Clean and unclean meat arguments, COVID-19, and the Bible

Peter’s vision of a sheet as painted by Domenico Fetti, 17th century


A while back, GoogleNews suggested the following for me written by a Protestant pastor:

Jesus Declaration about Foods

When God was trying to convince Peter to rise, kill, and eat unclean foods, Peter said that he had never eaten anything unclean in his life (Acts 10:11-14) God said “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15) meaning that the gospel is now intended for the Gentiles too and not just for the Jewish people. In similar fashion, Jesus said “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mark 7:15) and His disciples asked what this meant (Mark 7:17). Jesus replied, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him” (Mark 7:18-20). In other words, what we eat doesn’t defile a person…it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man and a woman. Besides, Jesus did away with the old Mosaic dietary laws when He went to Calvary. There was no need to avoid certain foods anymore since these dietary laws were written specifically to Israel just like the old animal sacrificial system was also voided due to Jesus’ one-for-all sacrifice of Himself on the cross. …


Today we have liberty to eat what we desire and our diets are not restricted by what God commanded the nation of Israel. We cannot pick and choose what we believe out of the Bible. It is not a buffet of what we want to believe; I’ll have a little of that and some of this but none of that. We must look at the context, to what verses were written to whom, and not judge others for what the Bible clearly shows they have liberty in.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. August 21, 2015

(GoogleNews once had a section where it puts news items that it believes it has tailored to the individual, and this is one of two items it suggested when I went to it before.)

The Bible warns about those who love and believe a lie:

15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:15)

And, in my view, those who believe that God’s people are to eat biblically unclean animals are accepting a lie. They are also ignoring biblical, historical, and other facts. Consider, for example, that dogs are biblically-unclean animals that eat any type of animal and that they are not to be emulated according to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible.

All should realize that the Apostle Paul did not want Gentile Christians to participate in uncleanness and that is something that they should repent of. Paul also wrote:

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).

Is eating biblically prohibited foods or not eating them a sign of disobedience? Is consuming what the Bible prohibits covetous?

Although some feel that Christians can eat unclean meats, Paul wrote:

7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:7).

The Apostle Peter added:

9…the Lord knows how…10 to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (II Peter 2:9-10).

Some, sadly, despise biblical authority to eat whatsoever they lust after.

Most who profess Christianity, however, will claim to believe that Jesus declared all animals to be clean to eat, even though He did not.

Now, while Jack Wellman is correct that the vision to the Apostle Peter was about accepting that God was calling Gentiles, Peter himself obviously did not believe that Jesus declared all animals as clean meat as he never ate it. Peter knew Jesus and the other disciples and none of them came to the same conclusion that certain Protestant and Catholic leaders have come to.

The primary “proof” text many use is Mark 7:18-19 in which Jesus declares:

18 Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? (NKJV throughout except as otherwise noted).

There are at least seven problems using this as a “proof” text.

First of all, “thus purifying all foods” is not in all manuscripts, such as the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament Text and thus may have been improperly added, nor is that the proper translation. This addition is NOT in the Textus Receptus (from whence the KJV and NKJV are translated, nor is it in the Rheims’ New Testament (the one-time Roman Catholic standard English translation). Furthermore, Peter made it clear in Acts 10:14 that he still had not eaten anything unclean–hence he did not rely on this spurious verse. Also, verses in Revelation (16:3; 18:2) clearly show that unclean animals remained unclean after Mark 7.

Watch also the short video: Did Jesus declare all animal flesh food?

Secondly, even if the above addition should be part of scripture, it is more literally to be translated as purging all the foods as the Greek term for “the” is in the text that contains the rest of that statement.

Here is how J.P. Green’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (a standard scholarly reference) literally translates Mark 7:18-19:

18 Do you not perceive that everything having entered from the outside into the man is not able to defile him? 19 (This is) because it does not enter into his heart but into the belly, and goes out through the toilet bowl, purging all the foods.

Hence, Jesus (presuming that the Greek words relating to purging are actually what He said) appears to be saying that the digestive tract purges all the foods that go into it. He is NOT saying that all unclean meats are therefore clean.

Thirdly, notice that Jesus is asking a question in either verse 19 or 20 according to the translators. He did not make a declaration that unclean meats are clean or are food.

Fourthly, the context of Mark 7 was the Pharisees complaint that Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands in the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-3)–it had nothing to do with unclean meats. If it did, the Pharisees would have most likely raised this charge against Jesus when they brought Jesus before Pilate. In case Jesus’ meaning was unclear, in Matthew’s synoptic account he plainly taught what He meant: “to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:20).

Fifthly, Jesus did not consider all animals to be food, nor did He ever eat any unclean animals. If Jesus declared all animals to be clean, would the Bible still use unclean animals as symbols of uncleanliness?

In Matthew 13:47-48, Jesus tells a parable about fishing with a net and catching “every kind” and then separating the good from the bad; possibly meaning the clean from the unclean–there would be no “bad” if Jesus was declaring all meats as clean.

In Luke 11:11-12, Jesus teaches that bread, fish, and eggs, but not stones, serpents (snakes, an unclean animal), or scorpions are good for food (see parallel account in Matthew 7:9-11).

Jesus clearly knew what unclean meats were and clearly taught that they were not fit to be food.

Actually, unclean animals are never mentioned as food anywhere in the New Testament–they are either mentioned as beasts of burden (John 12:15) or mentioned in a negative fashion (Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-12; Revelation 16:13; 18:2).

Sixthly, after the incident in Mark 7 (and Matthew 15) Jesus said, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24).

Thus Jesus apparently still considered gnats and camels to be unclean, thus this verifies that He never declared all animals to be clean.

Seventhly, Peter and others apparently did not understand that they could eat unclean meat from this or Peter would not have objected to it in Acts 10:14 where he says he never had eaten any unclean meat (he also would have known nothing was unclean IF he thought that was what Jesus was teaching in Mark 7). Even the Orthodox scholar and teacher Origen realized that as he wrote:

Peter himself seems to have observed for a considerable time the Jewish observances enjoined by the law of Moses, not having yet learned from Jesus to ascend from the law… Peter “went up into the upper room to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten”…Peter is represented as still observing the Jewish customs respecting clean and unclean animals. (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book II, Chapter 1)

I would also add that even Roman Catholic scholars realize that it was not until about a century and a half after Jesus was resurrected that their church accepted the consumption of unclean animals.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, the acceptance of unclean meat came about 150 years AFTER Jesus was resurrected and was pushed by the Roman Bishop Eleutherius:

He also decreed that no kind of food in common use should be rejected especially by the Christian faithful, inasmuch as God created it; provided it was a rational food and fit for human kind (Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) 2nd edition. Translation by Raymond Davis. Liverpool University Press – Translated Texts for Historians, Liverpool, 2001, p.17).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The “Liber Pontificalis” ascribes to Pope Eleutherius a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians (Et hoc iterum firmavit ut nulla esca a Christians repudiaretur, maxime fidelibus, quod Deus creavit, quæ tamen rationalis et humana est).

It should be noted that Roman bishops were not called Popes that early (that did not happen until the late fourth century). Anyway, according to Lopes book The Popes, Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from 175-189 AD. This book (which I purchased at the Vatican itself) states this about Eleutherius:

He dispensed with the obligations of Christians to follow dietary laws of Judaic origin (page 5).

The above book should have said the obligations of biblical origin as the dietary restrictions began with God and not Jews (the distinction between clean and unclean animals was known by at least Noah’s time, since God so declared in Genesis 7:2-3). Perhaps it needs to be stated that no one called of God in the Old Testament is ever shown to have consumed unclean meat. Hence the Catholics (and the Protestants that follow this edict) are relying on a possible pronouncement of a bishop of Rome for justification of eating unclean meats more than they may realize. And this alleged decree did not happen until about 150 years after Jesus was resurrected.

Now, I should add that the Liber Pontificalis was composed in the fifth/sixth centuries and has a reputation, even among Roman Catholic scholars, for arbitrarily assigning events with certain “popes” (some of this is documented in the article What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History?). It would seem, however, that this could not have been assigned any earlier than 175 A.D. because of Irenaeus’ writings. Hence, it is clear that well into the second century, the laws concerning clean and unclean meats were considered to have been in force for Christians in general (exceptions including the apostates in Alexandria and the apostate Justin). And that it is due to a later Catholic tradition that unclean animals became food for Roman supporters.

Consider that in the third century an elder named Pionius of Smyrna, who claimed to be part of the ‘catholic church,’ refused to eat unclean meat:

3. It was Saturday and after they had prayed and taken the sacred bread with water, Polemon the temple verger came in on them with his men in order to seek out the Christians and drag them off to offer sacrifice and to taste forbidden meats. “Surely you are aware,” said the verger, “of the emperor’ edict commanding us to sacrifice to the gods.” “We are aware,” said Pionius, “of the commandments of God ordering us to worship him alone.”

Polemon said: “Come then to the market-place; there you will change your minds.”

Sabina and Asclepiades said: “We obey the living God.” He led them off then without restraint and as they walked along everyone saw that they were wearing their chains, and such a crowd rushed up in haste as it were for a strange sight, that they jostled one another. As they came into the forum, by the eastern Stoa and the double gate, all the forum and the upper storeys of the porches were crowded with Greeks, Jews, and women. They were on holiday because it was a great Sabbath. They drew near, looking towards the tribunal steps and the voting urns.

6. There was a lawyer by the name of Alexander, a wicked man, who spoke: “Listen to us, Pionius.”

“You should be concerned,” said Pionius, “to listen to me. What you know, I know; but what I know, you are ignorant of.” Alexander was minded to make sport of him, for he said to him ironically: “Why are you wearing these chains?” “First of all,” said Pionius, “so that though we are passing through your city, we might not be suspected of having come to eat forbidden foods…

9. Then he interrogated him for the sake of the record, while a notary took everything down. “What is your name?” he asked him.

“Pionius,” was the answer. “Are you a Christian?” asked Polemon

“Yes,” said Pionius.

Polemon the verger said: “What church do you belong to?”

“The Catholic Church,” was the answer; “with Christ there is no other.” (The Martyrdom of Pionius and his Companions, Chapters 3,6, & 9. Text from H. Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford, 1972), 137-167. accessed 07/25/15)

While some associated with the Greco-Romans, like Justin, apparently ate unclean meat, Pionius (who seems to have had a connection to Polycarp of Smyrna) did not. (As far as the ‘Catholic Church’ goes, the first two times this appears in the literature it is a reference to the Church of God in Smyrna. It was not until the late 4th century that the Church of Rome and its Eastern Orthodox confederation had it for its exclusive legal use because of a decree of the Emperor Theodosius related to the Council of Constantinople he called for in 381. Pionius was obviously NOT part of the Roman Catholic Church since he would not eat unclean meat decades after Bishop Eleutherius supposedly authorized it, plus he also kept biblical Holy Days, etc.). I should also add that the Church of Rome considers that the presbyter Pionius was a saint, hence the fact that he did not even wish to be accused of eating it in the mid-third century should show that those that considered themselves faithful Christians did NOT eat biblically unclean meats in the third century.

Real Christians DID NOT come to the same conclusion that people like Jack Wellman have. Believing what God’s word says on this is NOT picking and choosing, it is those that refuse to obey God’s word or follow the example of early Christians that are choosing to disobey.

Furthermore, while some believe that COVID-19 came from intentional-human design, the generally accepted view is that it came from biblically unclean animals–such as bats, snakes, and/or pangolins. Some basically believe a bat virus mutated inside a pangolin or some other animal. The reality is that even if COVID-19 was humanly engineered, that too would seem to have begun with a biblically unclean animal.

Actually, according to a lecture on virology from Columbia University, ALL viruses humans get come from animals AND the vast majority of serious ones seem to involve biblically unclean ones.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that there REMAIN numerous health problems associated with eating bats (Ebola transmission), pork, and many other biblically-unclean animals.

Egg of Pork Tapeworm Taenia Solium

In at least two books of the Bible, bats are specifically prohibited from being eaten by humans. In at least three books of the Bible, eating the flesh of pigs (an unclean animal) is prohibited–and a couple of references in the Book of Isaiah are negative and prophetic–that means that unclean meats are still unclean.

Thus, the prohibitions against pork were NOT nailed to the cross or otherwise done away with (see also Which Laws were Superceded? Which Remain?). Jesus’ death did NOT change the flesh of pork or reduce its ability to pass on health problems (more details are in the article The New Testament Church, History, and Unclean Meats.

It may also be of interest to note that in the New Testament, Jesus also makes negative comments towards pigs/swine. Notice:

6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

The Bible also teaches:

2…Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good (Isaiah 55:2).

God did not intend pork or bat tissue to be foods for human beings.

Even the Church of Rome admits that early Christians did not consume pork (some details are in the article The New Testament Church, History, and Unclean Meats). We in the Continuing Church of God do not consume pork nor bats, etc.–and the Bible supports this position.

But in 2020, the world looks to have paid a hefty economic price for eating and/or improperly messing around with biblically unclean animals.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The New Testament Church, History, and Unclean Meats Are foods considered to have been unclean in the Old Testament considered to be food in the New Testament? This article discusses this from the perspective of the New Testament. It also has a list of clean and unclean animals. It also answers the question, is pork healthy or is pork dangerous? There is also a sermon-length video on this: Christians and Unclean Meats; a short video is also available: Did Jesus declare all animal flesh food?
Did Jesus declare all animal flesh food? Many have claimed that Jesus declared all animal flesh as food in Mark 7. Mulvane Brethren Pastor Jack Wellman cited this verse as partial proof that Jesus declared that all animals were clean for Christians. Is this what Jesus really said? What did early Christians believe about this? Were faithful Christians still avoiding unclean meats after Jesus was resurrected? What did the Apostle Peter do? What did the third century martyr Pionius do? When did the Church of Rome claim it changed to allow promotion of biblically unclean animals? Were any unclean animals mentioned in the New Testament after Mark 7?
American foods that gross out foreigners A study done in the Fall of 2014 found out which foods that non-USA Americans considered weird or gross that Americans eat. This video discusses those foods, ingredients in some of those foods, and warns against consuming ‘that which is not bread’ (Isaiah 55:2). Dr. Thiel also warns about synthetic vitamins and some of the issues associated with them. He also discusses something promoted by the late Seventh-day Adventist, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. This is a video. A partially related written post is titled American ‘foods’ that gross out foreigners.
Obesity, processed foods, health risks, and the Bible Does the Bible warn about the consequences of being obese? Is overeating dangerous? Is gluttony condemned? What diseases are associated with eating too much refined foods?
Eating Right, Eating Too Much, and Prophecy Are there disadvantages to being overweight? Is junk food really bad for you? Does the Bible discuss overeating and/or obesity? Is overeating having an effect on the US military? What are the ramifications of personal and national health for overeating? What should you eat? This is a sermonette-length YouTubevideo.
GMOs and Bible Prophecy What are GMOs? Since they were not in the food supply until 1994, how could they possibly relate to Bible prophecy? Do GMOs put the USA and others at risk? Here is a related YouTube video GMO Risks and the Bible.
Chimeras: Has Science Crossed the Line? What are chimeras? Has science crossed the line? Does the Bible give any clues? A video of related interest is Half human, half pig: What’s the difference?
Ten Simple Rules that Lead to Health Herbert Armstrong gives his opinions on this.
Does God Heal Today? What does the Bible teach? Herbert Armstrong tries to explain this.
UK Study Supports Daniel Diet Daniel and his companions looked better eating more vegetables and avoiding strange meats. Has modern science confirmed this?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
COVID 19 is NOT the End, but could it be TEOTWAWKI? The novel coronavirus called COVID-19 is wreaking havoc around the world. Many states of the USA as well as countries in Europe are on lockdown with shelter in place /shelter in residence requirements. In France, a form is required when you are not at your house. In Spain, drones are being used to warn people who are outside to got back to their homes–does that bring up feelings of ‘Big Brother’? Italy, France, and other areas are using police and/or military force to encourage people to stay inside. According to the Bible could this be the end? If not, what has to happen first? Have the second and third of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse started their ride? Could COVID-19 be the fourth horseman? Why or why not? Could we be seeing The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) like the R.E.M.’s 1987 single song discussed? Do Christians need to fear? What did Jesus teach? What did the Psalmist teach? This is a video. Here is a link to a version in the Spanish language: Corona 19 no es el final PERO es el TEOTWAWKI.

Get news like the above sent to you on a daily basis

Your email will not be shared. You may unsubscribe at anytime.