Dietary Laws and the Bible

In the Old Testament, God gives a number of instructions concerning what humans can and cannot eat. These are called dietary or Kosher laws.  The word kosher derives from this law idea as a food is said to be kosher if it is allowed by Jewish law.

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God’s instructions begins in Genesis 1:29 where God speaks about giving man vegetables/herbs and fruit to eat.  Then in Genesis 9 after the great flood God expands that food supply to include animal meat of all kinds with certain preparation restrictions (Genesis 9:2-4).

Later in giving of the Mosaic Law, God once again restricts the diet by disallowing certain meats (Leviticus 11:1-47 and Deuteronomy 14:1-21).  Note that in Leviticus if an animal designated unclean comes into contact with an oven then that oven becomes unclean.  So then if one goes to a restaurant eats food prepared in the same oven used to cook both clean and unclean food then the oven is contaminated and biblical unclean.  Therefore, if one eats clean food one has still violated the commandment because one has eaten contaminated food that has become unclean (Leviticus 11:35).

Still later under Christ and the New Covenant, God once again allows all meats to be used (Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10:9-16, 28; 15:29; Rom 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 10:25-31; Colossians 2:16; 1 Tim 4:1-4).

Nowhere does the bible say the dietary laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy were given for health purposes.  They should be viewed as ceremonial cleaning laws of obedience.  In this sense they should be viewed as a ceremonial law much like circumcision.

Yet, each food should be examined for its affect on one’s health.  It is well established that for some people both some clean and unclean foods negatively affect their health at various stages of life.

Those who claim Old Testament dietary laws are yet in effect still have the veil on and have not completely put on Christ regarding such matters for the New Covenant is more glorious than the Old Covenant (2 Cor 3:1-18).

For more information on biblical laws in general click here.


  1. The Dietary Laws in the Bible
  2. Billy Graham Association Article


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