Mark 7:19 – Unclean Meats

By Wayne Jackson

Students of the Old Testament are aware of the fact that certain types of meat were considered “unclean” under the Mosaic economy. According to the regulations set forth in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, the Hebrews could eat:

1. animals that were cloven hoofed and chewed the cud (e.g., cattle, sheep);
2. fish with fins and scales;
3. fowl that did not consume flesh (the vulture was forbidden);
4. some insects (e.g., locusts).

Some of these requirements likely had to do with health considerations. Overall, however, they were to set Israel apart as a “holy nation unto Jehovah” (Deut. 14:21).

Some religionists do not understand that these dietary requirements were confined to the Mosaic system, and since that regime is not in force today (Col. 2:14), we are not restricted as to what kinds of meat we may eat.

For example, the Seventh-day Adventists do not eat pork. An SDA writer asserts:

“The New Testament did not abolish the distinction between the clean and unclean flesh foods” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe…, p. 285).

This is incorrect.

Christ taught many principles which were designed to prepare the Jews for the fact that the law of Moses was to be abolished. For example, Jesus once observed that it is not mere food that defiles a person; rather, evil thoughts are the seat of sin. An inspired writer gives an additional insight into the Lord’s statement. “This he said, making all meats clean” (Mark 7:19). Underline that affirmation.

It is generally conceded by scholars that Mark’s Gospel was written from the perspective of the apostle Peter. If such was the case, Mark’s comment regarding meat may have reflected information from Peter pertaining to the fact that no creature of God, under the new covenant, was to be considered unclean (Acts 10:11-15) — a symbol of Gentile cleansing.

Note also that Paul identified “commanding to abstain from meats” as a mark of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-5).

Thus, beside Mark 7:19 write: “See Acts 10:11-15; 1 Timothy 4:1-5.”

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.