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Question #95

Was Jesus kosher?

I am trying to figure out if Jesus kept kosher.

1st question - In the Old Testament, were Adam & Eve supposed to be vegetarians, or were they permitted to eat animals as well?

2nd question - Assuming they were allowed to eat animals, it wasn't until much later that God said certain animals were considered unclean (not kosher) and were forbidden to be eaten. Why the change?

3rd question - In the New Testament, Jesus said "It's not what goes into a person's mouth that makes them unclean, but what comes out of their heart." Does this then negate the laws about what can & can't be eaten?

I know Jesus obeyed the Old Testament law because his last supper was a Passover (in obedience to his father), but (here is where I get confused) if Jesus ate with sinners (and assuming one of the "sins" was not obeying the Old Testament dietary laws) was Jesus permitted to partake thereof? (Or do we assume the sinners changed their menu to favor their "guest"?)

I've also read that if something someone eats is objectionable to someone else, it shouldn't be eaten. I have also read that we shouldn't judge. In practical application, how would this work?

Does this mean that if I am invited out to dinner and the people I'm with object to my choice, to make them happy, should I choose something THEY feel is "acceptable”? Is it ok to eat what I want in MY house in front of them, or should I again put them at ease by eating what they deem is appropriate? Is it ok to eat whatever I want in the privacy of my own home?

The Answer:

This is a wide-ranging series of questions covering issues from Genesis today. will do the best it can to answer them. Let’s begin with whether Jesus observed Kosher dietary laws. The word derives from a Hebrew word that means correctness or appropriateness. It can be applied to any matter of ritual appropriateness, whether in reference to a written Torah scroll, to a temporary dwelling constructed for the pilgrimage Festival of Succoth, or to food. As it applies to food, it covers the full range of Biblical precept, rabbinic ordinance, evolving custom, and local practice within the Jewish community. To the extent that kosher was based on Biblical precepts such as Leviticus 11, Jesus would have observed them because, as one of the questions observed, Jesus obeyed the Law of Moses under which he lived and died. On the other hand, to the extent that kosher was based on Rabbinical ordinance, evolving custom, or local practice within the Jewish community, Jesus was under no obligation to follow kosher requirements. This does not necessarily mean that he did not follow them; it means only that he would not violate God’s law if he chose not to do so. There is no Biblical record of whether he observed either Biblical or non-Biblical kosher requirements. The Scripture implicitly instructs that he did follow God’s dietary laws. Had he not done so, when he asked, “Which of you convicteth me of sin?” (John 8:46), the Jews would have had a ready answer had he not followed Biblical dietary laws. When the Jews wrongfully accused Jesus of not following the Law, always had a ready answer to correct them (see, e.g., Matthew 12:1-8).

Adam and Eve may well have been vegetarians. Genesis 1:29. After the flood God specifically gave Noah and his descendants the right to eat meat. Gen. 9:3. The question is whether man ate meat before the flood. Some suggest that Gen. 1 does not prohibit the eating of meat. However, this argument seems to ignore the nature of God’s positive commands. When He states specifically what He has given for food, that specificity is a boundary beyond which man may not go. Did that specificity change after the fall? We know that God slew an animal(s) after the fall to make coverings for Adam and Eve. Gen. 3:21. Animals were also slain for sacrifice. Gen. 4:2-4. Moreover, while we generally think of the clean-unclean classification of animals to have originated with the Law, Noah distinguished between the two at God’s command. Gen. 7:2. This has led some to conclude that Genesis 9:3 is ratifying the post-fall practice of eating meat rather than inaugurating it. Whichever the case, the diet of antiquity seems to have been largely vegetarian, with the use of animal products largely confined to milk, curds, and cheeses. The availability of mean for consumption was limited because its availability was more often than not associated with sacrifice, and was expensive. No reason is given for the change any more than for the removal of the clean-unclean distinction. If there is a hint in scripture, the distinction may have demonstrated the distinction between Jew and Gentile. When God, through an angel, came to Peter to send him to preach to Cornelius, the first Gentile to hear the gospel, he did so in a vision. That vision contained a sheet on which were clean and unclean animals. When told to kill and eat, Peter responded that he had never eaten anything common or unclean. God’s response was, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Acts 10:15.

God clearly changed that which could be eaten. Paul confirmed it in 1 Timothy 4:4: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” The passage from Matthew 15 to which reference is made does not deal with clean-unclean distinctions. The Jews had condemned the disciples because they had eaten with unwashed hands. They were not charged with disobeying the Law but with failure to honor the traditions of the fathers. Jesus drew a contrast between the defilement of the outer man (unclean hands) and the defilement of the Jews (unclean hearts).

The inquirers last comments are directed more at the relationship between brethren which, in discussing, Paul illustrates by the eating of meat. The difference in the meat, however, is not clean or unclean, but whether it had been sacrificed to idols. In this context the only thing that Paul absolutely forbad was a Christian’s eating of meat sacrificed to idols in a pagan temple. He forbad the eating of meat known to have been sacrificed to idols if a weak bother’s conscience was offended by the practice. He permitted the eating of meat bought in the “shambles” (market) if it was not known to have been sacrificed to idols. For the answer to this question your attention is directed to discussions of this issue in context – Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8 and 10. Directing you to these Bible studies is not to make it difficult for either the inquirer or those who might read this answer. Rather it is to encourage Bible study. This should always be the first step taken by one seeking an answer to Biblical questions. Use a good Bible computer program or a concordance to find where key words are used. Study those passages in context and run parallel passages. You will be surprised at how often the answer will easily be found. One need not be a Bible scholar to accomplish good results.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)