The correct answer to the above question is absolutely essential in order for the Christian to understand both the Physical and Spiritual implications of committing either fornication or adultery. The definition of these two terms is often confusing for two primary reasons:

  1. Recent Bible translations translate the word "Fornication" as "Sexual Immorality"
  2. In some Bible passages, the context is referring to "Doctrine" and NOT sexual sins of the same name.

It is no wonder that many Christians are seeking the "Bible Definition" of these terms. If confusion exists with understanding the differnece between sexual sins called Adultery and Fornication, then the Christian is hopelessly lost to determine the correct meaning of the Spiritual (doctrinal) sins called by the same name.

An examination of these Biblical terms will reveal the fact that there is a parallel meaning between these sins in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm. However, this article will deal exclusively with the sins of the flesh while other articles will deal with the Spiritual (doctrinal) issues.

This article is divided into the following sections . . .

  1. Fornication and Adultery - The Bible Definition
  2. Fornication and Adultery - What's The Difference?
  3. Fornication and Adultery - What's The Same?
  4. Fornication and Sexual Immorality - The Confusion
  5. Fornication and Adultery - Examples
  6. The Old Testament - Judgment for Adultery
  7. The Old Testament- Judgment for Fornication
  8. The New Testament - Judgment for Fornication and Adultery

The Bible Student must realize that Fornication is a "Specific Sin" committed by specific individuals. Likewise, Adultery is a "Specific Sin" committed by specific individuals. Each occurrence of these terms in the Bible and its context will determine if it refers to "Sexual Sins" or to "Spiritual" (doctrinal) issues. As an experienced Bible student is aware, sometimes the scriptures are referring to both in one particular passage.

1) Fornication and Adultery - The Bible Definition

The correct Biblical definition of these terms with respect to sexual sins is as follows:

Adultery

Illicit intimate sex between one man and one woman whereby the offender (the Adulterer) is currently Married.

Fornication

Illicit intimate sex between one man and one woman whereby the offender (the Fornicator) is currently NOT married.

Obviously, one partner may be a Fornicator, while the other partner is an Adulterer. Again notice that these definitions refer to specific sins committed by specific individuals. Miss this point and you're on your own with regard to correct Biblical interpretation and resultant applications.

We can easily determine these definitions to be correct from the Bible as follows . . .

For Fornication - - -

1 Corinthians 7 (KJV)
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

The Apostle Paul is saying that if a person is married, then by definition, they cannot be a Fornicator.

For Adultery - - -

Mark 10 (KJV)
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

Leviticus 20 (KJV)
10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

The Bible is saying that only the married can commit adultery. Thus the resultant definitions mean that . . .

Adultery and Fornication are - - - - MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

Webster defines Adultery as:

Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man
and someone other than his wife or between a married
woman and someone other than her husband.

The Bible agrees with the above definition.

Webster defines Fornication as:

 Consensual sexual intercourse between two persons
 not married to each other.

The above definition for Fornication DOES NOT coincide with the New Testament use of this term ! ! ! While the above definition may satisfy the common and legal definition of the word "Fornication", the Bible does not combine all "sexually immoral" acts such as homosexuality, perversion, prostitution, harlotry, etc. into the word "Fornication".

Nelson New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines Fornication as:

Sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage.
The technical distinction between fornication and adultery
is that adultery involves married persons while fornication
involves at least one person who is unmarried. But the
New Testament often uses the term in a general sense for
any unchastity. 

The above definition is Biblically incorrect for two reasons - - -

The Bible focuses on "The ONE Person Who Is Unmarried" and NOT to at least one person who is unmarried. Although both participants could be unmarried and thus be "fornicators", the emphasis and biblical context is always on the individual who is committing fornication. Perhaps a technicality, but incorrect nonetheless.

The second reason it is biblically incorrect, is because the Bible definitely DOES NOT use the term in a general sense. We will look at this issue in a following session entitled, "The Confusion".

Harper's Bible Dictionary defines Fornication as:

Any type of illicit sexual activity. Included in the realm
of sexual misconduct in the OT are seduction, rape, sodomy,
beastiality, certain forms of incest, prostitution (male or female),
and homosexual relations. The specific sin of adultery, related
to marriage, was considered more serious than the others, however,
so that a special set of laws governed it. In the NT, almost any
form of sexual misconduct (that is, sexual activity outside 
the marriage relationship) could be designated as fornication
or "immorality"

The above definition is Biblically incorrect because it does not state that in the NT, it applies to UNMARRIED ONLY.

At this point, the question is often asked, "Who are the Unmarried?". The unmarried includes the following:

  1. Virgins (Never been married)
  2. Divorced (Formerly married, but currently single)
  3. Widowed (Formerly married, but spouse is deceased)

Items 2 and 3 are often not included nor accepted among Bible Teachers. The reason for this is that the New Testament in particular refers to virgins only because the parallel between our relationship to Christ is that of a "Virgin". The Apostle Paul emphasizes this in the following verse:

2 Cor 11:2
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste VIRGIN to Christ.

Jesus does the same thing with the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew chapter 25. However, the Apostle Paul clarifies this issue in the following - - -

1 Cor 7
7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
8 But I say to the UNMARRIED (Divorced) and to the WIDOWS: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;

25 ... Now concerning VIRGINS: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.

The context above in verses 7 and 8 is actually in reference to the Jews and their relatinship to THE LAW, but draws on a parallel to physical marriage. Paul is saying that by NOT marrying, they are in effect "Virgins" with respect to their relationship to Christ. He then goes back to addressing virgins in verse 25.

2) Fornication and Adultery - What's The Difference?

The difference between Fornication and Adultery is found by examining related scripture passages. The Bible makes a distinction between the two and a proper understanding is in order to grasp the understanding and resultant implications of each.

In the Flesh, the Bible denotes the difference between the two as follows:

Adultery is ONLY applicable to "MARRIED" persons
while
Fornication is ONLY applicable to "UNMARRIED" (SINGLE) persons.

The Bible Student MUST know and accept the above definitions as correct or misinterpretation of scripture will follow. The scriptures clarify that there is a difference between Fornication and Adultery and they are listed as separate "sins" as shown in the following - - -

Galatians 5:19
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: ADULTERY, FORNICATION, uncleanness, lewdness, . . .

The fact that sexual immorality may occur outside the bounds of marriage, the Apostle Paul encourages marriage so that Fornication by UNMARRIED Christians will not occur - - -

1 Corinthians 7:2
Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality (FORNICATION), let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

Therefore, Fornication is ONLY applicable to the "UNMARRIED"

Our Lord clarifies that Adultery occurs ONLY among the Married - - -

Luke 16:18
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits ADULTERY; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits ADULTERY.

Therefore, Adultery is ONLY applicable to the "MARRIED"

The following verse makes clear the distinction that Fornication is attributable to the Unmarried and Adultery is attributable to the Married. ---

Matthew 19:9 KJV
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Thus the main thing to be aware is that . . .

Adultery and Fornication are - - - - MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

This to say that a Fornicator CANNOT be an Adulterer and likewise, an Adulterer CANNOT be a Fornicator. This understanding and concept becomes extremely important when the Spiritual (doctrinal) issues regarding fornication and adultery are studied. The parallels between the two are quite striking.

3) Fornication and Adultery - What's The Same?

We have identified the difference between Fornication and Adultery and so now we turn our attention to the similarities. It can easily be determined that what is the same between the two is "THE ACT".

This is to say that the "ACT of Fornication" and the "ACT of Adultery" are one and the same. It may seem like a trivial matter to state it in this fashion, but it becomes a major point of correlation when the spiritual (doctrinal) aspects are examined.

In the Bible, the "Marital Status" of the Offender determines whether it is Fornication or Adultery. Therefore, . . .

THE "ACT" OF FORNICATION Equals The "ACT" OF ADULTERY

Both Fornication and Adultery are acts of INFIDELITY (Unfaithfulness) as follows...

Number 5:12
"Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
"If any man's wife goes astray and behaves UNFAITHFULLY toward him, . . .

What is important to note from the following Bible verses is that in the Flesh, both Believers and Unbelievers CAN commit either Fornication or Adultery depending on their marital status.

1 Corinthians 6:9
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither FORNICATORS, nor idolaters, nor ADULTERERS, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,

Make no mistake, these sins are punishable - - -

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Therefore, we conclude that Fornication and Adultery share the following:

  1. The "Act of Fornication" and the "Act of Adultery" are the same
  2. Both are characterized by being committed by the unrighteous
  3. Both are condemned under "The Mosaic Law"
  4. Both are condemned under "The Age of Grace" i.e. the New Testament
  5. God says He will judge them both

4) Fornication and Sexual Immorality - The Confusion

The confusion in definition occurs primarily as it relates to the Greek word porneia correctly translated into English as - "Fornication". This becomes apparent when the Bible Student observes variations in Bible translations as follows . . .

Matthew 19 (KJV)
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for FORNICATION, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Matthew 19 (NKJV)
9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for SEXUAL IMMORALITY, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Why was the same greek word translated "Fornication" in one version and then as sexual immorality in another and also in other Bible versions?

As it has been shown, the "Correct Bible Definition" of Fornication is - - -

Illicit intimate sex between one man and one woman whereby the offender (the Fornicator) is currently NOT married.

Obviously, the two are NOT synonymous, that is . . .

Fornication IS NOT EQUAL TO Sexual Immorality

One could rightly conclude that Fornication is A TYPE of Sexual Immorality, but Sexual Immorality is NOT A TYPE of Fornication.

Why then did the KJV tranlators use the word "Fornication" while other translations used the phrase "Sexual Immorality'? The answer becomes obvious when we note the following passage . . .

1 Corinthians 5:1 (KJV)
It is reported commonly that there is FORNICATION among you, and such FORNICATION as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

The above verse was viewed by translators as referring to Sexual misconduct instead of a doctrinal issue. Therefore, since there was no single English word or phrase to describe it, it was decided to translate the word into a phrase called "Sexual Immorality" as follows - - - -

Therefore, an attempt was made to force a "One Definition Fits All" scenario such that a word change was necessary as follows . . .

1 Corinthians 5 (NKJV)
1 It is actually reported that there is SEXUAL IMMORALITY among you, and such SEXUAL IMMORALITY as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife!

In this way it could be used throughout scripture consistently without conflict and would include any type of sexual sins including fornication, incest, etc. However, problems soon arose

The reason for this change and others was because the Bible Translators and Bible dictionary authors failed to interpret the passage correctly. The verse above has absolutely "NOTHING TO DO with FORNICATION in the FLESH"

Many Bible Teachers and Students, knowing that the Bible uses these two words in either a fleshly sense, or a Spiritual (doctrinal) sense, therefore coined the phrases . . .

Spiritual Adultery - to differentiate it from the sin of Adultery which is a sexual sin committed by a Married person

and

Spiritual Fornication - to differentiate it from the sin of Fornication which is a sexual sin committed by an Unmarried person

The use of the word Fornication in the above passage refers to a Doctrinal (Spiritual) Issue rather than a sin of the Flesh. There are no "Sexual" sins occuring of any sort as can be attested by the Apostle Paul's commendation in other passages to this Church. For example,

It is difficult to render the above as either Adultery or Fornication in the Flesh from just an interpretive viewpoint because of the following:

  1. We don't know if the man in question is married or unmarried
  2. We don't know if the woman in question is his mother, or step-mother
  3. We don't know what importance the woman plays in this scenario

Therefore, since the greek word is "porneia" and should be translated "Fornication" to agree with the other usages, it was decided to replace it with the phrase sexual immorality. Unfortunately, this now changes the meaning of the passage. This becomes especially evident when "sexual immorality" is substituted for the correct word "fornication" in the following verses - -

Matthew 5 (NKJV)
32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except SEXUAL IMMORALITY causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Matthew 19 (NKJV)
9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for SEXUAL IMMORALITY, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Now we have changed the meaning of the above verses to have Jesus stating that ANYONE has a right to a divorce based on sexual infidelity and by doing so will be rendered guiltless of being "An Adulterer". This word change has completely altered what the Lord Jesus was talking about. Not only has it changed the meaning of the passage, but it allows for Jesus to "Change the Mosaic Law" in this regard !!!. For a detailed review of these passages and the problem it presents, refer to another RMS Bible Topic study entitled:

"JESUS DISCUSSES MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND REMARRIAGE"

Not only has the meaning of the above texts now changed, but the theology and practical applications and counseling of churches changed toward members who are involved in such situations.

Well, the above word change worked fine to the satisfaction of many Bible Translators, Bible dictionary authors, and some Bible teachers and preachers. However, it didn't work well in ALL cases however,... Case in point,...

Hebrews 13 (KJV)
4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers (fornicators) and adulterers God will judge.

The KJV was inconsistent here as well for the word "whoremongers" should be correctly translated "fornicators". In the greek it is the same word "porneia" as we find throughout the New Testament where it is correctly translated as "Fornication". An avid Bible Student will note this and also observe that both the translation and interpretation make perfect sense. The author is talking about two classes of people, married and unmarried who are committing sexual sins and thus rendering the "Bed Defiled".

However, the NKJV realized that their insertion of "Sexually Immoral" in for "Fornicators" wouldn't make sense here, for example . . .

Hebrews 13 (NKJV modified by RMS)
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but Sexually Immoral and Adulterers God will judge.

(If the NKJV translated it this way, maybe no one would notice ... !!! )

However, the above verse wouldn't make any sense because adultery is a TYPE of SEXUAL IMMORALITY, Therefore, the NKJV translators changed it back to its original correct form, as follows. . .

Hebrews 13 (NKJV)
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but FORNICATORS and adulterers God will judge.

By way of continued example, the NIV decided that they could still insert the phrase "Sexually Immoral" if they reconstructed the sentence. By using a large round peg, a small square hole, and one large hammer, they were able to produce the following:

Hebrews 13 (NIV)
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the ADULTERER and all the SEXUALLY IMMORAL.

Where they produced the phrase from the greek: "all the sexually immoral" is anyone's guess. However, this was OK with the NIV translators since they oriented their translation toward Readability as opposed to Translational accuracy anyway.

Please do not misunderstand, I view most Bible translations available today as having some merit in one regard or another. However, since we are dealing with a particular issue which affects the doctrine of believers and churches, we must be diligent to examine the words, the usage, the translation, and the interpretation carefully.

The English word "Fornication" is sometimes used as an "umbrella" term to include all manner of illicit sexual behavior including adultery, homosexuality, perversion, etc. This is why some Bible translations use the term "Sexual Immorality" instead of the correct and more consistent term "Fornication". The Bible does not use the word "Fornication" in this way. It is unfortunate that our English Bible translators did not maintain a correct and consistent translation of the word Fornication, but used in some translations the phrase - "sexual immorality". This mistranslation forces the issue that Fornication is a sin applicable only in a physical and fleshly sense. Also, the phrase "sexual immorality" serves to broaden the "umbrella" aspect of all sexually immoral acts and further deviates from the Bible use of the term.

While the above definitions may satisfy the common and legal definition of the word "Fornication", the Bible does not combine all "sexually immoral" acts such as homosexuality, perversion, prostitution, harlotry, etc. into the word "Fornication". Therefore, typical misconceptions regarding Fornication held by most Christians have grown to include:

  1. All sexual activity outside of marriage
  2. Extra-marital sex
  3. All who engage in unnatural sexual intercourse

This study does not examine the aspects of "Harlot" or "Harlotry" which is primarily an Old Testament word, although it is also found in Revelation. This word generally refers to the promiscuous and unfaithful activity of either a married or unmarried woman in the physical sense and was often applied to the spiritual status of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Harlotry includes aspects of whoredom and prostitution and may be covered under another topic study if time permits.

For Bible study purposes, in the Greek, the noun form of the word "fornication" can be found from Strong's word 4202 (porneia) and the verb form of the word 4203 (porneuo). The New Testament refers to Adultery about 35 times and Fornication about 45 times.

5) Fornication and Adultery - Examples

Examples of sexual and consensual illicit relationships of Fornication and Adultery in the "Flesh" are as follows:

Marital Status: Married Man

Case 1: If a married man has a relationship with an unmarried woman, the man is committing Adultery, while the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 2: If a married man has a relationship with an unmarried, but betrothed (engaged)woman, the man is committing Adultery, while the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 3: If a married man has a relationship with a married woman, the man is committing Adultery and the woman is committing Adultery

Case 4: If a married man has a relationship with a divorced woman, the man is committing Adultery and the woman is committing Adultery

Marital Status: Divorced Man

Case 1: If a divorced man has a relationship with an unmarried woman, the man is committing Adultery and the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 2: If a divorced man has a relationship with an unmarried, but betrothed (engaged) woman, the man is committing Adultery and the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 3: If a divorced man has a relationship with a married woman, the man is committing Adultery, while the woman is committing Adultery

Case 4: If a divorced man has a relationship with a divorced woman, the man is committing Adultery and the woman is committing Adultery

Marital Status: Unmarried Man

Case 1: If an unmarried man has a relationship with an unmarried woman, the man is committing Fornication and the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 2: If an unmarried man has a relationship with an unmarried, but betrothed (engaged)woman, the man is committing Fornication and the woman is committing Fornication.

Case 3: If an unmarried man has a relationship with a married woman, the man is committing Fornication, while the woman is committing Adultery

Case 4: If an unmarried man has a relationship with a divorced woman, the man is committing Fornication and the woman is committing Adultery

Although God says He hates divorce (Malachi) divorce is still recognized by God such that a divorced man or woman in such a situation is regarded as single.

6) The Old Testament Judgment for Adultery

Under "The Mosaic Law", the penalty for breaking the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" was Death by stoning . . .

Deuteronomy 22:22
"If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall DIE--the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.

Leviticus 20:10
"The man who commits Adultery with another man's wife, he who commits Adultery with his neighbor's wife, the Adulterer and the Adulteress, shall surely be put to Death.

Therefore,

Commit Physical Adultery => Death Penalty

This is extremely important to know because it will have a parallel spiritual implication.

In the case where the spouse is deceased, then the remaining spouse can remarry and not be charged with Adultery. This great physical truth has just as significant Spiritual truth contained therein as we shall see.

Romans 7
2 For the WOMAN who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband DIES, SHE is released from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an ADULTERESS; but if her husband DIES, she is free from that law, so that she is NO adulteress, though she has MARRIED another man.

7) The Old Testament Judgment for Fornication

Under "The Mosaic Law", Fornication was punishable by death if it was of general promiscuity or included an element of violence.

Commit Physical Fornication => Death Penalty

A woman would be put to death for Fornication ONLY IF it was consensual AND IF she was betrothed to another man, that is, her future husband. In this case, the Death penalty is the same for both the Adulterer as well as the Fornicator.

If the virgin (not betrothed to another man) and the man agree to marriage after being convicted of Fornication, then there is no death penalty ...

Exodus 22:16-17
16 "If a man ENTICES a virgin who is NOT BETROTHED (engaged), and lies with her, he shall surely PAY the bride-price for her to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall PAY MONEY according to the bride-price of virgins.

Normally, in such a case, the man must pay "Cash" (the Bride-Price) to the woman's father for violating his daughter and then agree to "Marry" her if her father permitted ...

Deuteronomy 22
22 "If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die--the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.

In the above case, the man would be a "Fornicator" if he was not married, or an "Adulterer" if he was married. The woman was an "Adulterer"

23 "If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her,
24 "then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor's wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

The woman above is a "Fornicator" and the man would be a "Fornicator" if he was not married, or an "Adulterer" if he was married.

25 "But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.
26 "But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter.
27 "For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.

In this case above, the woman is declared innocent because she was violated and the man would be a "Fornicator" if he was not married, or an "Adulterer" if he was married.

28 "If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out,
29 "then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

Fornication - Death Penalty Exception

Fornication did not require the Death penalty if the act occurred between the woman and the man to whom she was betrothed. Therefore, :

Commit Physical Fornication => Cash Penalty Payment (No Death)

This also is extremely important to know because it will have a parallel spiritual implication.

IN THE SPIRIT

The Law and Christ were two separate issues to the Unbelieving Jews. Jesus pointed this out by saying:

Matthew 5:17
"Do not think that I came to destroy The Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Luke 24:27
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets (The Law), He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

John 5:46
For if you BELIEVED Moses (The Law), you would BELIEVE Me; for he wrote about ME (Jesus Christ).

Their relationship to the LAW was of WORKS, not of FAITH ! They were married to THE LAW ! Therefore, they could not believe Jesus Christ. They were UNBELIEVERS - - -

Romans 9
31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Why? Because they did not seek it by FAITH, but as it were, by the WORKS of THE LAW - -

THE LAW would become a source of ADULTERY to anyone who joined themselves to it by WORKS instead of by FAITH. The message that Jesus was preaching was - - -

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND."

Luke 16:16
"The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is PRESSING into it.

The UNBELIEVING Jews were attempting to get into the Kingdom of Heaven through DIVORCE. They were MARRIED to the LAW !!! Therefore, they were committing ADULTERY !!!

One enters the Kingdom through the Born Again experience which requires that a DEATH occur first. If death of the spouse occurs, then re-marriage can occur and there is NO ADULTERY and most importantly, "NO DEATH PENALTY". The spouse that must die in this analogy is the BELIEVER !

Romans 6:4
Therefore we were BURIED (DIED) with Him through baptism into DEATH, that just as Christ was raised from the DEAD by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 7:4
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become DEAD to THE LAW through the body of Christ, that you MAY BE MARRIED (currently engaged) to another-to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 that the unbelieving Jews were attempting to enter the Kingdom through DIVORCE. Divorce was merely a cloak for ADULTERY, therefore, they were committing ADULTERY ! ! !

The unbelievers in the above passages are the scribes and pharisees.

8) Spiritual Fornication and Spiritual Adultery - Correct Bible Definition The spiritual analogy of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 now become clear when we view it as follows:

Matthew 5:32 (NKJV)
But I say to you that whoever (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER) Divorces his wife (THE LAW) for any reason, EXCEPT sexual immorality (a FORNICATOR, A BELIEVER), causes her (THE LAW) to commit Adultery; and whoever (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER) marries a woman who is Divorced (THE LAW) commits Adultery (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER).

Matthew 19:9 (NKJV)
And I say to you, whoever (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER) Divorces his wife (THE LAW), EXCEPT for sexual immorality (a FORNICATOR, A BELIEVER), and marries another, commits Adultery; and whoever marries (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER) her who is Divorced (THE LAW) commits Adultery (an ADULTERER, an UNBELIEVER)."

Just as Fornication or Adultery in the flesh is SEXUAL, it shall be shown that Spiritual Fornication or Spiritual Adultery is also of the flesh, but is SENSUAL.

9) Spiritual Fornication and Spiritual Adultery - What's The Difference?

The spiritual analogy of these two verses (Matthew 5:32 and 19:9) is what is most important and Jesus is stating that the unbelieving scribes and pharisees are the ADULTERERS !!! The use of the word Fornication and Adultery are actually being used in contrast to each other. Both acts are sinful acts, but the point He is making is that Spiritual Adultery is associated with Unbelievers, while Spiritual Fornication is associated with Believers.

Therefore the correlation is - - -

SPIRITUAL ADULTERY => UNBELIEVERS

whereas

SPIRITUAL FORNICATION => BELIEVERS

This relationship becomes more clear when we realize that when the Apostle Paul speaks of married and unmarried persons in the following passages, he is speaking of the Spiritual - - -

1 Cor 7
32 But I want you to be without care. He who is UNMARRIED (Saved) cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is MARRIED (Unsaved) cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife.

We know he is not talking of physical marriage because scripture says - - -

Hebrews 13
4 MARRIAGE is HONORABLE AMONG ALL, and the bed undefiled; but Fornicators and Adulterers God will judge.

We have concluded that Spiritual Adultery is associated with the Unbelievers, Unsaved, Unredeemed, while Spiritual Fornication although a sin also is associated with the Believers, Saved, Redeemed, a Child of God.

10) Spiritual Fornication and Spiritual Adultery - What's The Same?

The parallel acts for committing Fornication or Adultery in the Flesh and in the Spirit is as follows - - -

  • Adultery => Illicit sexual act committed by the MARRIED
  • Fornication => Illicit sexual act committed by the UNMARRIED
  • Spiritual Adultery => Illicit sensual act committed by the UNBELIEVER
  • Spiritual Fornication => Illicit sensual act committed by the BELIEVER

The question before us is - - -"Even though Spiritual Adultery is classified with Unbelievers and Spiritual Fornication is classified with Believers, are they the same sin? We begin by going back to the fleshly aspects.

In the flesh, is "THE ACT" of Adultery same as "THE ACT" Fornication? The answer is YES, both are acts of illicit sexual immorality and both are related to Unfaithfulness. Therefore, in the Flesh - - -

THE ACT of Fornication = THE ACT of Adultery

The "Marital Status" of the Offender determines whether it is Fornication or Adultery . . .

It shall be shown in the next Bible Topic Study and the New Testament Epistles that the same is true in the spiritual realm, that is - - -

THE ACT of Spiritual Fornication = THE ACT of Spiritual Adultery

The "Salvation Status" of the Offender will determine whether it is Spiritual Fornication or Spiritual Adultery. This is key to understanding whether a particular passage is referring to a "Believer (saved)" or an "Unbeliever (unsaved)".

THE PENALTY OF FORNICATION and ADULTERY

Our basis for determining the penalty for committing Fornication or Adultery was determined from the Old Testament for sexual immoral acts of the Flesh. Therefore, it was revealed that the penalty was - - -

In the Flesh - - -

Adultery (Married) => Death Penalty

Fornication (Unmarried) => NO Death Penalty
(but, Must pay Bride Price)

We can assume at this point that there will be a parallel penalty relationship when applied to the spiritual realm. Our basis for determining the penalty for committing Spiritual Fornication or Spiritual Adultery will be determined from the New Testament for unbelievers. Therefore, it will be revealed that the penalty will be - - -

In the Spirit - - -

Spiritual Adultery (Unbelievers) => ETERNAL Death

Spiritual Fornication (Believer) => EVERLASTING LIFE
(but, Must pay penalty)

Although the Spiritual Fornicator has the security of everlasting life, there will be a penalty or price to pay for committing this sin. This penalty will be examined later in another Bible Topic Study.

John 3:18
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does NOT BELIEVE is CONDEMNED already, because he has NOT BELIEVED in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36
"He who BELIEVES in the Son has EVERLASTING LIFE; and he who does NOT BELIEVE the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

SUMMARY

The use of the words Fornication and Adultery as associated with two of the Seven Churches in Revelation chapter 2 are confusing to many Christians. The Churches in Revelation are using these words to describe Spiritual acts and not Fleshly acts as we shall see later. However, the implications in both the Physical and Spiritual realm are the SAME. As a result, commentaries on the Seven Churches in the book of Revelation tend to be rather shallow in this area because the Bible use of these words do not correspond with the popular understanding and use of the words.

It is not the intent of this study to get into issues of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage, but another Bible topic study will be prepared and devoted to these issues. However, it is important at this point to learn that the Physical and Spiritual implications and aspects of Fornication and Adultery are paralleled. With a correct Bible based understanding and correct Bible use of the terms Adultery, Fornication, and Divorce, the New Testament reveals fascinating insights to issues and implications of marriage, divorce, and re-marriage.

With correct Bible terminology, definitions, and applications in proper perspective, the Bible student is now ready to examine the Spiritual aspects of Fornication and Adultery in the Church.

John 3:12
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe (understand), how will you believe if I tell you heavenly (Spiritual) things?

Be sure and view other related Bible Study Topics studies . . .

The sin of fornication or adultery is defined and condemned in the Old Testament. God's view and condemnation of these sins has not changed in the New Testament.

A proper understanding in the physical realm is extremely important in order to obtain a proper interpretation of related Bible passages. It is often necessary for Christian Counselors to render advice and judgment to troubled married couples in situations involving the sin of adultery and the resultant aspects of infidelity, divorce, and re-marriage. The Bible deals adequately with both the physical and spiritual aspects as we shall see.

The spiritual meaning of these sins The implication to the Christian Its effect in the Church. The term "Fornication" is a common characteristic of two of the seven Churches found in the book of Revelation Chapter 2, which are the Church at Pergamos and the Church at Thyatira. We will look specifically at these two Churches and the nature of the fornication that is taking place in a separate study of these two Churches. Specifically we will determine - - - The implication, warnings, and effect these sins have in the Church per the New Testament Epistles What prophetic implications these sins have on the Churches of Pergamos and Thyatira in Revelation Chapter 2 Why fornication is prevalent in the Tribulation period and adultery is not mentioned. (Rev 14-19) However, before we can begin to look at what is called Spiritual Fornication and Spiritual Adultery, we must examine these sins as it is first defined in the Old Testament.

Click Here to

Back to Top