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In reading the New Testament Epistles the words rooted in ακαθαρτ translated 'unclean' in the KJV are listed among sinful actions:

Ephesians 5:5  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person (ακαθαρτος), nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

The words deriving from ακαθαρ are used through out the Pentateuch in the LXX, in regards to various forms of sanctification required by YHWH upon his covenant people, such as:

(Brenton LXX) Leviticus 11:46-47  This is the law concerning beasts and birds and every living creature moving in the water, and every living creature creeping on the earth; to distinguish between the unclean (ακαθαρτων) and the clean; and between those that bring forth alive, such as should be eaten, and those that bring forth alive, such as should not be eaten.

Is there any Evidence to not believe Paul and other NT writers are not referring to the same 'uncleanness' as Moses in the Pentateuch?

It is obvious that the Hebrew word טמא used in the Torah was understood as ακαθαρτων by the translators of the LXX, would this not be the correct way to understand Paul by a proper biblical hermeneutic?

Simply: Is Paul speaking of prior biblically defined 'uncleanness'? If not what evidence turns the meaning from what Moses by God's word had prior stated?

  • I am unclear as to what you are asking. Is there any evidence to not believe that [some] are not referring ...' I am confused. – Nigel J May 17 '19 at 3:14
  • I agree with Nigel J - the word means what the word means. It is used in LXX in exactly the same way as in the NT. Uncleanness means the same thing in both places - "that which may not be brought into contact with the divinity" (BDAG #1)), or, "moral impurity" (BDAG #2) - BDAG also quotes the LXX in support of this. – user25930 May 17 '19 at 9:22
  • The question is specifically asking: 1. Is there any Evidence to not believe Paul and other NT writers are not referring to the same 'uncleanness' as Moses in the Pentateuch? 2.It is obvious that the Hebrew word טמא used in the Torah was understood as ακαθαρτων by the translators of the LXX, would this not be the correct way to understand Paul by a proper biblical hermeneutic? The BDAG quote is irrelevant to the question. My focus is Paul speaking of prior biblically defined 'uncleanness'? – Lowther May 17 '19 at 10:27
  • See Romans 14:20 and Titus 1:15. – Lucian May 19 '19 at 14:59
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The concept of uncleanness/impurity (טָמֵא in Hebrew, ἀκάθαρτος in LXX, and its opposite טָהוֹר/καθαρός) has many applications in the Old Testament apart from food laws, for example the impurity contracted from a dead body (Numbers 19:11), and more poetically, impure lips (Isaiah 6:5) and a pure heart (Psalms 51:12/LXX 50:12). So even within the Old Testament, "impurity" isn't restricted to food that must not be eaten.

However, in the specific case of the New Testament, the concept of impurity with regard to forbidden food is explicitly acknowledged and repudiated. In Acts 11:6-9, Peter (like Ezekiel, 4:14) complains that he has never eaten anything impure, but unlike Ezekiel, Peter is instructed, "What God has made clean, you must not call profane."

This is in keeping with what Jesus is reported to have said regarding food eaten with unwashed hands: "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles" (Matthew 15:11, NRSV, however using the verb κοινόω rather than καθαρίζω).

Given this context, it would be very surprising if Paul in the letter to the Ephesians meant to censure people who ate unclean foods, when Jesus and Peter are said to have accepted them. On the contrary, even though eating food sacrificed to idols was one of the few things that Peter and others decided to forbid the gentiles from eating (Acts 15:20), he sees nothing technically wrong in eating even this (1 Corinthians 8), and as far as I know he doesn't even consider other types of impermissible food.

Therefore, Paul's "unclean person" in Ephesians 5:5 is more likely to have been referring to "evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander," the definition of what defiles a person given by Jesus (Matthew 15:19-20), than to someone who eats forbidden food, which is a law Paul doesn't consider binding.

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    Food is but the example given, however, maybe it is an excepted belief that a vision in Acts 11 repeals a very clearly stated set of clean and unclean practices from Leviticus 11, but the evidence hermeneutically is needed to prove this asserted belief into the context of Ephesians 5. Any meaningful Exegete of Acts 11 in the context with Acts 10 would clearly realize this vision is about how "...God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Act 10:28 – Lowther May 17 '19 at 10:46
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    To use a vision to repeal Law is a stretch, but to take the focus off of the sanctification of men and turn it towards food is in accurate and appalling to the nature of the Gospel according to the context, in my opinion of study. – Lowther May 17 '19 at 10:48
  • Excellent conclusions. Respect and +1. – Nigel J May 17 '19 at 11:34
  • As @Lowther implied, interpreting Acts 11 as repudiating the food laws is eisegesis, believing something and using scripture as support. Exegesis means using scripture and context and ignoring preconceived ideas. At first Peter didn't understand what the vision meant. Then later, in Acts 10:28, he finally does understand it, and it has nothing at all to do with food: 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. – Ray Butterworth May 17 '19 at 14:18
  • @Lowther The reason I gave for this interpretation in Ephesians is the fact that Paul himself in 1 Corinthians doesn't forbid eating food sacrificed to idols, which was (in Acts 15) forbidden to the gentiles even when normal impure food was not forbidden to them – b a May 17 '19 at 14:28
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The obvious answer to this question seems to be that the terms of uncleanness as spoken by YHWH God in the Torah and translated into the Greek LXX Pentateuch are in Paul's focus. Regardless of if we are speaking of food, sexual issue, or defilement of many sorts, the Law as acting like a mirror tells the Christian of his sinful state before a Holy God. There is no need to redefine the meaning of ακαθαρτ- in the New Testament as any thing different and unspoken rather than the Hebrew word טמא used in the Torah and understood as ακαθαρτ- by the translators of the LXX and Paul the writer. The Evidence suggests that Paul is using the language of the GOD of Israel as communicated in the Torah through the Pentateuch as there is no other meaning given absolutely stated as directly as the Law clearly defines the words.

If direct language did exist a case would be made for a new translation of the words deriving from ακαθαρτ- in the New Testament, particularly of Paul. Thus, it is my conclusion based on the Evidence listed in the question it self and all other Scripture considered that Paul is speaking of the same thing as Moses, keeping God's word consistent and not confused to fit traditional doctrine.

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