Bible Question:

What is the biblical definition of sodomite? Where is the proof in the Bible?

Bible Answer:

The term “sodomite” is taken from the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-26). The definition of sodomite refers to anyone who actively engages in homosexual or lesbian acts.

The Sin of Sodom

There is a document at this site entitled “Same Sex Patterns of Life.” It provides a biblical understanding of what happened at the city of Sodom. The document also provides a complete survey of homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments  It is important to remember that while God calls homosexuality a sin, He loves those who commit this sin. The sin involves males having sexual relations with males. In the New Testament God makes it clear that females are included in this definition of homosexuality.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (NASB) Romans 1:26-27

The Bible explicitly describes the homosexual act. There is no doubt that God does not approve of this sexual behavior. The passage of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is very explicit because it includes both the receiving and giving partners. Since the passage is translated differently by various Bibles, here are several examples.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners,  practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive,  and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NET)

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers  nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers  will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV)

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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV)

Greek Words For Homosexual Behavior

There are two different Greek words that describe homosexual behavior in 1 Corinthians 6:9. These two words are malakos and arsenokites.  The Greek word malakos refers to the passive partner in the homosexual act. The NASB translates this word as “effeminate.” The NET Bible translates it as “passive homosexual partners” because the root word has the idea of soft or gentle (Matthew 11:8; Luke 7:25).[1] This Greek word is also translated as soft or fancy homosexual, or a passive or receiving male partner in homosexual intercourse act.[2] The NIV blurs both Greek words together. The NKJV translates it as “homosexuals.” However, this is unexpected.

The Term Sodomite

The NASB translates arsenokoites as “homosexuals.”  The NET Bible translates the Greek word as “practicing homosexuals.” That is, malakos is the partner receiving the sexual act and arsenokoites is the active partner performing the act. The NIV combines the two Greek words.

The New King James Version (NKJV) translates the Greek word aresnokites as “Sodomites.” Aresnokoites is defined as the “active male partner in homosexual intercourse”[3] and “one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite.”[4] Consequently, the NKJV translated aresnokoites as sodomite.” This is an acceptable translation. Aresnokoites also appears in 1 Timothy 1:10. The word sodomite appears in other translations in the Old Testament. A sodomite is one who practices something that God has explicitly described as sin.


God hates all sin and we are all sinners. But God does not hate us. A homosexual or lesbian is loved by God but He hates the sin.  If you know a homosexual or lesbian, I would encourage you to love them and tell them that our God loves them and calls them to stop sinning. Read Romans 1:28-32 and Romans 3:23 to discover that everyone sins. The only way to obtain approval and peace with God  is to turn to Jesus Christ who lovingly forgives our sins (Romans 5:6-8).

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8 (NASB)



1. Balz and Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans Publishing. 1981. vol. 2. p. 381.

2. Danker and Bauer. Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament. University of Chicago Press. 1979. p. 613.

3. Louw & Nida. Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament. United Bible Societies. 1989.  vol 2. p. 772.

4. J. H. Thayer. The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Christian Copyrights. 1981. p. 740.

Suggested Links:

Is there a verse in the Bible about homosexuality?
The Bible on Same Sex Relations
Peace With God
What is the meaning of effeminate and homosexual in 1 Corinthians 6:9?
Does sodomite mean temple prostitute in the Bible?