1 Timothy 4:3–5, Foods. Many take this passage to mean that simple “prayer over the food” sanctifies nonkosher food. Were we to take this logic to its illogical conclusion, then we might suppose that prayer over skunk meat, certain poisonous types of frogs, snakes and salamanders as well as poisonous mushrooms would make them edible. Of course, this is ridiculous. Is this really what Paul, the orthodox Jewish Torah scholar, is teaching? Once again, understanding Scripture in its context is essential to obtaining its proper interpretation. These verses read:
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which Elohim has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of Elohim is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the Word of Elohim and prayer. (emphasis added)
What does this passage really say? Does it say that the meat we eat is sanctified (i.e. set aside for special use) only through the act of prayer?
In verse five Paul teaches that the meat we eat is sanctified through prayer and the Word of Elohim. When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy there was no Testimony of Yeshua or New Testament—only the Tanakh or Old Testament. Where in the Tanakh do we find which meats YHVH has set aside or sanctified for man as edible? Leviticus chapter eleven, of course. Furthermore, in verse three above Paul talks about “them which believe and know the truth.” How does Scripture define truth? Yeshua defined truth as the Word of Elohim (namely the Hebrew Scriptures, which is all that existed at that time) (John 17:7). The Tanakh define truth as the Torah-law of YHVH (which contain YHVH’s biblical kosher laws pertaining to clean and unclean meats; see Ps 119:142 and 151).
So when examined in its proper context this passage in 2 Timothy in no way teaches that it is scripturally permissible for believers to indulge in unclean meats. On the contrary, this passage in fact validates the biblical kosher laws as outlined in the Torah and shows clearly, if we let Scripture speak for itself and define its own terms instead of reading into it our own meanings, that the biblical dietary laws are for believers today.
Hi Natan! I do agree with and follow the dietary laws, and I agree with your points here. However, if you could explain what Shaul DOES mean by this passage, it would greatly clarify and support the defense of Torah here, and not leave open to argument, this false teaching about prayer making unclean meat edible. Thank you!
“What does Paul mean?” This is a very good question and one, quite frankly, that I’ve overlooked. I’ll go to work on this.
The distinction between “clean” and “unclean” foods in the Old Testament point both backwards and forward in time.
Re: backwards, since Israel was to be God’s “son”, as Adam was God’s “son” before the fall, this distinction points backwards to NOT “eating” from the Tree of Knowledge (“unclean”) and “eating” INSTEAD from the Tree of Life (“clean”). Or, more clearly, obedience NOT disobedience!
Re: forward, this points to “eating” the Lord’s supper as a covenant meal with Yeshua (John 6:54).
I apologize for barging in to this uninvited, but felt compelled to post this.
Natan, I am in total agreement with you on this. I do have a question. What does one do when he or she is invited to a home where the host has gone to a great of trouble to fix what to the host is a very nice meal, but is ham or some other form of pork and there is no other choice of meat? Vegetable dishes can also be cooked with pork fat in them.
Do we hold to the dietary law and risk a closed door for ministry to them? Or is there some help for us in the 4 things that the council of Jerusalem said were essential for those who live in a Gentile land. Unclean foods are not mentioned there, however, it seems like there is the hope that as they hear the Law of Moses being read, the Gentiles will come to the realization that God did not make these foods for human consumption….
But what should we do….
I seldom if ever eat at other people’s homes who don’t follow Torah. It has been years if not decades since I have done so. On the rare occasion that I do, I will politely explain ahead of time my dietary requirements.
It means that you don’t socialize much and don’t have too many friends. But then this is a narrow walk, and that’s the price you pay for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, which is well worth it!!!!
The argument is often made that pigs are raised for food today and are corn fed and don’t even have worms! Even if that were true-its still a pig!
i have so many questions…i am a Christian, and have never been taught that i should keep dietary laws, in fact, that I am under new testament…I understand that you are a messianic jew, so do these laws apply to christians? i may sound ignorant, so I apologize, just trying to educate myself. thank you, i find your blogs often thought provoking
so, not trying to justify, but just asking about scriptures like 1 Cor 6:12? im not trying to justify bacon…lol… really don’t eat too much of that anyway…
1 Corinthians 6:12–13, All things are lawful. When Paul said that all things are lawful to him, what do you think he meant? It’s now all right to murder, commit adultery, lie, steal, have sex with animals, practice witchcraft, and we can also add break the Sabbath, eat pork, etc., etc.? Obviously, violating the commands of Elohim wasn’t what he meant here, for doing such is, by biblical definition, sin (1 John 3:4), and those who love Yeshua will not be sinning, but will keeping his commandments (John 14:15). Moreover, it was our sin that put Yeshua on the cross, so why should we mock Yeshua’s death by continuing to practice sin? In fact, prior to 1 Cor 6:12, Paul listed a number of sins that will prevent one from entering the kingdom of heaven including drunkenness, sexual immorality, theft and so on. So obviously, breaking the laws of Elohim was not what he meant in verse 12. If Paul is here permitting the eating of unclean meat that the Bible forbids and calls an abomination, then he is also permitting sexual immorality—a sin which he juxtaposes in verse 13 with the eating of certain foods.
So if Paul wasn’t opposing the biblical dietary laws in verses 12 and 15, what was he really saying? According to David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary, Paul was coming against the sexually libertine attitudes of the saints in Corinth whereby they had permitted the man who was having sexual relations with this stepmother and even allowing the sinner to remain in fellowship with the saints there. Stern goes on to say that the phrase, “All things are lawful to me…Food for the stomach…” is really analogous to the modern phrase, “If it feels good, do it”—a concept which Paul strongly opposes. Beale and Carson concur with Stern on this in their commentary on this verse (Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, p. 713). In verse 15, Paul goes on to make the point that our bodies are the temples of the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim and that we need to treat them as holy vessels by not engaging in sinful practices (whether sexual immorality or eating unclean meats).
Keener agrees with Stern that Paul was here confronting the ungodly and licentious Greek philosophers who would excuse their libertine carnal appetites by saying “I can get away with anything.” Paul, on the other hand, counters this by saying, “Maybe so, but ‘anything’ is not good for you” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the NT, pp. 464–465). Keener goes on to say that “‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’ was a typical Greek way of arguing by analogy that the body was for sex and sex for the body….That God would do away with both reflected the typical Greek disdain for the doctrine of the resurrection (chap 15), because Greeks believed that one was done with one’s body at death [which is why they reasoned that it was permissible to do whatever you pleased with your body now]. Paul responds to this Greek position with the Old Testament/Jewish perspective that the body is for God and he will resurrect it” (i.e. in v. 14, ibid.).
Paul then goes on to explain why a philosophy that excuses sinful behavior is not acceptable to Elohim or beneficial to the saint.
I have hundreds of articles and video teachings answering your question. Start searching then out and learning! In the mean time, here is the briefest answer that I know to give to your question:
First, I am not a Messianic Jew. Whether one is Jewish or non-Jewish has nothing to do with anything. What’s important is that one is a disciple of Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah and is obedient to the Word of Elohim.
A Christian, by definition, is one who follows and imitates Christ/Messiah. This is what Paul did (1 Cor 11:1; 4:14) and John did (1 John 2:6) as well as all the other New Testament disciples of Yeshua did. If I’m a follower of Messiah, then I will be doing what he did. He kept the commandments of Elohim; if he didn’t he was a sinner and not our perfect and sinless Savior. Likewise, if we don’t, we’re sinners. So shouldn’t we be following the examples of Yeshua and the NT saints? Isn’t this what the whole message of the NT and the whole Bible is all about—living righteous, holy and sin free lives? Any philosophy of men (I don’t care how many men, denominations or churches teach and believe it) that says otherwise doesn’t line up with the Word of Elohim. Period. So toss it and get back to the Bible!
I am a Christian and do my best to understand the bible. Clean and unclean is set out to be
1. it must chew the cud and have a cleft in its foot (CLEAN).
2. If it shorts one or the other (chew the cud and no cleft) UNCLEAN.
3. Keep the Commandments
4. Love one another with God’s