“Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.” Mar 7:1-4
Notice the dispute is not over clean or unclean FOODS, but clean or unclean HANDS. I have heard the argument that this discussion is about clean and unclean FOOD. It is not, it is about clean and unclean HANDS.
“Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” Mar 7:5-8
The Pharisees maintained extra commandments beside those contained in Torah, which were later written down in a book called the Talmud, or Oral Law. The argument is that there is an additional law besides the Law recorded in the books of Moses, which was an oral tradition handed down generation after generation, but never written down. The tradition of the elders that the Pharisees are talking about in this passage, is the Oral Law, the Talmud; and the commandments of God that Jesus is talking about, is the Written Law, the Torah. Jesus was constantly butting heads with them, because they wanted Him to obey the Talmud, while He wanted His people to obey the Torah. He did not like them elevating their traditions to the level of or above the Lord’s commandments.
Many elements of modern rabbinic Judaism are rooted in the Talmud in addition to the Torah.
“He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mar 7:9-16
Let us remember what the dispute is about. It is about clean and unclean HANDS, not clean and unclean FOODS. The Pharisees held that the defilement is supposed to come upon the person because he is eating with unclean HANDS, not that he is eating unclean FOODS. Jesus was saying that eating with unclean HANDS does not defile a person. He is not even talking about eating unclean FOOD. The Jews, Pharisees included, did not eat unclean animals — they did not even consider that food. Kind of like we would not look at grasshoppers and think, “snack!” even though they are eaten in some cultures.
“When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” Mar 7:17-19
The phrase “thus purifying all foods” is a phrase which Jesus did not speak, but which was added to the text as an author’s clarifying note. Some versions indicate this was an addition to Jesus’ words, by putting that phrase in parantheses. In the King James Version, which was translated from the Textus Receptus, a manuscript from the original Greek, this sentence reads differently. It reads:
“Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” Mar 7:19, KJV
Which means, the food enters the belly, and goes out into the dungheap, by which that which was eaten is purged or eliminated from the body. Now compare this to a modern translation such as The Message:
“Jesus said, “Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)” Mar 7:18-19, The Message
Wow, the bit that is in parentheses above is not even in the original Greek. The modern translators just added it in because that is what they understood this passage of Scripture to be saying, right or wrong. We have seen by examination that the discussion was about clean and unclean HANDS, not clean and unclean FOODS. But the editors of the words of Jesus, assumed He must have meant clean and unclean FOODS because that is the theological bias they bring to the text, NOT because that is what the Greek requires.
Now you can understand why our pastor in Colorado calls the New International Version (NIV) and others like it The Non Inspired Version. He preaches from the King James because he considers it the non- tampered with version.
“And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mar 7:20-23
But how do we know that we have the sense of Mark right? There are three other gospels, and also, the practice of the apostles after Jesus rose from the dead. Next we will look at what the other gospel writers said about this incident, and also how the apostles lived or ate after the death and resurrection of Jesus supposedly did away with “dietary quibbling.”