Did Y’shua Declare All Foods Clean?

unclean

14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”] 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:14-23

We would like to point out a few things about these verses that might help shed some light on what is going on here. Many people use these verses as proof that the clean/unclean food laws were done away with and that in these verses Y’shua declared all things clean to eat. Is that really what is going on here though? As with anything else in the Bible, in order to truly understand what is going on we have to look at context and the rest of the Bible to get a clear understanding.

Starting from verse 14 can be confusing, but by reading from verse 1, the context of what is going on is revealed.

1The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” 6And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 7’But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ *Isaiah 29:13 8Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” 9He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; 11but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” 14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”] 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:1-23

This all started because the Pharisees were once again placing their own laws/traditions above those of YHWH and were trying to prove that Y’shua was breaking the law of YHWH when in fact he was not. The Pharisees were constantly trying to TEST Y’shua to get him to break the commandments, but we all know that he never did that.

This particular story is not about food at all. The Pharisees were trying to say that the disciples were breaking the commandments because they did not wash their hands before they ate. The context is very clear once you read this story from the beginning instead of picking it up in the middle. Y’shua is saying that there is nothing wrong with eating with unclean hands. Anything dirty on your hands will simply go into your stomach and be expunged out. It’s as simple as that.

The part of verse 19 at the end that says (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) is not part of the original Greek manuscript, it was added later. A little bit of research will prove that it was not in the original Greek manuscript, so don’t just take our word for it.  However, even without excluding this verse, what it says is still true.  There are two important things we have to consider here in order to fully understand a statement like “Jesus declared all food clean.  First, we have to understand what they considered food.  Considering that our setting is in Jerusalem, and we are reading about Jewish people who would have been observing the Torah, then we have to realize that their definition of food would have been based on Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  They did not consider pork or shrimp to be food any more than we consider bats and roaches to be food.  Secondly, during this time it was a Rabbinic law that if something clean came in contact with something unclean, then the clean thing was rendered unclean.1Tractate Tohoroth Tohoroth 10 MISHNAH 4. IF A MAN DESIRES TO PUT GRAPES [INTO THE WINE-PRESS] FROM THE BASKETS OR FROM WHAT WAS SPREAD OUT ON THE GROUND, BETH SHAMMAI RULED: HE MUST PUT THEM IN WITH CLEAN HANDS, FOR IF HE PUTS THEM IN WITH UNCLEAN HANDS HE RENDERS THEM UNCLEAN  However, this is not an instruction found in the Torah, so by Y’shua “declaring all food clean” he is simply expressing that eating with dirty hands does not make food (as described in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) unclean to eat, not that all things are now considered food.

Let’s look at this same story in the book of Matthew and see what it says. For the sake of space, we’re just going to start with verse 15.

15Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication’s, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:15-20

The last verse is KEY. We pointed out that this story is all about eating with unclean hands, and that nowhere does Y’shua ever say that all things are now considered good to eat. The last verse of this story in Matthew proves that point.

Next, we would like to show you further proof that Y’shua was not changing any food laws. We know that Peter was with Y’shua and the rest of the disciples when this exchange took place in Mark 7 and Matthew 15. Now let’s jump forward a few years after Y’shua ascended into Heaven. In Acts 10, we read about Peter’s vision. Now, we realize that many people also try to use these scriptures as proof that the clean/unclean food laws were removed, but for the sake of time, we’re just going to focus on the original verses from Mark 7. The point we want to make with the story of Peter’s vision is one verse from that story.

14 “Surely not, YHWH!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

Here we see Peter clearly saying that he has never eaten anything impure or unclean. If Y’shua, many, many years earlier was teaching that all things were now food, and this is what the disciples understood Y’shua to be saying, then why do we find Peter telling YHWH in verse 14 that he has NEVER eaten anything unclean. That doesn’t make much sense. If Peter were already taught by Y’shua many years earlier in Mark 7 then, there would be no need for him to be as shocked as he was when we saw all the animals on the sheet. He would have known that Y’shua already declared all things to be food, but that wasn’t the case, which is why we see Peter reacting the way he did.

The last point we want to make is this…Y’shua was a Prophet of YHWH (Matthew 13:57), and the Bible tells us how to spot false prophets.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. Deuteronomy 13:1-4

Y’shua was not a false prophet, of that we can all agree, but according to the scriptures, if a prophet does not keep and advocate keeping YHWH’s commandments, he is to be considered a false prophet. YHWH commanded us not to eat unclean food, so in order for Y’shua to be a true prophet according to the scriptures, he cannot teach anyone to do anything that is contrary to YHWH’s commandments. If these verses from Mark 7 are Y’shua teaching that all food is clean then, he would be teaching against YHWH’s commandments and by doing so would also have to be considered a false prophet.

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References   [ + ]

1. Tractate Tohoroth Tohoroth 10 MISHNAH 4. IF A MAN DESIRES TO PUT GRAPES [INTO THE WINE-PRESS] FROM THE BASKETS OR FROM WHAT WAS SPREAD OUT ON THE GROUND, BETH SHAMMAI RULED: HE MUST PUT THEM IN WITH CLEAN HANDS, FOR IF HE PUTS THEM IN WITH UNCLEAN HANDS HE RENDERS THEM UNCLEAN

Posted on September 30, 2014 in Answering Tough Questions, Confronting Mainstream Christians, Food, Foundational Teachings

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About the Author

Chris lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with his wife and daughter. He has a heart for reaching people with the truth about Torah and is dedicated to seeking, teaching and living out the truth of the Word, from Genisis to Revelation. Chris grew up in Church and ran the gambit from Baptist to Non-denominational, but he admittedly was just a "pew warmer." His walk didn't truly start until a close friend asked him a simple, yet profound question. "What is Gods name?"

Responses (3)

  1. Sam
    August 15, 2015 at 9:23 am · Reply

    I’m confused. You say to no take verses out of context, and then you do just that! The Acts 10:14 quote that you give is torn straight from its context. Read the whole chapter, see what is really going on, and then make a pronouncement about why Peter might respond in such a way.

    • TorahBabies
      August 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm · Reply

      Hello Sam,

      How exactly is the verse we quoted in Acts 10 “torn straight from its context?” We have read the whole chapter, multiple times, and we know exactly what is going on.

      • Sam
        August 16, 2015 at 10:42 am · Reply

        Perhaps you’re unclear on the meaning of “out of context.” When you quote a single verse from an entire section and story, and claim it supports your position, that’s the very definition of out of context.

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