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NT Food Laws

Does the NT abolish the OT food laws?


                              Harold Hemenway

Beginning in chronological order, we know that John the 
Baptist ate "LOCUSTS and wild honey" (Matt. 3:4) and Jesus said
there was no greater human being than him up till that time
(Matt. 11:11). Obviously he obeyed the food laws! Why else would
a person single out LOCUSTS as food?

Next we come to Jesus Christ who condemned the scribes and
Pharisees because they "strain at (or "out" -- A.S.V.) a GNAT,
and swallow a CAMEL" (Matt. 23:24) figuratively speaking. But why
did Christ use this particular figure of speech if he was
intending to somehow cleanse both the GNAT and the CAMEL and
abolish such an "artificial" distinction? (see Matt. 7:10 also)  
Obviously he had no intention of abolishing the clean/unclean
food laws!

Some argue that Christ actually said all foods were clean in Mark
7:19. Indeed, the R.S.V. does read, "since it enters, not his
heart but his stomach, and so passes on? (Thus he declared all
foods clean.)" but this is a blatant mistranslation. Lamsa's
Bible is clearer: "Because it does not enter into his heart, but
into his stomach, and then is thrown out through the intestines,
thereby purifying the food" or "purging all meats" (KJV) or
"which eliminate all foods" (Fenton). The context is digestion,
not dietary laws!

When Christ taught one verse earlier that "whatsoever goes into a
man from outside cannot defile him," (RSV) he was speaking
spiritually, not physically, in the first place. In the second
place, he was referring to eating "bread with unwashed hands"
(7:5) and with unwashed "pots and cups" (7:8), not to eating
arsenic or cyanide or trichinae in pork! Furthermore, the washing
spoken of here refers only to ceremonial washing, not sanitary,
hygienic cleansing with water! The water was poured on both
hands, which must be free of anything covering them, such as
gravel, mortar, &c. The hands were lifted up, so as to make the
water run to the wrist, in order to ensure that the whole hand
was washed, and that the water polluted by the hand did not again
run down the fingers. Similarly, each hand was rubbed with the
other (the fist), provided the hand that rubbed had been affused:
otherwise the rubbing might be done against the head, or even
against a WALL." (vol. 2, p.ll, Life and Times of Jesus The
Messiah) This ritual purification was done before and after meals
and was repeated if the hands were 'defiled' (p.12, ibid.). The
water-pots were used in washing the vessels used for eating (vol.
1, p.357, ibid.). If this washing wasn't done, the food was
considered contaminated in the opinion of the Pharisees!
Even in Christ's day, many Jews misunderstood his teaching and
thought he permitted the drinking of blood and eating of human
flesh! This is the reason "many of his disciples went back, and
walked no more with him" (John 6:66). They didn't understand that
he was speaking spiritually when he said, "He who eateth my
FLESH, and drinketh my BLOOD, hath eternal life ... For my flesh
is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (6:54-55). His
disciples thought he taught cannibalism!

But Jesus Christ believed so firmly in the laws of clean and
unclean meats that he destroyed a whole herd of SWINE being
raised for food, in violation of God's law, by commanding many
demons to "Go" (Matt. 8:32) into them. Christ knew the demons
would drive the animals down into the sea where they would drown!

Next we come to Simon Peter who, about ten years after the
crucifixion, declared, "I have never eaten anything that is
common (acquired contamination due to improper draining of the
blood since the animal died a natural death or was strangled,
etcetera. Such meat was called "common" because it could be sold
to aliens if they wanted it. They were the common, polluted
gentiles (Deut. 14:21). Also see Mark 7:2 and Romans 14:14 for
other types of "acquired contamination.") or unclean" (inherent
contamination (Lev. 11; Deut. 14)) (Acts 10:14). Peter knew the
vision he'd seen didn't somehow cleanse unclean animals. Instead,
Peter "doubted in himself" what the vision should mean. In Acts
10:28 Peter interprets the vision: "God hath shown me that I
should not call any man common or unclean." Peter's attitude had
been typical of the Jews of his day toward gentiles. It was
considered "unlawful" (10:28; 11:3) to keep company with gentiles
since they didn't obey God's laws and consequently a Jew could
become "contaminated" by associating with them.
But just as Peter heard the voice say, "What God hath cleansed,
that call not thou common" (10:15) THREE times, so also there
were THREE gentiles who came to take Peter to Cornelius. The
vision was only an analogy!

About 50 A.D., nineteen years after the crucifixion, the food
laws were still in full force because we read that James, the
Lord's brother, required that gentiles must "abstain from MEATS
from FORNICATION" (Acts 15:29).

Of course, it was necessary to mention these four points of the
permanent, civil law as being still binding since they dealt
directly with sacrificial worship of the gentiles and the
decision of the Jerusalem conference was that the
sacrificial/ritualistic laws weren't required of gentile
Christians! The four points above were NOT actual sacrificial
laws, but were merely tied in later with the
sacrificial/ritualistic sections of scripture (Ex. 34:1317; Lev.
3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-14: Num. 25:1-2) because gentiles commonly
ate their sacrifices with BLOOD, often STRANGLED those sacrifices
rather than properly draining the BLOOD, presented the sacrifices
to IDOLS and then committed FORNICATION with the temple
prostitutes as part of the rite! But originally these laws were
put in the "book of the law" and "book of the covenant" sections
of scripture (Ex. 20:3-5,23; 22:16; Deut. 12:16,23-25; 15:23;

About 57 A.D., twenty-six years after the crucifixion, Paul, the
apostle to the gentiles, warned gentiles to touch not the UNCLEAN
thing" (2 Cor. 6:17). No doubt he was speaking spiritually (Eph.
5:5; 1 Cor. 7:14), but his remark certainly applies physically
also since he was quoting from Isaiah 52:11 and Leviticus 11:8.
In the absence of any New Testament scriptures, his audience had
only the Old Testament scriptures from which to take the context.
People argue that Paul did away with the food laws when he said,
"I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing
UNCLEAN of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be
UNCLEAN, to him it is UNCLEAN" (Rom. 14:14). Actually this verse
is mistranslated in the K.J.V. Wherever the word "UNCLEAN"
appears, the actual Greek should be translated "COMMON" as in
Acts 10:14. Even the context of Romans 14 shows that the
controversy is between meat-eaters and vegetarians (14:2), not
between clean and unclean meat-eaters! Furthermore, it appears
from 1 Corinthians 8:7-8 and 10:25-28 that the reason why some of
the Roman Christians were vegetarians is because they were
reluctant to consume any food offered to idols, even if the BLOOD
had been properly drained, simply because they felt the idol
itself contaminated the meat. Since virtually all the meat sold
in the gentile meat-markets was suspect, they avoided meat
altogether! Thus Paul explains that nothing is COMMON of itself
(simply by being associated with an idol).

In another epistle of Paul, we again find a scripture "hard to be
understood" (2 Pet. 3:16). In 1 Timothy 4:3-5, Paul mentions two
demonic doctrines: "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to
abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with
thanksgiving by them who believe and know the truth. For every
creature of God is good and nothing is to be refused, if it is
received with thanksgiving; For it is sanctified by the word of
God and prayer."

First of all, commas and other punctuation marks were completely
unknown when the Bible was originally written. Aldus Manutious
invented them in the 15th century! There should be no comma after
"meats" in verse 3. Some meats were definitely NOT created by God
to be received! Furthermore, those "who believe and know the
truth" must believe and know "thy word" (the Bible) since Christ
said, "thy word is truth" (John 17:17). So they know that the
Bible forbids certain "meats." The creatures "sanctified by the
word of God" are those listed as "clean" in Leviticus 11 and
Deuteronomy 14! The others are NOT "creatures of God," but are
"evil beasts" (Ez. 34:25). They're everywhere compared to demons
and even Satan himself!
For instance, the apostle John compares Satan to an "old SERPENT"
(Rev. 12:9) and "three UNCLEAN spirits" to "FROGS" (16:13). He
even mentions that Babylon "is become the habitation of devils,
and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every UNCLEAN
and HATEFUL BIRD" (18:2). Throughout the New Testament, demons
are referred to as "UNCLEAN spirits." The word translated
"UNCLEAN" in both Acts 10:14 and 2 Corinthians 6:17 (describing
unclean animals) is identical to the word describing demons! Why
would John, writing about 95 A.D., sixty-four years after the
crucifixion, even think to call some birds "UNCLEAN" if this
distinction was abolished at the "cross of Christ" or even later
when the temple was destroyed (70 A.D.)? And why did he compare
"UNCLEAN" spirits to frogs of all things, unless frogs were still
"UNCLEAN" in 95 A.D.?

and even JOHN THE APOSTLE all believed in, and obeyed, these food
laws, why don't more Christians follow their example?

Ezekiel prophesied of our day by saying, "Her priests have
violated my law (Heb. "torah"), and have profaned mine holy
things; they have put no difference between the holy and the
profane, neither have they shown difference between the UNCLEAN
and the CLEAN, and have hidden their eyes from my sabbaths, and I
am profaned among them" (Ez. 22:26).


In the near future, as Isaiah 66:15-17 prophesies, "the Eternal
will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to
render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of
fire.... They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in
the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating SWINE'S FLESH,
and the abomination, and the MOUSE, shall be consumed together,
saith the Eternal." .....

The Eternal is angry with those who violate these FOOD LAWS
because they are hurting themselves and others by doing so! Yes,


Written 1987 (all capital words were Hemeway's)

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