1 Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving:
This is one of the verses that’s quoted by mainstream theology as ‘proof text’ that the Laws of God given through Moses, and more specifically the ‘food Laws’, are no longer valid for God’s covenant people.
Let’s test that to the whole Word of God.
But first, if you haven’t read the first two parts of this series, I recommend you take the time to read them now: ‘(Thus he declared all foods clean) Part 1 | Mark 7:19’ and ‘(Thus he declared all foods clean) Part 2: Peter’s Vision | Acts 10:13’. These studies show how other “proof texts” that we’ve been taught by mainstream theology about the food Laws are actually FALSE teachings.
What the majority of Christianity is not taught regarding this dogma, is that verse 4 above is actually only half of a sentence.
If you pluck out only part of a sentence or verse, and don’t read the context of the verses before and after it, you’re practicing very poor hermeneutics.
Context, Context, Context.
Context is king; if you ‘cherry-pick’ only a few words out of the Word of God, you can make it say anything you want. Taken out of context, Psalm 10:4 claims that “there is no God”!
So, let’s be like the ‘Bereans’, and investigate exactly what Paul told Timothy, ‘in context’.
What does the text say?
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
Paul warned Timothy, that some will depart from the faith and ‘devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons’.
What are these “teachings” that Timothy is to be wary of? Paul tells us in the next two verses ~
1 Timothy 4:2-3 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
Paul told Timothy to beware of liars who ‘forbid marriage’ and ‘require abstinence from foods’ that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who know the ‘truth’.
Mainstream theology would have us believe that, according to these two verses, all you have to do now is, “just give thanks and you can eat whatever you want”. But, did Paul actually say that? ‘Just thank God and then anything you can shove into our mouth is now defined as ‘clean food’?.?.?; those words are NOT in the text!
The words that are in the text of verse 3, are as follows: ‘foods’ that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who know the “truth”.
Words mean things…
Paul did NOT just add the word ‘Truth’ to wax lyrical; he said it for a reason, a very GOOD reason. For a complete understanding of what Paul means by ‘knowing the truth’, I highly recommend you read ‘What is Truth?’.
Brown-Driver-Briggs states “emunah” to mean: firmness, steadfastness, fidelity;
- “faithfulness and trust” when used of human conduct.
- an attribute of God.
Brown-Driver-Briggs states “emeth” to mean: firmness, faithful, truth:
a.) as spoken, to speak truth, the thing is certainly true; b.) of testimony and judgement; c.) of divine instruction; d.) truth as a body of knowledge
Everything that God has spoken is אֱמֶת/emeth/truth, always.
It is not possible for anything that the Almighty has ever spoken, to become not-truth.
Everything the LORD speaks is truth (emeth)~
Nehemiah 9:13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true (emeth) laws, good statutes and commandments,
Psalm 19:9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true (emeth), and righteous altogether.
Psalm 25:4-5 4Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5Lead me in your truth (emeth) and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth (emeth); unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth (emeth).
Psalm 119:43-44 43And take not the word of truth (emeth) utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. 44I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,
Psalm 119:151-152 151You are near, O LORD, and all Your commandments are truth (emeth). 152Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.
Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth (emeth), And every one of Your righteous rules endures forever.
Romans 2:8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Words mean things.
The Apostle Paul used the word alētheia/truth in verse 3 intentionally, and he obviously expected Timothy to understand why. He expected Timothy to understand that the truth was something that you put into ‘practice’, something to be ‘obeyed’.
Paul is telling Timothy (and us) that knowing “the Truth”, is knowing “the Scriptures”, the Word of God, and that’s how we can understand and know what is considered set-apart as food to eat. He verifies this in the very next sentence ~
What does the text say?
1 Timothy 4:4-5 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
The “Word of God” that Paul is referring to, that ‘sets-apart’ (makes holy) what God has created as ‘good food’ was ‘The Scriptures’; the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. The ONLY place in the ‘Word of God‘ that discusses ‘what has been created “Holy” as food’, is Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.
Paul just told Timothy, and us, that it is Leviticus 11 that defines what is holy to eat.
Think logically, not emotionally.
Here’s another verse to Timothy, where Paul makes a similar statement regarding ‘The Scriptures’ ~
2 Timothy 3:15-17 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
What mainstream theology fails to comprehend (and teach), is that Paul is NOT referring to his own letters when he says “All Scripture” or “the sacred writings” or “the Word of God”. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying Paul was not inspired by the Spirit of God when he wrote his letters, but think logically not emotionally; think like a 1st Century Berean. When the apostle Paul wrote these letters to Timothy, the ‘New Testament’ didn’t exist yet! Paul is referring to the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, when he says “All Scriptures” or “the Word of God”. The apostle Paul is stating that “the Law” is ‘profitable for teaching and training in righteousness’; he didn’t say it was abolished! Please read ‘The Law: Fulfilled or Abolished?‘.
Again, at the time of Paul’s writing of ‘1 Timothy’, what was the Word of God? It was the Law, the Prophets and the Writings! The Gospels, the disciple’s and Paul’s individual letters, were not available as we know it; “there was NO ‘New Testament’ when Paul wrote this letter to Timothy!
The Apostle Paul is unequivocally stating that God’s “Truth”, His Instructions in Righteousness, are “The Scriptures” that tell us what is “Set-Apart ‘good’ food to eat”.
Final Thought: If one just does a little research, it’s easily understood that the apostle Paul is referring to the teachings of ‘Gnosticism’ in 1 Timothy 4:3, which was rampant in the first century. These Gnostic doctrines taught against marriage, abstaining from all meat, touching certain things, and many other unscriptural dogmas. This is what Paul was warning Timothy about.
In 1 Timothy 4:3, the apostle Paul specifically lists ‘forbidding marriage’ in the same breath as ‘requiring abstinence from foods’. Therefore, Paul cannot be referring to the Law of Moses, because God’s Law does not forbid marriage.
Logic, not emotion.
- For further study, especially Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, please see the blog posts at the bottom of this page. Be a Berean, and test all doctrines to the “Scriptures”. Please ‘share‘ this study. Thank you for your time!