What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?
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Ellen Kavanaugh (Updated, Vegetarian note at bottom)
Did Noah Eat Kosher too?
"Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." Genesis 9:3
"Everything" is defined by the change from a plant-only diet to a new diet consisting of plants *and* animals -- that is, "everything." But that doesn't mean one could eat *every* animal anymore than one could eat *every* plant. Let's look at the passage concerning the original vegetable diet:
"....I have given every green herb for food, and it was so." Genesis 1:30
Now "every green herb" above doesn't mean "every single existing green herb." It means "every green herb that is appropriate for food." Clearly neither Adam or Noah were eating poison ivy salads or snacking on poisonous berries! Does Scripture support limiting green herbs this way? Sure, let's look at Genesis 6:21: "And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.'" Note that Noah is commanded to take all the edible foods into the ark. So then, not 'every green herb' was edible, only 'every green herb given for food' was edible. If you come to my house to spend a week, I will encourage you to raid my refrigerator and eat anything in it. Does that mean I'm encouraging you to eat the box of baking soda and the kitty antibiotics that are also in my fridge? *Every* and *all* need to be defined within proper context of what G-d deems suitable for human consumption. We know G-d made known to Noah the distinction between clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2,8); it is clear from earlier texts that G-d had instructed man on which green things were suitable for human consumption; it is only logical that G-d also revealed which animals were fit for human consumption when he broadened man's diet to include animals ... clean animals. Basically, the clean animals that could be sacrificed were also the animals which could be eaten; later confirmed by reiteration in the Torah given at Sinai.
Brit Chadasha Verses Used to "Prove" kosher laws are no longer in effect
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," Romans 14:16
"All food is clean," Romans 14:20
If you'll start at verse 14:2 the issue in question is those turning to vegetarianism. The issue here wasn't about clean vs unclean meats but about those who are refusing to eat meat and are eating only vegetables. If my brother will only eat vegetables because he considers meat a sin, then I am to respect his weakness and not be a stumbling block to him. Even though I know G-d gave us meat to eat I shouldn't judge someone less mature in the faith.*(see note at bottom)
Further, in 14:14, the word unclean comes from the Greek word "koinos" meaning common; it's not the Greek word "akathartos" which is used elsewhere to mean ritually or ceremonially unclean. No surprise, since ritual cleanliness wasn't the issue in the passage, vegetarianism was.
"What goes into a man's mouth does not make him `unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him `unclean.'" Matthew 15:11
The issue here concerned hand-washing -- you need to read whole passages, this one begins in 15:1. Yeshua was asked why his disciples didn't wash their hands before eating. Since their argument against his disciples came from manmade traditions, Yeshua asked them why they broke Torah but not tradition --- showing they put tradition higher. He concludes by calling a crowd and declaring that true uncleanliness comes from within man, not from the food he eats. Does that make all meats clean? I don't see how. The issue wasn't about abrogating G-d's kosher laws but about the traditions concerning hand-washing/eating with un-washed hands. One should be careful when making applications with verses.
Mark 7:19 "Because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach, and goes out with the waste? (He said this, making all food clean)."
Same story as in Matthew above, but with gospel author's footnote: "(He said this, making all food clean)." What is food to Jewish people? G-d only sanctioned *clean meats* as food for man. Do you really think pork is considered a food in a debate among observant Jews? NO! Unclean meats aren't even up for debate here since unclean meats aren't even considered *food* by the observant Jews in this discussion! The issue again in this passage is eating with unclean hands! Can unclean hands change a clean food into a unclean food? Yeshua's answer is clear --- NO! What makes a food ritually clean is G-d's sanctioning -- not washing your hands! Read in context, we see clearly that unclean meats are not up for discussion here --- the handwashing rituals of the Pharisaic tradition are. Yet some Christians read this passage as if everyone went out and ate pork after this speech! Oy!
"Then I heard a voice telling me, `Get up, Kefa. Kill and eat.' "I replied, `Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, `Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'" Acts 11:7-8
Funny Kefa said that to G-d --- why didn't he quote Mark 7:19 or Matthew 15:11 to G-d? Did Kefa forget Yeshua made the unclean meats clean??? This passage also proves Yeshua never declared unclean meat "clean" or Kefa wouldn't have questioned his vision. Meats were not cleansed here either. This is a vision --- the unclean meats were symbolic (perhaps because Kefa was hungry he dreamed of food). But at no point does G-d tell Kefa that unclean meats were cleansed. In Acts 10:28 Kefa explains what the vision meant -- that G-d had declared no *man* should be considered unclean. Unclean men are being declared clean here -- not unclean meats. With this revelation, Kefa took the gospel to the gentiles, starting at the house of Cornelius.
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." 1 Tim 4:2-5
A few problems using this passage to support eating unclean foods --- *G-d* is the one who forbade the eating of unclean meats but this passage shows in verse 1 that it is dealing with teachings that come from seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils. This isn't abrogating the kosher laws of G-d's Torah but serves instead as a warning of evil spirits that teach abstaining from certain foods. The text doesn't tell us what foods were being forbidden, only that we should not heed such the restrictions because they come from an evil source. Be very wary: To say that G-d's kosher laws regarding 'clean' and 'unclean' fall under the heading of "doctrines of devils" or "seducing spirits" is attributing G-d's Holy Torah to hasatan. May it never be! Furthermore, this passage is coupled with the teaching of forbidding marriage -- the Torah teaches marriage is good for man and strongly encourages marriage. So we know this passage has nothing to do with Torah teachings. This passage serves as a warning against following evil teachings -- it does not teach to disregard the kosher laws of Torah.
The distinctions between clean and unclean animals always existed, from Genesis 7:2's "Of every clean beast thou shalt take...." to Revelation 18:2's "...of every unclean spirit, and a hole for every unclean and hated bird." In 96CE when Revelation was written, 'unclean' animals were still distinguished from 'clean' animals; G-d *never* revoked His kosher laws.