|“And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; |
it is unclean for you.” ~Leviticus 11:7
Today, many people (who if asked would claim to be believers) consume pork and pork products. However, does the Bible endorse the idea of the consumption of pork?
The verse already listed above, Leviticus 11:7, is part of a whole chapter which defines for us clean animals which may be eaten, and unclean animals from which we are to abstain. Among those listed as unclean animals include rats, camels, owls, and pigs.
What does God say about the consumption of pork? Well, another verse, Isaiah 66:17, states;
“Those who consecrate themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center-feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats will come to a terrible end.” says the LORD.”
This verse shows that God says that He does not like us to eat pork – or rats – or any of the other detestable creatures. Note: Detestable to Him.
Now, many may say, “Those are both Old Testament passages. Give me some New Testament verses.” While I will provide some “New Testament” passages, what constitutes as a “New Testament” passage? That is a man-made separation between the first half of our Bibles and our second half. Because I don’t like that man-made term, I will be referring to the “New Testament” as the Messianic Writings. This is because the “New Testament” consists of writings about our Messiah; hence, Messianic Writings.
One verse in the Messianic Writings is Acts 24:14. In this verse Paul states his beliefs,
“…I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.”~Acts 14:14 (NIV)
Eating pork does not agree with the Law (Leviticus 11) or the Prophets (Isaiah 66), therefore, Paul is against the consumption of pork and cannot agree with the idea nor can he condone it.
One verse that may be cited to prove that the Bible condones that idea of the consumption of pork is 1 Timothy 4:1-7 which says,
“ The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”1 Timothy 4:1-7 (NIV)
Now, first of all, it is important to realize the meaning of the word “foods.” The Greek word for “foods” in this case is brōmatōn. According to Strongs this means:
- that which is eaten, food
Now, think about this. This is Paul, a Jew, writing a letter to Timothy, a Greek/Jew (Greek Father and Jewish Mother). Paul would never have considered pork to be food. It wasn’t considered food for the people of Israel a couple thousand years before that, and it still was not considered food by those who taught and kept God’s word.
I know how this could be misunderstood. Even Peter the Disciple said that Paul was hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), and he was even living in the same time frame, spoke the same language, and was brought up in the same culture; unlike us who are so far removed from that time frame and who tend to have a Greek mindset rather than a Hebrew one.
If Paul isn’t talking about pork, what is he talking about then?
119 Ministries says it very well,
“…let’s ask ourselves some questions that we will all have to answer in light of 1 Timothy chapter 4. Does 1 Timothy 4:4 teach that all animals are clean and therefore acceptable for food? Are those teaching obedience to God’s commandments such as Leviticus 11 (God’s dietary instructions) ‘giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1)?’ Would such teaching be speaking lies in hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2)? Are the same teaching others to not marry (1 Timothy 4:3)? What things are stated to be consecrated by the Word of God and declared to be food and to be received in thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5)? Isn’t that the context here? Are God’s commandments old wives ‘fables (1 Timothy 4:7)? Are God’s commandments profane (1 Timothy 4:7)? Is keeping God’s commandments in Leviticus 11 no longer Godliness (1 Timothy 4:7)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6)? Is obeying God departing from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer scripture and thus no longer instructions in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)? Is Leviticus 11 no longer valid as a basis of rebuking and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16)?”
Do the answers to these questions seem obvious?
Let’s go back to 1 Timothy 4:3-5,
“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”~1 Timothy 4:3-5 (NIV)
What is the “truth” which such people believe? Psalm 119:142 says,
“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”~Psalm 119:142 (KJV)
Since Leviticus 11 is still part of the Law of God, then it is still truth. This means that it is not false or abolished. Obviously, something cannot be both true and false.
How about the verse, “consecrated by the word of God and prayer”? Well, what does it mean when something is consecrated? It means “holy” or “set-apart.” This leads us to a problem. If one was to twist Paul’s words to say that all foods have now been made as holy and set-apart as the clean, then there would no longer be any set-apart!
Another commonly misunderstood passage is Acts 10. In summary, Peter was hungry, and while he was hungry, he had a vision. In that vision a sheet came down with all kinds of creatures, like sheep, zebras, cows, and pigs. So they were likely touching each other. And God said to Peter, “Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter responded, “No Lord, never have I eaten anything common or unclean.” And the sheet went back into heaven. And this happened again, exactly like the first. And then it happened a third time, “Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter responded, “No Lord, never have I eaten anything common or unclean.” But this time God answered, “Do not call common what I have made clean.”
Now, there were two laws in Judaism: The oral law, and the Written Law. The oral law was a bunch of fence laws made to help keep people within the boundaries of God’s law, the Written Law. But the oral law did not need to be kept; only the written or spoken Law of God needs to be kept.
This is because only the Written Law is from God. The oral law is man-made; the laws are laws they made up for themselves, to restrain themselves.
One of the oral laws was to not eat anything common. In the oral law, an animal was common when a clean animal, like a sheep, touched an unclean animal, like a pig. The sheep was then considered to be common. However, according to God’s law, if the sheep touched the pig it was still clean, but the pig, is always unclean. Now, while the dream used animals to help portray or illustrate a point, the meaning had nothing to do with taking away a part of God’s law. We later find out what it meant. Three times the sheet came down, three men show up at his door. These three men were, according to the oral law (the fence law), unclean. Because of this, the Jews did not like to socialize with men like the men that showed up at Peter’s door. So when God says, “Do not call common what I have made clean” He is saying don’t call the men common whom I have made clean (you see this interpretation in Acts 10, specifically verse 28). You see, God’s law does not change – ever! (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 40:8, James 1:17, Psalm 102:25-27, 2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 119:89, etc).
So why do Christians eat pork today?
I believe they do this because they have been mislead and lied to; whether it be unintentional or intentional. People aren’t reading their Bibles for themselves. Because of this, the populace relies on their pastors; who rely on their particular denomination; who rely on the seminary; who rely on their “experts.” Lies can be handed down through the generations, and with no one to stop them, they can go on unchecked. As Peter said in 2 Peter 3:16 Paul is hard to understand, but so are others. If enough of these misunderstandings pile up with no answer, these problems can weaken certain members of the Faith and cause those who follow (as Paul said) The Way to stumble. We must not let that happen. If Jesus, Paul, Peter and the other disciples thought it absolutely necessary to follow the whole Bible, then we must too.