What does it mean “every creature…is good” (1 Timothy 4)?


By BibleAsk Team

“Every Creature … Is Good”

In 1 Timothy 4:4, the apostle Paul writes, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” This statement, nestled within Paul’s letter to his young protege Timothy, carries implications for Christian instruction. To delve into its depths, we must examine its context, its theological underpinnings, and its practical implications.

Some commentators teach that Paul here abolishes the distinction made in the Old Testament between “clean” and “unclean” foods (Leviticus 11) and that all animals are lawful for food when the believer prays on them. However, it should be noted, that Paul in this passage specifically limits his remarks to those things which were created by God for use as food (1 Timothy 4:3).  Verse 3 refers to meats “which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving” by His people. These meats are the clean meats (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Everything the Lord has created should be made to fill the need for which it was created.

The Clean and Unclean Meats

God specified at creation what articles He intended man to use as food. This prescribed diet did not include the flesh of any animal, or even all types of vegetation. “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.  Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so” (Genesis 1:29, 30).

We learn from the this command that man was to eat of the products of both field and tree, in other words of grain, nuts, and fruit; the animals, to eat of “every green herb,” vegetables, or green plants, and grass. It was not the will of God that man should kill animals for food, or that animals should prey upon one another. It was not till after the Flood that God gave man permission to eat of the flesh of animals (Genesis 9:3). Even ancient pagan legends speak of a golden age of innocence, when man abstained from slaughtering animals (Ovid Met. I. 103-106).

After the Flood God permitted the use of “clean” meats, but specifically forbade the eating of “unclean” meats. The Bible nowhere removes that ban. God has ordained, or set apart certain creatures appointed for use as food, and they are therefore “sanctified,” or set apart, each for its intended use. The clean meats are listed in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14.

1 Timothy 4:4

1 Timothy 4:4 makes it obvious that all creatures of God are good, provided they are among those created to “be received with thanksgiving” (the clean animals). 1 Timothy 4:5 shows why these animals are acceptable: they are “sanctified” by God’s Word, which says they are clean, and by a “prayer” of blessing, which is offered before the meal.

Furthermore, Paul’s emphasis on gratitude reminds believers to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in all aspects of life, including the seemingly mundane act of eating. In a world where consumerism and materialism often overshadow gratitude, Paul’s exhortation serves as a timely reminder to appreciate God’s provision and blessings.

In conclusion, 1 Timothy 4:4 encapsulates theological truths about eating what God has permitted as food for man and gratitude. And it affirms receiving God’s gifts with thanksgiving. This verse challenges believers to adopt a holistic and grateful perspective on life, recognizing God’s goodness in His directives to men.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.