christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

Category Archives: clean and unclean food

1 timothy 4, abstaining from foods

Read 1 Timothy 4 at Bible Gateway.

This chapter forms a chiastic structure:

1 Tim 4:1-16
1a) 1 Tim 4:1-5, Some will depart from the faith, heeding deceiving spirits + doctrines of demons;
1b) 1 Tim 4:6-8a, Instruct + good minister + word and doctrine + exercise godliness:
— 1.1) 1 Tim 4:6a, Instruct the brethren in these things,
— 1.2) 1 Tim 4:6b, And you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ;
— 1.3) 1 Tim 4:6c-7a, Nourished in the Word and good doctrine which you have carefully followed;
— 1.4) 1 Tim 1:7b-8a, Exercise yourself toward godliness which is profitable;
1c) 1 Tim 4:8b, The promise of eternal life;
1d) 1 Tim 4:9, This word is faithful and true;
central axis) 1 Tim 4:10a, For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach;
2d) 1 Tim 4:10b, We trust in the living God;
2c) 1 Tim 4:10c, The Savior of all men, especially those who believe;
2b) 1 Tim 4:11-15, Command and teach + good example + word and doctrine + exercise gift:
— 2.1) 1 Tim 4:11, These things command and teach;
— 2.2) 1 Tim 4:12, Be an example to the believers in word and conduct;
— 2.3) 1 Tim 4:13, Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine;
— 2.4) 1 Tim 4:14-15, Exercise the gift in you … that all may see your progress;
1a) 1 Tim 4:16, Take heed to yourself + doctrine, so you will save yourself + those who hear you.

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

The 1a pair is perhaps the most controversial. Who knew the book of Timothy would be full of controversy? It says:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim 4:1-5 NKJV

“Ah ha! You believers in Jesus Christ who abstain from pork, here is your proof text that you are actually in error!” You know, when I find a place in Scripture like this that expressly contradicts another place in Scripture that we have already studied, the first thing I do is put down my modern translation and pick up the King James, and then the Greek Literal Translation after that. Why? Because truth cannot contradict itself and remain truth. We have a misunderstanding somewhere. This is what we have:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim 1:1-5 KJV (the words in italics are not in the original Greek)

And the Spirit expressly speaketh, that in latter times shall certain fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons, in hypocrisy speaking lies, being seared in their own conscience, forbidding to marry — to abstain from meats that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those believing and acknowledging the truth, because every creature of God [is] good, and nothing [is] to be rejected, with thanksgiving being received, for it is sanctified through the word of God and intercession. 1 Tim 4:1-5 YLT (the words in brackets are not in the original Greek but implied)

There was a great controversy going on the first century church, which Paul had addressed before in letters both to the Romans and the Corinthians. And that was, whether believers should eat meat at all, or only vegetables, as all the meat that was available in the Empire at the time, had been sacrificed to idols.

He had throughout his career consistently come down on the side of the believers’ freedom to eat meat, whether it had been sacrificed to an idol or not. This is not a proof text from Paul, saying that the dietary laws in Torah should now be discarded. Jesus commanded Torah obedience (Mat 5:18-19, Mat 7:21-23), Peter continued in Torah obedience to dietary laws following the resurrection of Jesus (Act 10:14), and Paul continued in Torah obedience throughout his life (Act 21:24).

So now the question that we ought to ask ourselves is, why did the NKJV translators change the English translation from “meats,” with which the Greek agrees, to “foods?” The passage implies something significantly different when it reads “foods” instead of “meats.” I would hate to think that anyone would bend Scripture, no matter how slightly, so as to give more weight to a personally believed pet doctrine. But this is why we must know the whole Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and be on guard for these seeming contradictions, to study the issue out further.

For further reading:
all posts in the clean and unclean food topic (especially romans 14 and 1 corinthians 8)

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romans 14:5-6, esteeming days part two

Read Romans 14 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: romans 14:5-6, esteeming days

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. Rom 14:5-6

Back to one day being esteemed above another. Because para is never translated above, Paul’s intent might have been, One person esteems a day more than another, or, One person esteems a day less than another. Or even, One person esteems a day alongside another, or nigh unto another, or even, against another – all accepted translations of the preposition para in this grammatical construction.

Which way to translate it? It is a guess, because in this letter Paul is answering a question posed to him by the church at Rome, and we do not know what the question was. We do know it had to do with differing personal interpretation in gray areas, which were doubtful things (vs. 1) – something the Old Testament (the only Scriptures they had) did not address clearly. It very well could have had to do with pagan Gentile customs associated with esteeming days as mentioned yesterday that might have been retained culturally among those coming to faith in Christ. The context of the chapter is cultural idolatry, so that it had something to do with pagan practice or custom is an educated guess.

But it is a guess, that is the thing. What if the debate was similar to one that is becoming more and more common in the church in our days: whether if we esteem Easter, then we have honored Ishtar the fertility goddess and a great enemy of YHVH? What if that is the one day that the Romans were asking Paul about? Or what if some in the church did not celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua on Ishtar’s day because they were loathe to give any honor to the goddess at all? These are true gray areas. That is why Paul seems to be saying, in verse 4, Hey, how can you judge for another person whether by doing this (eating, or esteeming days, or whatever) he is really practicing idolatry in his heart or not? Only God knows!

We assume, because we have been raised with an anti- Torah bias, that the text must be talking about Sabbath, but that is a pure assumption not required by the text. T say that the verse must mean, that if we are honoring the Sabbath as God commands numerous times and places throughout Scripture (not a gray area), that those who do so are weak in the faith, is an interpretation coming from an anti- Torah bias that has been imposed on the text, but which the text does not require.

The main point is in verse 12:

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:12

Each one of us needs to be fully convinced in his own mind (vs. 5)! And if someone’s practice is different from yours, in a gray area, in a doubtful thing, then let us not judge one another anymore. My personal opinion is that anything which God has previously addressed specifically in the Old Testament or through the mouth of Jesus, is not a gray area. That is me. :) It pays for us to know just what God has said! Yeah, but Christine, even in Habakkuk? Who reads that? Yes, even Habakkuk! The Word of God has been preserved as it is for a reason and we ought not to be ignorant of it!

Continued: romans 14:7-13, judging your brother

romans 14:1-4, disputes over doubtful things part two

The who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.

Romans 14:3

Read Romans 14 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: romans 14:1-4, disputes over doubtful things

What was the meat- eating issue the early Church grappled with, which was not clearly addressed in Scripture, so that it was a true gray area, a dispute over doubtful things?

In order to understand the problem, you have to understand what it was like to live in the Roman Empire outside of Judea and Samaria in the first century. The cities abounded with temples to pagan gods like we have churches on every street corner in America. Sacrifices flowed into the temples. When an animal was sacrificed, what was left (after the worshiper took his portion) was sold to the butcher shops. Every butcher shop in the Empire procured its meat in this way.

So a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ entered a butcher shop, bypassed the pork and rabbit automatically, looking for a good chicken or a haunch of beef. But wait … that chicken, that bull, has been sacrificed in a pagan rite by a pagan priest to a pagan god in a pagan temple. Does the believer buy it and eat it? If he did, would he be honoring the idol to which it had been sacrificed?

The question was not, was it ethical to eat animals (that is a question our own time and culture would impose). The question was not, is it okay to eat pork now (that is a question clearly addressed in Scripture and therefore not a doubtful thing). The question was, are we committing idolatry if we eat a leg of lamb purchased in a butcher shop? That was a true gray area issue.

“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Rom 14:14-18

Now is this proof that the clean and unclean food division has been done away with? It would be, IF that assumption was confirmed by the rest of Scripture. If it is not, then we have not arrived at the proper understanding of the verse. But Paul himself does not confirm it, for he reiterates that Scripture has declared some things unclean in other places in his letters:

“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,” … Rom 1:24

“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” Rom 6:19

“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 6:16-17:1

“… lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.” 2 Cor 12:21

In light of the these Scriptures, obviously the interpretation of Rom 14:14 is not that all things are now clean, for Paul believes that those things which the Scripture has declared to be unclean, are unclean — it is from the Scripture that he is getting his definition of what constitutes uncleanness and all filthiness of the flesh. And that is the key: it is not what Scripture clearly defines as unclean that is now clean in and of itself. But all things that man might declare to be unclean, are clean in and of itself. If a thing was intrinsically unclean, Paul is saying, God would have declared it to be so.

I believe this interpretation of the text harmonizes with what Paul has written in the other epistles, and also what we saw Jesus saying in the Gospels (Mar 7Mat 15Luk 11).

Why didn’t Paul just say so in the first place, and not leave himself open to misunderstanding? He was answering a specific question addressed to him by the church at Rome. He could not have known that their letter would have been lost, and his preserved, and used to prove the immutable Word of God contained in the Old Testament passed away 2000 years later.

I am indebted to an article written by Brad Scott at Wildbranch Ministry for putting me on the right track of Romans 14.

Continued: romans 14:5-6, esteeming days

romans 14:1-4, disputes over doubtful things

Read Romans 14 at Bible Gateway.

“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Rom 14:1-4

Now the letters Paul wrote, which we have preserved in the New Testament, are not actually stand- alone letters. They were written in response to letters sent to him by the new churches – or else to reports given to him by brothers coming to and from the churches. We only have his replies; we do not have the original letters, so we can only guess, from clues in his reply, what the question was that he was expounding on in his response.

Receive one who is weak in faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

Romans 14:1

Because we only have half the equation, it is even easier than usual to make a wrong assumption about the topic under discussion. I mean, we saw how easy it was to make a wrong assumption about the topic under discussion from the Gospels when we thought Jesus was discussing clean and unclean food, and in that case we had all the facts up front. So in the Epistles we need to be even more careful because we do not have all the facts up front. We need to be sure that our assumption and the conclusions drawn from our assumption harmonizes with the rest of Scripture.

In this case, we know first off, that there was a dispute in the church over how different believers were handling doubtful things. “Doubtful things” is the key phrase. It means that the church was facing an issue which was not clearly spelled out in Scripture already. We know, because what was already clearly spelled out in Scripture would not have been doubtful, right? The dispute was in a gray area.

The Scripture these believers had was the Old Testament only. The New Testament did not exist yet. The believers did not throw away the Old Testament because Jesus had risen from the dead. In fact, the Old Testament was what they used to determine their faith and practice.

Now, what was clean and unclean FOOD was already clearly defined in the Old Testament (Lev 11Deu 14). This was not a gray area. That the issue concerned food in some way, we know. But was the question whether the food the Old Testament defined as “clean” and “unclean” in dispute? No, the dispute was not over that question. That question was not a doubtful thing. That question was not a gray area.

Another clue is given to us in verse 2: one person, on one side of the dispute, believes he can eat all things, while another person, on the other side of the dispute, the weak side of the dispute, eats only vegetables. Again in verse 21, Paul admonishes his hearers to not eat meat … if it makes a brother weak. I do not believe the issue was which meatwas clean or unclean … but whether a person should eat vegetables and meat (all things), or vegetables only. Meat was on one side of the dispute, and vegetables on the other.

Now lest we jump to a conclusion, and decide that they were having a discussion about the righteousness of being a vegetarian (that would be applying our time and culture to the text, instead of reading the text from the time and culture it was written), there was a meat- eating issue the early Church grappled with in their time and culture, that is not addressed in Scripture (the Old Testament), thus it would be a true gray area.

Continued: romans 14:1-4, disputes over doubtful things, part two

1 timothy 4, abstaining from foods

Read 1 Timothy 4 at Bible Gateway.

This chapter forms a chiastic structure:

1 Tim 4:1-16
1a) 1 Tim 4:1-5, Some will depart from the faith, heeding deceiving spirits + doctrines of demons;
1b) 1 Tim 4:6-8a, Instruct + good minister + word and doctrine + exercise godliness:
— 1.1) 1 Tim 4:6a, Instruct the brethren in these things,
— 1.2) 1 Tim 4:6b, And you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ;
— 1.3) 1 Tim 4:6c-7a, Nourished in the Word and good doctrine which you have carefully followed;
— 1.4) 1 Tim 1:7b-8a, Exercise yourself toward godliness which is profitable;
1c) 1 Tim 4:8b, The promise of eternal life;
1d) 1 Tim 4:9, This word is faithful and true;
central axis) 1 Tim 4:10a, For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach;
2d) 1 Tim 4:10b, We trust in the living God;
2c) 1 Tim 4:10c, The Savior of all men, especially those who believe;
2b) 1 Tim 4:11-15, Command and teach + good example + word and doctrine + exercise gift:
— 2.1) 1 Tim 4:11, These things command and teach;
— 2.2) 1 Tim 4:12, Be an example to the believers in word and conduct;
— 2.3) 1 Tim 4:13, Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine;
— 2.4) 1 Tim 4:14-15, Exercise the gift in you … that all may see your progress;
1a) 1 Tim 4:16, Take heed to yourself + doctrine, so you will save yourself + those who hear you.

The 1a pair is perhaps the most controversial. Who knew the book of Timothy would be full of controversy? It says:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim 4:1-5 NKJV

“Ah ha! You believers in Jesus Christ who abstain from pork, here is your proof text that you are actually in error!” You know, when I find a place in Scripture like this that expressly contradicts another place in Scripture that we have already studied, the first thing I do is put down my modern translation and pick up the King James, and then the Greek Literal Translation after that. Why? Because truth cannot contradict itself and remain truth. We have a misunderstanding somewhere. This is what we have:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim 1:1-5 KJV (the words in italics are not in the original Greek)

And the Spirit expressly speaketh, that in latter times shall certain fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons, in hypocrisy speaking lies, being seared in their own conscience, forbidding to marry — to abstain from meats that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those believing and acknowledging the truth, because every creature of God [is] good, and nothing [is] to be rejected, with thanksgiving being received, for it is sanctified through the word of God and intercession. 1 Tim 4:1-5 YLT (the words in brackets are not in the original Greek but implied)

There was a great controversy going on the first century church, which Paul had addressed before in letters both to the Romans and the Corinthians. And that was, whether believers should eat meat at all, or only vegetables, as the all the meat that was available in the Empire at the time, had been sacrificed to idols.

He had throughout his career consistently come down on the side of the believers’ freedom to eat meat, whether it had been sacrificed to an idol or not. This is not a proof text from Paul, saying that the dietary laws in Torah should now be discarded. Jesus commanded Torah obedience (Mat 5:18-19, Mat 7:21-23), Peter continued in Torah obedience to dietary laws following the resurrection of Jesus (Act 10:14), and Paul continued in Torah obedience throughout his life (Act 21:24).

So now the question that we ought to ask ourselves is, why did the NKJV translators change the English translation from “meats,” with which the Greek agrees, to “foods?” The passage implies something significantly different when it reads “foods” instead of “meats.” I would hate to think that anyone would bend Scripture, no matter how slightly, so as to give more weight to a personally believed pet doctrine. But this is why we must know the whole Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and be on guard for these seeming contradictions, to study the issue out further.

For further reading:
all posts in the clean and unclean food topic (especially romans 14 and 1 corinthians 8)

isaiah 65-66

Read Isaiah 65-66 at Bible Gateway.

“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in a way that is not good,
According to their own thoughts;” Isa 65:2

The way that the LORD walks is the good way; His way is a narrow path. Man lost the knowledge of His way of walking when they rebelled against Him at Babel. So God looked for one man who would walk in His way, who would teach his children to walk in His way, to reveal Himself to, to establish a covenant with, and that one man was Abraham, the father of all who believe. Of him, the LORD said, he obeyed His voice, and kept His commandments, His charge, and His torah (Gen 26:5). Of him, the LORD said, he commanded his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice (Gen 18:19). The LORD’s torah is His instruction and teaching to mankind, of His thoughts and His ways, what walking in His path looks like.

The LORD’s thoughts and His ways are not the same as ours, which is why He needs to reveal His thoughts and ways to us; His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isa 55:8-9). If we walk according to what makes sense with our logic, and our way of thinking, then we might miss God. Now see in this chapter, the things that the LORD says provokes Him to anger, the things that He considers iniquity, and the things that His soul takes no delight in:

1) Offering a sacrifice in a garden and burning incense on an altar made of brick (Isa 65:3). The sacrifice was offered to the LORD, so according to human logic, it should be okay, right? God revealed that His sacrifices were to be offered in the temple, with minute instructions as to what the good way, His way, was. His altars were all made of natural, not hewn, stones, certainly not of brick. To us, what difference does it make? But because He is God, and knows what is righteousness and sin, the things in which He delights and the things which are abhorrant to Him, we need to listen to Him and conform our actions accordingly.

2) Spending the night in the tombs (Isa 65:4); this is a reference to calling up or conversing with the dead;

3) Eating swine’s flesh and the broth of unclean things (Isa 65:4). I used to make a dish, where one of the ingredients was clam broth. Some asian sauces have oyster broth in them. Clams and oysters are unclean, according to torah. Most of us were told that it doesn’t matter what we eat since Jesus has come. That is not what the Scripture says. In fact, when the LORD returns, and He pours out His indignation to His enemies, some of those He considers His enemies are those who eat swine’s flesh (Isa 66:17). They are those who do not listen to His voice and do not obey His word.

In fact, continuing on in Isa 66:

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.
“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”  Isa 66:22-24

These are the final verses of Isaiah, and as Isaiah opened with the judgment which was coming upon Israel and Judah, it closes with the return of the King of kings, the peace, joy, and blessing upon Israel and Judah, His servants, and the judgment upon His enemies. New moons and Sabbaths will be observed in the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness is completely restored!

We have been told it does not matter what we eat, and on what day we rest or worship — by men. The word of the LORD says differently. Let us conform ourselves to HIM, and not to man, whose thoughts and ways are not His!