Mark 7:19 – Eating unclean things?
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
At Mark 7:19, concerning things that people eat, our translation shows Jesus saying:
‘For, it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his belly and then into the sewer.
Therefore, everything that you eat is really clean.’
Notice that these words were quite shocking to many that were listening to Jesus at the time, because the IsraElite Law was very specific about showing which animals (for example) were clean and which were unclean.
So it comes as no surprise that Jesus’ Apostles said (in verse 12):
‘Don’t you know that the Pharisees were stumbled by what you said?’
But was Jesus really saying that the Jews could ignore God’s Law and eat anything they wanted, even if the Law deemed it to be unclean? No, for understand that the problem he was addressing was that the Jews were thinking of themselves as clean and righteous before God because they adhered to a diet that was prescribed by the Law. However, Jesus was pointing out that what a person eats isn’t what makes him righteous, since food just goes through us and it does nothing to make our bodies clean or unclean.
So what makes really a person clean in God’s eyes are the things that we do and say.
For notice that in verse 15 he had just told them:
‘There’s nothing on the outside that goes into a man that can make him unclean.
Rather, it’s the things that come out of a man that make him unclean.’
Then he added (in verses 20-23):
‘It’s what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.
It’s the things on the inside – from their hearts – that bad thoughts come…
Things such as immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, selfish desires, wicked actions, deceit, lack of restraint, eyes that are wicked, blasphemy, arrogance, and unreasonableness.
All these wicked things that come from the inside are what make a man unclean.’
So Jesus wasn’t really encouraging the Jews to break God’s Law.
His point was that we can’t be found righteous by simply eating things that are clean.
Understand that this rule doesn’t just apply to the things that we eat.
Rather, it also applies to everything else in our lives.
For if we find ourselves forbiding things that God created for our good so as to make ourselves more righteous;
Perhaps we have allowed our views to cloud more important things.
Through the centuries, some religious orders have forbidden marriage, and as the result, their religious leaders have placed too much focus on the role of normal sex with a mate when it comes to being righteous. This has resulted in their creating religious laws that go beyond what is written in the Bible.
To see what the Bible actually says about sexual relations, you might look at the linked document titled, ‘Christian Morality.’
Also, other religious leaders have lost their understanding of what is truly righteous and have focused in on forbidding certain normal secular or recreational activities, or the eating or drinking of things that aren’t really mentioned in the Bible. And while forbidding ourselves things that we personally disapprove of isn’t a sin, it also doesn’t make us more righteous.