The Words of Yeshua
Some teach that Yeshua "did away with" or "changed" the food laws. They often point to a particular verse in the book of Mark in support of their claim. Before we examine that verse, let's also consider the words of the Master from another passage:
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
A few things jump out at us from this passage:
- Do not think-
Apparently some were thinking that Yeshua had come to abolish the Law or the Prophets so the Master specifically told us "don't think that". Some today try to persist in that very thought but use a different term: fulfill. Fulfill [Greek: plero'o] means to give the fullness of something. In various passages of Scripture He gave the fullness of a commandment. For example: "everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." That is the fullness of the prohibition regarding adultery. In other instances, He fulfilled a word of prophecy bringing about the fullness of its prophetic intent.
- Until heaven and earth pass away-
The last time we checked they are both still here.
- Whoever then annuls-
"Annul" can be defined as "To obliterate the effect or existence of".1 If we are saying there is no relevance for the commandments of Scripture in the lives of believers today then we are nullifying (obliterating the effect of) those commandments. Although some might seek to use different terms such as "it has no relevance to believers today" the net effect is the same: nullifying.
- Shall be called least in the kingdom-
This clearly indicates that the salvation of the person attempting to negate a command is not revoked. They are simply given some lesser measure of reward or standing within the kingdom.
- Whoever keeps and teaches them he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven-
This part of the verse seems pretty straight forward. Since Yeshua will most definitely be the greatest "in the kingdom" it is clear to see where He falls in the spectrum of those who keep and teach the commandments.
With this in mind let's examine the passage in Mark regarding food:
because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:19)
Those who might claim this singular statement of the Master somehow nullifies the food laws must contend with several issues that stem from it:
- Violation of the Master's mission
- Violation of the Torah
- Violation of G-d's righteousness
- Violation of G-d's unchanging nature
Violation of the Master's mission
As we found in Matthew 5:19 (above), the mission of the Master was to fulfill the Torah, not nullify it. Anyone who claims the Master changed the food laws must deal with the fact that they are stating He not only changed "the smallest letter" (Matthew 5:18) but nullified two entire chapters of the Torah. Since we know that He will be greatest in the kingdom, we cannot honestly make such an assertion and believe His words from Matthew 5 at the same time.
Violation of the Torah
In Deuteronomy 13 we are given a warning about a prophet or a dreamer of dreams who might try to draw Israel away from G-d's commandments. G-d cautions His people in verses 4-5:
"You shall follow the LORD your G-d and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your G-d who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you." (Deuteronomy 13:4-5)
It was evident to Messiah's contemporaries that He never changed the food laws.
If Yeshua had "changed the food laws" (as some claim), then He would have violated the Torah. As it is written, "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it;" (Deuteronomy 12:32). Messiah would have been "taking away" and would have sinned. We know that the Master was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
If Yeshua had "changed the food laws", then the Pharisees and the chief priests would have had very specific charges to bring against Him. They would have also had ample justification within the boundaries of the Law to kill Him. Scripture tells us, however, that they had to falsify charges against Him and induce others to testify falsely against Him. Never in all of the charges they do bring do they include "changing the food laws".
They do not bring such charges because it was obvious He never changed the food laws.
Violation of G-d's righteousness
Some might claim that since Yeshua is G-d made flesh, then He was entirely within His authority to change the food laws. Those making such an assertion introduce a contradiction in G-d's character and suggest a violation of His righteousness.
May it never be!
Scripture tells us:
G-d is righteous and upright (Deuteronomy 32:4)
G-d abhors inequality in judgment (Deuteronomy 1:16, James 2:2-4)
G-d is a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11)
Those who would claim that Yeshua changed the food laws would also be declaring in the same breath that He somehow "gamed the system" and changed the standard against which He would be measured. All the Jews of His day were judged by the standard of the Torah which included the food laws. If He changed the standard that applied to Himself and believers then He was using a "false balance" which is an abomination in the eyes of G-d (Proverbs 11:1).
It might be possible to assert that Yeshua changed the food laws after his death, burial, and resurrection but for Him to do so before leaves us with a violation of G-d's righteous character.
Violation of G-d's unchanging nature
We know that the Torah is G-d's will and wisdom for His people, Israel. That is the essence of the word Torah. Yeshua consistently declared that He came not to do his own will but the will of the Father. Consider these examples of the words of Yeshua:
- Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. (John 4:34)
- I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30)
- For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)
It is evident that the Master would not have taken any action on His own but would have done the will of the Father. If the food laws had been changed then it would have been the will of the Father to do so. We are then left with the question: would G-d have done so? Let us consider the following from Scripture:
- The Word of G-d is G-d (John 1:1)
- G-d's Word is truth (John 17:17)
- "There is no variation or shifting shadow" in G-d (James 1:17)
- The Word of G-d stands forever (Isaiah 40:8)
That certain foods are unsuitable [toebah] for His holy people is truth.
G-d has declared it in His Word and that Word is G-d (John chapter 1). If anyone teaches that is no longer true then we have to ask the question: What part of that eternal truth has changed?
Wouldn't G-d have to deny a part of Himself if He changed the food laws? What part of Himself has G-d found to be no longer true? If G-d did change, that means that James 1:17 is no longer true and there is now a shadow of changing in Him.
May it never be!
All of these problems stem from the same root. If we remove that root, then the problems will be eliminated as well. That root is the mistranslation of Yeshua's words in Mark 7:19.
We at Psalm11918.org admire and respect the work of the translators of the NASB. They have done an admirable job of translation and interpretation across the substantial majority of Scripture. It is because of their outstanding work that we have chosen this translation for the verses referenced on the Psalm11918.org site. This verse, however, represents an inaccurate translation of the Greek and instead reflects the bias of the translators. It is this flaw that leaves us with the contradictions above. If the defect is removed, then the contradictions it causes will also be eliminated.
The Greek New Testament (Majority Text) of Mark 7:19 is this:
ὅτι ουκ εισπορεύεται αυτου ες την καρδίαν αλλ ᾿ εις την κοιλίαν, και εις τον αφεδρωνα εκπορεύεται, καθαρίζων πάντα τα βρώματα
A literal reading of this passage gives us this:
because it does not enter into the heart of him, but into the belly and into the latrine it does go out purging all the food.
Young's Literal Translation, the Analytical Literal Translation, and the King James Version (among many others) are entirely consistent with this literal reading.
This verse does not tell us that Yeshua changed the definition of clean and unclean food. It just indicates that food does not enter into our hearts but merely goes into our belly after which it is passed and gets purged from our bodies into the latrine.
The words of the Master from the parallel of this passage in the Gospel of Matthew confirm this view:
"Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?" (Matthew 15:17)
Reading the context of the verse provides additional insight. The matter Yeshua is speaking to correct is ritual impurity caused by the failure to wash one's hands (a tradition which is not given in the Torah). Yeshua's point in verses 18-19 of the chapter is that violating a tradition does not make a person unclean but violating G-d's commands (fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, etc., in verses 21-22) does make a person unclean.
The words of the disciples provide even further support for this view. The disciples never understood the Master's words to mean that He had changed the food laws. The evidence is in our next relevant passage.