In 1 Timothy 1:9, does androphonos mean ‘manslayers’?

The Claim

It is sometimes claimed that the Greek word androphonos in 1 Timothy 1:9 means ‘manslayers’, in the sense of women who kill men. This word is typically translated ‘murderers’ in standard modern English Bibles.

1 Timothy 1:
8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately,
9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

The word is translated ‘manslayers’ in the King James Version. It has been suggested that this is a allusion to the Amazons referred to by the Greek historian Herodotus, who described the Amazons as killers of men.

The Facts

This argument from the Greek word translated ‘manslayers’ in the KJV is not supported by any standard modern Bible translation, and is contradicted by standard professional lexicons. The KJV’s rendering of the Greek word androphonos in 1 Timothy 1:9 is ‘manslayers’, because the KJV uses the masculine gendered language of its era. The Greek word does not mean ‘man slayers’ as opposed to ‘woman slayers’. The translation of the KJV is misleading.

Lexical Evidence

This is how androphonos is defined in standard lexicons.

*  ‘ἀνδροφόνος, ου, ὁ (s. ἀνήρ, φόνος; Hom. et al.; OGI 218, 99 [III B.C.]; Kaibel 184, 6 [III B.C.]; POslo 18, 4 [162 A.D.]; 2 Macc 9:28; Philo, Just.; Ath. 35, 1; Iren. 1, 6, 3 [Harv. I 55, 14] adj.) murderer (lit. ‘man-slayer’; Lex. Vind. p. 192, 13: a murderer of women and children as well as of men) 1 Ti 1:9.—DELG s.v. ἀνήρ A, θείνω. M-M.’[1]

*  ‘ἀνδροφόνος, ου, ὁ   androphonos   murderer* 1 Tim 1:9 in a vice catalog with reference to the fifth commandment of the Decalogue; → ἀνδραποδιστής.’[2]

*  ‘ἀνδροφόνος,-ου+   N2M 0-0-0-0-1=1 2 Mc 9,28 Murderer[3]

*  ‘20.85 φονεύς, έως m; ἀνδροφόνος, ου m; ἀνθρωποκτόνος, ου m: a person who murders another person—‘murderer.’: ἀπώλεσεν τοὺς φονεῖς ἐκείνους ‘ he destroyed those murderers’ Mt 22:7. ἀνδροφόνος: πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις, ἀνδροφόνοις ‘murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, and murderers of people’ 1 Tm 1:9. ἀνθρωποκτόνος: ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς ‘he was a murderer from the beginning’ Jn 8:44.’[4]

*  ‘✪ νδροφόνος, ον, man-slaying, Homeric epith. of Hector, Il.24.724, etc.; of Achilles, χεῖρες ἀ. 18.317; homicide, Pl.Phd.114a; generally, murderous, ἀ. τὴν φύσιν Theopomp.Hist.217:—in Hom. usu. of slaughter in battle, but in Od.1.261 φάρμακον ἀ. a murderous; ἀνδροφόνους .. Ἰλιάδας E.Hec.1061; drug:—epith. of αἷμα, Orph.H.65.4. 2. of women, murdering their husbands, Pi.P.4.252. II. as law-term, one convicted of manslaughter, homicide, Lys.10.7, D.23.29, cf. ib.216:’[5]

The word is defined consistently as ‘murderer’.[6] Three lexicons specifically identify the word as meaning ‘murderer’ in the context of 1 Timothy 1:9.[7] One explains it means ‘a murderer of women and children as well as of men’, identifying this as the meaning in 1 Timothy 2:9, [8] and another similarly says ‘a person who murders another person’, identifying this as the meaning in 1 Timothy 1:9. [9]

 Bible Translations

Although the two words making up the word androphonos mean ‘man’ and ‘killer’ respectively, when they are combined to make the word androphonos the meaning is not ‘manslayer’ with the sense ‘someone who kills men as opposed to women’.

Standard modern Bible translations such as the CEV,[10] ESV,[11]  GNB,[12] HCSB,[13] Message, NASB95, [14]  NCV,[15] NET,[16] NIV,[17] NIRV,[18] NLT,[19] TLB,[20] and TNIV,[21] all render this word with an ungendered translation in 1 Timothy 1:9.

Furthermore, the Greek word used by Herodotus is not the same Greek word used by Paul.[22] HOweve,r neither word refers specifically to the killing of males as opposed to females; androktonos[23] is identified in the latest edition of the ‘A Greek-English Lexicon’,[24] as referring generally to murder whether of men or women,[25] citing classical usage as evidence.


[1] Arndt, Danker, & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’, p. 76 (3rd ed., 2000).

[2] Balz & Schneider, ‘Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament. Translation of: Exegetisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testamen’, volume 1, p. 96 (1990-c1993).

[3] Lust, Eynikel, & Hauspie, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (electronic rev. ed. 2003).

[4] Louw & Nida, ‘Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains’, volume 1, p. 237 (2nd ed. 1989)

[5] Liddell, Scott, & Jones, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon’, p. 129 (rev. and augm. throughout, electronic ed., 9th ed. with supplement, 1996).

[6] Standard modern English translations therefore render it in this way.

[7] BDAG, EDNT, Louw/Nida.

[8] Arndt, Danker, & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’, p. 76 (3rd ed., 2000).

[9] Louw & Nida, ‘Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains’, volume 1, p. 237 (2nd ed. 1989).

[10] ‘those who would even kill their own parents’.

[11] ‘those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers’.

[12] ‘those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers’.

[13] ‘those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers’.

[14] ‘those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers’.

[15] ‘those who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder’.

[16] ‘those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers’.

[17] ‘those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers’.

[18] ‘It is for those who kill their fathers or mothers. It is for murderers’.

[19] ‘who kill their father or mother or commit other murders’.

[20] ‘attack their fathers and mothers, and murder’.

[21] ‘those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers’.

[22] Herodotus uses the word androktonoi, not the word androphonoi which is in 1 Timothy 1:9.

[23] Though it does not appear in Greek lexicons covering the text of the New Testament, since the word is not used there.

[24] The standard classical Greek lexicon

[25] ‘ἀδροκτόνος, ον, (κτείνω) man-slaying, murdering, σῦν ἀ. B.18.23 S.-M.; of Amazons, Hdt.4.110.1; of Cyclops, E.Cyc.22.  2. slayer of her husband, S.fr.187 R.’, Liddell, Scott, & Jones, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon’, p. 129 (rev. and augm. throughout, electronic ed., 9th ed. with supplement, 1996).

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