“Why does it appear that the Apostle Paul supports the Biblical food laws, yet in Romans he seemingly contradicts them?”
This is a question that confounded me in the past and I had to study it out for Hold the Faith, and the other books in the Apostle John series.
In this post, I share some of my discoveries.
Leviticus 11: 1, 2 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying These are the animals which you may eat among all the bests that are on the earth:
Then follows a long section on animals, fish, birds etc which are clean (fit to eat) and then those that are not.
But then many say Jesus changed the food laws, quoting…
Mark 7:14-23: “Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.’
I found a clear explanation of this on this site http://www.answers2prayer.org/bible_questions/Answers/food/mark_7.html
Now let’s back away and read what precedes these words from Jesus. Why was Jesus saying those words?
Jesus was reacting to the Pharisees’ criticism concerning his disciples eating with unwashed hands. Immediately Jesus points out that they “have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men”.
Okay, that’s fine but what about the apostle Peter’s vision?
Acts 10: 11 -16 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Surely this is clear. No?
I found an explanation on this site http://www.all-creatures.org/discuss/svtacts10.1-11.18-flh.html
The vision had nothing to do with the mission God had given Peter. The vision was only to attract Peter’s attention. Peter knew that he was not to kill and eat the animals that were upon the sheet. He knew that God was only testing him. And now he knew, or at least highly suspected that the test was about the salvation of the Gentiles. God was not cleansing unclean animals and making them clean. He was showing Peter that he was about to cleanse the hearts of the people whom the Jews considered to be unclean.
Alright then, what about…
Romans 14: 14 -16 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
When further researching I discovered that the subject is not clean and unclean foods but eating meat versus vegetarianism.
Paul admonishes Christians not to pass judgment on others for eating meat or for eating only vegetables.
There is so much that is difficult to understand because we try to interpret these ancient scriptures by modern thinking.
I am satisfied, for my research into the subject for the Apostle John series, that the early Christians kept the food laws as well as the Sabbaths and Holy Days. Things changed in the 3rd century AD.
It is a BIG subject though.