How is the Greek word “malakoi” translated in the NIV?
In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul uses two words together that the NIV has rendered “men who have sex with men.” The first word, “malakoi”, means “soft.” But this Greek word was often used to refer to the passive partner in a male homosexual relationship. The standard Greek lexicon for the New Testament defines the word in 1 Corinthians 6:9 as meaning “being passive in a same-sex relationship.” We can be pretty sure this is what this word refers to here because it is used in combination with another Greek word, “arsenokoitai”, that refers to sex between males. Words always take on particular meanings because of the context in which they are used. The context here makes clear that these two Greek words are being used to depict, respectively, the passive and active partner in a male-with-male sexual relationship. Hence the NIV translation “men who have sex with men.”