Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

What is the difference between adultery, fornication, uncleanness & lasciviousness in the verse above? I looked into the Greek from this website but could not understand well.

2 Answers 2


First, the text quoted above is the TR. The NA28/UBS5 does not have "adultery". Nevertheless, I will include it below in the data presented. (This data extracted from BDAG.)

  • μοιχεια - adultery = to break a marriage vow of fidelity by having intercourse with someone other than one's own spouse, eg, Matt 15:19, Mark 7:22, etc.
  • πορνεια - fornication is either (1) unlawful sexual intercourse, eg, prostitution or unchastity, eg, 2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3, Col 3:5, etc, (2) participation in prohibited degrees of marriage, eg, Matt 5:32, 19:9, (3) immorality of a transcendent nature, eg, Rev 2:21, 9:21, 14:8, 18:3, 19:2, etc.
  • ακαθαρσια - uncleanness as either (1) literally any substance that is filthy or dirty, refuse, eg, Matt 23:37, (2) figuratively a state of moral corruption, immorality, vileness, eg, 2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Col 3:5, Eph 5:3, etc.
  • ασελγεια - self-abandonment = lack of self restraint which involves one in conduct that violates all bounds of what is socially acceptable, eg, Eph 4:19, 1 Peter 4:19, Jude 4, Gal 5:19, Rom 13:13, etc.

Hope this is helpful.


Adultery is the social aspect of this area of sin, the lack of concern for family relationships, for social order, for social structure, for faithfuless in relationships.

Fornication is the physical aspect of this kind of sin - the matter of the misuse of the body for a purpose never intended.

Uncleanness is the improper aspect of this kind of sin. It is defiling. It leaves a stain. It is dirty.

Lasciviousness is the loose aspect of this kind of sin. It is a lack of self respect, a lack of discipline, a lack of uprightness. It is wanton.

Acts of sin in this area will incorporate all four of the above, but not necessarily obviously. But in heart, they will all be present if there is sin in this area.

As Jesus says, if a man looks on a woman to lust after her, it is because - first - he committed the social act of disregarding the fact that the woman belonged either to her family or to her husband. She did not belong to him. And therefore it was a sin in heart before the outward movement of the eye.

  • you should quote some references to support your contentions using a good Greek lexicon - I do not see some of these meanings in the words at all.
    – user25930
    Mar 7, 2019 at 0:46
  • These definitions are too loose. For example, does "adultery" include physical child abuse or wife abuse without sexual connotations? Does fornication include eating too much or other non-sexual abuse of the body? Obviously NO. These first two are specifically sexual in nature.
    – user25930
    Mar 7, 2019 at 0:51
  • Both answers are helpful in their own ways. A perfect answer would have been a combination of both. So I have up voted both. Thanks to both of you :-) Mar 13, 2019 at 4:38

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