As a youth leader in our local church, many young people look up to me for advice. As a mentor, I must be a role model and portray Godly behavior for others to emulate. Particularly, I teach young adults about sexual immorality so they do not fall into this sin, as it is described as one of the most grievous since it involves sinning against the body, which is the temple of the holy spirit. One of the questions I have encountered when teaching young people about sexual sin is, how many times is fornication mentioned in the Bible?
The number of times the word fornication is mentioned differs in various translations. For instance, the Kings James Version (KJV) mentions the word fornication 35 times, 5 times in the Old Testament, and 30 times in the New Testament. The New King James (NKJV) mentions it 14 times, once in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament. The New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA) has mentioned the word 25 times, 21 times in the New Testament, and 4 times in the Apocrypha. The Good News Translation (GNT) and the New International Version (NIV) have avoided using the term fornication altogether.
Keep on reading to learn about the meaning of fornication, what the Bible says about the issue, some of the Bible verses talking about the vice, and much more.
What Is the Correct Meaning of Fornication in the Bible?
Fornication is a word used in the Bible to imply any unlawful sexual activities that happen out of the confines of marriage. Fornication is also used figuratively in the Bible to imply the transgressions of apostasy (total rejection of the gospel by someone who at one time professed the Christian faith) and idolatry.
To fully understand the meaning of fornication in the Bible, it is important to look at how the word is used from different angles so that unstated cultural knowledge doesn’t become a hindrance. By looking at the word from multiple angles, one gets a fairly good understanding of what it means.
1 Corinthians 5:1 utilizes the term fornication as a general term for sexual immorality as it describes a sexual immorality that was being condoned in the church of one being intimate with his father’s bride.
2 Chronicles 21:11 uses the term fornication to mean apostasy or renouncing God. The KJV explains how Jehoram build high places for idols in the mountains of Judah, causing the people of Jerusalem to commit fornication. The same verse from the NIRV uses different wording and explains that the king of Israel had made the people to worship idols, and they were no longer faithful to God. Thus, looking at the two translations, one can deduce that fornication in the KJV is used to mean that the people of Jerusalem had abandoned their God.
Additionally, 1 Corinthians 7:2 uses the word fornication to suggest adultery as it urges every male to have his own wife and every female to have her own husband to avoid fornication.
What does the Bible say about fornication?
The Bible is very clear about fornication and views it as a unique sin than other wrongdoings. It places fornication among the greatest sins against God . Paul is particularly vocal about fornication and urges Christians in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to run from it because while all other sins people commit without the body, one sins against their own body when engaging in fornication. Paul links this idea to his teachings on viewing your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 15:29, one also learns that shunning fornication was one of the requirements that God had given the Gentiles to become full-fledged Christians. The Bible instructs the Gentiles to refrain from the meat given to the idols, things that have been killed, blood, and from fornication.
Where is fornication mentioned first in the Bible?
Fornication is mentioned first in 2 Chronicles 21:11 in KJV, which has used the word the most times (35 times). In this verse, fornication means renouncing God, and the Bible explains how Jehoram made high places in Judah’s mountains and caused the people of Jerusalem to commit fornication or move away from God.
For the translations that have mentioned fornication only in the New Testament, it is first mentioned in Matthew 15:19, where it is listed among other corrupting sins, such as theft, murder, and false witness that come from the heart.
Bible Verses about Fornication
There are different verses in the Bible about fornication, with the KJV having the most accounts with 35 verses.
In John 8:41, Jesus was having a dispute over whose children his opponents were. He tells them they were doing the deeds of their father, the devil, since they were looking for ways to kill him, and they retreated, saying they were not born from fornication and only God is their father.
Romans 1:29 lists fornication as a sin among other among other sins, such as envy, unrighteousness, murder, wickedness, deceit, and covetousness, while Galatians 5:19 outlines it as work of the flesh.
Revelation 2:14-19:2 laments about how Babylon the Great had fallen and had become a hub for the devil and every impure thing. The verse explains how other nations had joined Babylon in its unfaithfulness against God and continues to warn people to escape its judgment.
What is the difference between fornication and adultery?
Fornication is used as a general term for unlawful sexual intercourse. Fornication can also mean engaging in lustful sexual relations before marriage. Adultery, on the other hand, specifically describes the act of married individuals being sexually intimate with other people who are not their spouses.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.