Doesn’t prayer sanctify any food?

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4,5).

The warning in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 against a latter-day apostasy involves a number of heresies – following devils, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from certain foods. Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding has arisen over verse 4, where it is stated that “every creature of God is good.” But this verse means that every created thing has been made for a “good purpose.” The context of this verse is Paul giving instruction to Timothy how to be a balanced minister.

Some interpret verses 4-5  to mean that every animal is fit to be eaten if it is earnestly prayed over and blessed by thanksgiving. This would mean that praying over a cockroach, mole, or snake would make it good for food. Obviously, such an interpretation would be dangerous. Eating such animals will be unhealthy for humans (Galatians 6:7).

To prevent us from drawing any wrong conclusions, Paul quickly added: “For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (Verse 5). So, the Word of God must first approve of it, and then the prayer of thanksgiving will sanctify it to be eaten.

The Word of God gives us a description of the foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving (Genesis 1:29; 3:18; Leviticus 11:1-22, Deuteronomy 14:3-21). Only those who follow His Word will eat the things that are “sanctified” and created to “be received with thanksgiving.” But those who eat unclean meats will not be accepted at His appearing (Isaiah 66:15-17).

It is also helpful to note that the word “meats” in the original language is not limited to flesh foods. The Greek word “broma” simply means “food.” We can know that Paul‘s discussion does not involve biblically unclean animals, because the meats that some had forbidden were foods “which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (Verse 3). When the Bible uses the term “food” it is referring to items that it have defined to be as food.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

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