The Definition of Adultery #2


A.In the Old Testament Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament "This root represents "sexual intercourse with the wife or betrothed of another man" (KB). Our word should be compared with zanâ, illicit heterosexual relations but not necessarily in violation of the marriage vow, and the noun nokrîyâ, a foreign woman who was generally in a lowered social position and in Prov. 5:20; 6:24, e.g., obviously a practitioner of harlotry cf. RSV)." (Moody Press, vol. II, p. 542) "The theological uses add an instructive dimension to covenantal theology. Contemporary studies in the covenant demonstrate that biblical covenant parallel ancient law treaties. Our word reminds us of the fact that God relates to his people not only as sovereign king but as husband (cf. qana', etc.). This religious symbolical use of na'ap (commit adultery, sw) (my underlining, sw) is attested in Lev 20:10ff (cf. 18:20ff; Jer 23:14) where it is aligned with Molech worship and profaning God's name (cf. Ezk 23:37). The prophets apply this figure in describing Israel's sin. Hosea depicts a connection between Israel's faithlessness to Jehovah and the dissolution of all social and religious ties: "where religious union with Jehovah is not kept sacred, there no human marriage can be secure. Sensuality produces religious whoredom and religious whoredom again issues into physical whoredom (4:11, 14)." (Vos, BT, p. 298). Sin is the want of conformity to the ideal of marriage affection and loyalty. Israel is condemned for disavowing God's claims at the marriage lord. They have served other gods by practicing cultic and spiritual prostitution (4:11-12). Jeremiah, Ezekial, and Isaiah (limitedly) also use this figure to depict the sin of God's people (Ezk 16:32ff; Jer 3:8f.; Isa 57:3)." (ibid., p. 543)

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament "TO COMMIT ADULTERY, used both of male and female, Ex. 20:13, followed by an acc., to commit adultery with a woman, Prov. 6:32; Lev. 20:10; Jer. 29:23. In the same as [Hebrew word, sw] to commit fornication, it is applied to the turning aside of Israel from the true God to the worship of idols, Jer. 3:8, [Hebrew words, sw] "because rebellious Israel commits adultery;" Jer. 5:7; 9:1; 23:14. Followed by an acc. Jer. 3:9, [Hebrew words, sw] "and she commits adultery with stone and wood;" Eze. 23:37." (Baker publ., p. 525)

The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon "vb. commit adultery... 1.lit.commit adultery: a.usu. of man, always with wife of another.... b. of women, only pt. Lv.2010.... 2.fig. of idolatrous worship..." (Hendrickson publ., p. 610)

B.In the New Testament

Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words "MOICHOS (Greek word here, sw) denotes one who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another..." (Revell publ., pp. 32-33) "MOICHALIS (Greek word here, sw), an adulteress, is used (a) in the natural sense, 2 Pet. 2:14; Rom. 7:3; (b) in the spiritual sense, Jas. 4:4....As in Israel the breach of their relationship with God through their idolatry, was described as adultery or harlotry (e.g., Ezek. 16:15, etc.; 23:43), so believers who cultivate friendship with the world, thus breaking their spiritual union with Christ, are spiritual adulteresses, having been spiritually united to Him as wife to husband, Rom. 7:4. It is used adjectivally to describe the Jewish people in transferring their affections from God, Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38." (ibid., p. 33) MOICHEUO (Greek word here, sw) is used in Matt. 5:27, 28, 32...Jno. 8: Rev. 2:22, metaphorically, of those who are by a Jezebel's solicitations drawn away to idolatry." (ibid., p. 33)

A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, E.W. Bullinger Adulterous, "an adulteress, applied as an adjective to the Jewish people who had transferred their affections from God." (Zondervan publ., p. 28) Adultery, "Adultery" (ibid., p. 28)

The New Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon moichalis, "an adulteress; a. prop.: Ro. vii.3.... b.As the intimate alliance of God with the people of Israel was likened to a marriage, those who relapse into idolatry are said to commit adultery or play the harlot (Ezek.xvi.15 sqq.; xxiii.43 sqq.,etc.); hence, [moichalis] (Gr., sw) is fig. equiv. to faithless to God, unclean, apostate: Jas. iv.4..." (Hendrikson, pp. 416-417) moichao, "to have unlawful intercourse with another's wife, to commit adultery commit adultery: of the man, Mt. v.32b; Grk. writ.* fig. in the active, with [Gr. words, sw], to usurp unlawful control over the sea... to falsify, corrupt..." (ibid., p. 417) *notice that Thayer does not say that this def. is found in Bible, sw. moicheuo, "to commit adultery; a.absol (to be an adulterer): Mt. v.27;xix. 18....b.[Gr. words, sw], to commit adultery with, have unlawful inter- course with another's wife: Mt. v.28....By a Hebraism (see [moichalis] (Gr.word, sw), b.) trop. [Gr. words, sw] is used of those who at a woman's solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols, Rev. ii.22; cf.Jer. iii.9, etc." (ibid., p. 417) moichos, "an adulterer: Lk. xviii.11.... Hebraistically (see [moichalis] (Gr.,sw), b.) and fig. faithless toward God, ungodly: Jas.iv.4..." (ibid., p. 417)

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich moichalis, "adulteress. 1. lit. Ro 7:3a....2.fig., in a usage found in Hosea (3:1), in which God's relation to his people is depicted as a marriage, and any beclouding of it becomes adultery (cf. Jer 3:9; 9:1; Ezk 16:32ff, esp. vs. 38). a. adj. adulterous [Gr. words, sw] Mt 12:39; 16:4; Mk 8:38. -b. subst. [Gr. words, sw] of both sexes...Js 4:4..." (Univ. of Chicago Press, p. 526) moichao, "...cause to commit adultery in our lit.... be caused to commit adultery, be an adulterer or adulteress, commit adultery, lit. 1. of a woman (Ezk 16:32) [Gr. words, sw] (the man who divorces his wife) causes her to commit adultery (if she contracts a new marriage) Mt 5:32a...Mk 10:12. But also 2. of a man (PsSol 8, 10), who marries a divorced woman Mt 5:32b; 19:9 v.1. or who marries again after divorcing his wife 19:9...Mk 10:11....3. of a man or woman 2 Cl 4:3. [Gr. words, sw] whoever acts as the heather do (i.e., takes part in idol-worship), commits adultery..." (ibid., p. 526) moicheuo, "commit adultery. 1. of both sexes, w. ref. to the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17): Mt 5:27; 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20; Ro 13:9; Js 2:11a....2....commit adultery w. someone...Mt 5:28....This explains the use of the passive in the case of the woman...[Gr. words, sw] he causes her to commit adultery (by contracting a subsequent marriage) Mt 5:32; 19:9...J 8:4. c. [Gr. words, sw] Rv 2:22 is at least on the way to a fig. mng..." (ibid., p. 526) moichos, "adulterer. 1. lit. w. [pornos] (in Gr., sw) Hb. 13:4....W. other sinners...Lk 18:11; 1 Cor 6:9....2.fig...Js 4:4...," (ibid., p. 526)

C.As Defined in a Bible Dictionary and an Encyclopedia

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible "Because of the nature of marriage, adultery was not so much evidence of moral depravity as the violation of a husband's right to have sole sexual possession of his wife and to have the assurance that his children were his own. Adultery was strictly prohibited by law (Exod. 20:14; Lev. 18:20; Deut. 5:18; John 8:2-5 [RSV mg.])....marriage with a divorced woman is adultery (Matt. 5:32; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18)... "`Adultery' is used of religious disloyalty and harlotry (Jer. 7:9; 23:10; cf. Ezek. 23:45; Rev. 2:22). Faithless Jews are called offspring of the adulteress and the harlot (Isa. 57:3)." (O.J. Baab, p. 51)

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible "The term adultery is used in the Scriptures to designate sexual intercourse, with mutual consent, between a man, married or unmarried, and the wife of another man. Likewise, the term is used to describe sexual intercourse, with mutual consent, by a married woman with any man other than her husband. "The term [moicheuseis] (Gr., sw) is used in the NT to describe the concept covered by the term na'aph or adultery in the OT. In ancient Israel the primary meaning of the term adultery was the physical act of adultery. (my emph., sw). However, gradually the term was used to designate idolatrous worship and unfaithfulness to God. The significance of the act and the connotations of the term seemed to deepen and widen over time.... "In addition to the primary meaning of the term, adultery was used in the OT to describe idolatrous worship and religious apostasy (Isa 57:3; Jer 3:8,9; Ezek 23:43). Hosea described Israel as the adulterous wife of Jehovah due to her religious apostasy (Hos 2:2). "In the NT Christ emphasized the teaching that the sinful or adulterous thought was equivalent to the act of adultery. Some believe these and similar teachings showed that He was in agreement with the stricter interpretations of the law current in His day (Matt 5:17). Christ also taught that under certain circumstances, marriage to a divorcee resulted in adultery (5:27-32). Adultery is mentioned in the NT as one of several sins, which if not repented of would exclude a person from the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9; Gal 5:19-21). Adultery was forbidden by Christ (Matt 19:3-12; John 8:4) and by the Early Church. Stern warnings were given to offenders lest such practices be repeated (1 Cor 5; 6). Furthermore, spiritual adultery or the alignment of the Christian with either the world system or non-Christian religious systems, is clearly forbidden in th NT (James 4:4; Rev. 2:20-23). "In both testaments adultery either in the physical or spiritual sense is expressly forbidden." (G.Lambert, pp. 65-66)

CONCL.III. 1.The definitions from these different sources agree with the results of our_study_in points I. and II.: Adultery refers primarily to sexual intercourse between at least one married person and another party other than that person's mate. The word has a secondary, figurative meaning based on its primary meaning. The figurative meaning is unfaithfulness to God.

2.The word has never had the meaning of "covenant breaking" in scripture.

By Steve Wallace

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