Did God forbid consuming blood in the NT?

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By BibleAsk Team


The prohibition against consuming blood is a topic addressed in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, reflecting a consistent moral and religious principle within the Judeo-Christian tradition. While the Old Testament contains explicit commands regarding the avoidance of blood, the New Testament provides additional insights and interpretations of this principle. Let’s explore this topic in detail, referencing the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

Old Testament Prohibition

The prohibition against consuming blood is first established in the Old Testament, particularly in the Mosaic Law given to the Israelites. In Leviticus 17:10-12, God commands:

“And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’”

This prohibition applies to the eating of flesh with blood in it, whether of living animals, as had been the barbarous custom of some pagan heathen tribes in the past and even in some parts of the world today, or of slaughtered animals from which the blood has not been properly drained.

This prohibition protects against unhealthful diseases that are carried in the blood. And also is a safeguard against cruelty. It is a reminder of the sacrifice of animals, in which blood as the bearer of life was held sacred. God saw that man would adopt superstitious beliefs in partaking of the blood of animals such as believing it would give strength, health and long life. For these and probably other reasons, the eating of flesh with the blood in it, was clearly forbidden.

New Testament Teachings

In the New Testament, the prohibition against consuming blood is reiterated and expanded upon. In Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council addresses the issue of whether Gentile converts to Christianity should be circumcised and adhere to certain aspects of the Mosaic Law. Among the directives issued by the council, James declares in Acts 15:20:

“But that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.”

This directive reflects a continuation of the prohibition against consuming blood, now applied to the broader Christian community, including Gentile believers.

Symbolism of Blood

The New Testament also emphasizes the symbolic significance of blood, particularly in relation to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 26:28, during the Last Supper, Jesus declares:

“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Here, Jesus associates his blood with the establishment of the new covenant and the forgiveness of sins, highlighting its redemptive significance.

Theological Interpretation

The prohibition against consuming blood is not merely a matter of dietary restriction but carries theological significance within the Christian faith. The sanctity of blood as representing life and atonement is central to Christian theology, particularly in understanding the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Practical Application

The New Testament does provide explicit commands regarding the preparation of food or dietary restrictions as detailed as those found in the Old Testament. So, the principle of avoiding blood is upheld.

Today, the Jews observe this rule in their slaughtering houses. Their meat is said to be “kosher” and marked accordingly. Unfortunately, Christians, in general, pay little attention to this health ordinance, forgetting that it was only on this condition that God originally allowed the use of flesh food. Christians are called to honor God’s Word in their dietary choices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the prohibition against consuming blood is a consistent biblical principle found in both the Old and New Testaments. While the Old Testament provides explicit commands regarding this prohibition within the context of the Mosaic Law, the New Testament reaffirms and expands upon this principle, emphasizing the sanctity of blood and its theological significance, particularly in relation to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to honor God’s commands and principles, including the avoidance of blood.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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