BIBLE DIETARY LAWS: “NEW” TESTAMENT AND “OLD” EXPLAINED
Updated: Jul 26
Bible dietary laws new testament scriptures are often asked for when an uninformed “christian” is attempting to justify eating whatever they like. The idea is that the death of the Messiah allowed us to eat what we like.
I will be looking at this and more in this article. To find the dietary laws in the scriptures, we have to read the so-called Old Testament.
I will also look at some famous New Testament scriptures, that many and uninformed believers use to justify eating anything.
*Read: Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14*
Clean And Unclean Foods In The New Testament
To understand what is clean and unclean in the New Testament, the first thing we have to do is look at the death of the messiah, and what it represented.
The belief is that now we are in the New Testament there is no longer any need to worry about what we eat. But is this true according to the Messiah?
When we read the book of Daniel 9:27, it tells us that the Messiah would die, and his death would put an end to the “sacrifice and oblations (offering laws)”.
The sacrifices and oblations have no connection to the “dietary laws”, which is the topic in question in this article.
But, let’s look at some scriptures that are commonly used to claim that there is no requirement for us to abide by any dietary laws.
“It’s Not What Goes Into A Man”
Matthew 15:11 is a commonly used scripture to justify eating whatever foods we like. Let’s take a look at this scripture.
When this scripture is read in isolation, it may appear the Bible is saying it doesn’t matter what you eat, and it’s what you say that makes you unclean, or a bad person.
1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
But on further reflection it doesn’t mean we can eat whatever we like. As you can see above when we read from verse 1 to 11, it sheds a whole new light on the Matthew 15:11 meaning.
In verse 2 of this chapter the Scribes and Pharisees are questioning the Messiah about why his disciples are not washing their hands like they do.
The Messiah replies, by telling the scribes and pharisees why is it that they are transgressing the laws of the most high.
In particular, the Messiah cites the commandment which says honour your father and mother.
The scribes and pharisees at that time had made a tradition which said whatever gift you give to your parents makes you blessing to them.
The Messiah Challenged them, by saying that this tradition transgressed the law of the Most High.
So when we finally get to verse 11, the Messiah is making reference to the washing of hands which is what the scribes and pharisees are accusing his disciples of not doing, as if that tradition is a commandment of the Most High.
So the Messiah says it’s not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, (referencing washing your hands before you eat), but it’s what comes out of your mouth that makes you unclean…
The point here is that there is no reference being made here to a dietary law, just the washing of hands before eating food.
“Do Not Call Unclean What I Have Made Clean”
Do not call unclean what I have called made clean. This is also a very popular phrase used to justify the eating of any food…
When we read Acts Chapter 10 fully, which is where this phrase is found, we can find the true meaning.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Even when we read this on it’s own, it’s clear that there is more to it. Here is the whole story in context, it can be found in
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
In verse 1-5, we see a man by the name of Cornelius, who is described as being an Italian soldier.
This distinction is important (you will see why as you read on), because he is not a Hebrew or an Israelite.
Cornelius is told by an angel (Acts 10:3) that his praises and charity have come up to the Most High. He’s then told to send for Simon Peter the Apostle, and that Peter would give him instructions what he needs to do.
In short, After after this, Peter one of the apostles of the Messiah has a vision. In that Vision he sees all types of animals unclean and clean and is told to eat (Acts 10:10-16). His responses to the voice in the dream is that he’s never eaten anything unclean before so he will not eat any of these animals.
After Peter wakes up from the Vision he is left confused (Acts 10:17), because he knows that it is not lawful to eat unclean foods.
He ponders upon this, later on in the day the Spirit tells him that some men would come and ask for him, and that he should go with them (Acts 10:20). These are Cornelius’s men.
When Peter finally meets Cornelius, he tells him that it is not lawful for an Israelite to associate with other nations. But that the Most High has shown him, that he “should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).
The unclean animals that Peter was told to, we a metaphor for other nations.
This gives us the understanding, of this popular phrase. “Do not call unclean what I have made clean”, this phrase is referencing “human beings”, “people” or “other nations (Gentiles)”.
This Chapter is giving proof that the Most High judges all men, not just Israel (Acts 10:34-35).
These scriptures are clearly not making reference to food, but rather the introduction of other nation into the keeping of the laws of the Most High.
“Let No Man Judge You In Meat Or Drink”
The next scripture in the New Testament used to justify eating any food, is Colossians 2:16. Here the popular phrase is let no man judge you in meat or drink.
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
When we read the scriptures, from Verse 8 we see that the topic here is the Messiah’s sacrifice.
We are told that his Sacrifice on the cross blotted out certain ordinances (Colossians 2:14). These are the ordinances of the sacrifice and offering (Daniel 9:27, Hebrews 10).
It is because of this, that at that time those that did not understand this for fulfillment of the Messiah (Because there were those that rejected the Messiah)…
They would accuse those who were keeping the Feast days, such as “Passover” and “New moon” appointed days without sacrificing of being unlawful.
When we read the whole of colossians 2:16, it goes on to include “or in respect of holyday (appointed day), or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths“.
If we read the scripture out of context, it appears that meat and drink are the subject matter. But a full analysis and study, shows that the meat and drink is in reference to Holydays, New Moon celebrations and the Sabbaths.
An example of “meat” would be the keeping Holydays without bring sacrifices of offerings, which was a “meat offering”
An example of “drink” would be no longer presenting a drink offering to cover sins.
Read this article here which explains how the Messiahs sacrifice fulfilled the laws of “sacrifice” and “oblations” (meat and drink offerings).
So you can see Colossians 2:16 is not making reference to specific foods within the dietary laws that should be eaten.
It is only referencing meat and drink offerings, which were laws before the Messiahs sacrifice (Death and resurrection).
Punishment For Not Keeping Dietary Laws
The sad thing is that christians unwittingly talk about been able to eat whatever they want, because of the Messiah’s sacrifice…
They do this, as if there are no consequences!
Here I’ll be looking at scripture which show us the consequence of eating unclean foods. The scriptures I’ll be referencing here are:
15 For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many.17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.
18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
These scriptures are making reference to the Messiah coming a SECOND time. During this time he will cleanse the world with fire.
The world was once cleansed with water, which can be seen in the Book of Genesis with Noah (Genesis 7:1-24).
It’s also important to notice that there is specific reference to the swine, which is pig today (Isaiah 66:17). Reference is also made to Abominable mouse been eaten too.
All of this should be a warning to anybody that is taking the topic of eating unclean foods lightly.
To those that say that this is Old Testament, it is clear that this prophecy has not been fulfilled.
The world has never been cleansed with fire before so it’s clear this has not happened yet.
This scripture also agrees with the Messiah’s second coming in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 8:7) which is in the so-called New Testament.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Reference to the world being destroyed by fire is also made in the book of Peter (2 Peter 3:3-7), which is in the so called New Testament as well.
2 Peter 3:3-7
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
What The Bible Says About Eating Pork (Swine, Pig)
People will always question whether the Bible says that we should eat pork. This is because pork is eaten all around the world daily, as staple meat.
It is without a doubt a meat source that is eaten with regularity world wide…
Even so called Christians eat pork, and justify their actions.
But if you haven’t heard by now, the scriptures forbids the eating of Swine, also known as Pork, Pig, Ham, Gammon and many other names.
I have provided scriptures above with chapter and verses in the Bible that are most commonly used to justify the eating of unclean food.
Here I’ll be looking at the actual scriptures in the so-called Old Testament which actually tell us what we are allowed to eat.
Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14, List Of Unclean And Clean Foods
To explain this, I’ll be breaking the food types up into 5 separate categories, as follows
Insects & Flying Insects
Touching Clean & Unclean Animals/Insects
1. Land Animals
Leviticus 11:1-2 (1-8)
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
As you can see from the scriptures, it says that we can eat beasts, or animals that…
“chew the cud” and have a “parted hoof” that is “cloven footed”.
For example, a Horse has a “parted hoof”, but it is not “cloven footed”. Cloven footed means that the hoof is split into two, which means it’s also “parted”.
You can see an example of this below:
What Does Chew the Cud mean?
The biblical definition to “Chew the cud” means the animal is able to swallow food regurgitate (Cows and Sheep) or excrete it as droppings (Rabbits, Badgers).
Then chew it again and swallow so it goes into the stomach, where the nutrients are broken down better for digestion…
This is called rumination and these animals are called ruminants..
There is an exception though, we are not to eat rabbits, or animals with paws that can also do this.
You can see some paw examples below:
Keep in mind the Bible definition of chewing the cud, is not the same as the modern definition.
To clarify Rabbits and some other animals have a process of chewing which allows them to further breakdown food.
The difference is the food is broken down in their belly, and then excreted as digestible droppings, which they will then chew and digest.
This is not exactly the same as rumination, which cows and goats use.
The scriptures group all these types of digestive systems as one.
So to eat land animals, they must part the hoof, have cloven feet and chew the cud.
All three of these requirements must be present…
The scriptures tell us that these particular animals do not do this so we are not to eat them, they are:
The Coney (which is Badger) because it chews the cud but it doesn’t have divided hoofs.
The Hare because it chews the cud but it doesn’t have a divided hoof
The Swine which is a Pig (Ham, Gammon) because it has divided hoofs and a cloven feet but it doesn’t chew the cud.
2. Water Animals
The scriptures for water animals, such as fish can be seen here:
9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
We are told, that we cannot eat anything that is in the waters, if it does not have scales and Fins.
This means, the seafood food that people eat today is unclean. Food such as Shrimp, Lobster, Prawns, Duck etc.
3. Winged Animals/Creatures
Next list look at the animals with wings, and which ones we can eat. The scriptures for this are found here:
13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
15 Every raven after his kind;
16 And the owl (Ostrich), and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
With the Winged animals, the most high, gives us a list of winged animal families that we cannot eat.
Which means if a winged animal is not part of one of the families listed in Leviticus 11:13-20 it can be eaten.
Keep in mind these are winged animals whether they can fly or not doesn’t matter…
Each of the winged animals listed are from a family of other winged animals (birds), so if we find birds that are in the same family as the ones mentioned above they are off limits to.
The scriptures use the words “after his kind”, meaning similar to. For example a “Duck” and “Swan” are of the same kind etc.
So here is a list of winged creatures that we cannot eat:
Eagle, Ossifrage, Osprey,
Vulture, Kite after his kind;
Ostrich, Night hawk, Cuckow, and Hawks after his kind,
The little owl, Cormorant, and Great owl,
Swan, Pelican, and Gier eagle,
Stork, the Heron after her kind,
Lapwing, and the Bat.
Here are some of the winged creatures or birds, that we can eat:
Chicken, Turkey, Rooster
4. Insects & Flying Insects
The scriptures will show you the flying insects that we can eat:
21 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
We’re told that the majority of insects that have four feet and fly cannot be eaten.
The exception are winged insects which have legs above their four legs that are used to make them leap far.
These include the following:
Locust after his kind
Bald Locust after his kin
Beetle after his kind (Not a regular beetle that doesn’t jump, and it must have wings)
Grasshopper after his kind
I know? Grasshoppers, and Locust. These are not things that we eat in the western world, although they are still eaten in continents such as Africa and Asia.
Touching Clean & Unclean Animals/Insects
For the final part, we can look at a recurring commandment after each type of animal or creature that is unclean or clean to eat.
This command tell’s us not to touch the carcass (dead body) of any of these insects or animals.
Touching the carcass (dead body) makes us unclean until the evening. We are to wash our clothes and garments, but still remain unclean until the evening.
The dietary laws give us a better understanding about the Most High. They show that the Most High really values the life of his creation, because there are penalties when we touch their dead bodies.
Being ceremonially unclean, result in an Israelite, or a convert from another nation, not being able to keep an appointed day, such as Passover.
So remaining spiritually clean at all times is something that should make believers conscious of what they’re doing from day to day.
The next time you swat a fly or kill an ant with your hand, you should remember it makes you a temporarily outcast (unclean until evening).
Hopefully this article has shed some light on what we should be eating as Believers. If you read and follow the scriptures and it’s Commandments, there is a responsibility to eat the things that the Most High has given us the permission to eat.
So, enjoy your locust!
And don’t forget to share this with somebody that needs it…