MARK 7:19 [About the Oral Law] (Not about food but about Ritual Purity)


The Questions of the Sadducees- Harrold Copping

The Pharisees and scribes seeing that the disciples of Yahshua were eating without washing their hands ask Him <Why do Your taught ones not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?>
Yahshua rebukes them by making them see that they favour the traditions of man over the Torah of Elohim. Later, his disciples ask him to explain his answer and Yahshua clarifies:

Mark 7:19 
18 And He said to them, “Are you also without understanding? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside is unable to defile him,
19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purging all the foods?”
Some translations end verse 19 as follows…in saying this Jesus declared all foods clean [NIV].
It seems that Yahshua abrogates His Father’s instructions regarding food found in Leviticus 11, and Deuteronomy 4:1-21 and seems to contradict His own words in John 6 and Matthew 5:17-19.
The context of Mark 7 as a whole is Ritual Purity (Oral Law or Oral Torah).
Interpreting Mark 7:19 to mean that Yahshua abrogated the food laws would disqualify Him as the Messiah of Israel.
(See the qualifications of a true prophet in Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Note that one of the marks of a false prophet is that he/she would teach Elohim’s (God’s) people to depart from the way in which He commanded them to walk.)
Based on Deuteronomy 13, if Yahshua taught His disciples to go against the instructions of יהוה, this would nullify/disqualify Him as being the Messiah of Israel. (See Matthew 5:17-19)
Mark 7 deals with what makes a man common, a distinction that finds its origins in man-made tradition (Oral Law), and is not found in the Law of יהוה.
The Pharisees believed (man-made traditions of the elders/Oral Law) that hands, bowls, plates, utensils and even dining couches could become “common” through ordinary use and had to be washed (see Acts 10:28). Thus we can think of “commonness” as a higher level of defilement that went beyond what יהוה had instructed in the Law. They were elevating their traditions to the status of the commandments given by Elohim.
Some Bible translations will translate the Greek word «koinais» as “unclean” or defiled but this is misleading. The most literal English translation of «koinais» is ‘common’. The word for unclean is «akatharsia» and is not used anywhere in Mark 7.
Yahshua makes it clear He is targeting man-made traditions when He mentions Isaiah 29:13.
The Pharisees were sinning according to the Scriptures (see Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32).
Mark 7:2 and 7:5 are often mistranslated as defiled or unclean and are better translated as common.
So in verses 14-15 Yahshua directly contradicts this particular tradition of the Pharisees saying <there is nothing that is outside of a person that can go into him and make him common>.
Commonness is not the same as unclean because it is based in human tradition and not in the law of יהוה
The main point of Yahshua’s teaching is:
  • an evil heart brings forth evil thoughts, fornications, etc.…these are the things that make a person common-not eating bread with unwashed hands.
 A better translation of Mark 7:19 shows that Yahshua was not abrogating the food laws.
Note: the subject of Mark 7:19 is what makes a person common NOT unclean.
J. K. McKee points out in his commentary:
“Thus He declared” is an addition by Bible translators that is not in the Greek text…the text speaks of a person’s bodily elimination of food by excretion
This is confirmed by the parallel text : 
Matthew 15:17.
17 “Do you not understand that whatever enters into the mouth goes into the stomach, and is cast out to the sewer?"

Literal word for word of the Greek text:

(Strong’s 3754)-because; (S3756)-not; (S1531)-enter; (S846)-him; (S1519)-into; (S3588)-the; (S2836)-belly; (S2532)-and; (S1519)-into; (S3588)-the; (S856)-latrine; (S1607)-goes out; (S2511)-purging; (S3956)-all; (S3588)-the; (1033)-food.

A more literal translation of Mark 7:18-19 would read:

Matthew 15:18-19 
18 And He said to them Then are you without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot make him common 
19 since it enters not his heart but his belly, and goes into the latrine, purging all foods?" 


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Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.