Should We Keep the Dietary Laws?
Before we get into the article don't forget to scroll down towards the very end to see a note on kosher foods and swine products.
Welcome. Today we are going to cover a very important topic: does the New Testament say that you can now eat the foods that are prohibited in the Old Testament? A lot of people are going to say yes, and they will most likely reference Paul's writings in order to prove their point. Let's take a closer look at the scriptures and find the answer.
With that being said, let's get in to the scriptures.
Matthew 6 25
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So what he is saying is, "The Most High will provide for you. Do not be scared and think that you will not have what you need, including food. He has done all of this, so he'll do a lot more for you."
Matthew 15 11
People like to say this verse is saying that whatever food you eat, it does not defile you. But this verse is not even talking about food. Turn to verse 1 and we will read to verse 20. Notice how the Pharisees are asking the Messiah why the disciples are transgressing the tradition of the ELDERS by not washing their hands before they eat. This was not a law in the Torah. How does he answer? He asks them why they transgress the commandment of the Almighty by enforcing their own tradition and not enforcing a scriptural law such as honoring your mother and father? That's part of the law. The ten commandments.
So what does make a man unclean? Verses 16 to 19 tells us. Evil thoughts of murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Sin makes you unclean. But what does verse 20 say? Eating with unwashed hands does NOT defile a man. This is not about food at all. But knowingly indulging in foods that are not good for you? That is another story, but we will go into that at the end of the article. If he was talking about unclean food or unwashed hands and unclean food, verse 20 would say he said neither this or unclean food defiles a man.
He wasn't against the Pharisees for preaching the law of eating clean meats. He was against them because they neglected the weightier matters, and they were being hypocrites who enforced their own traditions but always liked to point their finger at others. These were the same guys that Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 29 13, talking about their love for the Most High with their mouths but their heart is not with him. They are hypocrites. That is why the Savior came. He came to preach the truth of the law to his lost people as they were being led astray by these prophets. There is also a reason as to why the Pharisees taught thus law which we will go into in Mark.
Mark 7 19
Cross reference this with the version in Mathew and we get a clearer understanding. Now, it says that when the meat goes through the belly and into the draught, it is purged. Now what does this mean? Remember, the start of the argument was that the Pharisees were accusing the disciples of not washing their hands before they eat. The Pharisees believed that hands, bowls, plates, utensils, and even dining couches, could become “common” through ordinary use, and thus had to be washed (presumably because it could make a person “common” if he/she ate with them, cf. Acts 10 28). Here's an example; Tom sits down on a bench. Brian says to himself, "If I sit down where Tom just sat, it will defile me and make me like everyone else." You can see that Brian is in error. (Did Jesus Declare All Foods Clean? A Hebraic Perspective on Mark 7:19 by Rob Roy)
Acts 10 15
Read it until verse 14. But Peter said, “Not so, Lord, , for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Why is he refusing? He was there when Christ supposedly said food did not defile us (which I disproved earlier in the article), so he should have had no problem in eating it. Read it until verse 28. This was symbolic on calling people unclean. It was not about eating unclean meat. Nowhere in this chapter does it say Peter did eat.
This correlates with the verses in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. The prejudice against non Jews that Peter was raised up in would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless God had prepared him for it. He used this vision as a way of comparing men and beast. The unclean animal is always unclean because that is its natural state and its function in the Earth. But a man is only made unclean by who he is, meaning righteous or not. And God can change any man's heart, no matter who he is.
Now we will debunk the idea that this chapter nullifies the dietary part of the law. Here is what is commanded of them in this chapter.
- Abstain from food sacrificed to idols
- Abstain from sexual immorality.
- Abstain from strangled animals (as all their blood is still in them) and from blood.
Since there is no mention of eating unclean meats here, one might assume this had nothing to do with Torah. But take notice. 1 is based on the first and second commandments, and 2 is based on the 7th commandment. These things are based in the 10 commandments, part of the Torah. Where do we find that third order? Genesis 9 2-4, which says we must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. This is also a law in the Torah. Leviticus 7 26.
Now we will get the proper context. There were Jews that were teaching these people that they would have no salvation unless they were first circumcised. When they brought this doctrine to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, Peter called it a "a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear". Some Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
Peter states that all are "saved" through the grace the Savior. As evidenced by this statement, the question they were discussing is whether or not these people were saved through the grace of Christ or by circumcision and keeping commandments. This was also the original question in Acts 15:1.
His point was that everyone is saved by grace, not by keeping the law or by circumcision. Even Jews who had been circumcised and kept the law didn't have salvation until they believed in the Savior. He also said that to make circumcision or Torah/law observance the requirement for salvation would be to "test Elohim." But how would it "test Elohim?"
So Peter, after detailing the proof that the Almighty had accepted these men in their uncircumcised state, affirmed that they are saved through the grace of the Savior rather than circumcision or any other act of Torah/law observance. The ultimate decision in Acts 15 by James was not to require circumcision for salvation. Circumcision of the flesh is nothing compared to that of the heart. Deuteronomy 10 16 and Romans 2 25-29.
DEUTERONOMY 10 16
- "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked."
ROMANS 2 25-29
- "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision."
- "Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?"
- "And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?"
- "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:"
Circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to the Almighty. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision is of no avail. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites, Paul focuses on the condition of the heart.
Galatians 6:12-13. These "false brethren" were actually Torah breakers themselves but they were most interested in circumcising these men so that they could boast about it. The focus on the praise of men was amongst the notable characteristics of some Pharisees of that time:
Please click here for a more in depth study on the relationship between works and salvation (Note: I am not saying we are saved by works).
Romans 14 1-3
I recently got into a discussion with someone who said that when it says all things, it means you can eat all things including the unclean meats. But read verse 2 again. This is not about eating unclean meats. One person believes they can eat all things, and another eats "herbs". It is saying that if one person eats meat and another one does not, don't get onto them for it. When it says all things, it means eating all five food groups; dairy, fruit, grain, vegetables and meat.
Verse 2 contrasts the person who "eats only vegetables" with the one who believes "he may eat all things"— meat as well as vegetables. Verse 6 discusses eating vs. not eating and is variously interpreted as referring to fasting (not eating or drinking), vegetarianism (consuming only vegetables) or eating or not eating meat sacrificed to idols.
Verse 21 shows that meat offered to idols was the underlying issue of this chapter: "It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak." The Romans of the day commonly offered both meat and wine to idols, with portions of the offerings later sold in the marketplace. So what this chapter is talking about is eating foods offered to idols, and how it might be good to be careful of what you eat as it may offend someone who is weaker in the faith and is not on that level of spiritual maturity as you are. This is not in reference to unclean meats. That is prohibited. We will go into Corinthians in a moment to bring proof that eating foods offered to idols was the context.
1 Corinthians 10 25
1 Corinthians 10 25. Unclean meats? We are going to read until verse 28. It says that if you find meat being sold in the shambles (that's a butcher's slaughterhouse), just buy it and eat it. Don't be asking questions on it if you know without a doubt that it is a clean food. Verse 27 says something similar. "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake." But if you go to verse 28 you will see that if anyone tells you that this food was offered to some false god, abstain from it if it is for your conscience's sake. So these verses are not about eating whatever you want. Here is what it is about; any clean food that is offered to you, don't worry about it and just eat it with no problem. Even if it was offered to a false idol, you are eating it without reverence to that idol.
Colossians 2 16
Colossians 2 16 is a favorite amongst many as a last resort. But what does this verse really mean? Paul is talking to believers that are keeping the Sabbath day and the new moons. He is saying to not let anyone judge us for keeping those days. Read it from verse 8 to 17 to get a clearer understanding and see how this is actually condoning the celebration of these days as a mandate. So obviously it is not about saying both the holy days or dietary laws can be thrown away. The believers in the Colossian community were being judged for enjoying the festival, as well as eating and drinking in it. Colossians 2 21 says they were told to not handle, taste, or touch. Colossians 2 18 gives an example of asceticism where they participated in self-abasement. They wanted to rob true believers of celebration by claiming that to be holy, you have to deny yourself during the high holy days and Sabbaths. This doctrine, again, most likely came from the Essenes.
Paul was condemning the avoidance of anything enjoyable-which was intended to make its followers more spiritual. He says to the Colossians: "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in this world, do you subject yourself to regulations- 'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish the using- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." (Colossians 2:20-23)."
They had a false humility (verse 23) and were destined to fail because they were based on the "commandments and doctrines of men". Paul encourages the Church to hold fast to its teachings and proper understanding; it is not a treatise on which foods to eat or on which days to worship the Almighty. We must be careful not to read preconceived notions into these or any other scriptures."
1 Timothy 4 4
This is possibly the most used verse in this argument. "See? It says that we are allowed to eat anything we want so long as we receive it with thanksgiving." See, you are not using the verse in context. Let's go to verse 1 in that same chapter. It says that later on, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. It also says that they would be passing doctrines forbid you from marrying, and commanding to abstain from meats, which the Almighty created to be eaten with thanksgiving. For one, most who claim to follow Torah and Christ do not forbid marriage. And secondly the prohibition of marriage may have come from the Essenes, an ascetic sect of Second Temple Judaism that we will go into later (Essene, Ancient Jewish Sect by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). They forbade pleasure and they enforced delibacy. The prohibition against eating meat was a common practice among Jews and possibly gentiles at that time. Still, this verse cannot be used to say it is in regards to the modern day Torah keepers since evidence shows otherwise.
Read it until verse 5. These meats are sanctified by the word of God and prayer. So he created certain meats to be received with thanksgiving. Now what is the significance of this verse?
Here again we have a verse that is pulled out of context and not harmonized with the rest of the scripture. The previous verse, 1 Timothy 4:3, shows that the subject is persons insisting that people become vegetarians and to even "abstain from meats, which he created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
What meats did he create to be received? the ones in Leviticus 11. Verses 4-5 are self-explanatory now. Verse 4 shows that "every creature" of him "is good and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving." What does it mean by "every creature"? Verse 5 shows that it is those creatures sanctified or set apart by him, which are the same creatures of Leviticus 11.
Now that we have gone over the New Testament arguments, we must ask ourselves one question; did the Most High God say that we could eat any animal we wanted to before the law was given to the 12 Tribes? Or was this law from the beginning?
Genesis 9 3-4
- "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things."
- "But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."
There is the argument that before the 12 Tribes were given the law, there were no dietary laws for food such as pork, shellfish, etc. The common understanding of the previous verses is that every animal may be eaten, but if there is still blood in it, it must not be eaten. But we must go further into Genesis to understand this. For example, clean animals and unclean animals are given a clear distinction in Genesis 7 2 and 8 20. Why would these animals be called unclean? Because they were not meant to be eaten. What do we do with Genesis 9 3-4? To find the answer, we must go into the translation.
The noun (H473 Remes) and the associated verb (rmś) each occur seventeen times in the Old Testament, ten times each in Genesis 1-9. This word group is distinct from both the wild (predatory) beasts and domestic flocks and herbs. Neither verb nor noun is ever used to refer to larger animals or to domesticated animals. In no place is remes (H743) a catch-all category for all creatures.— John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), pp 341-342.
It is one category of creature only. The division of the Hebrew terms used up to this point in Genesis reflects the nature of the animal. These animals were typically characterized as being the prey of hunters and predatory beasts.
According to this, the “remes” animals would include the animals considered according to Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Noah was not allowed to eat all things. It was the exact opposite. It should state that every clean moving thing can be eaten. As we can see, this standard was applied to Noah and his sons, all of whom do not descend from the 12 Tribes since Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would not be born for quite some time. To say that this only applies to them and that the Almighty did not hold the other nations up to this standard is incorrect.
If the dietary law was given only to Israel, how come we see so many instances where they eat clean meats and no positive instance where they eat something unclean?
If the dietary law was given only to Israel, how come we see so many instances where they eat clean meats and no positive instance where they eat something unclean?
- Abraham gave a calf to his servant, and he killed it and offered it to his visitors (Gen. 18:5-8).
- Esau went out hunting venison and gave it to his father Isaac to eat. (Gen. 25:27-28). (Note: I know Esau himself did not follow the Most High or at least didn't later on, my point being that his righteous father ate clean venison and Esau seemed to have an understanding of this law).
- Jacob killed two goats and gave some of the meat to his father Isaac as an act of deception, to impersonate his brother Esau. (Gen. 27:9-25).
- Jacob claimed that he was not indebted to Laban because he had not eaten the rams of his flock. It was therefore customary to eat rams. (Gen. 31:38).
I've heard many excuses to say why the Almighty gave these laws.
1. It was temporary to teach them obedience.
As we will see later on this is false.
2. Because the other nations used these animals.
"This detail further insulated the Israelites from pagan practices. The Canaanites kept herds of swine and sacrificed them to idols. The connection between swine and pagan worship became so strong that the prophet Isaiah equated the sacrificial offering of pig’s blood with murder—both are called “abominations” (Isaiah 66:3)."— Why did the Old Testament Law command against the eating of pork? by Got Questions
But there's a problem.
A donkey, as well as some sheep and goats whose remains were found in Early Bronze Age layers at Gath dating to 4900 years ago turn out to have been born and bred in the Nile valley.The discovery at the archaeological site of Tell el-Safi shows that animals were part of the extensive trading relations between the Old Kingdom of Egypt and Early Bronze Age Canaan (circa 2900-2500 BCE).
That there were trade connections between Egypt and Canaan in the Early Bronze Age is not new. The fact that animals were a part of the trade - and that they went from Egypt to Canaan - is very interesting,” Aren Maeir, head of the excavations in Gath, told Haaretz.— Canaanites Imported Sacrificial Animals From Egypt, Archaeologists Find by Philippe Bohstrom
A donkey is considered unclean, but sheep is not. Those are the two main reasons that many people give. But according to scripture this cannot be true. According to scripture, cow is clean. What did the 12 Tribes worship when they came out of Egypt? Exodus 32 4 says they worshiped a golden calf, a cow.So now we must ask ourselves what the real purpose of these laws are.
The Purpose of the Dietary Laws (2)
Let's see what else Got Questions has to say in that same link.
Then there are the hygienic concerns related to the Law’s dietary restrictions. It is well known today that pork carries any number of diseases, and the meat requires stricter cooking techniques than other meats such as beef or poultry. In Moses’ day, there was no knowledge of microscopic pathogens, and the cultural norm was to eat raw or under-cooked meat (Leviticus 19:26).
Of course, eating under-cooked pork would have posed a significant health threat to Israel, but God providentially protected them through the Mosaic Law. “If you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
So according to them, one of these reasons may be because of health. Let's see what scripture says.Leviticus 11 43-47 says the purpose of this law is to sanctify them. What does sanctify mean?
set apart as or declare holy; consecrate. "a small shrine was built to sanctify the site"
synonyms:consecrate, bless, make holy, hallow, make sacred, dedicate to God
"he came to sanctify the site"
make legitimate or binding by religious sanction."they see their love sanctified by the sacrament of marriage"
synonyms:approve, sanction, condone, vindicate, endorse, support, back, permit, allow, authorize, legitimize"we must not sanctify this outrage"
free from sin; purify.synonyms
Leviticus 11 44's use of sanctified.
6942. qadash: <>
Original Word: קָדַשׁ Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (kaw-dash')
Short Definition: consecrate
How It's Used
How is this used in scripture?
become consecrated (2), become defiled (1), become holy (1), consecrate (43), consecrated (35), consecrates (7), consecration (2), declare holy (1), dedicate (2), dedicated (8), dedicating (1), holier (1), holy (5), keep (1), keep it holy (2), keep the holy (3), made it holy (1), manifest my holiness (2), prepare (2), prove myself holy (2), proved himself holy (1), purified (1), regard as holy (1), sanctified (9), sanctifies (10), sanctify (12), etc
So he had these people become set apart/holy unlike the other nations. But set apart how? We can agree that the Almighty is good, right? So his laws are good. He would not give them a bad law. What law did he set before them?
Deuteronomy 30 19
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
So the laws he gave them were life. They were good. These laws are good. As shown, this same law was kept by Noah and his sons. These laws were meant to lead them to righteousness. How can an unrighteous or subjective law make you righteous by following it? To say that following these laws are for any other reason is not scriptural. The fact that he set apart these certain animals shows that there was a reason.
Now for anyone whose eyes are opened and would like to see which meats are good to eat and which are not, Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 is the place to go. It covers all of the kinds of meats you can eat, whether it is a land, sea, or air creature. When you're done with that click on the link below and you can see why the Most High gave this law on abstaining from pork. Leviticus 11 7-8.
- "And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you."
- "Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you."
Here is some more info on the Law.
Peace and blessings and all praises to the Most High.
- Swine Foods
Almost everything has pork in it now
Affordable Clean Food
One of the many complaints against eating a biblical diet is that it is not affordable. Which is why I recommend the following websites.
I must also add that while things such as beef are expensive, the vast majority of clean products are not too expensive and can be found in any store. You'll recognize them by either a K, U (or OU), P, or a V (Not a C or R those are company copyright and registered trademark signs) marking somewhere on the package, also known as a hechsher. Below is a list of the different signs you may see which signify if a food is clean according to the Torah.
The U means it was approved by the Orthodox Union, one of the largest kosher certification companies in the world. This means it can be eaten at anytime unless the item contains leaven, which is prohibited on Passover.
The K just means kosher. This means it can be eaten at anytime unless the item contains leaven, which is prohibited on Passover.
The P means it was prepared without meat or milk, which related to the traditional understanding of Exodus 23 19 of boiling a calf in its mothers milk (I do not affirm that this interpretation is true). This means it can be eaten at anytime unless the item contains leaven, which is prohibited on Passover.
An item that is okay for passover might have an OKP on it, but I encourage you to look up the item you want to buy since this is not always the case.
And finally we have the V, which means vegan. While the Bible does not command us to be vegan, eating a vegan product eliminates any worries about eating something from an unclean animal.
For more information on the symbols, click here.