The KJV and NASB transliterations of this verse do not seem to be 100% correct.

Greek Word for word in Context

"since not it enters her/he into mind/soul, rather/but, into the lower belly (receptable for excrement) and as well into the toilet (privy/sink) discharged, purifying(purging fits better contextually) all the food, that is, in context, the poop." By poop, the inference is edible food that which came through the mouth.



I would ask if someone could please render the above in a more coherent sentence structure but retain the meaning.

While the overall gist of it, may seemingly say as the NASB (thus He declared all foods clean) Jesus, technically, does not say that. The KJV on the other hand, uses words that most people do not know (myself included).

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    Closely related question: "Is there any reason to think that Mark 7:19 has a later addition?"
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 13:37
  • @David Thanks David, it is unfortunate that on that page, the most biblical answer is downvoted. I came here hoping to get some experts in Greek/Hebrew language constructs exegete text. I am a bit leary now after seeing that some completely ignore pertinant details to uphold their opinion. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 2:05
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    Just FYI, a bunch of those words aren’t lined up correctly at your “side by side” link -- you might want to re-check. | If you are really so mistrusting of translators/commentators and unpersuaded by arguments such as ours, the only sensible solution really is to learn Biblical Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic for yourself. Your interlinear text has led you to conclude that centuries' (nigh on two millennia's!) worth of scholarship is “errant” (per your link). In my view this is misguided.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 5:43
  • @Susan I understand that transforming Greek to English is difficult, which is why I came here to get a more coherent sentence structure for what the Greek text actually says. Surprisingly enough, what I've learned is a super natural thing which is that, the Scriptures can only be rightly divided by those elected by God. Case in point, in all humbleness, you thought the reference to "heart" had a literal implication. When was the last time your heart thought about something- according to science all it does is pump blood? Also, very humbly I will ask you, have you read 1 Timothy 2:11-13? Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 1:52
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    @AlexanderDixon If you are still coming to this site, you will find that I have addressed this issue in my answer to "Is there any reason to think that Mark 7:19 has a later addition?". It contains my interlinear of the Greek, which I'm sure you will find useful.
    – enegue
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 4:23

6 Answers 6


I will start from the Greek and explain the reasons for the discrepancies between your translation and the ESV (which I consider a faithful rendition of the Greek here).

ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ᾿ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται, καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα; (NA28)

since not it enters her/he into mind/soul, rather/but, into the lower belly (receptable for excrement) and as well into the toilet (privy/sink) discharged, purifying(purging fits better contextually) all the food, that is, in context, the poop (OP)

since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) (ESV)

  1. ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ (NS28)

    • since not it enters (OP)
    • since it enters not (ESV)

    No important discrepancy here.

  2. εις την καρδιαν (NA28)

    • into mind/soul (OP)
    • his heart (ESV)

    Literally, “into the heart”. Contextually, “into” can be removed in English because it is redundant with “enters.” The article “the” is normally rendered as a possessive pronoun with body parts in English. Hence ESV, “his heart”.

  3. εις την κοιλιαν (NA28)

    • into the lower belly (OP)
    • his stomach (ESV)

    See note on “into” above. The term κοιλία as an organ usually means “stomach” (or any other part of the digestive tract) or “womb”. This variation alone should alert you to the fact that the Greeks were not concerned about anatomy. Given modern preferences to conform to realistic anatomy, “stomach” seems a reasonable representation of the entry point of food into the digestive tract.

  4. *και εις τον αφεδρωνα εκπορευεται (NA28)

    • and as well into the toilet (privy/sink) discharged (OP)
    • and is expelled (ESV)

    The verb is intransitive: “goes out”. The choice in both translations to shift to a transitive, passive verb is probably a matter of euphemism. The noun ἀφεδρών indeed means “latrine”; the ESV considered this implied. Louw and Nida explain this:

    The term ἀφεδρών occurs only in Mt 15:17 and Mk 7:19 and may be rendered in a number of languages as ‘place of defecation.’ In some languages, however, a reference to a toilet may seem inappropriate for the Scriptures, and it is possible to translate a passage such as Mt 15:17 as ‘goes into the stomach and then passes on out.’ The meaning is thus clear without a specific reference to a latrine or toilet.

  5. καθαριζων παντα τα βρωματα

    • purifying (purging fits better contextually) all the food, that is, in context, the poop (OP)
    • (Thus he declared all foods clean.) (ESV)

    This is the important part. I disagree with your contention that the poop is the “subject” of purifying/purging. The decision rests on whether to consider the participle purifying all foods (καθαριζων) to be adjectival or adverbial, and then the identification of the noun or verb modified.

    If adjectival, the participle’s inflection should match the noun modified. The participle καθαριζων is nominative and masculine. Your idea of “poop” invokes the implied subject of “goes out”. However, the grammatical subject is πᾶν (“whatever”) from the prior verse, which is neuter. Grammatical agreement conforms to the grammatical subject (or, if an abstraction, is neuter). This does not match the inflection of καθαριζων, so it can not be the antecedent. A related option is αφεδρωνα (“latrine”). Although masculine, it is in the accusative case, not in agreement with the nominative καθαριζων.

    If the participle is adverbial, we have to determine which verb it modifies. The decision is between εκπορευεται (goes out) and λέγει (said) from v. 18. William L. Lane comments:

    The completion of the ellipsis by making καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα grammatically dependent upon καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς in verse 18 is almost certainly correct. This interpretation was first proposed by the Greek Fathers (Origen, Chrysostom, Gregory Thaumaturgus) and has won almost universal support.

    Even an adverbial participle derives its inflection from somewhere. The most natural way for it to refer to αφεδρωνα would be with an accusative participle. Alternatively, it could refer to πᾶν using a neuter participle. If it refers to Jesus (the subject of λέγει), though, a masculine, nominative participle makes the most sense. A lone participle (as an inter-linear translation would have it) suggests in English that it is dependent on the nearest preceding clause (εκπορευεται, “[it] goes out”). To make it clear that the participle instead modifies a clause from the prior verse (λέγει, “[he] said”), English requires restatement of the verb and, either implicitly or explicitly, the subject:

    • In saying this.... (so NIV, CEV, CEB, etc), or

    • (Thus he declared..) (so ESV, RSV, NRSV, etc).

    Either seems to me a fair representation of this Greek.

The English of Mark 7:19 drawn from an interlinear paradigm yields a sentence that is misleading. This is because information is lost due to English’s lack of representation of gender and case concordance. In order to convey that lost information, additional words are required for faithful translation, as in the NASB quoted by OP and nearly every modern translation.

* Interestingly, the one bit of textual variation that exists here is the neuter (nom/acc) καθαρίζον in some mss. This has been dismissed (by Metzger and every generation of critical texts to my knowledge) as a scribal attempt to “correct” the syntax because they did not understand the (relatively) remote referent.

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    Hi Susan and thank you for your reply. In your point 2, are you interpreting "heart" in a organ sense rather than figuratively the mind? Also, again, extrapolating the Greek word for word does not render any such parenthetical text nor "He says". It is simply not there. The point of me bringing this up is to show that not all English translations can be trusted (this coming from me, a person who uses NASB by default). With regards to your point 5, would you agree that the overall theme of verses 18 through 19 are about food, and in particular the way it is processed through the body? Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 14:57
  • (1) Heart: I think it’s probably a play on the boundary between literal and figurative There’s obviously some reference to the literal body parts (heart to be contrasted with stomach), but there seems to be an allusion to the metaphorical sense of ‘heart, which is developed in verses 21ff. (Of note, ‘stomach’ is also metaphorical in some usages.)
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 15:15
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    (2) English translations can not be trusted: I strongly disagree that the lack of word-to-word correspondence reveals lack of trustworthiness. English lacks case markers and also does not tolerate dependent clauses to the extent that Greek does. I think it's perfectly appropriate for the translations to deal with these issues as they have. (3) About food: I suppose so, but with the point being that food is in fact not the point (verses 20ff) as far as purity goes.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 15:15
  • If you agree that that is the theme, then you will understand why Jesus is flabbergasted in their ignorance of such a natural function of which they do several times a week. Lastly, other Scripture confirms what Mark 7:19 implies which is that food does not taint the mind/soul of the person. They can be found in Romans 14: 2, Acts 10: 10-15, and Colossians 2: 14-16. I plan on updating my post with a side by side comparison of the greek text with my translation. I also plan to do Mark 7: 20, which aparently does have the "He says". Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 20:48
  • thank you for your continued interest in this. I have added a link to a website I created quickly to visually outline my point of contention. With regards to you defending the ESV version, the text is not there. Even if I were to entertain the idea that the last part of the version could have two meanings, context, would imperically determine which meaning it is. That said, in context, Jesus did not declare all foods clean (literally) anywhere in that verse and it is whole heartedly talking about excrement and the natural cycle for the body to process food. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 23:41

The suggestion that ἐκπορεύομαι is not the subject of Jesus' teaching in Mark 7:18-23 belies the number of occurrences of the word in the passage. Here is how I would translate it:

18And he said to them, "In this way you, yourselves, are also being unwise. Do you not understand that anything outside, having entered into the man, cannot defile him, 19because it has not entered into the heart of him but into the belly, then what remains is discharged ἐκπορεύονται into the toilet, purifying all the food."
20Furthermore he said, "Whatever the thing is being discharged ἐκπορευόμενον from the man, that is what defiles the man. 21Indeed, from within the heart of men are thoughts, wicked things that are being discharged ἐκπορεύονται: fornications, thefts, murders, 22adulteries, covetousnesses, iniquities, deceit, filthiness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, folly. 23All these things, the evil things, each one is being discharged ἐκπορεύεται from within, and each one defiles the man."

Details for verse 19:

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Details for verses 20-23 (Click to enlarge):

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The verb ἐκπορεύομαι appears four times in these six verses, making it the obvious subject of Jesus' teaching, here.

20... Whatever the thing is being discharged from the man, that is what defiles the man.

This verse connects what Jesus says is discharged from the man into the toilet, with all the many things he is about to mention that are discharged from the heart.

These men had their hand washing rituals to cleanse their hands after toileting themselves, but they had neglected God's instructions in regard to cleansing the heart. Jesus had only just challenged them with Isaiah's words:

6 ... Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
-- Mark 7:6-7 KJV

Jesus then brings Isaiah's point about the commandments of men into the present, challenging them:

8For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. ... 9Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
-- Mark 7:8-9 KJV

And the end result of esteeming their tradition above the commandment of God, is to make "the word of God of none effect" (v. 13).

The commandments of God are the means of cleansing the heart so that all the wicked things Jesus listed as being discharged from within, are dealt with before they are manifest. These men didn't comprehend that their love of tradition was preventing people from coming to God in order for their hearts to be cleansed.

The phrase, "In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.", added by the NIV and others similarly, interferes with what Jesus is teaching in this passage, and should rightly be removed in future editions.


1. Question Restatement:

Mark 7:19 - Does Jesus Really Declare “All Foods Clean?”

2. Answer - Uh .. What in the world?

Regardless of the underlying grammar, or "textual validity" - it is incredibly invalid to make any grammatical inference that is exactly opposite of the argument Jesus said he was making:

NASB, Mark 7:15-16 - There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]

To Note: The historical issue, here, is the willingness "to hear".

Jesus proved that: if it is true that nothing outside of a person can defile them before God, then it is certainly true that no unclean food will defile them before God, (a categorical syllogism, Butte College).

This alone should sufficiently resolve the question. But, if more is required...

3. The Doctrine of Mercy:

Jesus didn't change anything - he was making the point that it was always the case that man could not be defiled - before God - this way.

It is highly, most, incredibly, a lot, ironic that the form of the answers given here, (and many other places and times throughout history) reflect exactly what Jesus was refuting ...

Paraphrase of Jesus: "You seem to 'think', to rely on reason, to rely on your education, on intellectual argumentation, on traditions, and somehow rationalize some conclusion ... but ... no. Just... No. This is a matter of the heart - and God's love - regardless of how smart and justified you think you are."

In context - Jesus was very explicit, extremely clear, stating that the only thing that can possibly defile a man - before God - is what a man DOES and SAYS.

The intention of both the speaker, (Jesus), and every New Testament writer is is consistent throughout.

NASB, Romans 14:20 - Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean ...

Even if Jesus did not explicitly state: "I declare all things clean" - it is still the only deductive conclusion possible - based on Jesus' premise that nothing outside of a man that enters him can defile him before God.

Mercy Triumphs over any Judgment under the Law, (James 2:13):

There was a woman ... who reasoned ... that if even dogs merited crumbs from their master's table, and if God's crumbs were awesome, then God would bless her, because she knew that her value before God was at least greater than or equal to: a dog.

And because of her reasoning, and trust in the love of God, Jesus said:

NASB, Matthew 15:28 - Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

Her faith had absolutely nothing to do with Scripture, but her trust in the love of God - that Jesus was proved and had been showing to everyone.

4. Textual Criticism:

This has zero to do with textual criticism, or Greek analysis. (The issue is "moot" anyway - as there are no authorities to declare the in/validity of the text).

Hermeneutically, regardless of the text, the writer's skill, scribal-accuracy, manuscript questions, etc - "Pragmatics", (Wikipedia link), supersedes any inference made from any grammatical observation, (any grammatical/textual observations must be interpreted in view of a clear and evident intent of the writer).

You could literally take the book of Mark out of the Bible - and still come to this same conclusion everywhere in the New Testament, (even from Hebrew Scripture alone, but that's for another discussion).

This is a simple matter of understanding the heart of everything Jesus taught:

Paraphrase, John 3:16 - God is desperately in love with the World, eternally patient, and infinitely merciful. Trust in his love, that God is 'for you', not 'against you', and prove your hope in this truth by being compassionate and merciful towards each other (because it is the only "just" response); and then, and only then, will you be undefiled/righteous before God. (This is the definition of: The Gospel).

Regardless of any "strange scribal discrepancy" - any argument that anything unclean in this world could defile a person before God is a blatant misrepresentation of New Testament texts, (though James 1:27 does get pretty close).

  • The apocryphal books are removed basically for the internal evidence/assumption that they seem to contradict the authentic books. For the same reason, we must not shy to edit text based on common sense which is superior to external evidence. The oldest manuscripts are not oldest but perhaps third century onwards. It is likely be an interpolation of scribe. Jesus wouldn't violate the law by cleansing unclean food.
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 15:13

The NASB, ESV and some other versions are faulty in that they include an idea that, while no doubt correct, is not in the original Greek. This gloss should properly be in a footnote: (Thus He declared all foods clean.)

The KJV version of Mark 7:19 is essentially the same as the Greek version at biblehub, allowing for appropriate changes of word order, selection of valid translations of each word, and archaic language:

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

Rewriting this in modern English, one option is:

Because it does not enter his heart, but into the stomach, and goes out through the bowels, passing as excrement.

This verse links two concepts, with Jesus first saying that what goes into a man does him no harm (v 18), then that what comes out can defile him (v 7:20). Jesus then uses metaphor to explain all the evil things that come out of a man that also defile him: evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.

The close context is found with the Pharisees and scribes complaining that the disciples were defiling themselves under Jewish law, by eating grain with unwashed hands (v 7:5). The longer context is an integrated set of passages (verses 6:33-8:21) with ten references or allusions to food, including a summary (8:19-21) by Jesus of the two feasts, maintaining a consistent theme of food, plus a minor theme of not understanding.

  • Hi Dick, your rendition lacks reference to toilet and the "purging" factor. You cannot ignore the allegorical premise setup in this verse and then expounded upon in the next two verses. We all agree that poop is nasty. Eating food with dirty hands is not what sullied the mind. Rather, it is the list of sins outlined in Mark 7: 21. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 20:42
  • @AlexanderDixon Welcome and hi! Your comment suggests that you actually wanted a little more than just an explanation of 7:19, so I have updated and hopefully improved my answer. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 21:48
  • You mentioned the NASB translation, which I had not referred to because it is not accurate in the way the KJV is, because it contains a gloss that ought to be in footnotes if anywhere. It just makes Bible study that much harder if scribes add their own take on the passage, until future generation start to think this is what the gospel really said in its original form. You did say the KJV uses words you don't know, so I took the liberty of translating this into modern English, while keeping the meaning. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 21:53
  • It does not matter whether we translate ἀφεδρῶνα as 'draught', 'toilet', 'excrement' or 'poop' - Jesus was not focussing whether excrement is 'purged' nor on the technical issues of where we do our business, but on the fact that excrement can defile a man. Good translation sticks with the issues important to the original, not side-issues. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 21:56
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    Scripture should always be read in context, so Mark 7:19 can not be read alone, nor even should 7:18:23 be read out of context. The Pharisees said that the disciples were defiling themselves by eating grain with dirty hands (7:5). Jesus calls them hypocrites and harangues them for it, then 7:15 (addressed to the Pharisees), "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man" is an introduction to 7:19 (addressed to the disciples). Thus context includes the Pharisees. Hope this helps. Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 22:05

Mark 7:19 - Does Jesus Really Declare “All Foods Clean?”

Mark 7:19 (NET Bible)

19 "For it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and then goes out into the sewer.” (This means all foods are clean.)"

Jesus did not declare "all foods clean," the expression should be understood in the cultural and historic context of the day, for - "The Law of Moses"- remained in force until Jesus death. (Colossians 2:13-14, Hebrews 8:7-13) The Pharisees distrusted the Priesthood and held fast to man made traditions, Jesus rejected these man made rituals.

Mark 7:1-8 (NET Bible)

Breaking Human Traditions

7 "Now[a] the Pharisees[b] and some of the experts in the law[c] who came from Jerusalem gathered around him. 2 And they saw that some of Jesus’ disciples[d] ate their bread with unclean hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they perform a ritual washing,[e] holding fast to the tradition of the elders."

4 "And when they come from the marketplace,[f] they do not eat unless they wash. They hold fast to many other traditions: the washing of cups, pots, kettles, and dining couches.[g])[h] 5 The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat[i] with unwashed hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:"


Tradition held, that clean food would make a person unclean ,unless first, he followed the elaborate man made cleansing rituals , not required under the Law. Thus Mark's additional comments should be understood, that food considered clean under the Law, would not make a person unclean, just because he did not follow the cleaning rituals required by man made traditions.


This conversation has nothing to do with foods being clean or unclean - for the Jew (Yeshua and the Pharisees in this conversation) kosher was kosher and that never changed. If you stood at Sinai, no bacon for you (sorry).

This conversation was perhaps more about the "tradition of the elders" (in this case the washing of hands) what was becoming the talmud/mishnah, the 7000 bonus "laws/commands" the elders built as a "fence" around the 613 of Torah. While Jesus likely followed Torah, he had no problem breaking the "traditions". Yeshua speaks against this a few times wrestling with the Pharisees, as does Shaul when he calls out Simon in the book of Acts for foregoing "eating with the gentiles" when the homeboys from Jerusalem show up.

In context of Mark, this conversation is sandwiched between Yeshua just returning from paganville, Gennesaret, across the sea, and the conversation with another pagan, the Syro-Phoenician woman up North. Hey Pharisees, this Kingdom is for everybody, Jew and Gentile.

Torah never commanded against "eating with gentiles" (in fact likely just the opposite as the "sojourner" was to be welcomed and shown hospitality e.g. Lev 25:6, and for that matter Abraham was a gentile sojourner, eh), only the newer "traditions" may have talked about not eating with gentiles. Table fellowship (eating with another) was huge in ancient cultures, basically saying "you and me are good". Yeshua partied with everyone. Shalom!

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