophon, Thucydides); and since such people may well have been banished, by a natural extension the active verb itself takes on the quasi-passive force of “be banished”, “be expelled” (Herodotus, Xenophon, Dinarchus). Similarly phuge comes to mean “exile”, “banishment”. In Attic Greek, both pheugo and apopheugo occur as law-terms. The pheugon is the defendant, as opposed to the diokon, the prosecutor; and pheugein graphen (or diken) means “to be put on trial”, while an added genitive (e.g. phonou, murder) specifies the charge. To escape the prosecutors therefore means “to be acquitted”.  (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan

Guzik adds that...

Paul doesn’t tell us to be brave and resist the lustful passion of sexual immorality, but to flee from its very presence. Many have fallen because they underestimated the power of lustful passion, or thought they would “test” themselves and see how much they could “take.” Instead, we should follow the example of Joseph, who fled from sexual immorality - even when it cost him something to do so (Genesis 39:7-21). “Some sins, or solicitations to sin, may be reasoned with; in the above cases, if you parley you are undone; reason not, but fly!” (Clarke)

Paul does not say that Christians should flee sex, only sexual immorality. God gave sex as a precious gift to mankind, and uses it powerfully to bond husband and wife together in a true one-flesh relationship. So as Hebrews 13:4 says, the marriage bed is undefiled - the sexual relationship between husband and wife is pure, holy, and good before God. But sexual immorality works against God’s good purpose for sex, working against a true, godly one-flesh relationship. Sex outside of marriage can be exciting, but it can’t be enriching.

We are reminded Paul uses the Greek word porneia, which refers to a broad range of sexual sin. To flee sexual immorality means more than just to not have sexual intercourse with someone we are not married to. It means to flee sexual gratification short of, or apart from, intercourse with someone we are not married to. It means to flee sexual gratification or thrills one might find from pornographic videos, movies, magazines, books, or Internet materials.


Run from sin. Run from temptation. Don’t stay and savor it. When Joseph was cornered by Potiphar’s wife, she grabbed him and begged him to sleep with her. He left his coat in her hand and ran. We would be wise to do the same.

Before Christ
We chased after sin.
Now after Christ
Sin chases after us!


Only by a swift flight can we shun the savagery of such a rabid mistress and escape from such vile servitude. (Bray, G. L. 1-2 Corinthians. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 7. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press)

Paul’s instruction about sexual relations within marriage alludes to his concern over the danger of porneia in the marriage writing that...

because of immoralities (porneia), each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.  (1Co 7:2) (Sex in marriage is God's "safety net" to keep us from falling into the sexual sin that entangles and corrupts this fallen world.)

Stop depriving (present imperative + negative = stop something that you are already doing) one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt (peirazo [word study] - Satan always tests us to cause harm. When God tests us that is never His goal. - Jas 1:13-note)  you because of your lack of self-control (cp need for dependence on the Holy Spirit Gal 5:23-note). (1Co 7:5)

Paul used pheugo three other times all in the form of a present imperative command (make this your habitual practice - implies also that these things are always "dangerous" to our spiritual life) for believers to...

(1) Flee from idolatry - Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Co 10:14) (An idol is anything/anyone that takes the place of God your heart).

(2) Flee from love of money - But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1Ti 6:11)

(3) Flee from youthful lusts - Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2Ti 2:22)

Immorality (4202) (porneia [word study] from porneuo = to commit fornication, to play the harlot <> from pornos = a male prostitute) originally referred to any excessive behavior or lack of restraint, but eventually became associated with sexual excess and indulgence, of every kind of extramarital, unlawful, or unnatural sexual intercourse. Our English word pornography is derived from porneia + graph = a writing and thus pornography (or colloquially "porn") is thus a writing (or picture) about sexual sin. Christianity brought chastity into the world of pagan idolatry where sexual immorality was not only condoned, but regarded as normal. Sadly, twentieth-century America has reverted back to the “normality of sexual immorality” and the revival fire of the Christian faith is desperately needed.

Porneia includes including (but not limited to) adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and prostitution. As an aside, porneia refers primarily to sins of the flesh, but those sins can never be divorced from the sins of the mind or heart, because all sin is related. Sin in one area always makes us more susceptible to sin in other areas.

In Paul's day, prostitution and fornication were considered permissible activities. A married man in Greece cold engage in extramarital sexual intercourse as much as he wished, but this practice was forbidden for the wife! Athenaeus, a writer in the second century AD, quotes from a speech of Demosthenes,

We keep mistresses for pleasure, concubines for daily concubinage, but wives we have in order to produce children legitimately and to have a trustworthy guardian of our domestic property.

Kenneth Wuest records that

The moral life of the Greco-Roman world had sunk so low that, while protests against the prevailing corruption were never entirely wanting, fornication had long come to be regarded as a matter of moral indifference, and was indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the mass, but by philosophers and men of distinction who in other respects led exemplary lives. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)

In Acts the early church condemned all sexual experimentation outside of marriage James declaring that the Gentiles who were turning to God from idols be instructed

that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication (porneia - in this context the reference is to sexual sins in general but orgies that were associated with the worship of the pagan idols) and from what is strangled and from blood. (Acts 15:20)

In Paul’s day Corinth was like much of our culture today, for people were strongly intent on having their own ways, doing what was right in their own eyes, and this aberrant behavior was especially manifest in fulfilling their physical lust. Corinth  was so conspicuous for its immorality that to “corinthianize” was the term for reckless debauchery. And so sexual permissiveness was rampant and then, as now the church was not unaffected. Sensuality in the guise of religion was rife. And so Paul writing to the Corinthian church declared...

It is actually reported that there is immorality (porneia) among you, and immorality (porneia) of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has (present tense = an ongoing, habitual activity) his father's wife.  (1Cor 5:1 read the entire chapter [1Cor 5:1-13] which is devoted to immorality in the church and specifically is directed not so much to those committing immorality but to the church who stood by doing nothing about it and in fact arrogantly refusing to do anything about it!)

In 1Corinthians 5 Paul addresses a form of incest, because a man was living with his father’s wife, specifically his stepmother. Sexual relations between a man and his stepmother are in the same category as relations between him and his natural mother and anyone guilty of those or other sexual “abominations” was to be cut off from his people (Lev 18:7, 8,29), a reference to capital punishment. From Cicero we know that such incest was even strictly forbidden among the perverted pagan culture by Roman law!

An excellent illustration of fleeing immorality is found in the account of Joseph when he was tempted to sin by Potiphar’s wife Joseph addressing her advances declared

There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God? (Joseph feared Jehovah and so turned away from evil, cf Job 1:1 Why is there such a problem with porneia even in Christian circles? There is minimal to know healthy fear of God. See 2Cor 7:1) 10 And it came about as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not listen to her to lie beside her, or be with her.11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside.12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.) (Genesis 39:9, 10, 11, 12)

It is like the pastor who cautioned his handsome new assistant about the dangers of immorality in the ministry. The assistant said that he always did his socializing in a group setting and concluded that “there is safety in numbers.” The wise pastor replied, “Yes, that is so, but there is more safety in Exodus!” While there may be safety in numbers, sometimes there is more safety in flight!

How serious is immorality? Paul's rhetorical question indicates the consequences can be eternally serious asking...

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; (present imperative + a negative = Stop being led astray by "politically correct", seemingly plausible reasoning that covers up these sins with such rationalizations like "Everyone's doing it" or "What we do behind closed doors is no one else's business" [Wrong! cp Ge 16:13, Pr 5:21-note, Pr 15:3, Heb 4:13-note Job 34:21 = there is no such thing as a "secret sin" with the all seeing God Je 16:17, 23:24 - Note the contrast =  2Chr 16:9, 8, 10], implying that some already were deceiving themselves with the following false, deadly "doctrine" of demons) neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor  6:9, 10)

William MacDonald commenting on the preceding passage in first Corinthians explaining that Paul...

does not mean to imply that Christians can practice such sins and be lost (cp eternal security in Jn 10:27, 28, 29), but rather he is saying that people who practice (present tense = habitually, as their lifestyle) such sins are not Christians. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

Comment: God is not saying anyone who has ever committed any of these sins is doomed and destined for eternal separation from Him, but He is saying that the one who practices these acts as their lifestyle should not be surprised at where they "wake up" after they've taken their last breath on this earth! Cp 1John 3:7, 8, 9, 10, where every the present tense is used repeatedly - e.g., "practices sin" means to continually, without ever experiencing any "change of direction". "Cannot sin" does not say a believer never sins but that he or she does not habitually practice sin as their lifestyle. If we are truly new creatures in Christ, we won't experience perfection in this life, but we certainly should (and must) experience a change of "direction" in our lives! Otherwise we need to seriously study 2Cor 13:5, God's words of mercy, not judgment, so that we don't have to experience His wrath! God's desire is 2Pe 3:9-note) Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators (see Born to Reproduce), put it this way "You are going to be what you are now becoming." What are you "becoming" dear reader?

Writing to another predominantly Gentile church immersed in a culture of blatant pagan idolatry and gross immorality (these two sins are closely linked in Scripture - see Idolatry and Immorality - the relationship and the antidote) Paul writes...

For this is the will of God, your sanctification (hagiasmos [word study] - that you should be consecrated - separated and set apart for pure and holy living); that is, that you abstain (present tense = literally continually or as the habit of your life hold oneself away) from sexual immorality (1Th 4:3-note) (Stewart rightly writes that "Holy has the same root as wholly, it means complete. A man is not complete in spiritual stature if all his mind, heart, soul, and strength are not given to God.")

The will of God,
nothing more,
nothing less,
nothing else.

As Billy Graham has observed...

Satan fails to speak of the remorse, the futility, the loneliness, and the spiritual devastation which go hand in hand with immorality.

Thus Paul warned the Ephesian saints to

not let immorality (porneia) or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints (Ep 5:3-note).

Jesus explained porneia declaring that

the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications (porneia), thefts, false witness, slanders. (Mt 15:18, 19)

Jesus' point is that the basis of all sin is the inner thought, not the outward act. Porneia begins in the heart. When a person is defiled on the inside, what he does on the outside is also defiled. And so beloved,

Watch (In Lxx this verb is in the present imperative = calling for continual watchfulness, cp Ge 4:6, 7 - picture sin like a hunger lion crouching at the door of your heart!) over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23-noe)

John records that in the last years just prior to our Lord's return indescribable sexual perversions will be running rampant. He writes that those who dwell upon the earth

did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. (Rev 9:21-note)

Porneia is an all-encompassing sensual or sexual immorality, a perfect description of modern day America. Let's be honest. Most men (even Christian men!) have problems with this area that they would not even dare tell anyone! When you realize that you are complete in Christ and can now say "no" to this sin, from that point on you are responsible what kind of mess you get yourself into. And remember the best way, the Biblical way, of saying "No" to sin is by first saying "Yes" to Jesus! "Victory" in the spiritual life is not so much me overcoming the problem but it is me being overcome by Christ so that now Christ in me enables me to overcome the strong temptation to sin. You don't have to live the way you once did when you were dead in your trespasses and sin. Your body is now dead to sin (the power of sin) and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Immorality is evidence of turning your back on God as Romans 1 teaches (Ro 1:25-
note, Ro 1:27-note, Ro 1:28-note). God will judge illicit sexual sin (Heb 13:4-note) whether in a believer or an unbeliever, Peter adding that judgment begins at the household of God (1Pe 4:17-note) because believers are even more accountable in view of the fact that they have the power (Ro 6:11-note, Ro 8:13-note, Gal 5:24-note) to flee youthful lusts (2Ti 2:22-note) and to abstain from fleshly lusts (1Pe 2:11-note). When believers sin, it is against a "flood of light"! As Paul explained to believers who thought that now that they were "covered" by grace and could sin with impunity since grace abounded where sin increased (Ro 5:20-note), he countered their deceptive, defective rationalization with the strongest of Greek negative exclamations...

May it never be! How shall we who died (dead men are positionally uninfluenced and unaffected pleasures of this life-Col 1:27-note, Col 2:10-note, Col 3:4-note) to (the) Sin (for new creatures in Christ [2Co 5:17] the power of sin inherited from Adam is broken along with the previous powerlessness to say "no" to it's reign and demands to be gratified) still live in it?" (Ro 6:2-note)

When we believed in Christ, we need to remember that Jesus became not only our Saviour but also our Master, the Owner of our bodies and He has the right to command us (through Paul)...

Therefore (based on the Supremacy of Christ in Colossians 1-2, and in the immediate context, the truth that He is our life = Col 3:4- note) consider (aorist imperative = Do this now! Make a decisive choice! Don't delay!) the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Colossians 3:5-note)

Note the order of sins in this "vice list" in Colossians 3:5 (note) - immorality is #1... flesh (even in believers) has not changed much since Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae. Immorality heads the list of the deeds of the flesh (Gal 5:19) and is not proper behavior for the saints (Ep 5:3-note). The Jerusalem Council recognized the ever present, seductive danger of immorality and thus ordered Gentile believers to avoid immorality and idolatry (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25 -  see Idolatry and Immorality - the relationship and the antidote).

Vine comments on Colossians 3:5 noting that Paul

puts at the beginning of the list the sins which set at defiance the primal laws of God which govern the continuation of the human race and are essential to its well-being, physical and moral...The first in this list is a specific sin; from this there is a transition to the moral general. (Vine, W. Collected Writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

William Barclay has an interesting historical note to put Paul's teaching in the proper cultural context writing that

Chastity was the one completely new virtue which Christianity brought into the world. In the ancient world sexual relationships before marriage and outside marriage were the normal and accepted practice. The sexual appetite was regarded as a thing to be gratified, not to be controlled. That is an attitude which is not unfamiliar today, although often it is supported by specious arguments. The Christian ethic insists on chastity, regarding the physical relationship between the sexes as something so precious that indiscriminate use of it in the end spoils it." (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Paul has another "vice" list (notice again what heads up the list) in Galatians writing that

the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality (porneia), impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice (present tense = continually, as their lifestyle; yes, believers can still commit these sins but they grieve when they do and the sins are not their continual practice. Paul is not speaking of perfection but of the general "direction" of our lives. If our life has never demonstrated a "change of direction" then we would be wise to ponder 2Cor 13:5 regarding which Criswell says "This verse is not intended to rob believers of the assurance and security of their salvation. It is, however, intended as a warning to those who would follow false teaching and adopt a life-style that is inconsistent with the message of reconciliation [cf. 2Cor 12:20, 21]. To persist in either activity is a cause for serious introspection and a testing to see whether or not one is truly "in the faith.") such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19, 20, 21-notes).

John records a similar warning writing

for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons (related noun pornos) and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.  (Re 21:8-note)


Brethren and sisters, it is no slight thing to be holy. A man must not say, “I have faith,” and then fall into the sins of an unbeliever; for, after all, our outer life is the test of our inner life; and if the outer life be not purified, rest assured the heart is not changed. That faith which does not bring forth the fruit of holiness is the faith of devils. The devils believe and tremble. Let us never be content with a faith which can live in hell, but rise to that which will save us — the faith of God’s elect, which purifies the soul, casting down the power of evil, and setting up the throne of Jesus Christ, the throne of holiness within the spirit. (Sermon - 1Corinthians 6:19-20 Bought with a Price)

John MacArthur...

You have no business indulging (thoughts of sexual sins). Put them away at once. You yourself must do this; it cannot be done for you. There is no point waiting for some heavenly power to erase this sin automatically from your life. You are to stop it, and stop it immediately (Ed: Think "Flee"!). Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

I do not know of a single scripture—and I speak advisedly—which tells me to take my sin, the particular thing that gets me down, to God in prayer and ask him to deliver me from it and then trust in faith that he will.

Now that teaching is also often put like this: you must say to a man who is constantly defeated by a particular sin, “I think your only hope is to take it to Christ and Christ will take it from you.” But what does Scripture say in Ephesians 4:28 to the man who finds himself constantly guilty of stealing, to a man who sees something he likes and takes it? What am I to tell such a man? Am I to say, “Take that sin to Christ and ask him to deliver you?” No, what the apostle Paul tells him is this: “Let him that stole, steal no more.” Just that. Stop doing it. And if it is fornication or adultery or lustful thoughts, again: Stop doing it, says Paul. He does not say, “Go and pray to Christ to deliver you.” No. You stop doing that, he says, as becomes children of God.

Here is perhaps the most straightforward, obvious means of mortifying our sin: stop doing it. Too many people think they must wait for an extraordinary experience, a miracle from heaven, a sign from the Lord, or whatever. They think some special divine intervention is necessary to free them from a sinful practice or pattern of thinking. No, that is precisely the error Romans 6 refutes. You are free from sin; now stop doing it. You are dead to sin; now put to death the sin that remains. How? “Abstain.” Reckon yourself dead to sin, and don’t do it anymore. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7-note). It is as simple as that. (MacArthur, J., F., Jr. The Vanishing Conscience or see his excellent paper Mortification of Sin)

EVERY OTHER SIN THAT A MAN COMMITS IS OUTSIDE THE BODY: pan hamartema o ean poiese (3SAAS) anthropos ektos tou somatos estin, (3SPAI):

Will take you farther than you ever thought you’d stray
Will leave you so lost, you think you’ll never find your way
Will keep you longer than you ever thought you’d stay
Will cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay!

Playing with any sin in your life, especially sexual sin, even if it seems relatively innocent, is like staying on the sand bar when the tide is coming in. You know the tide always comes in, and you think you’ll know before its too late. But it creeps up on you, and before you know it, you’re trapped.

Every other sin...outside the body - This introduces a clause that is somewhat enigmatic and difficult to interpret so that needless to say there are a number of thoughts on what Paul intends to convey.

John MacArthur feels that ...

although sexual sin is not necessarily the worst sin, it is the most unique in its character. It rises from within the body bent on personal gratification. It drives like no other impulse and when fulfilled affects the body like no other sin. It has a way of internally destroying a person that no other sin has. Because sexual intimacy is the deepest uniting of two persons, its misuse corrupts on the deepest human level. That is not a psychological analysis but a divinely revealed fact. Sexual immorality is far more destructive than alcohol, far more destructive than drugs, far more destructive than crime....I explain it in this way, that Paul does not altogether deny that there are other vices, in like manner, by which our body is dishonored and disgraced, but that his meaning is simply this — that defilement does not attach itself to our body from other vices in the same way  as it does from fornication. My hand, it is true, is defiled by theft or murder, my tongue by evil speaking, or perjury,  and the whole body by drunkenness; but fornication leaves a stain impressed upon the body, such as is not impressed upon it from other sins. According to this comparison, or, in other words, in the sense of less and more, other sins are said to be without the body — not, however, as though they do not at all affect the body, viewing each one by itself. (MacArthur, J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)


Having set before us honorable conduct, he now shows how much we ought to abhor fornication, setting before us the enormity of its wickedness and baseness. Now he shows its greatness by comparison — that this sin alone, of all sins, puts a brand of disgrace upon the body. (Commentary on Corinthians Online)


Commentators differ greatly as to the explanation of outside the body, which is the specially difficult expression. But the general meaning of 1Co 6:13-18 is plain. The body has an eternal destiny, the body is for the Lord. Fornication takes the body away from the Lord and robs it of its glorious future, of which the presence of the Spirit is the present guarantee (cf. Ro. 8:9, 10, 11). In 1Co 6:18 we have the sharply cut practical issue, ‘Flee fornication.’ Clearly the words that follow are meant to strengthen the severitas cum fastidio of the abrupt imperative: they are not an anti-climax...To sin against one’s own body is to defraud it of its part in Christ, to cut it off from its eternal destiny. This is what fornication does in a unique degree. While fornication is eis to idou somatos, other sins are ektos tou somatos. The one phrase is the opposite of the other. What St Paul asserts of fornication he denies of every other sin. (Robertson, A., & Plummer, A.. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. 1911 - Read more Online).

Evangelical Commentary...

All other sins are outside of the body in that they do not involve the entire personality (1Co 6:18).


Most sins have no direct effect on one’s body, but sexual immorality is unique in the sense that it does directly affect one’s body: a person reaps the consequences of this sin in his own body. The difficulty is that the verse says that every sin that a man commits is outside the body. But we believe that the apostle is speaking here in a comparative sense. While it is true that gluttony and drunkenness, for example, affect a person’s body, most sins do not. And not even gluttony or drunkenness affect the body as directly, as extensively, or as destructively as immorality. Sex outside marriage inevitably and irresistibly works havoc on the offender. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

The Pulpit Commentary...

By alienating it from the service of him to whom it belongs; by incorporating it with the degradation of another; by staining the flesh and the body (Pr 5:8, 9, 10, 11; 6:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32; 7:24, 25, 26, 27); by subtly poisoning the inmost sanctities of his own being. St. Paul is here thinking mainly, however, if not exclusively, of the moral injury and defilement. (The Pulpit Commentary: New Testament; Old Testament; Ages Software  or Logos)

UBS Handbook...

Any other sin which a man commits remains in a certain sense external to him; but the man who gives himself to immorality fundamentally destroys himself. (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series or Logos)


"Sexual immorality" has a peculiar effect upon the body. The sole purpose of this sin is the gratification of lust; and, therefore, it is probably the most selfish of all sins (cf. Matt. 5:32-note). The internal spiritual sensitivities are wrecked by this sin. (Criswell, W A. Believer's Study Bible: New King James Version. 1991. Thomas Nelson)


Sexual sins bear a vicious character all their own. They are peculiarly unsavory and hence entail shame and disgrace in a peculiar manner. They rot the body, fill the mind with rottenness, and rapidly eliminate the sinner from this life.... No sinful act desecrates the body like fornication and sexual abuse. In this sense fornication has a deadly eminence. A sanctuary is desecrated by befouling it within; so this sin desecrates the sanctuary of the body. All other sins besmirch the sanctuary on the outside only. (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second epistle to the Corinthians. Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House)

R L Pratt...

The meaning of these words is difficult to determine. Many sins, such as substance abuse, gluttony, and suicide, have detrimental effects on the body. Paul’s words do not refer to disease and/or other damage caused by sin. Instead, his words are linked to the preceding discussion of 1Co 6:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. There Paul established that Christians’ bodies are joined with Christ so that they become “members of Christ” (1Co 6:15) himself. Sexual union with a prostitute violates one’s body by bringing it into a wrongful “one flesh” union, and by flaunting the mystical union with Christ (1Co 6:15). It is in this sense that sexual immorality is a unique sin against the body. It violates the most significant fact about believers’ physical existence: their bodies belong to Christ...Believers’ bodies are sanctified and holy, being in union with Christ. When a person in Christ engages in sexual immorality, that immorality runs contrary to the new nature and new identity of his body. (Pratt, R. L., Jr.. Vol. 7: I & II Corinthians. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference. Page 101. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. 2000).


Every other sin; even gluttony, drunkenness, and self-murder are “without,” that is, comparatively external to the body (Mk 7:18; compare Pr 6:30, 31, 32). He certainly injures, but he does not alienate the body itself; the sin is not terminated in the body; he rather sins against the perishing accidents of the body (as the “belly,” and the body’s present temporary organization), and against the soul than against the body in its permanent essence, designed “for the Lord.” “But” the fornicator alienates that body which is the Lord’s, and makes it one with a harlot’s body, and so “sinneth against his own body,” that is, against the verity and nature of his body; not a mere effect on the body from without, but a contradiction of the truth of the body, wrought within itself [Alford].

Garland has a in depth analysis of the common interpretations...

(1) Sexual sin is deemed particularly destructive because it causes the greatest damage to a person. As Calvin (1960: 131–32) characterizes it, “Other sins do not leave the same filthy stain on our bodies as fornication does”

(2) A second view perceives that Paul refers to a qualitative difference between sins: “Sexual sin is different in kind, not just in degree from other sins” (Fisk 1996: 541). Bruce (1971: 65), for example, comments that other sins “consist in things which are morally neutral.” Their effects can be undone by abstinence. By contrast, “the relation once established by porneia cannot be undone”... Fee (1987: 262–63) thinks that it is the unique nature of sexual sin that the man removes his body from union with Christ by putting it under the mastery of a prostitute and ruins its redemptive status “as for the Lord” (see also Robertson and Plummer 1914: 150–51; Jewett 1971: 261).

Others stress how this sin in particular distorts personal relationships. Käsemann (1964: 133) argues that the body is the instrument of intimate bodily communication between persons: “As body, man exists in relationship to others, in subjection because of the world, in the jurisdiction of the Creator, in the hope of resurrection, in the possibility of concrete obedience and self-surrender.” Byrne (1983: 613) bases his view on this insight from Käsemann and contends "The immoral person perverts precisely that faculty within himself that is meant to be the instrument of the most intimate bodily communication between persons. He sins against his unique power of communication and in this sense sins in a particular way “against his own body.” No other sin engages one’s power of bodily personal communication in precisely so intimate a way. All other sins are in this respect by comparison “outside” the body—with “body” having in this verse the strong sexual overtones that appear to cling to it throughout the passage as a whole."

When one has sex with a prostitute, what God intended to be a means of sharing one’s life with another is dehumanized into a momentary coupling for the sole purpose of sexual release. It leaves a legacy of alienation and guilt rather than loving intimacy and mutual commitment.

(3) Fisk offers a third view, which understands sexual sin to be uniquely defiling and a sin against the body. ...The context and rhetorical tone suggest that Paul wants to draw out the distinctive character of sexual sin compared to every other sin a person could possibly commit. That these other sins are “outside the body” implies that they are not sins “against the body”, not that the body is not involved in committing them. Sexual sin, by contrast, is labeled a direct assault on the body (Fisk 1996: 546-47). Fisk (1996: 546) shows that this view reflects the Jewish wisdom tradition that “some sins, but apparently not all, were viewed as destructive acts against one’s self, one’s psyche, life, soul).” Commentators, however, have long asked how drunkenness, gluttony, suicide, and self-mutilation do not qualify also as sins against the body. But Paul is not referring to what might physically injure the body (Jewett 1971: 261). To take one example, drunkenness does not have the capacity to make a person one flesh with alcohol. This one-flesh union is true only of the sex act. Because intercourse with a prostitute is “uniquely body joining, it is uniquely body-defiling” (Fisk 1996: 558). In the context, sex with a prostitute severs the union with Christ and sabotages its resurrection destiny. (Garland, D. E.. 1Corinthians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic)

Matthew Poole...

the body hath not such a blemish and note or mark of infamy laid upon it by any other sin as by this: in drunkenness the liquor, in gluttony the meat, in other sins something without a man’s self is that which is abused, but the body itself is the thing which is abused in this filthy sin. (Matthew Poole's Commentary on the New Testament)

Wycliffe Bible Commentary...

The final phrases, without the body and against the body, are difficult. Perhaps the meaning is that other sins, such as drunkenness, have effects on the body, but fornication is a sin wrought within the body and involves a monstrous denial of union with Christ by union with the harlot.

Marvin Vincent...

The body is not the instrument, but the subject. But in fornication the body is the instrument of the sin, and “inwardly as well as outwardly is made over to another.”


Paul’s point is that sexual sin, unlike other sins, involves one’s very body in a union with others and is a sin against self as well as others. It involves the whole self and thus is dangerous and deadly to one’s spiritual well-being, for it puts one into the hands and mastery of someone other than the Lord. (Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Page 169. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans)

Jon Courson has an interesting interpretation (but be a Berean, Acts 17:11-note,  1Th 5:21, 22-note)...

Because we are made in the image of a triune God, we are comprised of three parts as well: body, soul, and spirit. The body relates to the physical world. The soul is one’s essence, one’s personality, and relates to people. The spirit relates to God and will live eternally. Thus, each time one engages in immoral activity, a part of his soul is permanently and irreplaceably forfeited. The tragedy, then, is that the one who continues to live in promiscuity becomes less and less of a person as a piece of his soul is stripped away with each encounter. (Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Page 1038. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson)

Sexual sin not only is against God and other persons, it is also against ourselves. Part of our moral responsibility to ourselves is to be sexually pure. When Christians are immoral, the testimony of the gospel is polluted, as we all know too well from the national exposure of the sexual infidelity of many well known pastors.

The NET Bible note is interesting...

It is debated whether this ("Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”) is a Corinthian slogan. If it is not, then Paul is essentially arguing that there are two types of sin, nonsexual sins which take place outside the body and sexual sins which are against a person’s very own body. If it is a Corinthian slogan, then it is a slogan used by the Corinthians to justify their immoral behavior. With it they are claiming that anything done in the body or through the body had no moral relevance. A decision here is very difficult, but the latter is to be preferred for two main reasons. (1) This is the most natural understanding of the statement as it is written. To construe it as a statement by Paul requires a substantial clarification in the sense (e.g., “All other sins…” [NIV]). (2) Theologically the former is more difficult: Why would Paul single out sexual sins as more intrinsically related to the body than other sins, such as gluttony or drunkenness? For these reasons, it is more likely that the phrase in quotation marks is indeed a Corinthian slogan which Paul turns against them in the course of his argument, although the decision must be regarded as tentative.

Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine

Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.

Harry Ironside...

Other sins do not affect the body, but this one sin is ruinous to body and soul alike, and so, Paul says, "Flee fornication," run from anything that would tend to stir the body to unholy lust. (Ed: You may want to read that again.

In his "Confessions" St. Augustine tells how in his unconverted days he had allowed himself to become the willing victim of vile and fleshly lusts. He lived his careless life as the pagans of that day, and associated with the corrupt and wicked members of society. When he got converted, the great question upon his mind was this, "Will I ever be able to live according to the Christian standard of holiness, will I ever be able to keep myself from the vile, sensuous life in which I have lived so long?" When he first yielded himself to Christ, he took as his life-text Ro 13:13, 14 (note), where the apostle exhorts the believer to

"Put on (aorist imperative = Command to make a decisive choice to do this!) the Lord Jesus Christ  and make (present imperative + negative = Stop doing this!) no provision (pronoia - word study) for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

For long after his conversion he did not dare even to go near that part of the city where his godless companions of former days lived. But one day a matter of business called him there, and as he was walking along the street he suddenly saw one of the beautiful yet wicked companions of his folly. The moment her eyes lit upon him her face was illuminated with delight, and she came running with outstretched arms and said, "Austin! where have you been for so long? We have missed you so," and he turned and gathered up his long philosopher's gown and started to run. It was not a very dignified proceeding for a doctor, a professor of rhetoric, to run up the street with a godless girl running after him. She called to him, "Austin, Austin, why do you run? It is only I!" He looked back and exclaimed,

"I run because it is not I."

And he was off again. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20-note). That is our standard, and so in all our behavior in the use of the body we are thus to glorify Him. (H A Ironside Expository Commentary)

Susannah Wesley defined “sin” to her young son, John Wesley

If you would judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of pleasure, then take this simple rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, and takes off the relish of spiritual things—that to you is sin.

Sin (265) (hamartema = the suffix "-ma" speaks of the result, in this case the result of hamartia [word study] or sin) describes the thought, word or deed by someone which violates the will of God. Hamartema is sin as the act or result of the principle of sin. A wrong doing. BDAG states that hamartema has meanings ranging from involuntary mistake to serious moral default.

Trench writes that hamartema...

differs from hamartia in that it “is never sin regarded as sinfulness, or as the act of sinning, but only sin contemplated in its separate outcomings and deeds of disobedience to a divine law.”

Friberg states that hamartema is

strictly error, fault; as an offense against law, incurring guilt because of its wrong intent - sin, sinful act, wrongdoing." (Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker Academic)

NIDNTT says that in classic Greek..

hamartano (Homer onwards) originally meant to miss, miss the mark, lose, not share in something, be mistaken. The Gk. view of a mistake is intellectually orientated. hamartano is the result of some agnoia, ignorance. The cognate noun is hamartia (Aeschylus onwards), mistake, failure to reach a goal (chiefly a spiritual one). The result of such action is hamartema, failure, mistake, offense, committed against friends, against one’s own body, etc. From these was derived (in the 5th cent. B.C.) the adj. and noun hamartolos, that thing or person that fails; in Aristophanes it occurs as a barbarism used with a deprecatory and ironic ring. hamartetikos (the better form) is also uncommon and late. The root hamart-, with its meaning of fail, produced many popular compounds, e.g. hamartinoos, madman. In the Gk.-speaking world the noun hamartema prevailed over the vb. hamartano.

In the Gk.-speaking world the noun hamartema prevailed over the verb hamartano. Aristotle placed it between adikema, injustice, and atychema, misfortune, as an offense against the prevailing order, but one without an evil intention, i.e. without kakia, evil, wickedness (Eth. Nic. 5, 8, 1135b 18). Thus it was also used in legal language of deliberate offenses. hamartia becomes a collective term with a relatively indefinite sense: offending against right feeling. It can mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that offends against the orthon, the right, that does not conform to the dominant ethic, to the respect due to social order and to the polis. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan

Hamartema - 4x in 4v - Mark 3:28, 29; Ro 3:25-note; 1Cor 6:18

Mark 3:28  "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin "--


NET Bible Note: This passage has troubled many people, who have wondered whether or not they have committed this eternal sin. Three things must be kept in mind:


(1) the nature of the sin is to ascribe what is the obvious work of the Holy Spirit (e.g., releasing people from Satan's power) to Satan himself;


(2) it is not simply a momentary doubt or sinful attitude, but is indeed a settled condition which opposes the Spirit's work, as typified by the religious leaders who opposed Jesus; and


(3) a person who is concerned about it has probably never committed this sin, for those who commit it here (i.e., the religious leaders) are not in the least concerned about Jesus' warning. On this last point see W. W. Wessel, "Mark," EBC 8:645–46.  (Mark 3 NET Bible Note) (Bolding Added)

Romans 3:25-
note Whom (Christ) God displayed publicly as a propitiation (hilasterion) in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance (anoche) of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Commits (4160) (poieo) conveys the basic meaning of to produce something material (to make). The idea is to to undertake or do something that brings about an event, state, or condition. In this context the idea clearly is to undertake to fulfill my will, not God's perfect will.

Outside (1622) (ektos) means out of instead of within. It is the outside surface of something as in Mt 23:36. The sense of ektos in this verse is independent of. BDAG writes that ektos in this verse refers to the fact that "sin in general, apart from fornication remains outside the body, since sexual immorality pollutes the body itself."

Body (4983) (soma) refers to  the organized physical substance of an animal or plant either living or dead. The frame of an animal; the material substance of an animal.

Garland comments that body...

refers not to the human self, personhood, or individuality but to “the corporeality of human life,” its physical aspect. The body is “the locus where we experience life, death, sickness and sexuality—in short our creatureliness and our position in the realm of nature”. The body is capable of becoming an instrument of wickedness or an instrument of righteousness; a slave of impurity or a slave of righteousness (Ro 6:19); something that brings glory to God (Ro 6:20; Php 1:20) or something that brings shame. Paul does not view human beings as simply having a body; they are embodied, and by using the word soma, he “directs attention to their bodies, not to the wholeness of their being. The soma is simply that part of man in and through which he performs concrete actions. It becomes the base of operations for sin in the unbeliever, for the Holy Spirit in the believer” (Gundry 1976: 50). (Ibid)


ILLUSTRATION OF THE SUBTLE CORRUPTING EFFECT OF SIN -- What happened to the great city of Ephesus? Often mentioned in the New Testament, it was one of the cultural and commercial centers of its day. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, its broad avenues, its gymnasiums, its baths, its huge amphitheater, and especially its magnificent Temple of Diana. What happened to bring about its gradual decline until its harbor was no longer crowded with ships and the city was no longer a flourishing metropolis? Was it smitten by plagues, destroyed by enemies, or demolished by earthquakes? No, silt was the reason for its downfall—silent and non-violent silt. Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of the sea traders. Little evil practices, little acts of disobedience may seem harmless. (Song 2:15) But let the silt of sin gradually accumulate, and we will find ourselves far from God. Life will become a spiritual ruin. In the book of Hebrews we are warned of the danger of “the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13 - See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin). James said that the attractive pleasures of sin are really a mask covering death (Jas 1:15-note).God forbid that we let the silt of sin accumulate in our lives!

Our Sinful Nature Always Has the Potential to Erupt - Scores of people lost their lives. The world’s mightiest army was forced to abandon a strategic base, property damage approached a billion dollars. All because the sleeping giant, Mount Pinatube in the Philippines, roared back to life after 600 years of quiet slumber. When asked to account for the incredible destruction, caused by this volcano, a research scientist from the Philippine department of volcanology observed, “When a volcano is silent for many years, our people forget that it’s a volcano and begin to treat it like a mountain. Like Mount Pinatube, our sinful nature always has the potential to erupt, bringing great harm both to ourselves and to others. The biggest mistake we can make is to ignore the volcano and move back onto what seems like a dormant “mountain.”

Sin is like the Tiny Insect described in this illustration - It was reported recently that an enormous pine tree in the mountains of Colorado had fallen victim to a pine beetle and died. According to locals, up to that point the tree was thought to be indestructible. It had survived fourteen lightning strikes and many years of Colorado winters, including avalanches and fires. But it was eventually brought down from within by a tiny insect that did its work silently. That's the way it is with sin in a person's life, be they a Christian or a non-Christian. Watch over your heart with all diligence (See Pr 4:23-note).

BUT THE IMMORAL MAN SINS AGAINST HIS OWN BODY: (3SPAI) o de porneuon (PAPMSN) eis to idion soma hamartanei (3SPAI): (Ro 1:24; 1Th 4:5)

More literally this verse reads "he who is committing whoredom (present tense), against his own body doth sin (present tense)"

Immoral (4203) (porneuo from pornos = literally the purchasable one, the one you buy, the harlot, the prostitute) means to prostitute one's body to the lust of another, to give oneself to unlawful sexual intercourse. To commit fornication. Used as a Hebraic sense as a figure of speech to describe one who worships idols rather than the living God. Note in the uses of porneuo in the Septuagint (see below), Israel was pictured as a woman (God's wife - Jer 31:32, Isa 54:5) who was unfaithful and like a wife who became a prostitute, figuratively committed acts of immorality against God. However as worship of idols is often associated with literal immorality in Scripture, the OT uses of porneuo surely picture both literal and figurative fornication.

See Idolatry and Immorality - the relationship and the antidote.

Porneuo is in the present tense - the one who continually prostitutes himself (or herself).

Porneuo - 8x in 7v - NAS renders porneuo as act immorally(1), commit...immorality(2), committed...immorality(3), did(1), immoral(1).

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

1Corinthians 10:8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. (See below as NAS somewhat obscures the two uses of porneuo)

1Co 10:8YLT  neither may we commit whoredom, as certain of them did commit whoredom, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand;

Revelation 2:14-note 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

Revelation 2:20-note 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 17:2-note (Babylon the great! Re 17:5) with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality."

Revelation 18:3-note "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality (Babylon the great - Re 18:2), and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."

Revelation 18:9-note "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning

Porneuo - 17v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Dt 23:17; 1Chr 5:25; Ps 73:27; 106:39; Je 3:6, 7, 8; Ezek 6:9; 16:15, 34; 23:19; Hos 3:3; 4:10, 14, 18; 9:1; Amos 7:17

1Chronicles 5:25 But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot (KJV =  went a whoring. Hebrew = zanah = to fornicate or prostitute and most often used for women; Lxx = porneuo) after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them.

Psalm 73:27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You (KJV = "go a whoring". Hebrew = zanah = commit adultery; Lxx = porneuo).

NET Psalm 106:39 They were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions. (or "they committed adultery in their actions." = they were unfaithful to the LORD. Lxx = porneuo)

Jeremiah 3:6-8 Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot (Lxx = porneuo) there. 7 "I thought, 'After she has done all these things (Lxx adds "committed acts of fornication" = porneuo) she will return to Me'; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 "And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot (Lxx = porneuo) also.

Ezekiel 6:9 Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot (Lxx = porneuo) after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations.

Comment: Beloved, one who has been bought with the costly price of the infinitely priceless blood of Christ, does this passage not grieve your heart. The gracious and loving God's was hurt but their adultery. Let this be a warning and a motivation to us to continually flee immorality in every form.

Hosea 9:1 Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot (Lxx = porneuo), forsaking your God. You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.

Sins (264) (hamartano) means to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize) err, esp sin, offend, sin, trespass, to act contrary to the will and law of God. A "sinner" is one who keeps missing mark in relation to God.

Here are three "Scriptural definitions" of sin...

(1) Sin = lawlessness = rebellion of creature’s will against his Creator's will 1Jn 3:4 

(2) Sin = not only do what wrong but failure to do what you know is right Jas 4:17

(3) Sin = Whatever is not of faith Ro 14:23-note = This means that it is wrong for a man to do anything about which he has a reasonable doubt. If he does not have a clear conscience about it, and yet goes ahead and does it, he is sinning.

Wuest notes that in classical Greek hamartano did not have the depth of meaning it has in the Bible noting that...

The pagan Greeks used it of a warrior who hurls his spear and fails to strike his foe. It is used of one who misses his way. Hamartia is used of a poet who selects a subject which it is impossible to treat poetically, or who seeks to attain results which lie beyond the limits of his art. The hamartia is a fearful mistake. It sometimes is employed in an ethical sense where the ideas of right and wrong are discussed, but it does not have the full significance of the biblical content of the word. In the moral sphere, it had the idea of missing the right, of going wrong. In the classics, its predominating significance was that of the failure to attain in any field of endeavor. Brought over into the NT, this idea of failing to attain an end, gives it the idea of missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation from what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will, perversion of what is upright, a misdeed.

Thus the word hamartia means a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.

It is interesting to note that in Romans the word dikaiosune (word study) which means “conformity to the standard” appears as the opposite of hamartia, a missing of the standard set by God (Ro 6:16, 17, 18-note). The noun hamartia is everywhere translated in the NT, by the word “sin” except in 2Co 11:7, where it is rendered “offense,” since the context speaks of Paul’s relations to the Corinthians. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos) (Bolding added)

Kay Arthur says that...

Because this body is the Lord’s, then when you sin, when you commit immorality, God has got to judge that. (Reference)


There is to be no other course than immediate and decisive dissociation from everything to do with it. Every other sin such as murder, lying, robbery, drunkenness is “without the body,” but fornication stands alone, in that it not only makes the body itself, and so the whole being, the very motive for, as well as the instrument of, sin but it involves the complete destruction of the life and mars the personality of the individual, rendering the living organism, the body, which should be devoted to the service of God, impossible for the fulfillment of the Lord’s design for it. Intended to be only temporary it really forms a permanent bond, to the Lord’s dishonor, sundering union with Him and bringing dishonor, too, upon both the male and the female.

Guzik explains that...

Paul isn’t saying sexual immorality is worse than any other sin; but he does teach that sexual sin has a unique effect on the body; not only in a physical way, but also in a moral and spiritual ways. Augustine was a Christian who had a lot of trouble with keeping sexually pure. For a long time, it kept him from really following God. He used to pray: “God, make me pure - but not just yet.” But there came a point where he really turned everything over to God. He stopped hanging around with his companions in sexual immorality, and stopped going to the neighborhood where he used to meet them. But once, he had to go there on business, and on the street he met an old flame. She was glad to see him, and started running to him with arms outstretched, saying “Augustine! Where have you been for so long? We have missed you so!” Augustine did the only thing he could do: he started running the other way. She called out to him: “Augustine, why are you running? Its only me!” He looked back, while still running, and said “I’m running because I’m not me!” He was a different man because of Jesus, living a different way. If we have had our lives changed by Jesus, it will show in the desire to flee sexual immorality.

Hamilton Smith...

The apostle then passes on to speak of that which is not lawful for the body — actual sin. Here we are reminded that the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. He reminds us, too, that these bodies are destined for high honour, for even as God hath raised up the Lord, so will He also raise up these bodies by His own power. Moreover, our bodies are members of Christ, and he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. The apostle learnt something of this great truth at his conversion, for the Lord said to him, “Why persecutest thou Me?”. To touch the bodies of the saints was to touch Christ. How solemn is all sin, but how specially solemn is sin against the body which is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and belongs to God, and which it is our privilege and responsibility to use for the glory of God. To press upon us the deep importance of holiness, the apostle re-minds us in the course of the chapter that we are washed, sanctified and justified, and, further, that our bodies are for the Lord, joined to the Lord, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, belong to God, and are to be used for the glory of God; and, too, the Lord is for the body, and God will raise it up by His power. (The First Epistle to the Corinthians)


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