1 Timothy 4 and Abstaining from Foods

by brenda on January 17, 2011

 Bible Study

{photo credit}

This morning, I happened to read in 1 Timothy 4. (Note, I read from this 3 year Bible reading plan. 1 year plans are too much for my daily attention span. 😉 This, I can actually read, process and retain throughout the day.) I have had 1 Timothy 4 quoted to me as Scripture that supposedly would say I am wrong to abstain from particular foods. 

If you read 1 Timothy 4 (verses 1-5) in the New International Version (a version as recent as the 1960’s, written in contemporary language, with a now updated 2011 version), the passage looks like this:

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."  1 Timothy 4:1-5 NIV

 

The bolded parts are mine, only to point out the parts that other believers might cling to. So, if abstaining from food is something that deceiving spirits and demons teach us, and "everything God created is good," then the GAPS Diet or any kind of elimination diet would surely be from demons, right?? 

But if you read the same passage in the King James Version (a translation from 1611, some say more accurate for true study of the Word), the passage looks like this:

 

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4:1-5 KJV

 

I think it’s interesting that in the King James Version (more true to the original text), this is clearly talking about MEAT.  For those of you who don’t know much about this diet we’re on, let me be clear, we do not abstain from meat. 🙂

I just wanted to point out, too, that this passage is talking about people who leave the faith and start clinging to ideals about food and marriage. I haven’t left the faith. 🙂 I read my Bible regularly (I try for daily, but I’m not perfect and an irregular schedule can throw me off sometimes!). I walk around the house quoting the Fruits of the Spirit with my kids these days, as well as "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things." from Philippians 4:8. I am in prayer multiple times daily. I love my Lord. We are currently in the midst of the adoption process-a discouraging one, where our name and information will be in a stack of 50 to 100 families each wanting the same kid. I could easily lose faith in that kind of process, but I trust in a sovereign God. I know that He will provide just the right child for us in the right timing, if it is in His perfect plan. He has proved Himself in this way over and over in our lives. As we trust in Him, He sees us through–and not only that, but when we have trusted, the end result has always been better than we expected (e.g. I was praying for 5 acres, wanting a particular property SO badly but leaving it in His hands, and He provided 30 acres!!! Go God!!!).

So there–I haven’t left the faith. I’m not abstaining from meat. I, too, believe that God created good foods for us and they are not to be abstained from. However. I believe that man has tainted what God created for good. I believe that consuming tainted food (and non-foods, like Fruit Loops, Doritos, Gogurts, etc.) leads to damage in the bodies that God made for us in His image. When I continued to eat like the typical American, I felt sick and I was not living up to my full potential as a Christian (and let me just throw out this challenge, is the American way God’s way??? Because there are plenty of other cultures out there, in fact most, that don’t feed Gogurts and Doritos to their children.) While I abstain from particular foods (e.g. sugar, God made it, man got greedy and grew more and more of it and put it in everything), I feel 100 times better and can serve Him in a better capacity. Praise God, this last weekend I had the strength and energy to put together a game night with 4 other families–to stay up until 11:30 pm cleaning house afterwards, and I was still able to wake up early to bless my family with a hearty breakfast before church. 

Diet has improved my health, but HE is the one who brought me to it. He is the ultimate healer, not food. Without Him, I might feel better by choosing the right foods, but I would not be *healed.* And what good is a healthy body that’s going to hell, anyways?

Just my 2 cents! 🙂 

I’m trusting in Him to heal me by eating *only* foods He’s created and nothing more, including plenty of healthy meat. I hope you will join me. 🙂

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah in the woods January 17, 2011 at 9:36 am

Wonderful post! So well said.

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brenda January 18, 2011 at 7:40 am

Thank you Sarah!

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Lori @ Laurel of Leaves July 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm

That’s so interesting that the King James version says meat while the NIV simply says food! I never knew that. Great insight.
I’m a newcomer to your site, so you may mention this elsewhere, but what are your thoughts on following the food laws of the Old Testament where it concerns pork & shellfish?

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Anonymous January 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

I love your blog today! We are proud parents of our two children whom we adopted so if you ever want to talk about international or domestic adoption, feel free to contact me. heatherlbrandt (at) frontier (dot) com

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Lael January 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

In Romans 14:1-3 Paul states, “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

Gentiles were never under any dietary laws to begin with. Yet, Paul spells out for them which ones Gentiles coming to the faith should observe. He specifically states in Acts 15:19-20, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 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.” Yet many eat raw or undercooked meat, and they don’t know whether the animals they’re eating have been strangled or not.

My point is it might not be a good idea to use the bible to promote any certain way of eating. Just a thoought.

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Thehealingpath40 January 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Hi! As with EVERYTHING, food is something God created to sustain our life and for our pleasure and Satan has taken it, messed w it it to bring us down (Satan cannot create!) and we have processed, chemically laden, sugar added, pesticide tainted, fatty foods that make us sick! It is our responsibility to care for our bodies, not as belonging to us, but as to belonging to God and to follow His commands to eat the foods He has instructed us to eat in His Word. (Genesis 1:29 regarding plants for food and Leviticus regarding which animals etc to eat). Satan is very happy w the state of foods on this earth and I believe he has orchestrated this w great planning and purpose! Think about it…from the very beginning he used an apple to tempt Eve to evil! We need to open our eyes and see the truth in this area of our health and get back to eating only those foods He created in their original form for our health!
Way to go and keep up your encouraging words and blog!!

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Michele July 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm

The word used for meat/certain foods is Strongs Greek Hebrew Lexicon NT1033 meaning food of any kind. My take on the meaning of this passage is that when someone who you deem to be your spiritual leader commands that eating a certain food is a sin you might want to change leaders.

I would disagree that KJV is closer to the original. Since that was written there have been numerous discoveries and parchments found that were not known of since then. I love comparing scripture for differences in meaning but to get to the “Meat” I refer to the strongs lexicon. It is based on KJV but only as a foundation so that you can research words. A great reference book is the

Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Word Study Series) by Spiros Zodhiates (Editor)

Besides that, much of what we are offered as food has been changed by man and is not as God made it. 🙁

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Nichole Sawatzky July 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

THIS is an amazing and awesome post. WELL DONE Brenda!

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czelasko October 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

“I believe that man has tainted what God created for good. I believe that consuming tainted food (and non-foods, like Fruit Loops, Doritos, Gogurts, etc.) leads to damage in the bodies that God made for us in His image. When I continued to eat like the typical American, I felt sick and I was not living up to my full potential as a Christian (and let me just throw out this challenge, is the American way God’s way??? Because there are plenty of other cultures out there, in fact most, that don’t feed Gogurts and Doritos to their children.)”
I love this! So well written… and yes, there are lots of other cultures that have never even heard of GoGurt or Doritos (thank goodness)! It’s amazing how much non-food and food-like substances are contained in the grocery store these days. A bit scary and so sad that most Americans eat that junk most of the time!

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Brooke Shambley January 10, 2014 at 3:34 am

Check out Blue Letter Bible for questions about words and their broader meaning.

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1033&t=KJV

The greek word brōma can mean meat, but it also refers to foods. It basically means “that which is eaten, food, meat.” It can mean meat, but it isn’t that specific. The KJV is not necessarily a truer translation. Each translation changes (translates) the original text to a new language. When you change languages, you will lose the nuances of the original language. I truly believe that no translation is supreme, but rather all of them help us to understand the richness of the original Greek and Hebrew text.

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Danielle July 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I want to point out that it says “thiose who commandeered others to.” Not those who chose not to eat…”

Making wise choices in what we eat is not the same as saying one person is more spiritual for not eating pork or not eating foods sacrificed to idols.

I’m here trying to find reconciliation with this scripture and the one in Acts about abstaining from blood.

God bless you

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Danielle July 1, 2019 at 12:50 pm

sorry about those typos. Nursing my baby

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