Matthew Vines on 1 Timothy 1:10

by Matt Slick

  • "realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching." (1 Tim. 1:9-10, NASB).

Mr. Vines says, "In the final passage, 1 Timothy 1:10, the first word--“abusers of themselves with mankind”--reappears in a list of people Paul says the law was written against. Here, the translation is “them that defile themselves with mankind.” The translation issues and debates here are the same as those from 1 Corinthians. Again, the strongest inference that can be drawn from other uses of this term is that it referred to economic exploitation through sexual coercion--possibly involving same-sex activity, but a very different kind than what we are discussing."

The Greek word that Matthew Vines refers to in "them that defile themselves with mankind" (KJV) is aresenokoitas. Early English Bible translations are "abusers of themselves with men" (1901 American Standard Version); "them that defile themselves with mankind," (AV 1873); and "sodomites" (RSV 1901). The word occurs only two times in the New Testament: 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10. Mr. Vines connects the two verses and tries to dismiss the sinfulness of homosexuality in 1 Tim. 1:10 by saying that "The translation issues and debates here are the same as those from 1 Corinthians." However, in 1 Cor. 6:9, we learned that Mr. Vines' argument that aresenekoitas is dealing with a type of sexual exploitation does not hold since the verse also condemns fornication, which is, in the context, sexual intercourse between heterosexual couples who are not married. This is not an issue of sexual exploitation but of general licentiousness and sexual immorality. Since Mr. Vines has failed to see that point in 1 Cor. 6:9, his assertion that 1 Tim. 1:10 is of similar interpretive significance (regarding sexual exploitation) does not stand. He is mistaken.

 Again, the word is referenced in Greek dictionaries and lectionaries. Let's take a look. 

  • ἀρσενοκοίτης, ου, ὁ, arsenokoítēs;  an adult male who practices sexual intercourse with another adult male or a boy homosexual, sodomite, pederast
    • Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (76). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
  • ἀρσενοκοίτης arsenokoítēs; gen. arsenokoítou, masc. noun, from ársēn (730), a male, and koítē (2845), a bed. A man who lies in bed with another male, a homosexual (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10 [cf. Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27]).
    • Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G733). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
  • ἀρσενοκοίτης, arsenokoites /ar·sen·ok·oy·tace; n m. From 730 and 2845; GK 780; Two occurrences; AV translates as “abuser of (one’s) self with mankind” once, and “defile (one’s) self with mankind” once. 1 one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual.
    • Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G733). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Though I applaud Mr. Vines' attempt to examine the word of God and take it seriously, it is obvious that his pro-homosexual bias has governed his interpretations.  The fact is homosexuality is a sin. Trying to separate the homosexual act from the orientation does not work. Any "orientation" that is contrary to God's revelation is wrong. A sinful nature isn't okay with God. Remember, people are born with an "orientation" to lie, but biblically God does not separate the fallen nature from the manifestation of that nature.  In other words, people are born with a tendency to lie (orientation), and this is the result of the fall. We are born with sinful natures, and this is why we will be born again (John 3) and receive glorified bodies (1 Cor. 15) because it is our sinfully oriented natures that need fixing, too. We have a fallen and sinful nature by essence, which is why we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). In essence, Mr. Vines is separating the actual sinful nature of the person from the acts of that person, and this is wrong. 

Mr. Vines is in a dilemma that is similar to my own. He must restrict acting out according to his sinful orientation. He has an "orientation" to be attracted to people of the same gender with the resultant desires to act on it. I am oriented to be attracted to people of the opposite gender with the resultant desires to act on it , but I don't. I don't fornicate. I don't commit adultery. I am faithful to my wife even though I notice other women who are attractive. I don't act on my orientation to be attracted to the opposite sex. I can restrict myself to the biblically defined limits of marriage--something Mr. Vines wants to alter. After all, if he wants to be so biblical, then please find any example of homosexual marriage within its pages. It isn't there, and Mr. Vines' attempt to justify his redefinition of marriage and act out on his homosexual tendencies cannot be justified in his eisegetical methodology.

The issue is not that I am able to have sexual intercourse with whom I want (my wife) and he cannot (his husband?). Rather, the issue is the same for all who claim to be Christians--that we are to submit to God's Word. In this case, he is not. Instead, he is submitting God's Word to his passions.



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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.