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May 03, 2016


“And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 7:14–16)

“And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

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.” (Mark 7:18–23)

Of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Epistle of Barnabas should be noted.

In Ep. Barn. 10:2 the levitical commandments concerning food are so interpreted that even Moses appears to have understood them allegorically:

“This is, then, not a commandment of God that they should not eat [these things] much more did Moses speak in the spirit.”

So Barnabas, for example, interpreted the prohibition of partaking of flesh of swine as a prohibition of developing close contact with persons who are similar to swine (Ep. Barn. 10:3).

Hübner, H. (1992). Unclean and Clean: New Testament. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), R. B. Thomas Jr. (Trans.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 6, p. 744). New York: Doubleday.

I've been over the issue of food laws dozens of times with people, so I'm not really interested in addressing that question here. But it does put a bit of a new spin on it by trying to make the case that the food laws should be enduring because (1) Isaiah 65 contains a future prophecy and because (2) God is angry with those who ate pork.

I'll only bother to try and address this new (to me) element of the argument:

First, that God was angry with the Israelites for eating pig and described those who ate pig as irritating does not entail that there is something inherently or enduringly wicked about pig eating. For instance, I may set a bedtime for my nephew at 9 pm and get angry with him if he violates it. But that doesn't entail that I have any objective reason for thinking nephews should be in bed by 9 pm and there is clearly nothing inherently or enduringly wicked about staying up past 9 pm. Thus, that God is angry with pig eating and finds pig eaters irritating in Isaiah 65:3-5 is not sufficient grounds, in itself, to tell us that there is a universal or enduring moral principle about not eating pigs.

Second, that Isaiah 65 contains a prophecy about the future does not entail that everything in Isaiah 65 has relevance for the future. For instance, if my nephew stays up past his bedtime and irritates me I may complain about how often he breaks his bedtime rule and then talk about how I can't wait for him to grow up and learn the value of getting his rest. Here I'm looking to the future in a way that has relevance for my bedtime rule, but it would clearly be absurd, on that basis, to think that I believe he will following a 9 pm bedtime rule as an adult. Thus, again, the evidence appealed to is insufficient to make the case.

Why eating pork is OK today.

The Old Covenant WAS the Ten Commandments. They even had a box called the Ark of the Covenant to keep them in.

The New Covenant abolished the Old. The Old gives insight and commentary but is not binding.

There are no dietary laws in the New Covenant, just a mention of not eating things sacrificed to idols, and avoiding raw meat.

So, any appeal to the sin of eating pork can only be lodged against Christians using the obsolete Old Covenant and not the New.

(1) the food laws were given to the Jews
(2) most Christians today are Gentiles
(3) the church in Acts 15 determined that only a very limited subset of the Jewish law was binding upon the Gentiles. Laws forbidding pork didn't make the cut
(4) thus, Gentiles can eat pork if they want

Old Covenant vs New Covenant is important, but so is Jew vs Gentile

Andrew is on the right track.

Consider the events of Acts 10. Peter's vision of the unclean animals lowered to him and God's command to kill and eat. This is followed by a summons to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius. His interview with the Roman centurion and the realization that the Mosaic ordinances which separated the covenant people of Israel from the rest of the world were set aside. This is climaxed with a Pentecost display of tongues spoken by Gentiles.

The eating of pork was a breaking down the walls of separation, making the Gospel message not only for the Jewish race, but for all races.

The resistance to this abrogation was evidenced in Paul's letter to the Galatians, where a legalistic element favoring Mosaic emphasis in worship and lifestyle battled Paul's mission to the Gentiles. Christian freedom is no longer bound by arrangements meant only for the Old Covenant.

Who are the Jews?

Since Circumcision made one a physical Jew, including gentile converts to Judaism, and since the New Covenant did away with the Old including Circumcision, are there any physical Jews today?

I believe this question is on topic since if there is no circumcision, there are no physical Jews, and any dietary law, Sabbath keeping law, etc., is obsolete.

I disagree that there are no Jews. Paul keeps the Jew-Gentile distinction front & centre, and firmly believes that the Jews have a special blessing (e.g. Romans). But both Jew & Gentile are under sin & redeemed in Christ - the Jews to be true Jews, and the Gentiles, not to be Jews, but to also be called the people of God

As to the Law - it is for the Jews, & has been fulfilled in Christ. This is not to say that Gentiles cannot appropriate from it - and we'd do well to do so more - but the Law neither binds nor saves Gentiles in Christ

What of pork & the Jews? Does the Law teach us that pork is abhorrent to God? I would say rather that the food Laws symbolize holiness. Clean or unclean food is an imputed property, not an inherent one. Thus Jesus can declare all foods clean without gutting (pun intended) the Law.

@ Andrew;

What makes one a physical Jew? If it is Circumcision and that is abolished, how then are there any physical Jews today?

Also how do you interpret Paul? “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

Thanks for your thoughts.

As a Messianic Jewish follower of Jesus, I and my community understand that pork is not acceptable. God is unchanging, and it was God who forbade cetain foods like pork.

Moreover, we do not find anywhere in the Bible -- Old Testament or New -- where a person literally eats pork.

Peter's vision is what folks often point us to, but we argue that his vision should be interpreted exactly how Peter interpreted it: "God has shown me that I should call no man unclean." (Acts 10:28)

@ Judah Gabriel Himango; > "God is unchanging, and it was God who forbade certain foods like pork."

>> God's eternal decree is perfect and therefore unchangeable. But his decree involves change for his subjects.

The New Covenant abolishes the Old that centered in the Ten Commandments and dietary laws and sacrifices (Jeremiah 31:31–33).

With the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and with the institution of the New Covenant. (Luke 22:20; I Cor. 11:23-25), God brought Old Covenant Israel to a close.

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