The greek word "ἀρσενοκοίτης(arsenokoites)" and its meaning

I’ve heard that when Paul uses this word when talking about homosexuals the actual meaning is about cultists and idol worship not about homosexual relationships in general.

All of that can be read here:

Does anyone have any insight into this?


I’m not a greek scholar; looking at Strong’s concordance it suggests the word is derived from two words for male and bed.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 733: ἀρσενοκοίτης

ἀρσενοκοίτης, ἀρσενοκοιτου, ὁ (ἄρσην a male; κοίτη a bed), one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite: 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10. (Anthol. 9, 686, 5; ecclesiastical writings.)


As has been mentioned in other conversation threads; I need to read these passages and see myself as a sinner; I have lustful thoughts, I have idolatrous thoughts (putting money and position before God), I’ve stolen things and been greedy.

This is one of the best verses in the Bible!! ; we are all guilty before God; and we all have an opportunity to come to Christ and find forgiveness as it says ‘and such were some of you’ (writing to the Corinthians), but you have been washed, and sanctified, and justified (legally righteous or ‘just as if I had never sinned’ as the old saying goes) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I hope that is helpful? :slight_smile:


Hi Luna,

I’ve seen this argument floating around on social media. It’s definitely a question worth investigating, especially since homosexuality is such a hot-button topic these days. Here is a good article I ran across from Dan Wallace. He addresses this question further down in the article.


Hi @Luna,

Anything dealing with this issue, we always have to approach it cautiously. To balance between gracefully not highlighting it as a bigger sin than any other sin of similar stature, but at the same time to be firm enough with the truth to call it for what it is. Lest we be either a stumbling block of condemnation or of compromise. I’ve seen the stance of RZIM speakers in general being tactful whenever this issue comes up.

I loved Dan Wallace’s article shared by @rla9316. As well as @matthew.western 's expounding on 1 Cor 6. Paul indeed was making a point to call out all sins as sins, to include every single human as guilty before God, but we are all sanctified by Jesus. The justification didn’t come from avoiding the array of sins, but by His blood.

Even if we grant it, and it is probably correct too, that Paul was addressing idol worship practices, the problem is there are other sins mentioned that are not associated directly to idol worship. So he is addressing all sins, including what is happening within idol worship. Even if it confines arsenokoites to homosexual act within perverse practices of idol worship, the act itself is still not talked about in a positive light.

See what Paul said in Rom 1:26-27:
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Paul unabashedly defined it as degrading passions, for anyone to abandon their natural sexual function as per original design. It means there is a natural and unnatural sexual functions. In fact the word used for passion here is pathos (Strong’s #3806) which is used to describe strong feelings which are not guided by God (like consuming lust). And it is used in Col 3:5 and 1 Thess 4:5 . All described as negative human desires. My point here: Paul did address homosexual act for what it is, even if it is within temple worship.

I don’t think it is wise to cherry-pick verses from the Levitical admonition of cultic practices in Lev 18 and 20. Among those mentioned is “intercourse with animal” (18:23 and 20:15). If using the same standard of confining these sins within the same boundaries, soon will we have Christians justifying bestiality, outside pagan worship, in likewise manner? And all the other sins mentioned in Levitical law on immoral relations for that matter? As long as it is not done as a ritual of pagan worship, then is it okay to engage in those acts?

My point here is not to demean homosexuality, but on the logical fallacy in making the above case. Let me reiterate that heterosexuals are no more cleaner than homosexuals before God. We are all sinners, whether heteros or homosexuals. What is to be avoided is heteros coming across as more righteous and very willing to point fingers at the homosexuals, to divert the attention away from their own depravities.

May we always be humble before the Lord and seek to please Him always by submitting to His ways, instead of our flesh, as heteros or not.

Blessings in Christ,


Thanks for that link have put in the Sunday School file. I believe that it does a very good job of countering the ambiguity argument.

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The word “arsenokoítēs” is a fusion of the words “árrhēn” (male) and “koítē” (bed), which are the terms utilized by the Septuagint in Leviticus 18:22’s prohibition of homosexuality. The literal meaning for the term, then, is “those who take men to bed (for sex).” The author of the article tries to argue that this refers to male cult prostitution specifically, not to homosexuality in general, but his argument fails in a few areas:

  1. Ancient Greek had numerous terms to refer to specific homosexual acts, including male cult prostitution (which is referred to numerous times in the Old Testament), but not (so far as I have been able to find) a general, all-encompassing term like “homosexuality.” While it makes sense for Paul to coin a term that did not independently exist, it doesn’t make sense that he would create a new term if appropriate terminology already existed.

  2. The author claims that the context for Leviticus 18:22 is condemnation of shrine prostitution, but this is not the case. With only one exception (child sacrifice to Molech), Leviticus 18 is about sexual immorality, a fact which is clearly evident from the text. Furthermore, a perusal of the Hebrew and Greek terms used in the text (I use indicates a broad prohibition of men having sex with other men, not a particular type of homosexual act.

  3. The author quotes the Jewish philosopher Philo to validate his claim that Leviticus 18:22 referred to male cult prostitution, calling Philo’s view “the common first century Jewish viewpoint.” Unfortunately for his argument, this claim is false. Philo was a sort of liberal theologian of his day, and attempted to use Greek philosophy (specifically Stoicism) to interpret the Jewish Scriptures allegorically. While this methodology was embraced by many early Christians, it was rejected by most Jews of his day (particularly the Pharisees), and was not accepted in later Rabbinic Judaism ( To represent his interpretation as “common” is simply deceptive.


Hi Luna. I did some research of the word and found this from :

"Arsenokoitai is a compound word: arseno is the word for “a male,” and koitai is the word for “mat” or “bed.” Put the two halves together, and the word means “a male bed”—that is, a person who makes use of a “male-only bed” or a “bed for males.” And, truthfully, that’s all the information we need to understand the intent of 1 Corinthians 6:9.

The word meaning “bed” carries a sexual connotation in this context—the Greek koitai is the source of our English word coitus (“sexual intercourse”). The conclusion is that the word arsenokoitai is referring to homosexuals—men who are in bed with other men, engaging in same-gender sexual activity."

Paul does point out some specific sins here, homosexuality being one, So we can’t say he’s being vague, or that he’s lumping all sexual immorality into one set.
What we can say is that none of the sins he mentions is beyond the saving reach of God. And, we can also see that those who engage in those sins, in our discussion here, homosexuality, can be cleansed of such a sin and live sexual lives as God intended. When Paul said, " …and such were some of you", he clearly lets us understand that homosexuality is a sin, not something one is born with with no hope of being otherwise. I, personally, don’t believe that God would create a homosexual and call that person sinful, leaving that person with no hope of eternal life. That contradicts the verse that says God is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3: 8-10). It is against God’s holy nature to create sin, then not give any hope of salvation.
I hope I’m stating my case clearly here.

Just adding a few thoughts to some great points above… Regarding the quote from the GayChristian website, don’t let them make statements they don’t backup with primary sources. So, questions for them, what are the other Greek words for “homosexual” and why should Greek usage outside the Bible matter for biblical interpretation? … Also, look at the Romans 1 passage and marvel at Paul’s description of the problem. He reasoned from nature to knowing something about God and showed how reasoning from nature also instructs regarding sexuality.