The Heart of Man

by Mike Ratliff

15 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ· φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν [ταύτην]. 16 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; 17 οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται; 18 τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. 19 ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι. 20 ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον. Matthew 15:15-20 (NA28)

15 Peter answered Him, “Explain to us this parable.” 16 And He said, “Are you also still without understanding?” 17 “Do you not know that everything which enters into the mouth passes into the stomach and passes into a latrine?” 18 “But the things which come from the mouth come out from the heart, and that defiles the man.” 19 “For out of the heart comes forth evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, and blasphemies.” 20 “These are the things which defile the man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:15-20 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In this post we are going to focus on one Greek word that was one of the words in yesterday’s post, It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, that describes one of the sinful acts that have sprung from Satan’s counterfeit love. That word is πορνεία (porneia). Here is the definition from yesterday’s post:

It originally referred to prostitution. It is derived from the related word in Greek which means “prostitute.” It was used in the Septuagint to refer not only to common prostitution, but religious prostitution that was part of the fertility rites of Baal worship. By sexual relations with temple prostitutes, humans, supposedly, could share in the fertilizing power of and cosmic harmony with the fertility god Baal.

However, in in later rabbinical language, which heavily influenced the New Testament, πορνεία came to be used for any sexual relations outside of marriage, including: premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. In the Graeco-Roman world, this became so perverted that all of these activities were indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the common people, but by the social elite as well.

Our time is no different. In fact, indifference to the practice of these things runs deep in our society as well as the visible church. However, lest we become distracted, we must not forget that all Christians are commanded to turn from these things in repentance.

I was asked to look at this word and compare it to our Lord’s usage of the very same word in Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21. Over lunch today I looked at this and I agree that our Lord was speaking of the very same thing that Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5. The form of the noun πορνεία (porneia) that Paul used was the lexical form, but the form we see in Matthew and Mark that our Lord spoke is in the nominative plural feminine case, πορνεῖαι (porneiai). Does this make a difference. No it does not.

What is the nominative case? It is the Greek equivalent to the English subjective case. When a Greek word is the subject of a verb, it is in the nominative case. In v19 above πορνεῖαι is the subject of the main verb. which is ἐξέρχονται (exerchontai), the third plural, present middle indicative case of ἐξέρχομαι (exerchomai), which means “go out, come out, pass away, et cetera.” This is describing action that is happening continually by a the main subject of the sentence, which in this verse would be καρδίας (kardias) the genitive singular feminine case of καρδία (kardia), “heart.” Gentive describes possession. The heart doing this is the heart of unregenerate man.

Is there a difference between πορνεία (porneia) that Paul used to describe sinful behavior that is unacceptable for Christians and is what marks those who are not of the Body of Christ  and πορνεῖαι (porneiai) that our Lord used to describe a plural of evil thoughts and actions that come from the heart of man that defile him (her)? No, they mean the same thing, which is illicit sex that is unacceptable behavior for believers even if it is only in the mind.

What is the point? I was asked to look at this because many are seeking to normalize homosexual behavior in our time and are even going so far as to say that our Lord Jesus Christ never taught that homosexuality was a sin. As you can see in the word study we just did, those who teach that are committing a fallacy. God never changes. He called homosexuality an abomination in what we call the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul taught succinctly that it was a sin that Christians can have no part in. Our Lord taught that all illicit sex was evil and defiled whoever committed it.

Soli Deo Gloria!


4 thoughts on “The Heart of Man

  1. What is sin, is sin. Man’s attempt to change sin into something “acceptable” will always appeal to natural man but be repugnant to the One to Whom they will give an account.

    May God keep us from drifting!


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