“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
Some are using this passage to criticize Adventists of their adherence to the dietary laws of the Bible saying that “SDA teachings are from demons since they forbid their members to eat meat”.
Critics with deeper study of the passage never used this against SDAs for three main reasons:
1. If what they mean of the phrase “abstaining from meats” is the dietary laws of the Bible, then they are indirectly saying that the Bible is the demon since these dietary laws are teachings from the Bible.
2. They need to give proof that SDAs forbid their members to marry, which again is not true.
3. The right understanding of the verses tells them that this passage has other meaning contrary to what they have in mind before.
What Is The Real Message of 1 Timothy 4:1-5?
By reading all chapters of 1 Timothy, we can see that Paul warns us against heretical teachers and teachings that will come to the Church specially in the latter days (1 Timothy 1:3-11, 6:3-10, 20-21). This apostasy is inspired by the powers of the evil. Paul said that members of the Church in the latter times will be concerned with healthful living, but some will go further by overly stringent rules: abstaining from marriage and from foods God identifies as edible.
“… and commanding to abstain from bromah…”
Any Bible students will agree that Paul will never consider the counsel of God concerning the food which are appropriate for human consumption as teachings from the demons. So what is that “food” that Paul is referring to in the passage?
Comprehending the word used for “food” in this passage will help us come to the right understanding of these verses. Paul used the Greek word “bromah”, which means allowed meat or clean food, in this passage instead of “akatharton”.
“akatharton” (Gk. ακαθαρτον) – foul, unclean, forbidden (Acts 11:8)
“bromah” (Gk. βρῶμα) – allowed meat, clean, food (1 Corinthians 10:3)
And so when Paul said “abstaining from meats” (KJV) or “forbidding to eat certain foods” (CEV), he is not referring to the unclean mentioned in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21. What he is saying would be like this:
“… and commanding to abstain from bromah…”
“… and commanding to abstain from clean foods…”
If we will continue on reading it says “…and commanding to abstain from clean foods, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
Indeed God created the clean food (or simply food) to be received with thanksgiving! The Bible never has a law to abstain from clean food, and so the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Can We Now Eat All Things?
It should be obvious that Paul is not referring to literally “all creatures” when he said that those can now be eaten for as long as you received it with thanksgiving since it include us, humans, as well as those moving creatures included in a dog’s vomit. We always use the context of the passages when we rightfully study the Bible.
“…and commanding to abstain from clean foods, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving…”
“…For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving…”
Did you see the parallelism used by Paul? The “all creatures” should be related to the subject matter being discussed–and that is the “bromah”, the clean food.
Thus, Paul is not teaching here that we can now eat “all creatures”–which include human beings (totally ridiculous statement)–but rather he was saying that “there will be people in the last days who will depart from faith and will teach you to abstain from eating all clean food–all those clean food are created by God to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth…”
Let us praise God for the right understanding of this passage!