Mark 7:19b: A Short Technical Note
by Tim Hegg
Mark 7:18–19 is a text to which many refer when they are arguing that Yeshua did away with the Torah.
And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) [NASB]
This belief, that Yeshua did away with the Torah, is argued from this text by logical inference: since Yeshua seems clearly to dismiss the Torah laws of clean and unclean foods, it stands to reason that He likewise could be dismissing the whole Torah. If one law of the Torah has been rendered irrelevant, the possibility exists that others have been likewise set aside, and all the more so since the Torah is presented as a unified whole by the Scriptures themselves. For instance, James says, “For whoever keeps the whole Torah and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10).
What is confusing, however, is that in Matthew, Yeshua teaches that not even the least of the commandments has been annulled (Matthew 5:17–18). How could He have taught the eternal viability of the Torah on one hand, and then dismissed the laws of clean and unclean food so clearly laid out in the Torah on the other?