Dear Natan: Is Paul justifying eating unclean meat in 1 Corinthians 6:12–13?

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.

 

Does praying over your unclean meat now make it clean to eat?

How many times have you heard this unbiblical idea of man expressed in church circles “I prayed over my bacon, and presto changeo, what the Word of Elohim forbids me to eat and calls an abomination is now okay for me to eat.” Yeah right!!!

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.

 

What? Yeshua the Pork Eater?

Luke 10:8, Eat such things. Does this passage give believers the freedom or even enjoin them to eat whatever is placed before them if, for example, they are in someone else’s home even if the food is non-kosher? Understanding context is vital to understanding the true meaning of the Scriptures. When verses are taken out of context they can not only lose their meaning, but can take on an entirely different meaning to the writer’s original intent. As Hebrew roots teacher Dr. Daniel Botkin points out in an article entitled God’s Dietary Laws: Abolished in the New Testament?, “Yeshua spoke these words when he sent out the seventy. These were seventy Torah-observant Jews who followed a Torah-observant Rabbi. … Rabbi Yeshua had told his disciples, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,’ (Matt 10:6).

“It is obvious from this statement that the disciples would be lodging in Torah-observant Jewish homes, where the kosher laws were followed. It is ridiculous to suppose that the disciples might have been offered a pork chop in one of these Jewish homes. Even if this very unlikely possibility had occurred, the disciples would have had enough sense to know that this is not what their Master meant when he said to ‘eat such things as are set before you.’ He simply meant to be content with the food which your host provided” (Gates of Eden magazine, Nov.–Dec. 1997 issue).

Though similar to Yeshua’s passage, Paul’s passage in 1 Corinthians 10:27 has an entirely different context. The issue here is not clean versus unclean meat (e.g. beef versus pork), but meat (e.g. beef) that was sacrificed to idols that was later sold to the public in the meat markets of Greek cities (for context read 1 Cor 10:19–29). Botkin points out that four times in the Testimony of Yeshua believers are forbidden to eat meat sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:20; 21:25; Rev 2:14, 20), yet the dilemma was that when one bought meat in the public markets it was not known whether it had been sacrificed to idols first or not. So for conscience sake Paul instructed the Corinthian believers to buy the meat and to not ask about its origination (10:25). However, if a person knew that it was meat sacrificed to idols (verse 28) for their own conscience sake and that of others who might be watching them then they were not to eat of it (ibid.).

The same principle applied to those eating in someone’s house as a guest. If one knew that the meat was offered to an idol then they were forbidden to eat it. However, if they did not know, then it was not necessary to ask. Again, it was not a matter of clean or unclean meats (i.e. beef versus pork), but whether meat had been sacrificed to idols or not.


 

Does prayer a make unclean meats kosher?

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.


 

Did Paul Eat Unclean Meat as an Invited Guest?

Really????

Really????

1 Corinthians 10:23, All things are lawful. According to the context, Paul is saying that it’s lawful for him to eat meat sacrificed to idols, since there is no Torah law prohibiting him from doing so. However, it’s not helpful to do so if it will make a weak brother stumble. He then goes on to explain what he means in verses 25 to 30. With regard to our actions for which there is no Torah prohibition, we must ask ourselves the following questions: Does it edify my brother (v. 23), does it contribute to his well-being (v. 24), does it bring glory to Elohim (v. 31), or does it cause anyone offense (v. 32)? If it doesn’t, then we shouldn’t do it.

1 Corinthians 10:25, Eat whatever. The issue here isn’t clean versus unclean meats. Rather, it is meat sacrificed to idols or not. According to the Torah, some meat fits the biblical criteria for edibility and some doesn’t. Meat such as pork or shellfish is considered to be unclean, and is designated by the Hebrew word tamay meaning “unclean or impure” and isn’t considered edible. So when Paul uses the term meat, it must be understood in a biblical and Hebraic context. As such, this passage in no way condones the consumption of meat which the Bible deems as unclean or impure and thus inedible.


 

“Common and Unclean” Explained

Romans 14:14, Nothing is unclean in itself. In this verse, is the Apostle Paul declaring that there is no longer a distinction between clean and unclean foods, therefore making void the biblical dietary laws? Let’s analyze the contextual and linguistic aspects of this passage to see what Paul is really saying here.

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The word unclean (koinos) in this verse can also mean “common,” and in three places in the Apostolic Scriptures the two words “common” and “unclean” are used side by side; q.v. Acts 10: 14, 28 and 11:8, which says, “But I said, Not so, Master: for nothing common [koinos] or unclean [akathartos] has at any time entered into my mouth. “From this example, we see that unclean in Romans 14 can also mean “common” as we find in Acts 11. The word for unclean in Acts 11:8 is an entirely different word; therefore, akathartos is a reference to unclean meat, as proscribed by the Torah. Koinos, on the other hand, cannot mean unclean meat in Romans 14, or else Acts 11:8 would be a superfluous and unexplainably redundant in using two words that mean exactly the same thing. The word koinos is used elsewhere in the Apostolic Scriptures not to mean “unclean,” as in “unclean meat,” but “unclean” as in unwashed hands (Matt. 7:2), or “common,” as in something that is shared commonly among people (Acts 2:44; 4:32; Tit 1:4; Jude 3). Of the seven places this word is used in the Apostolic Scriptures it never means unclean meat.

In David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary, on Romans 14 he states that Paul is not abrogating the biblical dietary laws. On verse 14, Stern states that Paul is referring to ritual purity, not whether something is unclean (nonkosher) meat or not. What is ritual purity? It is a reference to either how something was slaughtered, and whether it was bled properly, or whether the meat had previously been sacrificed to idols before being sold in the public meat markets—a common practice in that day in pagan cities.

Furthermore, Paul could not have been advocating eating swine, and other unclean meats, without making himself into a total hypocrite and liar, since in several places in the Book of Acts he strongly states (toward the end of his life) that he was a Torah-observant Jew and walked orderly and kept the Torah (Acts 21:20), and that he had not broken any of the Torah laws (Acts 25:16), which would have included the dietary laws contained in the Torah.

Let’s also keep an important point in mind when speaking of YHVH’s biblical dietary commands: When some­one gets born again or regenerated spiritually their digestive system does not change. Eating unclean or biblically unkosher meat is, from a purely medical standpoint, deleterious to one’s health regardless of whether one is a believer in Yeshua or not.