What is a whoremonger in the Bible?

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. ~ Ephesians 5:5 KJV

In order to understand the meaning of “whoremonger” and why it was used in the Bible we need to dig in deeper to really understand its meaning. This is a word that seems to be misunderstood. Whoremonger is an old English term used in the King James translation as well as the Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible. It is used 5 times in the New Testament. Many have defined this word as anyone who engages in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Once we dive into the Greek meaning you will have a more in-depth understanding of the word.

The original Greek word is pórnos. The Strong’s dictionary has 3 descriptions that follow:

  1. a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire
  2. a male prostitute
  3. a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator

This word seems to refer more to the sexual actions of a man more than any person or just anyone as it is commonly described. In the grammar section of the Strong’s dictionary it mentions a male prostitute (as venal). Venal is also suggesting that a man is capable of being bought or obtained for money; a person open to corrupt influence and especially bribery.

There are 4 other passages that use this particular word and are listed below:

  • 1 Timothy 1:10 – For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
  • Hebrews 13:4 – Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
  • Revelation 21:8 – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • Revelation 22:15 – For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever liveth and maketh a lie.

Notice in 1 Timothy 1:10 it states, … defile themselves with mankind. This is referring to the actions with a man (mankind), not a woman. The Strong’s dictionary clearly uses the term womankind in other instances.

With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Revelation 17:2 KJV

The Greek word for fornication in this scripture is porneúō. It is not pornos like it is in the first scripture we reviewed. Strong’s defines this word as:

  1. to prostitute one’s body to the lust of another
  2. to give one’s self to unlawful sexual intercourse a) to commit fornication
  3. metaphor – to be given to idolatry, to worship idols a) to permit one’s self to be drawn away by another into idolatry

Knowing the Book of Revelation has many spiritual connotations we can deduct that the king’s of the earth have indeed been drawn away to worship idols (like money and power). The Bible is making a spiritual reference related to the use of the word fornication. It is not referring to the actual actions of sex. Thus, it is a different Greek word.

The Greek language is quite interesting because it is a rich language and uses many more words compared to the English language. Did you know there are 5 different words for “love” used in Greek language whereas English only has 1 word? After reviewing these definitions it would make complete sense to apply the whoremonger reference as one of a man with another man. These actions still have a serious judgment upon them and we read this in Revelation chapter 21 and 22.

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

In this scripture the word fornication in Greek is porneía. Stong’s defines this word as:

  1. illicit sexual intercourse a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Leviticus 18 c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mark 10:11-12
  2. metaph – the worship of idols a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

These definitions encompass more of overall actions of a person. Illicit behavior is defined as: illegal or unlawful; activities that are not considered morally acceptable.

In the grammar portion of the definition it says, harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry – fornication. It is illegal in our culture today to pay for sex whether it is from a woman or a man and definitely morally unacceptable for adultery and incest. There was a reason why the word whoremonger is used in those scriptures and it is very specific. But as you can see it is not what you may have heard for many years. Its meaning has been diluted and changed. When we dive into the meaning of old English words this can help us better understand the Bible.