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Acts 15:20

Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

In 1 Corinthians 8:9, Paul seems to be saying that it is our rights to eat food sacrificed to idols:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?

Mark in 7:19 claims that all foods are clean:

For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

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    It is forbidden to all mankind after the Flood. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. Genesis 9:4.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 16:32
  • Besides the emphatic "yes" based on Deuteronomy 12: Verse 16 & Verse 23, what mosaic law or new remembrance does question need to clarify? Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 16:35
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    How do you like your steak, well done, medium, or rare?
    – user35953
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 16:38
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    Blood is not a food. The life is in the blood. It is flesh that is given as food. Blood is withheld because of its significance.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 16:58
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    @Nigel Correct, we are mandated to drink Christ's blood (life), and forbidden from drinking the blood of (or obtaining life from) anything else. This is the true Noahide commandment. For specific dietary laws and observances, these depend on custom and conscience.
    – Robert
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 20:05

4 Answers 4

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I think this question is not well-defined.

The Jews in Israel needed to follow the law as interpreted by the Pharisees because they sat in Moses' seat (Matthew 23:2) and so to disobey would be to sin.

Some new Gentile converts were given other laws at the apostolic council in Acts, as you cite.

Elsewhere Paul gave different rules to the Corinthians (1 Cor 10.15-22), leaving the eating of meat presented to idols up to the believer's conscience.

Each of us has to be accountable to someone else, but we are not all accountable to the same person, nor are we all charged with the same rules to follow. It is sin if we break those rules, though, even if there is nothing inherently sinful about any type of food. The sin comes from breaking the law, not from eating the animal.

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The reference to the ban on eating blood is a direct reference to one of the requirements of the Noahide covenant (see appendix below). Note that this covenant was made with all mankind AND the animals as well. The other requirements are regarded as essential to the safe-working of the planet and mankind.

The Noahide covenant is declared eternal or "everlasting" in Gen 9:16 and has never been revoked.

When one of the Noahide requirements was repeated in Acts 15, it would have been familiar to most people, especially Jews who still regard these requirements as applying to all.

Note that the parenthetical remark attributed to Jesus, "In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean." is not part of the original text as judged by NA28 and UBS5. However, even if Jesus did say this, the direction about not eating blood is a separate matter from the classification of various meat as suitable or otherwise.

APPENDIX Noahide Covenant

The Noahide Covenant is actually a covenant with all living creatures and all mankind. It consisted of:

Purpose

  • This covenant was initiated in order to ensure continuity of seasons without interruption, Gen 8:21, 22.

What God Promises

  • God promises never to curse the ground again, Gen 8:21.
  • God promises never to destroy humans and animals by flood again, Gen 8:21, 9:11.
  • God promises that seasons would never be stopped again, Gen 8:22.

Requirements of mankind

  • God commands humans to multiply and increase on the earth, Gen 9:2, 7.
  • God commands humans to take charge of the earth and maintain it responsibly, Gen 9:2, 3; see also Gen 1:28, 29.
  • God commands humans not to eat blood, Gen 9:4.
  • God commands humans not to commit murder else an accounting will be required. Murder destroys the image of God in mankind, Gen 9:5, 6.

Sign/Token

  • The rainbow is given as a token/sign (Heb: “oth”, Gen 9:12, 13, 17) of God’s promise to save mankind.

Initiating Ceremony

  • The covenant was initiated and solemnised by animal sacrifice, Gen 8:20.

Note that in this statement of God’s covenant of grace, it is universal and applying to all mankind and all animals (Gen 9:8-10, 16, 17), despite the recognition that mankind is evil (Gen 8:21). Further, the prohibition against murder and eating blood are specifically prohibited to prevent God’s image in mankind being marred. One of the unusual aspects of this covenant is the animals – God promises something to animals!

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In 1 Corinthians 8:4,7, Paul says:

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. … However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

Idols and what they represent are nothing but pagan superstition, so offering meat to an idol does not change the meat in any way. But if someone still has underlying doubts in their faith, then such meat will have a mental effect on that person. If they eat it with even the slightest thought about its association with a pagan god, they are implicitly acknowledging the power of that god.

Paul is telling people that if they are with recent converts or other people whose faith isn't as strong as theirs, they should refrain from eating such food, as it might encourage those others to eat it too, at a time when they are not yet ready to eat it without experiencing pagan associations.

(In Polanski's movie, when someone tries to frighten a vampire using their crucifix, he responds: "Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire." To the scriptwriter, who did not believe in Catholicism, the power isn't in the object itself, but in the believer's mind. Paul is expressing the same idea with respect to not believing in idols or the non-existent gods they represent.)


In Mark 7:19, the parenthetical statement, "(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)" appears in only some translations, and doesn't appear at all in the original Greek text.

Had Jesus said such a thing, the listening Pharisees would hardly have stayed quiet about it, but there is no record of any such reaction.

Had Jesus said such a thing, the Disciples wouldn't have continued to refrain from unclean food, as Peter claimed in Acts 10, years after the Crucifixion.

This added comment should be ignored.


Acts 15:20 is more relevant to this question. The Christian leadership was debating whether Gentiles had to convert to Judaism before becoming Christians. The decision was that no, much of Judaism was part of Israel's covenant with God, and as such it should not be required of converts.

However, Jews did (and still do) believe that God gave seven laws to all mankind at the time of Noah.

Four of them are generally accepted by almost all religions: blasphemy, murder, theft, and injustice, and so they could reasonably expect any Gentile converts to already follow them.

The other three laws are less ubiquitous: worshipping idols, sexual immorality, and eating meat that has not bled to death. It is these three laws that the leadership decided must be followed by Gentiles while they are converting to Christianity. That is the origin of the three conditions mentioned in Acts 15:20.

For more details, see Were there implicit laws not referenced in the Acts 15 letter to gentile believers? - Christianity Stack Exchange


So yes, Christians are expected to refrain from eating meat that hasn't been drained of blood before the animal's death.

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Blood is not flesh or meat and is not considered food.I believe it is a sin to intentionally eat the blood of an animal when knowing how it disrespects it’s life.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 6 at 15:47
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    Welcome to the site, Pamela. As a new user, you don't have sufficient points to leave comments, which is what your answer really is - a comment, and not an answer that Hermeneutics looks for. You will see from other answers posted here the evidence that is offered to show the answerer is not just stating their opinion, but has researched the matter and come to a reasoned conclusion. This site looks for that in answers, so you might bear that in mind for future answers you post?
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 6 at 17:23
  • I have researched.Scripture in Acts 15 tells believers to avoid I believe eating the blood of animals. Commented Jan 6 at 17:50

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