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

1 Timothy 4:4 – “Every Creature … Is Good”

The apostle Paul in his first epistle to Timothy wrote, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). Some commentators believe that Paul here abolishes the distinction made in the Old Testament between “clean” and “unclean” foods (Leviticus 11).

However, it should be noted, that Paul here 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).

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).

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 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.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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