Many to most mainstream Christians love to quote the verses below, shown in RED, CAPITAL letters, lifting them “sky high” out of their proper contexts, to try to prove that the food laws have been annulled. From just quickly reading the explanations, though, you can easily see that they do not really prove that the very beneficial, protective food restrictions have been abrogated.
1) Romans 14:1,14: “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but NOT TO DISPUTES OVER DOUBTFUL THINGS …… 14 …… THERE IS NOTHING UNCLEAN OF ITSELF ……”
ANALYSIS: Verse 14 above must refer to a type of generally harmless, ceremonial or ritual uncleanness, not to a medical, potentially injurious or fatal kind of uncleanness characteristic of the forbidden foods. For 3 good reasons verse 14 cannot possibly be about the Levitically forbidden or unclean foods.
a) If the verse refers to a Levitical kind of uncleanness, it then seriously conflicts with other New Testament verses (2 Corinthians 6:17, Revelation 18:2, Acts 10:14) clearly proclaiming that some things are definitely still unclean, particularly the forbidden foods. We should be able to confidently assume that Paul is not deliberately lying to us here. Therefore verse 14 cannot be referring to the forbidden foods. Paul is simply talking about another kind of uncleanness.
b) The very first verse in chapter 14 introduces the main subject in this chapter: “disputes over doubtful things.” A) vegetarianism, B) eating meat originally meant to be a sacrifice to a pagan god, and C) unnecessarily ascetic fasting never were commanded in the Bible. Those 3 items are examples of “doubtful things.” The long held, divine, quite well established food laws never were something that was “doubtful.”
c) Paul’s use of the original Greek word koinos, Strong’s number 2839, for “unclean” IMMEDIATELY CLARIFIES that he WAS NOT referring to animals unfit for human consumption listed in the Old Testament, in which the original Greek word “akathartos,” Strong’s 169, overwhelmingly is used to describe those unclean, forbidden to eat animals, NOT koinos. Akathartos appears in 2 Corinthians 6:17 where Paul strictly commands us to not even touch (and by implication much less eat) anything unclean (akathartos) and Acts 10:14 and 11:8 where Peter said that he had never eaten anything unclean (akathartos). Akathartos also appears in Revelation 18:2 in which a future Babylon is described as a place for every unclean (akathartos) and hated bird. Thayer’s Lexicon defines akathartos as “THAT WHICH MUST BE ABSTAINED FROM ACCORDING TO THE LEVITICAL LAW, LEST IMPURITY BE CONTRACTED.” The “clincher” in recognizing whether koinos really refers to a Levitical type of uncleanness as in the forbidden foods, is the Greek word in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy that the Septuagint uses in describing or referring to “unclean” forbidden food: it is akathartos, not koinos. The highly accurate and respected Septuagint is the translation of the first 5 books of the Old Testament into Greek, about 300 years before Jesus was born. The translation was done by 70 Jewish scholars (septuaginta means 70 in Latin). The Septuagint was commonly used by first century Christians and by Paul, too, most likely. Paul surely must have seen the akathartos word many times and knew what it meant, yet he chose a word that did not clearly refer to the Levitical kind of uncleanness in Romans 14:14: koinos. Koinos refers to being ceremonially polluted, defiled, or EXTERNALLY unclean for SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE. In Romans 14:20 “………all things are clean” the original Greek word for “clean” is “katharos” which means “free from impurities, without blemish, spotless” and is used to describe all kinds of cleanliness, including clean dishes. Although the spelling of katharos is similar to akathartos, you can readily see that they definitely are different words.
To erroneously conclude that the Old Testament laws prohibiting eating certain meats have been abolished is taking Romans 14 very much out of context. Trying to use Romans 14:14 as conclusive proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that the food laws have been done away with is just too weak and too speculative an argument, especially since it is far too inconsistent with over 95 other pro-law New Testament verses. For additional study of Romans 14:14 please visit http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/understanding-unclean-romans-14/. Another excellent site is http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/biblical-laws/clean-and-unclean-animals/romans-14/. Read the lower one half of that page.
2) 1 Timothy 4:1-5: “…… in latter times SOME WILL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, GIVING HEED TO DECEIVING SPIRITS AND DOCTRINES OF DEMONS, 2 SPEAKING LIES …… 3 FORBIDDING TO MARRY, and COMMANDING TO ABSTAIN FROM FOODS WHICH GOD CREATED TO BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING by those who believe and know the truth. 4 FOR EVERY CREATURE OF GOD IS GOOD, AND NOTHING IS TO BE REFUSED if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
ANALYSIS: Not only a “red flag,” but an almost “blindingly bright, pulsating, red flare” should immediately go up when reading the words “FORBIDDING TO MARRY” if you mistakenly believe verse 3 and 4 prove that the food laws have been annulled. Those words instantly indicate that the particular people telling us not to marry and to abstain from foods ARE NOT RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE following Biblical principles because marriage of course is certainly condoned and encouraged in the Bible. Such people could not possibly have been Jews, Benjamites, or any other Old Testament, Mosaic food law obeying tribe of Israel. The context of chapter 4 is found in verse 1 which is a WARNING AGAINST DEMONIC DOCTRINES and DECEIVING SPIRITS (demons) teaching celibacy and EXCESSIVE ASCETICISM concerning foods. The context of verse 3 is a certain class of food, and not necessarily just any food, which God specifically created to be “received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the TRUTH,” or to be eaten with thanksgiving by those people. What kind of TRUTH do you think that most likely would be? Biblical truth, previously established Biblical truth as in the Mosaic food laws, would of course most likely be the kind of truth referred to here. Verse 4 involves the same context and is logically referring only to the same group of edible foods “God created to be received with thanksgiving,” according to Leviticus, not necessarily just any creature or food. For a better understanding please visit http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/biblical-laws/clean-and-unclean-animals/1-timothy-4/.
3) Mark 7:18-19: “…….. Do you not perceive that WHATEVER ENTERS A MAN FROM OUTSIDE CANNOT DEFILE HIM, 19 BECAUSE IT DOES NOT ENTER HIS HEART BUT HIS STOMACH, AND IS ELIMINATED, THUS PURIFYING ALL FOODS?”
ANALYSIS: These verses are easy to explain. The false belief that this verse proves the Old Testament dietary laws have been abolished is another classic case of a) totally ignoring the over all meaning or context of the first two thirds of the seventh chapter of Mark, b) totally ignoring the definition of the original Greek word katharizo, Strong’s number 2511, translated “purifying” in verse 19, and worst of all, c) unquestioningly accepting the DIRECT ADDITIONS of anti-Old Testament leaning translators’ MISLEADING comments in translations such as those in the New International Version of the Bible, the New American Standard Bible, and in most other English translated Bibles!! The subject of verses 18-19, according to verses 1-5 refers to the Pharisees’ man made ceremonial ritual of meticulously washing hands, not what foods are “unclean” or Biblically inedible. The first, primary definition of katharizo refers to the cleansing of physical stains, dirt, and other external contamination on food, not the neutralization of potentially fatal infections such as trichinosis cysts ingested by consuming pork, one of the forbidden foods listed in the Mosaic laws. The acidity of the human stomach can “cleanse” or neutralize many toxins, but not all of them. For example, stomach acidity will dissolve the trichinosis cysts of infected raw or undercooked pork, but the acidity will not kill the larvae released from the cysts, which can go on to infect and sometimes seriously harm a person. This proves that the kind of cleansing discussed in Mark 7 does not refer to the forbidden foods, which would involve a type of medical cleansing. The NIV, NASB, and most other English translations, incredibly, BRAZENLY ADD the following or similar very misleading anti-Old Testament comment at the end of Mark 7:19: “(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.),” a comment that IS NOT found in the more accurate King James and New King James versions, and certainly not in the original Greek. In verses 20-23 Jesus added that the Pharisees should put more emphasis on cleansing their thoughts which is more important than washing their hands. For more study please read the upper one third of GLARING EXAMPLES OF TRANSLATORS’ BIAS AGAINST OT LAWS. Please also read http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/biblical-laws/clean-and-unclean-animals/mark-7/. Another great site to visit is http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/did-jesus-declare-all-meats-clean/.
4) Matthew 15:11: “NOT WHAT GOES INTO THE MOUTH DEFILES A MAN; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
ANALYSIS: Nearby Matthew 15:2: “Why do Your disciples …… not wash their hands when they eat bread” essentially “spells out” that the MAIN SUBJECT MATTER here in chapter 15 all the way to verse 20 is the man concocted Jewish ritual of washing hands in a certain way before eating, NOT the forbidden foods. Ingesting unclean meats most certainly can “defile” you, however. You can be so defiled by eating what is forbidden, such as eating contaminated shellfish, that you can die within 2 days. Further proof that verse 11 cannot be referring to the forbidden foods is the similar KIND OF DEFILEMENT Jesus is referring to in verses 18 and 19. The defilement being described in those 2 verses comes from the mouth and heart (mind) and consists of EVIL THOUGHTS, MURDERS, ADULTERIES, FORNICATIONS, THEFTS, LYING, and BLASPHEMIES. Therefore this type of defilement is spiritual, not physical. Unclean foods are physical.
5) Acts 10:10-17,28:”Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; ……. he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 14 But Peter said, ‘Not so Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘WHAT GOD HAS CLEANSED YOU MUST NOT CALL COMMON.’ 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. 17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant …….. 28 …… But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 11:2-5,18: “And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!’ 4 But Peter explained …… saying: 5 I was in …… a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet …… 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
ANALYSIS: One cannot ignore Acts 10:28-29 which say: “…….. ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for………” Without reading the latter verses it can be easy to jump to the premature conclusion that God has abolished laws restricting which foods can be eaten. After carefully reading Acts 10 one can see that Peter never at any time concluded that he could eat any kind of animal even after seeing the vision three times and “wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant.” If Peter himself never interpreted this dream as a sign that he could eat what was formerly forbidden to eat, how can you declare it as divine permission to now eat anything? Peter later realized what the revelation really meant. Peter now understood that he should no longer call anyone common or unclean according to verse 28. After recognizing the purpose of the dream he later was able to baptize the first gentiles (non-Israelites) the Lord had called into the Church (verses 45-48). During the time that Jesus lived Jews erroneously believed that gentiles were unclean and should be avoided. Peter’s dream showed that God was now beginning to offer salvation to people of any race, and not just to Jews. In Acts 11:2-18 Peter later told some circumcised Jewish Christians (“those of the circumcision”) about this dream, and in verse 18 even those Jewish Christians, who were surprised, came to the same conclusion about the dream: “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” For additional study visit http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/biblical-laws/clean-and-unclean-animals/acts-10/.
6) 1 Corinthians 8:1,4,10:25,27: “Now concerning things offered to idols …… 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols ……” 10:25: “EAT WHATEVER IS SOLD IN THE MEAT MARKET …….. 27 …….. EAT WHATEVER IS SET BEFORE YOU, asking no question for conscience’ sake.”
ANALYSIS: Briefly, the issue in these verses is not about whether certain meats are clean or unclean. According to Acts 14:13, the only NT verse describing what kinds of animals were sacrificed, oxen, which are clean, were offered to pagan gods, which more than likely indicates that unclean animals were not the kind that were sacrificed. The all important context, though, involves whether or not you should eat apparently clean meats previously meant to be offered as a sacrifice to a pagan god. In 1 Corinthians 8:1,4 the phrases “Now concerning things offered to idols” and “Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols” pinpoint the kind of food issue being discussed, which is the eating of food, regardless of whether it is “clean” or not, that has or will be offered to pagan gods. No other verse or word in 1 Corinthians 8-10 even suggests that the discussion involves the decision to eat clean or unclean meats. In certain circumstances when it might offend someone if you initially refused to eat meat previously meant to be offered to an idol, Paul said it is okay to eat that meat to avoid offending another person, apparently especially a potential Christian. In verse 28, however, Paul told us to not eat that previously offered meat if eating it would make someone unhappy. To understand these verses better please click http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/does-new-testament-abolish-meat-distinctions/ and read the upper one fourth of that page. An excellent similar site is http://www.ucg.org/booklet/what-does-bible-teach-about-clean-and-unclean-meats/does-new-testament-abolish-meat-distinct/. Please read at least the upper one half of that page.
7) Colossians 2:16-18,20-23: “SO LET NO ONE JUDGE YOU IN FOODS OR IN DRINK, OR REGARDING A FESTIVAL OR A NEW MOON OR SABBATHS, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, TAKING DELIGHT IN …… WORSHIP OF ANGELS …… vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind …… 20 …… if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why …… do you subject yourself to regulations– 21 ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ 22 …… according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed …… neglect of the body, but are of no value …….” — New King James Version for all 6 items.
ANALYSIS: Again, not just a red flag, but another almost blindingly bright, pulsating “red flare” should immediately go up upon seeing the words “TAKING DELIGHT IN …… WORSHIP OF ANGELS” if you believe incorrectly that verses 16,20 and 21 prove that the food laws have been abolished. The people that are trying to judge you and cheat you of your reward are described here as enthusiastic angel worshippers and are therefore unrighteous. Nowhere in the NT are Christians commanded to worship any angel. Such worship is actually sinful and prohibited. Therefore anything said about food, the festivals, or the Saturday Sabbath by these very unrighteous, blatant SINNERS is to be ignored. The context or subject content here is not about Biblically forbidden food, but a warning by Paul to the Colossians to ignore criticism by a local group of ASCETIC HERETICS condemning the Gentile Christians in Colosse for physically enjoying the feast meals on the Sabbath and holy festival days. This verse actually shows that the righteous Colossians did observe the Saturday Sabbath and the Mosaic festival days. For a more complete explanation of this verse read COLOSSIANS 2:16 DOES NOT PROVE THE FOOD LAWS OR SATURDAY SABBATH HAVE BEEN ABOLISHED. For additional study please visit http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-lesson/bible-study-course-lesson-12-gods-festivals-keys-humanitys-future/what-did-paul-really-say-c/. Another excellent site is http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/law-and-grace/colossians-2-16/.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:17: “Come out, then, from among them …….., separate yourselves from them, and DO NOT EVEN TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN ………” — Knox New Testament
Mainstream Christians routinely not only touch but also eat bacon, crabs, pizza with pork contaminated pepperoni, and Vibrio vulnificus contaminated oysters, etc. The above is a New Testament verse by Paul that provides additional evidence that the dietary laws are still valid, which also implies that many other Mosaic laws are still valid, too. The original Greek word for “touch” is haptomai, defined by world renowned Biblical word expert Joseph Thayer as “……. to fasten to ……. adhere to, cling to, ……. to touch …….” In accordance with other commentators Thayer further defines haptomai as “……. have no intercourse with the Gentiles, no fellowship in their heathenish practices ……. THE THINGS NOT TO BE TOUCHED APPEAR TO BE both women (unbelievers) and CERTAIN KINDS OF FOOD (forbidden food).” The original Greek word for “unclean” in the above verse is akathartos, which in accordance with Thayer is defined as “……. that which MUST BE ABSTAINED FROM ACCORDING TO THE LEVITICAL LAW, lest impurity be contracted …….” which of course would include food.
Don’t worry about people who have died that have never even heard of the Biblical food laws. They most likely will be in the very merciful SECOND RESURRECTION and will learn them quite well afterward. Jesus Christ will still be on the earth at that time answering all questions.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.