There are times when reading the scriptures that we see the terms Clean and Unclean in regards to food.
It would be beneficial to the reader to understand that there are nuances to those terms, that if misunderstood, could change our understanding of the subject.
Let’s take one particular verse from the NIV Study Bible:
(Mark 7:19) “…For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)
Jesus words are in red bold font above.
Any idea who added the words in parenthesis at the end of that verse… or why they were added?
Those added words (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) were not spoken by the Messiah.
They are in parenthesis, which means someone added them. Either they were added as part of a hidden agenda… or maybe some translators’ misguided attempt to clarify Jesus’ meaning.
But all that did was present what looks like contradictions with other scriptures and translations.
Unless their added statement (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean”) was meant to convey that the digestive process rendered the food clean somehow.
Jesus continues to amplify what he had said by explaining that food enters a persons’ mouth and then to the belly and then eventually is purged out of the body. (You get the idea…right?)
Below is a verse from the KJV 1611 version. In it the word draught is used.
In the Greek ἀφεδρών aphedrōn af-ed-rone’ from a compound of G575 and the base of G1476; a place of sitting apart, that is, a privy: – draught. (think toilet)
(v19) Becauſe it entreth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? (AV-1611)
Jesus goes on to further explain that the things that come out of a man are what defile a man. From out of the heart (words, deeds, actions, thoughts, etc.… my emphasis)
(v20…) And he said, that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (AVp)
The whole exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees was an example where the Pharisees were trying to find fault with something Jesus and his disciples were doing.
They used the “Hey, your followers are not following the Traditions of the Elders” routine because they were not washing in the ceremonial ritualistic way before they ate.
This Tradition of the Elders was not a Commandment by the Almighty… Jesus basically replies to them with an excellent retort:
(Mark 7:9) And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. (ASV)
I think Jesus is referring them back to the TORAH, which has a recurring theme in the scriptures. Nobody is to add one thing to the instructions (Torah) from the Almighty and nobody is to subtract from the instructions (Torah).
As soon as we start adding or removing (rules, guidelines, traditions, etc.…), then we no longer have Scriptura Sola… we are left with Scripture and man’s input.
Deuteronomy 4:2, Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you.
Deuteronomy 12:32, what thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Next thing you know there will be man-made rules like ‘There shall be no more Remember the Sabbath’… oh wait, that’s already happened… (Canon 29)
Canon 29 Synod of Laodicea (4th Century)
Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.
This ‘Lord’s Day’ (not to be confused with the Day of the Lord) is a man-made concept.
Who in the Scriptures has set apart the first day of the week as a weekly set apart (Chodesh) day? The answer is no one. This is a creation by man…probably with the adversary as the puppet master behind the scene directing this change…so as to get folks away from this critical 4th Commandment. (Think Daniel 7:25) More on this later.
The whole issue with the food boils down to the fact that the Scriptures tell us that the Almighty gave us some instructions on what food is deemed as acceptable and which food is not.
Remember that Noah was instructed to bring 7 pairs of clean animals in addition to the others on the Ark. Quite often in movies or stories we are only shown the “by twos” or ‘a pair’ concept.
Genesis 7:2 of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. (AV)
So… there obviously was some kind of knowledge of what animals were deemed acceptable or not. This was before Leviticus 11 or Deuteronomy 14 and their more detailed list of Clean or Unclean animals…and how to identify them.
Here is what the Almighty says is acceptable as food in regards to the waters in Leviticus 11:
(9), ¶ These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. (10), And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: (AV)
I am paraphrasing, but basically he instructs “you can have anything you want to that comes out of the waters… as long as it has fins and scales…otherwise it is an abomination to you”.
Think about that for a moment. Of all the animals in the water that folks love to eat, our Creator has said the only creatures that you are allowed to eat better have fins and scales. Otherwise it is not acceptable and he emphasizes that it is an abomination.
Anybody want to contradict the Almighty on his instructions? I don’t. I will freely admit that I did not know these things growing up and even when I started to turn my life around and started to pay attention to these concepts I still tried to use my default retort of “Hey, that’s only for the Jews”.
I cringe now thinking of how that must have sounded. Here I was (a gentile sinner) who came to the understanding that I needed a Savior, and I wanted that free gift of salvation.
However, I did not want to be bothered with some instructions on how to live my life.
Yet these instructions were clearly given for our health and well-being.
In closing for today, I think it is important to realize there are contextual differences between terms like (Clean, Unclean, Defiled, and Common).
Note: My thoughts and opinions are shaped by my life experiences as well as my exposure to other peoples opinions or ideas.
I am confident that I will sometimes present things that are ideas from others that I have taken and expounded on. I say this to give credit to Bryan T. Huie and his book ‘Here a Little, There a Little’ Volume 2.
Bryan is someone I came across years ago. His three volume set has some wonderful teachings. His teaching helped me understand the nuances in the Greek form for terms like (Common and Unclean).
He passed away way too early, but he leaves some great insights on different subjects. I am sure you would benefit from his insights in your walk.
As in the Acts 10 discussion regarding Peter’s vision:
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. Acts 10:14.
Peter adds the word common in response to the voice instruction. I did not pick up on this nuance between these two words in years past. I thought of them as completely interchangeable terms… but they are not. They express different concepts.
More on this later maybe… but for now just realize that it might be better to think of food as being first either ‘Acceptable or Not Acceptable’ as described in the TORAH.
If you use Acceptable or Clean interchangeably… just remember that the Scriptures give examples of where Clean (Acceptable) foods could become ritually Unclean (Not acceptable). Example… foods sacrificed to idols…
One final thought…
Whether or not we want to be obedient to the instructions given in the Scriptures is something we all have to wrestle with. Either YHWH (YeHovah, Jehovah, Yahweh, God) is our Master or he is not. We cannot serve two masters.