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Monday, September 22, 2008

Matthew 15 & Mark 7

Oh so many times I devoured the standard teaching about Matthew 15 and Mark 7. So satisfied with the explanation was I that I failed to question, test, and PROVE what I had accepted. I would like to take the time now to ask those questions I never did before as I should have been doing.

(MARK 7: 2) Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled [Strong's 2839: common, that is, (literally) shared by all or several, or (ceremonially) profane: - common, defiled, unclean, unholy.], that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.

Jesus and his Apostles ate without washing their hands. This wasn’t just to say “with dirt on their hands”; that wasn’t what offended the Pharisees. To the Pharisees, their hands were just as defiled as an idol or pork. There are scores of things that could render the hands unclean. For example, touching the canonical Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament – because mice were often seen scurrying across them due to the fact they were stored close to the free will offerings.

**Whatever was touched by something unclean, including the Torah, was also unclean. For those of you who think you keep the food laws by eating at restaurants but not ordering unclean foods, be aware that once unclean meat like bacon touches that grill, the whole grill becomes unclean. You can eat nothing cooked on it. IMHO, another example of cherry-picking.**

HWA tried his hardest to make this into an argument about dirt. It was never about dirt! The Pharisees didn’t ask about dirt, and Jesus didn’t respond about dirt. The Pharisees were commenting about ritually unclean hands; in the same fashion as pork was ritually unclean. The Pharisees were speaking of a ritual washing, not a “clean up before dinner” kind of washing. The hands weren’t to become clean with washing, but sanctified. One wasn’t supposed to even speak the name of God with unclean hands. Thus Jesus answered about the Talmud and what truly makes a person truly unclean. This is a discussion about what makes holy and what makes unholy.

Some believe that Jesus here made all foods clean.

(MARK 7: 14-23) NIV (..also look at this in the NKJV
14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' [Strong's 2840: ceremonially or morally unclean, common, polluted] [this is the same word used in Acts 10: 15] by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.['2840]" 17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean[2840]? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." 20He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. [2840] 21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean."

The majority of Christians, and even some Bible translations, think this meant Jesus had decreed all meats clean. Technically this is untrue, since the cleansing could not occur until the New Covenant was ratified in His own blood. Jesus Christ is doing much more than stripping away layers of Talmud, however. He is laying down the groundwork for the magnification of the law to come later. He is bringing in the reality and removing the shadow.

(LUKE 11: 39) Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.

Here, HWA and hisministers would always interject, “But clean and unclean meats aren’t what the context of this discussion was about.” They continue, “Since the Jews added so much physical content to the law, through traditions of men without God’s consent, it ruined the spiritual intent of the law, and Jesus is merely teaching the spirit of the law here.” As a proof text, we are directed to Matthew 15.

(MATT. 15: 20) These are what make a man unclean[2840]; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean. [2840]"

In response, it is important to understand that the context and question here is ‘what makes someone defiled?’ It most certainly does include food laws since at that time they most certainly could make someone defiled.

First, this is blatant and deliberate ignoring of what Christ is saying. Full well they reject the magnification of the law that they may keep the yoke of the Old Covenant! Yes, Jesus is discussing the overemphasis on the traditions contrary to the law. Washings, however, were not all contrary to the law; they were part of it (EXO. 40: 12, 30-31; also read LEV. 11-16 and see how many washings were commanded). Do we not understand that the Passover foot washing, as well as baptism, were cleansing rituals? We are clean (JOHN 13: 10)! Now nothing from the outside can defile us.

Yes, Jesus is directly addressing hand washing rituals. Yes He is directly addressing the Talmud. However, if the sub-context is the spirit of the law, as HWA freely admits, then this addresses so very much more than just physical hand washing. If Jesus was merely returning the law to its proper state by removing the Talmud, why didn’t He correct them from the washing laws in the Torah? They mention hand washings, He mentions adultery. He didn’t bring it back to its legal place; He brought it far above and beyond! It addresses taking our minds out of the shadowy, physical Old Covenant and placing it into the substantive, magnified and spiritual New Covenant.

Second, Jesus Christ says “nothing”, meaning nothing, which goes into the mouth can spiritually defile you. He doesn’t say “dirt that enters from the outside”. This was never about dirt! It was about ceremonial uncleanness! And so He says “whatever enters from the outside.” This may include dirt, but it does not by any means stop there. If He only meant dirt, why didn’t He say "dirt"? If this is about the digestive system purging impurities, then what about salmonella, ecoli, campylobacter, and other food-borne illnesses? Why pasteurize? Is Jesus mistaken? Jesus knew this isn’t about dirt or health! 
Why did He repeatedly say “nothing”? This is God in the flesh here; He said nothing that the Father didn’t give Him to say. If Jesus is only discussing the Talmud hand washings, He used a pretty large scatter gun by explaining exactly what does and does not defile a man. Jesus is laying the groundwork for the magnification of the law! Here Jesus lays out a list of things that can defile and things that cannot defile. Things that can defile you include things that come from inside you; spiritual things like “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”. Things that cannot defile you include things that come from outside of you; physical things like what goes into your mouth, and unwashed hands. Ask yourself, ‘which of these categories does meat fall into?’ Obviously they come from outside of you. How, then, can we claim Jesus is only speaking of unwashed hands – a very specific thing – when He says clearly “nothing” – a very broad and general thing?

Third, this word “defile” as Jesus uses it is the exact same word God used in Acts 10 where God says: 
(ACTS 10: 15) “What God has cleansed you must not call common [2840]” 

Whereas the word “defile” as the Pharisees use it is the exact same word that Paul uses in Romans 14 where he says: 
(ROM. 14: 14) I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean [2839] of itself 

So we see in many other areas of the Bible, these words most certainly do deal with foods.

To address the certain reaction by some who will inevitably say “I can think of a lot of things that could go into a man that would defile him.” I would reply, then, previous to that point, lust and sin have already defiled such a person.


Anonymous said...

Some very good points! I agree. The fact is that the laws of clean and unclean were never all followed by the Armstrongs either, or they would have had to also practice the washing rituals of the Pentateuch, and the laws that were "touch not, handle not"(Col.2:21)and that part was ignored. I think this may have been due to the fact that keeping those two items would have been very difficult, esp when they bought their meats at the grocery store or meat market, and had no idea who processed the meats.

Purple Hymnal said...

Not to mention the meat/dairy prohibitions: Two separate sets of dishes for meat and dairy, you have to cook in two different sets of pots if you're cooking meat AND dairy, you have to keep dairy in one fridge and meat in another.

Some of us though, did go to the extreme, not for meat/dairy or the other Levitical laws; but a few families went in together a couple of times a year in my area, to get a whole side of beef, chickens, etcetera, from a "kosher" butcher, "just to make sure" we were getting "clean" meat.