FFOZ TV Review: All Foods Clean

All Foods CleanEpisode 23: Most Christians believe that when Mark 7 tells us “thus he declared all foods clean,” that the biblical dietary restrictions were abolished once and for all. In Episode twenty-three viewers will learn that in order to understand these words, it is imperative to look into the Jewish context of the Mark 7 story, and in particular that the argument surrounded not food but ritual hand washing. It will be discovered that the dietary laws are indeed still in force for the Jewish people and will be the menu for the Messianic kingdom.

-from the Introduction to FFOZ TV: The Promise of What is to Come
Episode 23: All Foods Clean (click this link to watch video, not the image above)

The Lesson: The Mystery of All Foods Clean

This episode takes on the traditional Christian doctrine that teaches Jesus abolished the Kosher food laws during his earthly ministry based on the following scripture:

And he said to them, “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.)

Mark 7:18-19 (ESV)

I understand something of the background of these scriptures and why they don’t actually prove that Jesus abolished the Kosher laws, but First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) teachers Toby Janicki and Aaron Eby did an excellent job at digging deeper and making points I had never considered before. After watching this episode, I challenge any Christian to continue believing that Jesus declared all foods “Kosher” based on the above quoted verses.

But first things first.

We find the basis for the Jewish Kosher laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 which outlines the foods Jews can and cannot eat according to the commandments of God. Toby didn’t mention this, but the basis for how food animals are to be slaughtered is only briefly mentioned in the Torah and thus, a significant amount of Rabbinic interpretation is involved in expanding on this important issue, adding more dimension to what makes an animal Kosher in relation to the method of execution and preparation.

However, as you’re about to discover, the discussion in Mark 7 had nothing to do with Kosher foods at all. In fact, it would have been a contradiction for Jesus to have “declared all foods clean” (Kosher) since in Matthew 5:17 Jesus said he had not come to abolish any of the Torah laws, and in Isaiah 66:17 the prophet said that in the future Messianic Kingdom, it will be an abomination to eat pork or mice (non-Kosher animals).

So if Jesus and the Pharisees weren’t even talking about “keeping Kosher,” what were they talking about?

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

Mark 7:1-5 (ESV)

Toby has said in at least one prior episode that “context is King,” and we see that illustrated here. The beginning verses of this chapter show us that the Pharisees weren’t accusing Jesus and his disciples of eating pork chops with a side of shrimp scampi. It had to do with eating (bread) with defiled hands, that is, unwashed hands. It had to do with a particular practice that the Pharisees had of ritually washing not only their hands, but many other objects in order to achieve a level of ritual purity. This was completely irrelevant to the issue of Kosher or non-Kosher foods and was a tradition the Pharisees took upon themselves to honor God; a tradition of the elders.

The following is Jesus’ response to the allegations that his disciples didn’t keep the same ritual washing tradition as the Pharisees:

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

Mark 7:8-9 (ESV)

Jesus turns the conversation completely around and accuses the Pharisees of being so concerned about non-Biblical traditions involving excessive ritual purity, that they neglected the higher moral laws of the Torah.

That brings us to Toby’s first clue:

Clue 1: The context of Mark 7 is ritual handwashing before eating, not the dietary laws of the Bible.

Toby JanickiThat’s pretty much where I thought Toby was going to go, but what happens next, I didn’t expect and in fact, Aaron’s Hebrew language lesson opened up new information for me, and went a long way to “sealing the deal” that Jesus and the Pharisees weren’t discussing the Kosher laws on any level in Mark 7.

There’s a world of difference in talking about the Kosher food laws and the concept of ritual purity. In Hebrew, the word for ritually clean is “Tahor” and the word for ritually impure is “Tamai.” This has nothing to do with sinning, but it does require a little background to understand the concepts and their relevancy to this discussion.

Aaron told a sort of story in order to illustrate his point. You have to imagine yourself as a Jewish person in the days of Jesus when the Temple was still standing. You are having the Passover meal with a family in Jerusalem. The lamb you will be eating was sacrificed at the Temple and, in order for a Jewish person to eat a Temple Sacrifice, that person has to be Tahor or ritually pure. This isn’t a requirement for having any Kosher meal, only for eating a Temple Sacrifice.

Aaron said that if one of the guests at the meal were to suddenly pass away, just the presence of a corpse at the Passover meal would render everything, including the people in attendance, as Tamai. They would no longer be able to eat the Passover lamb because they would be in a state of ritual impurity.

Again, this has nothing to do with sin. No one did anything wrong. There are many conditions listed in the Torah that could make a person Tamai. A woman who gives birth or who has her monthly period is considered Tamai. A man who has had typical marital relations with his wife is considered Tamai. That doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong, and it doesn’t mean they can’t eat anything, but one thing it does mean is that until they perform the rituals listed in the Bible to again become Tahor, they can not eat any Temple Sacrifice.

Aaron describes the procedure for returning to ritual purity, which you can get from the episode, but comprehending the meaning of Tahor and Tamai is critical to understanding the discussion in Mark 7.

It’s important to note that cycles of being Tahor and Tamai were a typical part of a Jewish human experience and even Jesus would have been Tamai and Tahor depending on a variety of circumstances. It has nothing to do with sin and a great deal to do with involvement in Temple ceremonies in ancient Israel for a Jewish person. Normal Kosher food can either be Tahor or Tamai, but as long as it’s not part of a Temple Sacrifice, it’s OK for a Jewish person to eat Tamai bread. There’s no sin.

Aaron EbyThis next part is the key (and I’d love to see Toby and Aaron’s source material on this matter – – bibliography, please). The Pharisees who confronted Jesus and his disciples in Mark 7 kept a particular practice where they treated every meal as if it were a Temple Sacrifice. This required them to exist in a constant state of ritual purity or be continually Tahor. They had to enter the mikvah and otherwise practice many ritual purity washings in all aspects of their day-to-day existence. This was absolutely not required by the Torah and had nothing to do with the Kosher laws, but was their way of honoring God, though God didn’t obligate them or any Jew to do so.

To maintain a constant state of ritual purity, the Pharisees (I don’t know if all Pharisees kept this practice or only some) had to avoid all contact with other Jews who did not keep the same excessive level of purity (and contact with Gentiles on any level was completely out of the question). These Pharisees led very complicated lives where even having a meal involved a great deal of preparation and would have been very difficult to maintain.

Back in the studio, Toby uses Aaron’s teaching to produce the second clue:

Clue 2: Mark 7 involves a sectarian preference of the Pharisees and not a Biblical requirement.

At this point, it should be abundantly clear that Mark 7 can’t be used as a proof text for the extinction of the Kosher laws at the hands of Jesus, but we have a problem.

…since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Mark 7:19 (ESV)

We have a statement in parenthesis saying that Jesus declared all foods clean. Toby read from a variety of different Bible translations but only the King James Version translates this verse literally and omits any mention of Jesus declaring all foods or meats kosher or pure.

The words in parenthesis were added by the translators and are not in any of the original Greek texts. Toby was generous and said the translators were just trying to clarify the verse, but what they actually did was to impose their theology onto the Bible by adding words to it (which I think both the Torah and New Testament take a dim view of).

I’ll omit posting all of the different translation examples used by Toby except for the following:

He said to them, “Are even you lacking discernment? Do you not comprehend that whatever comes within a person from the outside of him does not contaminate him? For it does not come into his heart, but rather into his stomach, and it goes out to the toilet, which cleanses all that is eaten.”

Mark 7:18-19 (DHE Gospels)

Here, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being completely out of balance, giving ultimate importance to a man-made standard of excessive ritual purity while neglecting the moral implications of the Bible. The Pharisees were nearly obsessed with avoiding eating anything Tamai which, for non-Temple Sacrificed food, would not affect their relationship with God and would literally pass into the toilet, as opposed to ignoring the Torah commandments and thus becoming morally impure, those things that enter the heart and result in “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22 ESV).

Clue 3: The words “Jesus declared all foods clean” are not in the original Greek text.

This should go a long way in establishing to everyone familiar with these verses that they cannot possibly be interpreted the way the Church as typically understood them. The phrase about Jesus declaring all foods clean is a tragic example of the Christian church in all it’s denominations across much of history favoring man-made traditions (traditions of the elders) and ignoring the actual words of the Bible in their proper context.

kosher eatingThis is an excellent example of why I’m a Christian who studies Messianic Judaism. The vast majority of Christian teachers would have not understood this point at all.

Toby quickly mentions that even though the Kosher laws were not done away with, that doesn’t mean Gentile Christians have to suddenly start separating their milk and meat products. The Kosher laws are applied to the Jewish people, while the only food restrictions for Gentile Christians are found in Acts 15 (and how the “Jerusalem letter” is understood would be a worthy study for a future episode of this show).

Toby also said that in the Messianic Era, the whole world (Jews and Gentiles alike) will be eating Kosher, which probably doesn’t sound like good news to most of the Christians who read my blog. How that works would also have to be covered in another FFOZ TV show since it represents another mystery.

What Did I Learn?

Aaron’s lesson and how Toby applied it was completely new to me. I had some understanding of the concepts of Tahor and Tamai, but I had no idea of the excessive levels of ritual purity practiced by the Pharisees of Mark 7 vs. Tahor and Tamai in relation to ordinary Kosher meals. I know most Christians will try to find a way around this, but for me, it was another example of how this show presents very tight arguments that help us correctly understand the Gospels from their original, apostolic perspective.

I found myself wishing Toby had tossed in a clue or two about Acts 10, since that’s the other major part of scripture used by Christians to “prove” that God did away with the Kosher laws. But then I remembered this:

You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean (emph. mine).

Acts 10:28 (NRSV)

If you recall, earlier I said that the excessive level of ritual purity kept by the Pharisees in Mark 7 would make it impossible to have any sort of association with Gentiles, even to the point of entering their homes. Merely being in a non-Jewish home would pose a great risk of a Jew becoming Tamai for a number of reasons. Now this represents no sin, but for the Pharisees, who could not even eat a single meal in a state of Tamai, it would be exceptionally difficult to have relations with Gentiles.

But what about Peter? We already know that Jesus didn’t require his disciples to keep a level of ritual purity matching the Pharisees.

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them (emph. mine).

Mark 7:1-2 (NRSV)

The text says that only some of Jesus’ disciples ate with unwashed hands, not all of them. Was Peter one of the Jewish disciples of Jesus who did keep a higher level of ritual purity, treating all meals as if he had to be Tahor to eat them? Was this excessive standard of purity considered the de facto standard among Jews until Jesus taught his disciples otherwise?

I don’t know, but since I do know the Torah does not say that it is unlawful for a Jew to “associate with or to visit a Gentile,” the fact that Peter was saying those words and his Jewish companions seemed to be aligned with this belief tells me it’s quite possible Peter kept some of these excessive purity laws (and I should mention that the tradition of washing hands, called Netilat Yadayim, is practiced by some observant Jews today).

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”

Acts 11:1-3 (NRSV)

Here we see Peter being confronted by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Council, which could very well have included James, the brother of the Master, and they were very surprised that Peter was associating with Gentiles. This confrontation seems to support that the apostles and brothers in Jerusalem also had adopted a higher set of standards of ritual purity than Jesus and the Torah required. This is very important in understanding the following:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Galatians 2:11-14 (NRSV)

Apparently, Peter had become accustomed to eating and associating with Gentiles, that is, until some “certain people” showed up, probably important representatives from James and the apostolic council in Jerusalem. We can’t be certain of the sequence of events, but Galatians was probably written before Acts 15. However, did Peter already have his encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10? It seems likely if he initially was OK with associating with Gentiles, but he obviously struggled with the level of ritual purity and tradition he felt he needed to keep, and how it would look to James and the brothers in Jerusalem. He was influenced by peer pressure, unlike Paul, who was a lot more comfortable with being a Jewish man in close proximity to Gentiles, and knowing that did not make him unacceptable to God as a Jew.

DHE Gospel of MarkAgain and again, in all the so-called Christian “proof texts” which seem to abolish the Kosher laws, we see that the topic isn’t about Kosher foods at all, but rather how some Jews, including possibly Peter, kept a higher than necessarily level of ritual purity, and how that specific preference could be used to discriminate against the Gentile believers by “requiring” Gentiles in the body of Messiah not to be permitted to associate with believing Jews (at least those who kept this higher standard).

Sure, some of this is supposition on my part, but given all of the solid scriptural evidence of the maintaining of the Kosher laws for the Jewish people of the apostolic era (and by inference, among modern Jews today, including modern believing Jews), I think I make a good case in explaining the “food” issues of Acts 10 and Galatians 2. Some of my conclusions are also derived from the opinions and research of New Testament scholar and author Mark Nanos, which I’ve previously recorded on this blog.

I know some Christians who express great joy at not “being under the Law” and who would be pretty dismayed at my conclusions, but as Toby said, there’s nothing in the Bible that tells us non-Jewish Christians must keep the Kosher laws. The Didache, an early document dated to the second or even first centuries and purportedly used to train new Gentile disciples of the Jewish Messiah entering the Jewish religious stream of “the Way,” offers no requirement or even mention of the Kosher laws as applied to non-Jewish believers, and only stresses that the Gentiles should avoid meats sacrificed to idols (which mirrors the Acts 15 directives to Gentile disciples). While I think any non-Jewish believer can take on board additional Torah mitzvoth, including Kosher, voluntarily (and the Didache also supports this), it’s voluntary and a matter of conviction between the person and God.

Just remember that the Pharisees also kept a standard of observance that was higher than what God required of them as well, and it resulted in them becoming so focused on those excessive standards that they ended up ignoring what actually was required of them. If you, as a Christian, feel you want to modify your eating habits to reflect some level of Kosher or Kosher-like observance, just remember that such observance by a Gentile believer will never be as important to God as what is required of us, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

Final note: this is probably a good time to mention that there are only three more episodes in the series available for me to review. Given the value I’ve found in what I’ve seen so far, I hope the folks at FFOZ consider producing more shows in this excellent television series soon.

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27 thoughts on “FFOZ TV Review: All Foods Clean”

  1. Hi James,
    According to a newsletter I received from FFOZ, They are planning a season 2 based on the Kingdom calendar. It has a tentative release date of 2015…

  2. Thanks for the “heads up,” Rodney. I guess that means they’ll be producing it during all of 2014. Something to look forward to.

  3. As always, your post is full of good insights, and this all makes sense to me.

    However, if left me a bit wanting regarding the proper understanding of Acts 10:9-16. This is the actually the only passage that I have heard used to support the view that the dietary laws have passed away.

    “9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.” (NASB)

    What are “all kinds of four footed animals” and “crawling creatures of the earth” and “birds of the air”? What did Peter mean by foods that were “unholy and unclean”? Is “unholy” just the just as ritually unclean, or could we talking about non-kosher food being declared acceptable to a Jew?

  4. My understanding is that each faction among the Pharisees practiced different traditions, as we see today, but within a broadly recognized halacha. In addition, each rabbi taught his own disciples his personal practices. I don’t see that eating with gentiles = eating unclean foods. However, it depends on halachic interpretations. Would eating clean food from a pot that had once cooked unclean foods be kosher? Did Peter bring his own foods with him? We see other examples of Jews eating vegetables only when in fellowship with gentiles. My Orthodox relatives will eat fish/vegetarian meals in restaurants, but you would need to recognize that the cooking utensils as well as plates etc., are not ritually clean. I believe there are verses in torah that talk about cookware and what can be koshered and what must be discarded.

  5. @Jerry, lets keep this in context: It was a vision, and the foods came down from heaven. Nothing from heaven is unclean. In addition, we learned that this vision was not about what food to eat/not eat, but that gentiles were clean to fellowship with.

    Now, we can understand the prohibition against eating and fellowshipping with gentiles, because that would lead to learning their idolatrous ways, marrying their women and abandoning the Holy One of Israel and his torah.

  6. I agree with Chaya, Jerry. The vision wasn’t meant to be taken literally. As we see in the examples I referenced above, in each of the circumstances that seem to be “anti-Kosher” laws, the issue is Jewish/Gentile fellowship, not food. Acts 10:28 is Peter’s interpretation of his vision. Before then, he didn’t know what it meant.

  7. Thanks for the book recommendation, David. It’s probably one of the few FFOZ books I haven’t read. On the other hand, my wife has a pretty good handle on Kosher foods, so I’m feeling OK with our diet at home.

  8. Adding to your comment, James, for Jerry’s sake — Kefa had to puzzle over the meaning of the vision because he knew that HaShem doesn’t contradict Himself, He had already established the principles of kashrut, Kefa had already answered the voice in the vision by effectively protesting “But Lord, you know I keep kosher!”, to which there was no facetious heavenly reply such as “So pick a clean animal from the bunch, slaughter it properly, perform the remaining steps to ensure it’s kosher, and THEN eat it!” Obviously, that’s a lot of activity to fit into a vision, and Kefa clearly understood that it wouldn’t be possible, therefore the vision had to have another meaning, and the reply Kefa HAD received was to not consider unclean what HaShem had cleansed. Further, just to ensure that Kefa couldn’t try to actually kill anything in the sheet after the third repetition rather confirmed that HaShem was serious about the message of the vision, it was removed. So he was left to continue puzzling over what could HaShem have been referring to as having been cleansed that wouldn’t violate His Torah instructions. And then some non-Jews showed up asking him to come talk with some of their friends, and he received further heavenly instructions to go with them. It wasn’t until he actually saw their response that included heavenly inspiration from HaShem’s Spirit that “the penny dropped” and he experienced that “ah-ha!” moment of understanding what the vision was about. From a Torah perspective, there are just some things that cannot become food and cannot be cleansed. Even some actual clean foods that are already kosher can be mishandled or contaminated to become unkosher. However, the rules about edible clean animals that could be kashered, and the rules about proper food handling, are not discussing non-Jews. No one should expect them to become food [:)], and spiritual cleansing is another matter altogether.

  9. chaya1957 & James: Thanks for the replies. My main point was that any rebuttal to the claim that kosher laws have passed away should (at a minium) address this Acts 10:9-16 passage.

    Also, you may be right that accepting Gentiles is the *only* point of this vision, but I’m still unsure about that. I admit that this touches on an area (the legal obligations of Christian Jews) where my own views remain unsettled.

    @chaya: That the foods “came down from heaven” is not, I think, terribly relevant as to its status as “clean” or “unclean”. However, it’s unnecessary to debate that point because God had clearly declared this food as clean, and therefore it is.

    It seems peculiar to me God would give Peter this vision about food if the only lesson was about fellowship with gentiles, and that it really had *nothing* to do with food.

    My own take on Peter’s vision is this:

    God’s intention was to teach Peter the same things that Paul grasped and articulated so well with regard to Gentiles. Specifically, that in Christ, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (e.g. Rom 3:21-31, Gal 3:23-29, Col 3:11).

    I believe that God makes this point to Peter by arguing from the greater to the lesser. Surely, the idea of eating foods that violate the dietary laws would be among the things most repulsive to a devout Jew like Peter. Therefore, God uses that idea to illustrate His point: Even those repulsive foods are clean to “kill and eat” if God says that they are clean — and by extension to the lesser point, fellowship with gentiles is clean because God declares them as such.

    While I don’t think that Acts 10 is primarily about food, I think it does convey some understanding about food. Specifically, that a Jew may accept that food restrictions serve a specific purpose, and that there may be situations where that purpose is not applicable.

    What situations? I tend to think that a Christian Jew may eat whatever is necessary to avoid hindering the gospel. Paul, I think, recognizes this freedom and expresses it in 1 Cor 9:19-23. In 1 Cor 8:1-6 he states that even eating food sacrificed to idols is of no significance. Food, in and of itself, is not an issue. Paul was willing to either eat, or not eat, as appropriate for the benefit of others, as necessary to advance the gospel.

    The purpose of the dietary laws (I believe) was to make Israel distinct from the gentiles, and thus separate unto God. Could it be that when gentiles also become separate unto God, that such distinctions become unnecessary?

  10. Given my personal experience with the chemicalized, over processed, gmo foods of today, I think that if the Lord were going to put “kosher” laws into effect today, I’ll bet twinkies wouldn’t be considered kosher, nor would many other foods. Hamburger helper anyone?

    Now I realize this is a bit off point, but I could help thinking of a possible title of another blog…
    “Twinkies Aren’t in Heaven Either”.

    I eat Kosher these days, although I don’t regard the strict separation of milk and meat as biblically kosher. But I will admit I was brought to this kicking and screaming. I finally put out the white flag of surrender when the Lord made it a serious health issue in my life.

    Want to eat healthy? Eat Kosher.

    But giving up bacon was REALLY hard.

  11. @James, I assume you have read, “Return of the Kosher Pig,” which I just got in the mail and am going to tackle, as well as two books in Rabbi Shalom Arush’s, “Garden,” series.

  12. @Chaya: No, but it’s on my list. My wife has promised to make me suffer ever so greatly if I rack up too big a credit card bill on books (or anything else, but it’s most likely to be books). 😀

    @Jerry: To echo PL’s excellent response, one of the keys to understanding Peter’s perspective on the vision is Acts 10:17. After the vision was over, he still had no idea what God meant, so it wasn’t obvious to him that if a Gentile served you pork chops, you graciously ate for the sake of the Gospel.

    In fact, Cornelius, as a God-fearer, would not have served Peter and his company non-Jewish food and perhaps, he would have served only vegetables to avoid even the hint that any meat or wine on the table could have been sacrificed to idols or otherwise would render Peter Tamei. I know that we are taught that Paul and the other Jewish apostles were urged by God to, if not surrender their Jewish practices, at least lighten up and compromise on them, but I think this is a gross misreading of the text.

    Any scripture that says that Jews and Gentiles are no difference, in my opinion, has to do with there being no difference in terms of the application of God’s grace and access to redemption and justification before God. In Galatians, Paul also wrote there was no difference between men and women, but obviously God didn’t eliminate the sexual differences or even the gender roles of the day, so distinctions remained.

    I’m reading Mark Nanos’ book “The Mystery of Romans” right now and Nanos is making a convincing argument for how we misunderstand Paul’s intent in that letter. It makes it sound like the Jewish people were taking a lesser position for the sake of the Gentiles, but Nanos suggests that Paul was trying to make the non-believing Jews “jealous,” not of Gentile salvation, but about Paul’s mission, because Paul was indeed being a light to the nations and he wanted them “on board” too.

    Consider the implications on Galatians 2 I wrote in the body of my blog post. There could very well have been factors we wouldn’t take into account by just considering a plain reading of the text. If we didn’t understand many of the historically local standards and influences involved, we could very well think that mentioning food was literally about food rather than metaphorical language for fellowship.

    Something to ponder at any rate.

  13. ProclaimLiberty and James; My thanks for taking the time to offer your perspectives on my questions.

    I agree completely with what James says about “no distinctions” between Jew and Gentile relating to the application of God’s grace. That statement is not intended to remove their separate roles within God’s plan of redemption.

    I’m just trying to understand the ramifications of having no distinctions under God’s grace. Does this have no impact how the Jew views the law (among which are the dietary laws)?

    Consider the following from Galatians 3:
    ~~~~
    19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
    ~~~~
    In verse 25, we see “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Here, the coming of faith refers to the coming of Christ (verse 22) and the tutor refers to the law (verse 24). It strikes me that the coming of Christ is a turning point in which adherence to the law is replaced by faith. And yet, not to abolish the law, but to establish it.

    Is this not what the new covenant promised to the Jews, whereby the law is placed the heart (by faith) in contrast to the old law (Jer 31:31-33)?

  14. Jerry, keep in mind that when this letter was written the temple was still standing and the Jewish followers of the Way went to the temple; they could not do this in a tamei state. PS: I don’t believe the term, “Christian Jew,” is accurate, as by the time the first century Yeshua movement morphed into “the church,” Jews were no longer a part of it.

  15. regarding Peter’s vision: Eby says that it’s about Jewish symbolism. The animals symbolize nations and the sheet with its four corners symbolize the world.

  16. James said “This next part is the key (and I’d love to see Toby and Aaron’s source material on this matter – – bibliography, please). The Pharisees who confronted Jesus and his disciples in Mark 7 kept a particular practice where they treated every meal as if it were a Temple Sacrifice”.

    If either Toby or Aaron reads this, I also would love to have this info. Thanks!

  17. Perhaps you should ask yourself, Jerry, what becomes of the Torah when it is written on the heart (or when a heart becomes circumcised as cited in Deut.10:16; 30:6, or Jer.4:4). Does it disappear? Is it replaced by something different? Rav Yeshua’s own explicit words in Matt.5:17-20 say otherwise; and you must read Rav Shaul’s words to the non-Jewish Galatian assemblies through that lens. One must be careful about stretching the application of analogies, but even the tutor who previously led an immature youth to the Messiah may still have important wisdom to offer even when the youth comes of age, even if his prior authority is no longer required. And in the case of explicit reference to Torah authority (analogies aside), Rav Yeshua commanded his own disciples in Matt.23:1-3 to obey the teaching of the Pharisaic Torah authorities, even including aspects of Oral Torah. Rav Shaul also, in Gal.5:3, noted that those who are circumcised (Jews and proselyte converts) are obligated to obey the entirety of Torah. Distinctions, between those who are circumcised and those who are not, still remain even though they do not prevent non-Jews from becoming spiritually cleansed by HaShem.

  18. Thanks everyone for continuing the conversation while I was otherwise occupied (sleeping). You’ve all done a great job at adding illumination to this topic.

    Aaron, I appreciate the reference. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but in future episodes of the series, having a link to or a list of the references used to build each lesson posted to the episode’s web page would be helpful, not only for those of us who want to dig deeper, but for the “newbie” to Messianic Judaism that might be having doubts about how their traditional views of these issues is being portrayed by FFOZ.

  19. PL, my understanding is that the Greek word translated tutor is referring to a servant who walked a child to school. So that is why it appears to me this is talking about the fence around the torah. Think about how little children need fences that older children don’t.

    Question regarding the meal as temple sacrifice: If someone became tamei due to a death in the family, they would need to figure out some way to eat for 7 days, or does this just include the eating of meat? One time we heard a rabbi speak who talked about how eating a meal was an act of worship for a Jew. Hubby noted that the rather corpulent rabbi must have been a very devoted worshipper 🙂

  20. The word, chaya, is “pedagogue”, from the Greek paidagogos, presumed by some to have been merely a slave who escorted boys to school and generally supervised them. However, its components suggest an actual teacher, from pais (genitive paidos) “child” (see pedo-) + agogos “leader,” from agein “to lead” (or guide). While your suggestion about it serving as a metaphor for the fence around the Torah is novel, I don’t see that it fits Rav Shaul’s purpose for using such an analogy, since it is not guidance from halakhic protections that assist in keeping Torah that lead one toward the Messiah, but rather the Torah itself. Investigation into Rav Shaul’s use of the analogy to the non-Jewish Galatians might rather consider how he envisioned the benefits of the Messiah for non-Jews. Beforehand, their approach to HaShem could only be through conversion and full responsibility under the Torah (or else a very limited approach in bringing sacrifices to the Levites but remaining outside in an outer courtyard). But non-Jews in the Messiah were cleansed apart from such responsibility and granted a freedom to pursue Torah voluntarily, thus becoming eligible for the commendations envisioned in Is.56 for those who could go beyond what is required of them. One might thereafter view the Jewish people and their Torah obedience as the pedagogue to lead non-Jews to the Messiah, so that after receiving him they might attain their spiritual maturity by taking on voluntary pursuit of Torah wisdom. This analogy was not intended to describe the Jewish relationship with Torah.

    It is not a sin to become tamei, neither for a woman in her niddah nor for mourners of a death in the family. One is not prohibited from eating during such times. It is only that such tumah prevents participation in Temple rituals (which did include eating foods from the second tithe, for example). Tumah is intended to be a temporary state (as are menstruation and mourning). The analogy of the family table as symbolic of the Temple altar is an impetus to pursue a pure lifestyle, not as a straightjacket to enforce severe dieting. Those who are unfamiliar with the Pharisaic or rabbinic or orthodox lifestyle and the literature associated with it tend to misinterpret it terribly.

  21. “Clue 3: The words “Jesus declared all foods clean” are not in the original Greek text.

    “This should go a long way in establishing to everyone familiar with these verses that they cannot possibly be interpreted the way the Church as typically understood them. The phrase about Jesus declaring all foods clean is a tragic example of the Christian church in all it’s denominations across much of history favoring man-made traditions (traditions of the elders) and ignoring the actual words of the Bible in their proper context.”

    Although I realize it “does no practical good,” so to speak, I cannot help myself from wondering… as I read all of these informative comments… what the greater situation would be like today if “Gentile Christianity” had remained true to the ways of Yeshua…. If “Christianity” had acted itself out in the manner of Messianic Judaism today. Would the history of Christian antisemitism ever emerged? What would the world be like if there had been a unified Messianic faith, free from the scars of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Expulsions, and, of course, the Holocaust? I suppose, if Toby is correct, and I understand him to be correct, we’ll see a picture of that in the Messianic Era. Very good review, very good comments… thanks everyone.

  22. The word, chaya, is “pedagogue”, from the Greek paidagogos, presumed by some to have been merely a slave who escorted boys to school and generally supervised them. However, its components suggest an actual teacher, from pais (genitive paidos) “child” (see pedo-) + agogos “leader,” from agein “to lead” (or guide).

    Generally, I hear the same interpretation in traditional Christianity and the Messianic movement, that the “pedagogue” was just the slave to conducted the child to and from various activities including going to the teacher. He was not the teacher himself. PL, your interpretation does put a different “face” on the interpretation of this scripture. The Torah becomes the teacher that leads to Messiah but that doesn’t necessarily devalue the teacher once we apprehend Messiah. Perhaps, for the Jewish people and those Gentile believers who want to go above and beyond, the Torah continually renews our connection to Messiah and reveals deeper meaning about the Messiah as we study and perform the mitzvoth.

    as I read all of these informative comments… what the greater situation would be like today if “Gentile Christianity” had remained true to the ways of Yeshua….

    I know, as Spock said in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” that we must have faith that the universe is unfolding as it should. That means “what if” games really don’t amount to much, but then again, they are quite compelling. What would our world look like if “the Way” never deviated from being a Judaism and progressed forward in time two thousand years? We’ll never know. On the other hand, the Messianic Age is the answer. Jews and Gentiles in Messiah living in peace.

  23. PL, that explanation was helpful. I can see where the Jewish followers of the way acted as tutors to their gentile counterparts, to which all of this was foreign and new. I suppose what was unintended was the Jews acted as servants, and then when they were no longer needed, they were not only cast away, but despised.

    Yes, I understand that the tamei state was not permanent, but I was referring to the sect that followed the stricter practice of considering every meal as a temple offering, and therefore would be unable to eat if in a tamei state? Or perhaps they ate alone?

  24. Shavua Tov, chaya — I suppose a member of some very strict sect might fast until the tumah could be cleansed away, rather than eat while still tamei, which in virtually every case of “accidental” tumah would be within 24 hours (e.g., sundown the next day). Cases like the shiva period for mourners, and other longer-term tumah, that break the ordinary pattern of a life dedicated to preserving a state of purity, would undoubtedly be handled differently. But asceticism has always generally been frowned upon in Judaism; and the key question is about how any Jew should deal with an unavoidable situation wherein a goal cannot be achieved and a rabbinic precept cannot be observed. We’re not considering leprosy here, where isolation is mandatory. It is also a mitzvah to associate with mourners to console them (with an exception for a Cohen).

    Overall I think your view of the notion of the table as an altar and the meal as akin to the Temple sacrifices to be eaten only in a state of purity is exaggerated when you think of it as a rigid stricture that would force someone into fasting or into isolation. Of course, in our current conditions, without an operational Mikdash and no red-heifer ashes available for the prescribed cleansing, we all suffer from a kind of tumah that is with us almost like a kind of background radiation. This is the tumah pertaining to death (“tumat mavet”), because we’ve all been exposed to it and none of us has been able to shed its contamination legally for almost 20 centuries. Obviously, we can’t fast until such time as a quantity of red-heifer ashes can be prepared (though some in Israel are working toward that goal); so we approach the metaphor of the table fellowship as a kind of worship, and the notion of a pure lifestyle, as relative goals rather than as absolutes or as “shadow-images” rather than some legally-verifiable definition.

    This blog topic was focused on a narrower consideration about the spiritual “cleanness” of foods. Discussing the larger topic of what is tumah, what are its effects, and what can one do about it, is rather beyond the scope of the foods topic. Also beyond scope is a potential subsequent discussion about whether Rav Yeshua’s metaphorical sin-sacrifice in the heavenly mikdash can be generalized to apply in some manner to cleanse earthly tumah (especially tumat mavet) despite the absence of red-heifer ashes. While undoubtedly some would be quick to assert that it can, I think they might be hard-pressed to explain how unless they can also explain the mechanism of how the earthly red-heifer procedures accomplished the removal of tumah, which is a spiritual contamination rather than a physical one, and it is not like sin which may be repented and forgiven.

  25. Shavua tov PL. I didn’t mean to express that either modern or ancient Judaism promoted asceticism, because it is pretty clear this is not the case. But, I can imagine there would be this or that rabbi and his followers who did. I remember that I came across a verse that really spoke to that idea, but I don’t remember it. In any case, the laws of the nazir made it clear that one had to cut their hair, drink wine, etc., following the completion of the vow, so as to ameliorate any tendency to harsh behavior.

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