Lust (Noun and Verb) - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Lust (Noun and Verb)

[ A-1,Noun,G1939, epithumia ]
denotes strong desire" of any kind, the various kinds being frequently specified by some adjective (See below). The word is used of a good desire only in Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17. Everywhere else it has a bad sense. In Romans 6:12 the injunction against letting sin reign in our mortal body to obey the "lust" thereof, refers to those evil desires which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity. They are equally the "lusts" of the flesh, Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:24; Ephesians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:18; 1 John 2:16, a phrase which describes the emotions of the soul, the natural tendency towards things evil. Such "lusts" are not necessarily base and immoral, they may be refined in character, but are evil if inconsistent with the will of God.

Other descriptions besides those already mentioned are: "of the mind," Ephesians 2:3; "evil (desire)," Colossians 3:5; "the passion of," 1 Thessalonians 4:5, RV; "foolish and hurtful," 1 Timothy 6:9; "youthful," 2 Timothy 2:22; "divers," 2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 3:3; "their own," 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:16; "worldly," Titus 2:12; "his own," James 1:14; "your former," 1 Peter 1:14, RV; "fleshly," 1 Peter 2:11; "of men," 1 Peter 4:2; "of defilement," 2 Peter 2:10; "of the eyes," 1 John 2:16; of the world ("thereof"), 1 John 2:17; "their own ungodly," Jude 1:18. In Revelation 18:14 "(the fruits) which thy soul lusted after" is, lit., "of thy soul's lust." See DESIRE, A, No. 1 (where associated words are noted).

[ A-2,Noun,G3715, orexis ]
lit., "a reaching" or "stretching after" (akin to oregomai, "to stretch oneself out, reach after"), a general term for every kind of desire, is used in Romans 1:27, "lust."

[ A-3,Noun,G2237, hedone ]
"pleasure," is translated "lusts," in the AV of James 4:1, James 4:3 (RV, "pleasure"). See PLEASURE.

Note: In 1 Thessalonians 4:5, AV, pathos, "passion" (RV, "passion"), is translated "lust," which is the better rendering of the next word epithumia, rendered "concupiscence." Pathos is described by Trench as "the diseased condition out of which epithumia springs." In 1 Corinthians 12:6, epithumetes, a luster after, is rendered "to lust."

[ B-1,Verb,G1937, epithumeo ]
akin to A, No. 1, has the same twofold meaning as the noun, namely
(a) "to desire," used of the Holy Spirit against the flesh, Galatians 5:17 (See below); of the Lord Jesus, Luke 22:15, "I have desired;" of the holy angels, 1 Peter 1:12; of good men, for good things, Matthew 13:17; 1 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 6:11; of men, for things without moral quality, Luke 15:16; Luke 16:21; Luke 17:22; Revelation 9:6;
(b) of "evil desires," in respect of which it is translated "to lust" in Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 10:6; Galatians 5:17 (1st part; See below); James 4:2; to covet, Acts 20:23; Romans 7:7; Romans 13:9. See COVET, DESIRE, B, No. 2.


(1) In Galatians 5:17, in the statement, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," the Holy Spirit is intended, as in the preceding verse. To walk by the Spirit involves the opposition here referred to. The verb "lusteth" is not repeated in the second part of the statement, but must in some way be supplied. Since in modern English the word "lust" is used exclusively in a bad sense, it is unsuitable as a translation of epithumeo, where the word is used in a good sense. As the rendering "desire" is used of the Lord Jesus (as mentioned above), it may be best so understood here in respect of the Holy Spirit.

(2) In James 4:5 the RV translates correctly in giving two questions, each of a rhetorical character, asked by way of remonstrance. The first draws attention to the fact that it is impossible for the Scripture to speak in vain; the second to the impossibility that the Holy Spirit, whom God has caused to dwell in the believer, should "long (unto envying)," epipotheo (AV, "lust"). Here again, not the human spirit is in view, but the Spirit of God; cp. 1 Corinthians 6:19. See LONG.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words