Did Yeshua declare all food clean? Or did we all read it wrong?

This topic was the one that opened my eyes to the possibility that our English Bible could be lost in translation. This is a sensitive topic, the idea that a passage could be read incorrectly by us and even elders in the highest places seems crazy. More so, this passage is used by many to say God's Law on the foods we eat has been changed or abolished. Let's see if this was really the case!

In future entries, we will go through all the sections with a focus on food and how it impacts God's guidelines for eating, including Romans, Timothy, Colossians, Corinthians, and Peter's Vision.

Mark 7 - That Which Defiles

Let's set the scene up before we start reading the entire letter. The verse that we will be addressing is verse 19:

Mar 7:19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

Specifically, the part in Bold above seems to CLEARLY state that Yeshua abolished the Food law that everyone was to follow according to the Law of God. I have read this so many times and accepted this because after reading the books of Romans, Timothy, etc, this idea seems to be backed up by the disciples. But if we start digging deeper into the Word, Yeshua changing a Law creates a set of contradictions and questions:

  • Yeshua followed the Law perfectly, why would he change it suddenly? This would imply that the original Law given by God was imperfect or needed changing.
  • He said in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Reading on, Yeshua also states that nothing will disappear from the Law until Heaven and Earth pass away, so by abolishing a food law, he contradicted Himself.
  • Why is this change of the Law never recorded anywhere? To change a Law that entire generations were following, wouldn't this be a big deal?
  • All the disciples followed the Food Laws perfectly even after Yeshua's death. Did the disciples just not listen to this change?
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Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 / Unsplash

Contradictions are not from God or His Word. So let's examine the letter and see if we can identify where we are misunderstanding the Word.

Starting From the Beginning:

Mar 7:1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus

 Mar 7:2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.

 Mar 7:3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.)

Mar 7:4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

Mar 7:5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

The context seems clear so far - The Pharisees are asking Yeshua why His disciples are not observing the tradition of washing their hands before eating. This is even stated as a "Tradition of the elders" and NOT a commandment from God.

The traditions of the elders are extra laws that were added to God's Law and given equal weight to God's Law. This is referred to as the Oral Law or the Talmud and is still followed today. The laws from the Talmud often contradicted God's Law, as Yeshua highlights in the next few verses:

Mar 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Mar 7:7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

Mar 7:8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

 Mar 7:9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

Mar 7:10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’

Mar 7:11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—

Mar 7:12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.

Mar 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

So we can see what this entire letter is about so far - Yeshua is rebuking the Pharisees for putting their laws equal to or above God's Law, which in this case was the washing of hands before eating. (Note - nothing about food so far).

Now we get to the start of the confusing verses:

Mar 7:14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.

Mar 7:15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

Keeping in mind the context we just established, and that Yeshua is not making a clear statement here, but is speaking a parable, as shown by the very next verse:

Mar 7:17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.

Yeshua then goes on to explain:

Mar 7:18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?

Mar 7:19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

Mar 7:20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.

Mar 7:21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,

Mar 7:22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

Mar 7:23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Yeshua is saying in these verses that whatever enters into a person cannot make them unclean, but only the SIN that comes from that person.


But is Yeshua in the same vain saying that God's Food Laws are abolished? Would he call the Pharisees hypocrites for contradicting God's Law and then Himself, turn around, and then do the same thing as the Pharisees? How does that make sense?

This is where the story ends, but luckily for us, we can get more evidence from the same story Matthew's gospel.

Matthew's Recount of the Same Story:

Matthew 15 tells the same story, and if we read from verse 15:

Mat 15:15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

Mat 15:16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.

Mat 15:17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?

Mat 15:18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.

Mat 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Mat 15:20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Yeshua plainly states that eating with unwashed hands does not defile someone. This was the point of the story, there is no doubt the story revolved around eating with unclean hands. To which Yeshua responded that eating with unwashed hands does not defile someone, but instead the SIN that comes out of them is what defiles them.

Do you see any mention of food? Of Yeshua changing His Father's Law? No, because this was never the case. Yeshua followed His Father's Law perfectly and always taught everyone to do the same. Using Mark 7 to prove the Food Law's were abolished does not make sense when you look at the context and Matthew's account of the same story.

So, where did "In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean", come from?

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Photo by Sixteen Miles Out / Unsplash

In short, the English translators added this part to "aid understanding". However, as we have shown, their understanding was flawed.

There is only one English-translated Bible that does not have this addition in it. Can you guess which one?

Mar 7:19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

If you answered the King James Version, then well done. As you can see, the verse above mentions nothing about Yeshua declaring foods clean. It simply says food goes into the stomach (not the heart) and then out (purging all meats).

The King James Version is the oldest English translation we have, and by extension, also the most accurate. If the most accurate translation does not even have this addition, why should we accept it? Especially if Matthew's version of the story does not have this addition.

If that is not enough for you, you can go to the original Greek letter (You can check out this cool website with the Codex Sinaiticus) and you will find it also does not have this addition of Yeshua declaring foods clean.


In this teaching, we discussed Mark 7, a passage that many use to show that Yeshua declared all foods clean. However, examining the letter showed us that doing so would have made Yeshua contradict His own words. After studying the context of the letter, we saw that the letter is referring to the tradition of washing hands before eating. This was a Jewish tradition in the Talmud. Yeshua rebuked the Pharisees for letting their traditions get in the way of God's Law. This is backed up by the same story in Matthew.

The part where it states Yeshua declared all foods clean was added by translators to aid understanding, however, their understanding was flawed as shown above. If we look at older translations and more accurate translations (KJV) and even the original Greek manuscripts, we see this addition is not there.

In conclusion, nobody can use Mark 7 to show that the Food laws were abolished. There are a few other areas in the Bible that could imply the Food laws were abolished, but these will be discussed in further teachings.

I pray you enjoyed this teaching!