Please read “Clean Food? Part I” before this so you can see how the Old & New Testaments work together here.
(The following is something I had already written in a comment on this site.)
When we get to Acts, Peter has a vision about previously unclean foods. He is told to “kill and eat” repeatedly. If this were referring to Gentiles…is he to kill and eat the Gentiles? Emphatically, No! God was not confused about what His vision to Peter was all about. God wouldn’t tempt Peter to sin…James 1:13 “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The sheet with animals came down & Peter was told not once, but 3 times to kill and eat. The voice from heaven even said in Acts 10:15“What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” If it were not about food, then God was tempting Him. But, we know God does not tempt us to sin, so then we can conclude Satan is tempting Peter. No, because Peter clearly recognized it as the voice of God. So, if there is no tempting, clearly, God was telling Peter, “Kill & eat” because God had truly cleansed the food.
So it is possible then for God to cleanse things that were once ritually unclean or unholy (depending on your translation). And if you need more proof that He can cleanse things that were once unclean, look at yourself. (And I’ll look at myself!!). He cleansed us through Jesus’ blood. It doesn’t say this in scripture, but it’s not impossible…maybe the same blood that makes us clean also cleansed all foods and made them also clean. Again, the WAY God cleansed the food is not told to us in Scripture, but whatever way He did it, you can be sure He did it legally, just as Jesus’ blood legally cleanses us. (i.e. it’s not God being a nice God and saying, that’s okay I forgive you for everything…He settled accounts legally with Jesus’ death. So, I’m sure He also had a way to settle it with the unclean animals, legally.)
Further, Jesus explains even prior to the Acts episode in Mark 7:14-23 that it is not what is outside that defiles a man, rather what come from inside.
Rom. 14:1-3 “1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. “
Clearly this refers to food and goes so far as to say “all”. If it were referring to clean food, it would have said so, because Paul is not known for speaking succinctly. He explains things in detail and goes to extreme measures to be understood.
Gal. 2:11-21 “11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
This passage has LOTS of important things in it. First, we see Cephas (Peter) eating with the Gentiles. What were they eating? You can be sure it was something against the Law because Paul addressed the Law. If was merely that he was eating WITH uncircumcised company, then that would be a custom of the Jews, not a Law. However, if he was eating whatever they were eating, now he would be indeed living like a Gentile, as Paul had said he was.
I want to quote this same passage again because it’s important…Paul said, (v.14) “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
I’ve already talked about Peter living like a Gentile. If you still believe it is in regard to Peter simply eating WITH Gentiles, not WHAT he was eating, he’s how you can be sure…
The second portion of that verse says, “how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Obviously, Gentiles would NOT no longer eat WITH Gentiles…they are one. They were being compelled by Peter to no longer eat “unclean” foods and possibly to wash ceremoniously before hand, so Peter would look good to his fellow Jews and not get flack from them.
Paul did not call him guilty of living like a Gentile; instead, he called him guilty of “rebuilding what [he] had once destroyed” and “prove[-ing himself] to be a transgressor”. v. 18.
Now, what did Cephas once destroy? Living under the Law. And if he again rebuilt that by suddenly living under the Law which he had just not been living under, he proves he is a transgressor of that law.
How strange that Paul did not condemn him for destroying the Law. Rather, he condemned him for trying to rebuild it.
Col. 2:16-17 “16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. “
In this passage, we see that the food & drink regulations, festivals, new moons, & Sabbaths are shadows. Shadows are not real, they are a non-descript outline of what the real thing is, i.e. Jesus. These things had value until now, when we now have something NEW. The reason we have the NEW is because of JESUS who has brought the real, who IS the real.
Eph 2: 11-22″ 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
Jesus abolished in His flesh the enmity between Jews & Gentiles. What is that exactly? The Law of commandments. But that’s not all, his put to death that enmity, the Law. Not just setting it aside or doing away with it. He put it to death (v.16). But that, too, is not all! He did this to ESTABLISH something.
Before I go further. Contrast this whole idea with what Law-Keepers believe. Please understand that I say “believe”. Believing it doesn’t make it true. People who believe that a Christ-follower must keep the law believe that when Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” the word “fulfill” means”establish”, not satisfy or complete.
But as Paul explains the legality of what happened on the cross, we see that Jesus indeed did NOT come to abolish the Law at all. I.e., He did not come to set it aside or throw it out per say. In His life He fulfilled the requirements of the Law perfectly. In His death, He fulfilled the requirements of the Law perfectly for all mankind, once & for all. If in Matt. 5:17, Jesus had come to abolish the law, He would have been free to live outside of the Law and not abide by it. He didn’t do this, as we know.
However, in His death, He fulfilled it to death. So to speak. It was so fulfilled that is was no longer able to be used. It is an old wineskin that has burst and can no longer hold anything. In the death of His flesh, He abolished the Law. He did not establish it. But, back to what I said before, He did ESTABLISH something.
What is that? Peace. Eph. 2:15 “15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, “
He ESTABLISHED peace by making both groups in Himself into one NEW man! Not putting both groups into the old wineskin…it’s burst and cannot hold the NEW!
So, all this is to explain how, although God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He chooses in His wisdom what He qualifies as sin. In the garden, they ate no meat. Later, He gave them every moving thing. Later still, He amended the every moving thing to ensure good hygiene & teach the concept of holiness. In Acts, because of Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and subsequent death, the ordinances are dead.
Not that there is no longer any sin. However, the ordinances are the Old. Jesus has brought both Jews & Gentiles together into something NEW. We now have a totally new way to approach God (through Jesus) and we have a new way to understand sin, the indwelling Holy Spirit.
As such, as believers, we have become members of a new covenant totally dependent on Jesus’ blood and accomplishment on the cross. We no longer have a list of old laws, we have the laws written on our hearts and interpreted to us by the Holy Spirit.
That is how for you, pork may be entirely offensive. To me, it may be a legitimate food which God has purified. Both are acceptable to God.
And for now, that is enough food for thought, pardon the pun. :)