New King James Version Mark 7:

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

NKJV puts the phrase "purifying all foods" in red letters and inside quotation marks.

New International Version Mark 7:19

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.)

On the other hand, NIV put "Jesus declared all foods clean" in black letters and outside the quotation marks.

Theology aside, which version better reflects Mark's intent?

Related question:

Mark 7:19 - Does Jesus Really Declare "All Foods Clean?" I'm not asking that. I'm asking for translation justifications from the points of view of the King James translators and NIV translators.

  • Are you asking if Jesus in Mark 7:19 simply reestablished Genesis 9:3 with Noahides who wrongly felt the need to eat kosher diets? Oct 4, 2021 at 13:59
  • Not directly. My question is more related to technical translational procedures.
    – user35953
    Oct 4, 2021 at 14:16
  • 1
    @חִידָה, I think the question is why NKJV uses red letters to indicate a direct quotation from Jesus while the NIV expresses it indirectly. The question is not about interpretation, but about translation. Oct 4, 2021 at 14:47

3 Answers 3


With respect to the NIV, you are asking about what is technically termed a "gloss." A gloss is a portion of scripture which has been or is thought to have been added to the text by scribes and which was not written by the author.

Yet the NKJV is out of character on this verse, seeming to have been partly influenced by the modern versions. It supposedly follows the same line of text from which the KJV was translated, a subset of the Majority Text, also known as the Byzantine text, the Masoretic Text, and the Textus Receptus, or "Received Text"--though this latter name came into existence well after the King James Bible was translated.

The KJV has the text as:

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

This follows from the Greek.

ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ᾽ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται καθαρίζον πάντα τὰ βρώματα (Mark 7:19, Greek)

That Greek would be literally translated something like this:

Because not it enters of him into the heart but into the belly and into the latrine goes out, purifying (him) all the food.

The Greek word for "purifying" here is in a masculine declension, whereas the Greek word for "food" is neuter. This means that to translate the sentence as the food being purified is actually grammatically problematic. The noun should agree with the verb. Because both "heart" (καρδίαν/cardian) and "belly" (κοιλίαν/koilian) are feminine, they cannot be the subjects of this verb either. "Sewer" or "latrine" is masculine, but it is in the accusative, making it an object. This leaves only one possible subject for this verb in the verse: "he/him," whose antecedent of "man" (ἄνθρωπον/anthropon) is found in the preceding verse. In other words, it should say that the man is cleaned (of) all the food at the toilet.


Both the NKJV and the NIV have improper translations of this verse. While neither version reflects Mark's intent, the NKJV at least indicates that the words should be attributed to Jesus. The NIV translation includes the gloss--words which Jesus did not say, nor which were written by Mark. Those words should have been left in a marginal note, if included at all.


Following the subject Jesus is contrasting something the scribes and pharisees complained about

(their ceremonial hand washings of Talmudic origin ; not Gods food health laws) ;

Mark 7:3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the [tradition of the elders].

Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

With The state of ones soul being defiled with evil actions and beliefs.

Mark 7:21  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 

Nowhere in mark does it say Christ said all foods are clean.

The NIV adds a statement in parenthesis that is not in The Bible anywhere.

Matthew 5:18 (kjv) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.


"This leaves only one possible subject for this verb in the verse: "he/him," whose antecedent of "man" (ἄνθρωπον/anthropon) is found in the preceding verse. In other words, it should say that the man is cleaned (of) all the food at the toilet." The subject is unlikely to be "man" as it is in the accusative case. The subject nomnitive case (and therefore the one "cleansing/purging" all foods) is Jesus ("He said") in verse 18.


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